Creative Cage Match: Battle of the ‘Miss You’ Emails

Ahhh, win-back emails. Or as I like to call them “Miss Yous” (but not “youse” — insert New Jersey joke here). The marketer wants to win back the customer, so out come the puppy-dog eyes and usually some sort of device to get the customer to take action; whether that’s a discount code, some incentive to login, etc. Let’s see who can tug on my heartstrings the best.

There’s a reason that pro-wrestling is so popular — and it’s not just the juicy drama and bespangled costumes. People love a good fight, and have for millennia, dating back to the gladiators of Rome and beyond.

So, once a month I’m going to select two marketers and toss them into a Creative Cage Match. I’ll be looking at everything ranging from email to direct mail, website to mobile site. It’ll be a mix of objective and subjective, and each time a marketer will walk out of the ring triumphantly.

Miss You BearAhhh, win-back emails. Or as I like to call them “Miss Yous” (but not “youse” — insert New Jersey joke here). The marketer wants to win back the customer, so out come the puppy-dog eyes and usually some sort of device to get the customer to take action, whether that’s a discount code, some incentive to login, etc.

Let’s see who can tug on my heartstrings the best:

In this corner, we have ThinkGeek, an e-tailer based out of Fairfax, Va. with a focus on geeky and pop culture-themed goods. If you’re not a customer, you may know these fine folks thanks to their infamous April Fool’s Day emails and zany fake products.

And across the ring, we have Redbubble, a creative community and marketplace that allows users to upload and sell designs on merchandise ranging from postcards to stickers, from t-shirts to decorative throw pillows. If you have a creative idea and the ability to design, you can make a little extra cash within this community marketplace (and if you like to shop for unique t-shirts, this is the place for you!)

Email vs. Email

As a marketer, if you want customers to come back, you have to give them a solid reason. Let’s look at some email:

 

Miss You email from ThinkGeek
First up we have ThinkGeek with the subject line, “Just because we miss you: 20% off any order at ThinkGeek!” All right … the offer right in the subject line, front and center in the inbox, piques my interest.

Now, sadly, the preheader text is a bit lackluster, but the rest of the copy works for me:

We miss you! Here, take 20% off any order

We haven’t seen you around recently, and we wanted you to know we’ve been busy monkeys! We have new gear from recent movies, TV shows, and video games, on top of our old favorites. If you wanted to come have a look, maybe we could make it worth your time? How’s 20% off any order from now until 11:59pm ET November 3rd sound?

The discount is pretty good, the email doesn’t get too complicated, nor does it trip all over itself, and the use of the mascot Timmy is an excellent fit. Simple and clean … if only ThinkGeek had written a decent preheader.

Anyway, I digress. Let’s look at Redbubble’s email:
Miss You email from Red Bubble“We miss you Melissa Ward” … whoa … full name. If they slipped my middle name in there I would have sworn I was in trouble with my mom. We know personalization gets people’s attention, and my first AND last name popping up in the promotional tab of my Gmail definitely make me pause.

Again, we have some serious weak sauce when it comes to the preheader: “It’s been awhile.” Yeah, um great. Moving along, we have a nice header image with some products and “We Miss You” in wonderfully large type.

The copy, much like ThinkGeek’s is on-brand and simple:

We’ve been chatting with your inbox, and you know what it said? It said it needs some art in its life. So to make sure it gets what it wants, we’re giving you 10% off anything you fancy on Redbubble.

Okay, so this cage match win is a tough one. The emails are very similar … ThinkGeek makes a better offer, and gave me more time to use the discount (I received the email Oct. 26 and the code is good until Nov. 3). Redbubble’s discount is smaller, and I only have 48 hours to use it. But this isn’t about offers … it’s about the win-back.

And well … sorry ThinkGeek and Redbubble, but I think this is a double countout. I’m a tough customer to woo with a win-back email, and neither one really did it for me. Each marketer got bits and pieces right, but nothing for a full win.

I miss you fix itWant more email creative critiques? Well guess what, you’re in luck! Last week I was part of a panel on email creative during Target Marketing’s annual All About Email Virtual Conference and Expo! The entire show is available now on-demand, and it’s FREE! What are you waiting for?

Creative Cage Match: King Arthur Flour vs. Cook’s Illustrated

It’s another hot summer month, and another Creative Cage Match is heating up. Now, just because I have no desire to cook or bake in this heat doesn’t mean someone else in a more temperate climate isn’t looking for a new recipe to try or kitchen gadget to pick up. I say go ahead, enjoy … I’ll be over here eating a caprese salad and fanning myself.

There’s a reason that pro-wrestling is so popular — and it’s not just the juicy drama and bespangled costumes. People love a good fight, and have for millennia, dating back to the gladiators of Rome and beyond.

So, once a month I’m going to select two marketers and toss them into a Creative Cage Match. I’ll be looking at everything ranging from email to direct mail, website to mobile site. It’ll be a mix of objective and subjective, and each time a marketer will walk out of the ring triumphantly.

The mercury keeps rising in our thermometers here in Philly, but just because I have no desire to cook or bake in this heat doesn’t mean someone else in a more temperate climate isn’t looking for a new recipe to try or kitchen gadget to pick up. I say go ahead, enjoy … I’ll be over here eating a caprese salad and fanning myself.Too Hot to Cook

On this side of the ring we have King Arthur Flour (KAF), a Norwich, Vt.-based supplier of flour, baking mixes, ingredients, cookbooks and baked goods. Founded in 1790 in Boston, Mass. under the name Sand, Taylor & Wood Company, KAF is an employee-owned company and is considered one of the best places to work for in the state of Vermont. Aside from their online presence — including a fully e-commerce site and blog — this baker’s paradise also has a print catalog.

And in the opposite corner we have Cook’s Illustrated, an American cooking magazine published by Brookline, Mass.-based America’s Test Kitchen (ATK). ATK produces several other publications, along with a cooking show, radio program, cookbooks … you name it, they’re involved. Cook’s Illustrated itself is bi-monthly, accepts no advertising and provides extensively tested recipes, as well as super thorough product reviews.

Email vs. Email

Most emails I received from cooking- or baking-based services/publications get my attention right away, due to my personal interest. But with these two contenders, I’m curious to see who gets the hot, summer food vibe right. Let’s start with King Arthur Flour:

King Arthur Flour email part 1 King Arthur Flour email part 2 King Arthur Flour email part 3The subject line reads: “The Complete Guide to Scone Baking,” and while I do love scones, I don’t think I’ll be firing my oven up to 425 degrees Fahrenheit anytime soon.

That said, if it’s not 93 and humid where you live, KAF does provide the full shebang when it comes to scones. Clicking through on the call-to-action button for the guide takes you to a highly visual web page that walks you through the basics of scone making, offers some tips to up your scone game, provides some recipes, as well as contact info for the Baker’s Hotline.

If you stick with the email, you’re rewarded with a legit scones baking tip, more recipes as well as some essential gadgets and a blog post on prepping scones ahead.

So, while I think an email about baking scones is a bit off for July, I think King Arthur Flour did an excellent job providing its subscribers with valuable content.

Creative Cage Match: ModCloth vs. Zenni Optical

Let’s talk about fashion and shopping, shall we? Oh no, I don’t mean brick-and-mortar shopping. As if! I mean online … because when you’re busy, who has time to go to from store to store when you can do it all from the comfort of your laptop and your favorite yoga pants?

There’s a reason that pro-wrestling is so popular — and it’s not just the juicy drama and bespangled costumes. People love a good fight, and have for millennia, dating back to the gladiators of Rome and beyond.

So, once a month I’m going to select two marketers and toss them into a Creative Cage Match. I’ll be looking at everything ranging from email to direct mail, website to mobile site. It’ll be a mix of objective and subjective, and each time a marketer will walk out of the ring triumphantly.

Let’s talk fashion and shopping, shall we?

Cher from Clueless ShoppingOh no, I don’t mean brick-and-mortar shopping. As if! I mean online … because when you’re busy, who has time to go to from store to store when you can do it all from the comfort of your laptop and your favorite yoga pants?

In this corner we have ModCloth, an e-tailer that launched its site in 2002 and is headquartered in San Francisco. ModCloth specializes in vintage-inspired and indie clothing, shoes, accessories, and housewares, and was founded by high school sweethearts Susan Gregg Koger and Eric Koger in a college dorm room. I have some clothing from ModCloth, as well as a light-up ceramic squirrel. You know, the essentials.

Across the ring we have Zenni Optical, an online retailer for prescription glasses and sunglasses, which was founded in 2003 (originally as 19dollareyeglasses.com). Known around the Web as a great resource for purchasing stylish, inexpensive — but good quality — eyewear, Zenni packs a punch with prescription eyeglasses starting at $6.95 plus shipping. I’ve been a customer since at least 2008, and currently own two pairs of Zenni glasses and one pair of sunglasses. Why shouldn’t my myopic astigmatism look good?

Email vs. Email: The Long Scroll

Today I’m going to look at emails that put the scroll bar to use (excuse the little gaps, I had to stitch these together!) … and first up is Zenni Optical!

Zenni Optical Email
Zenni Optical Email
Zenni Optical Email
Zenni Optical EmailThe subject line for this email is “Presenting the Zenni 10,” which had me curious. Once you open the email, you can scroll through Zenni’s top 10 picks (five for the ladies, five for the gents), each of them being instantly shoppable with a “Shop Now” call-to-action button.

I like that, even though I’m scrolling a bit, its not a taxing email to get through, and if I’m interested in checking out a particular pair of glasses, I just need to click a button! Simple, highly visual … you can’t really go wrong here.

Championship-Winning Email Creative

Last week, in my best attempt to be timely and sporty, we saw the Email Creative Final Four play out in a blaze of March Madness-like glory. Herb Brooks united his squad against the heavily favored Soviet team, and as the U.S. squad tried to overcome insurmountable odds and win … oh wait. That’s the plot to the 2004 hockey drama, “Miracle.” Ahem. Sports.

Last week, in my best attempt to be timely and sporty, we saw the Email Creative Final Four play out in a blaze of March Madness-like glory. Herb Brooks united his squad against the heavily favored Soviet team, and as the U.S. squad tried to overcome insurmountable odds and win … oh wait. That’s the plot to the 2004 hockey drama, “Miracle,” starring Kurt Russell. Ahem. Sports.

So, with last week delivering Birchbox and Lindy Bop into the final arena for the championship match, let’s review our bracket:

Final Email Creative March Madness bracket

In the Final Four, both Birchbox and Lindy Box cleaned house against their opponents, earning 11 and 9 points respectively.

And as a quick reminder, there are five areas to score points, and scores are as follows:

  • 0 points: Dude you missed!
  • 2 points: Nice shot!
  • 3 points: You’re totally going pro!

Championship Game: Personal Beauty Products vs. Retro Apparel
Birchbox is a strong player in the inbox, sending messages that range from subscriber news — box customizations, box shipments, product review reminders — to promotional emails. I personally receive emails almost every other day, if not daily.
Birchbox email for Email Creative March Madness ChampionshipThis email was sent March 28 with the subject line, “Shop Your Samples, Get Perks,” which is simple but effective, especially in the eyes of a Birchbox subscriber.

The preheader echos the subject line, reading, “Stock up on your favorite samples today.” Okay, maybe this could have been a little more creative, but at least the preheader is in use.

As usual with most Birchbox communications, the design and copy are bold and to the point. “Tried it and loved it?” the email asks. Well now subscribers can get free shipping on any full-size product they’ve previously sampled.

And to make things relevant (and personalized), the email shows me six of my most recent samples, as well as the call-to-action button “Shop Your Samples.”

Could Birchbox have made it any easier? Doubtful.

Birchbox’s Points
Subject line: 2
Preheader text: 2
Copy: 2
Call to action: 2
Overall design: 3
Total: 11 points

Can You Feel the Love Tonight? (It’s in Your Inbox)

Happy Day After Valentine’s Day! Known in some circles as “Singles Awareness Day Part 2,” “50% Off Candy Day” and the “National Flag of Canada Day.”

Happy Day After Valentine’s Day! Known in some circles as “Singles Awareness Day Part 2,” “50% Off Candy Day” and the “National Flag of Canada Day.”

Whatever Feb. 15 means to you, one thing is certain: Even the staunchest V-Day nonbeliever on Earth would know what yesterday was just from a quick peek in any email inbox. It’s like every shade of pink and all iterations of “feel the love” and “we heart ______” were having a massive mixer in there.

To be honest, I’m into it. I like pink, I like hearts, and my cat is the only valentine I need to enjoy the holiday. So please, join me on this frolic through some of the standout Valentine’s-themed promos that shot their arrow through the heart of my inbox.

  • Bath & Body Works
  • Line: Ready for this? You’ve truly hit it big with an EXTRA $10 off!

bbworksThis was a fairly long HTML, I think you get the idea from this top section alone. The more classic Valentine’s Day imagery works for what B&B Works is all about, and those blossoms (sweet pea I think?) fit the theme while invoking some of the store’s most popular aromas. The subject line is good — it went outside the holiday language and straight up told you the deal you’d find within: Heart!

  • Apple
  • Subj. Line: Apple gifts say it best.

appl1On the other end of the spectrum, check out Apple’s simple, subtle nod to the season of romance. The message is simple: Nothing says romance like the cool, metallic touch of a rose gold iPhone. All kidding aside, the short copy with a focus on staying in touch and sharing puts just the right spin on things.

  • Hallmark Cards
  • Subj. Line: Valentine’s Day is just 5 days away. Don’t forget the people you love.

0209_ValNatlGreetings_8

05-FEAT-A-8903vAThe cynics will tell you: Valentine’s Day was invented by Hallmark to sell cards. Whether or not you agree, it wouldn’t be right to do a Vday Marketing Roundup without them. And if this email is anything to go by, they rightfully earned their claim to the holiday. That subject line is just the right blend of “gentle reminder” and “subtle guilt-trip,” and the creative gets right to the point by reminding you when the big day is. The animation gives a nice glimpse of your options without being overbearing, and we have a bright, direct CTA. Hallmark can have my X’s and O’s for this one.

  • World Wildlife Fund
  • Subj. Line: Save a Rose, Send Some Prose

WWFCardsValentine’s Day isn’t just for retail! Check out how the WWF took the opportunity to create these adorable e-cards, available for you to send after making any size donation to the fund. Love this idea — after all, you could donate the same amount you’d spend on a card anyway, and have it go to a great cause. That’s my idea of spreading the love! Bonus points for the awesome subject line.

  • Justice
  • Subj. Line: We ❤ you! Join us this weekend!

justiceSo we’re back to retail, but still on animals. I just thought this design was so cute, absolutely eye-catching. It’s a little more of a unique spin than much of the Valentine’s Day imagery I’ve seen. I do have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of this font. It’s a fitting style, but not the most readable; I kept thinking it said “We’ve got the pun” (which I’d be all for, to be honest). Two paws up for the romantic pup, though.

  • Lush
  • Subj. Line: For that special Valentine…

lush

I always like Lush’s emails. Here’s another company that tends to not slam you over the head with whatever the theme or message might be. The colors are muted, copy is short and punchy, and it was nearly impossible not to click “read article” about anything that claims to be “better than chocolate.”

  • Sally’s Beauty Supply
  • Subj. Line: Love Is In The Air: Take $5 Off $25

sallySo many beauty product companies in this post. Can’t say I blame them for using this approach though, it’s so easy to make the connection between beauty products and Valentine’s Day, both in concept and in design. I mean, look how nice it looks to have that arrangement of pink/red/purple products behind the heart. This design also went with the classic dotted-line as a border for the heart, which totally screams “elementary school valentine”, I love that. Plus: another example of an upfront subject line, what you read is what you get.

  • Zoya
  • Subj. Line: Valentine’s Day Bogo ❤

zoyaOK, I saved this one for last because I love it, I honestly love it. (Yes that was meant to be read in Olivia Newton John’s voice.) LOOK AT THIS DESIGN, JUST LOOK AT IT!!! It’s nail polish, but like, in a HEART-SHAPED POOL. I wish I had a technical explanation for what’s so great about this. I don’t, really, it’s just so aesthetically pleasing and strangely satisfying to me. Two Valentine’s Day colors, because it’s Buy-One-Get-One, AND they’re making a heart, because Valentine’s Day … who knew nail polish could be so nuanced? Also, it’s a good sale. If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some nail polish to buy…

I hope you all had a great month, and a great Feb. 14, whatever the day represents for you! If you need to get any discount candy off your hands, you know where to find me.

XOXO 4ever,

Dani