How to Get Memorial Day Email Marketing Right

Memorial Day means different things to different people, but some of the email marketing I haven’t been seeing in my inbox bothers me a little.

Memorial Day means different things to different people, but some of the email marketing I haven’t been seeing in my inbox bothers me a little.

It’s a 3-day weekend, and the unofficial start of summer. There’s plenty of sales to promote with red, white, and blue highlights. Lots of beach towels, barbeque grills, food. And yet …

Last year I had to scramble to find examples of email that recognizes that Memorial Day was originally about honoring the sacrifices of soldiers who died serving our country.

This year was no different. The best emails were truly few and far between.

Publix emailMany used a patriotic image to get attention, like the one in this email from Publix, the supermarket chain. It says some nice things, but that’s about it.

It misses an opportunity to further engage shoppers.

Vinesse emailBut Vinesse, one of the country’s largest wine clubs, hit all the right notes a few weeks ago. This promotion centers on a special offer for Purple Heart Red Wine from C. Mondavi & Family, a Napa Valley brand. Proceeds go to the Purple Heart Foundation, a group which help veterans recover from wartime injury and trauma.

Here’s a key connection for me: Peter Modavi, Sr. served in World War II. And the two winemakers are more recent veterans. The email explains this, and with the strong visual, inspires a bit of patriotism.

American Red Cross emailI also liked this one effort from the American Red Cross that went out yesterday. It acknowledges that Memorial Day “also heralds a much more solemn occasion”: remembering our soldiers.

The letter goes into all of the ways that the Red Cross’s services have an impact. Picture like the ones here show a lot of what it does for military service members around the world, as well as veterans, and families.

And, the email links to a video showing its work, and ask people to share it. The only ask for a donation is in the P.S.

So, you can either acknowledge the holiday’s true meaning in a big way, a respectful way, or not. Maybe the best thing to do is to just pick one, and move forward.

As for me, I’ve got a cemetery to visit, and a promise to keep.

Remembering What Memorial Day Is All About

For years, Memorial Day weekend for me meant driving up the turnpike to a cemetery in northeastern Pennsylvania. But this time, I didn’t go, and it took getting some holiday email to make me realize what I was missing most.

For years, Memorial Day weekend for me meant driving up the turnpike to a cemetery in northeastern Pennsylvania. But this time, I didn’t go, and it took getting some holiday email to make me realize what I was missing most.

So let me explain. It was kind of an obligation I accepted, to go and tend the graves of my mom’s side of the family. I would pack my pruning shears, a garden trowel, and a watering can. Somewhere along the way, I’d stop for flowers to plant. And, I’d buy some new flags for those relatives who served and died for our country.

My brother took care of all that this year. But my guilt at not going returned, thanks to a few of the dozens of Memorial Day email campaigns from the last couple of weeks.

Most email is about sales, the start of summer, a three-day weekend, etc. You see lots of images of barbeques and beaches. And there’s nothing wrong with that. That kind of Memorial Day email works well.

And, sure, there’s some red, white and blue, or stars-and-stripes in the designs to create a patriotic feeling. There may be a brief message about supporting our men and women in the military. But email that talks at length about who the holiday commemorates is pretty scarce.

LGOne exception that stopped me cold was an article I saw in LG’s May newsletter, “Life’s Goodness.” The teaser asked: “[D]o you really know what Memorial Day is all about?”  The story recounted how the holiday began in the 19th century as Decoration Day, to remember the dead from the Civil War.

dakAnother electronics marketer, Sol Harari of DAK Industries, took a slightly different tack. His email linked to a Memorial Day quiz on his company’s website. He also offered this perfect sentiment: “Personally, the more I learn about our rich history, the more connected I feel to our values, our country and our people.”

AmGiantTopI also liked an email from American Giant, the apparel brand, that paid tribute to “the sacrifice of the American servicemen and servicewomen who keep us safe.”

It announced that sales from one of its collections would be given to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. The email explained that the group provides financial assistance as well as scholarships to families of Special Operations forces who are killed in action.

We hear a lot about the bad stories around the Armed Services: the scandals around the VA, sexual assault, PTSD and suicide, and the disrespect of former POWs.

But these marketers speak of what is the best of America. They deliver content and action that honors those who have served and died while serving a cause greater than themselves.

I’ll pause and remember our country’s war dead this year. And I’ll be back at the cemetery next Memorial Day.

3 Great Direct Mail Copy Drivers (Besides the Top 7)

I’ve been thinking about emotions more than usual lately. Maybe it’s the type of direct mail I’ve been reading lately that sparked it. Swedish direct marketing entrepreneur Axel Andersson and Seattle direct marketer Bob Hacker identified the seven key copy drivers that persuade people to buy a product or service, or to join a cause.

I’ve been thinking about emotions more than usual lately. Maybe it’s the type of direct mail I’ve been reading lately that sparked it.

Or maybe it was all of the great discussion around Carolyn Goodman’s webinar that my colleague Thorin McGee wrote about the other day. In case you missed it, she talked about the emotional buy-in of some voters during the current election season.

Swedish direct marketing entrepreneur Axel Andersson and Seattle direct marketer Bob Hacker identified the seven key copy drivers that persuade people to buy a product or service, or to join a cause. They are:

guilt, flattery, anger, exclusivity, fear, greed and salvation.

For years, I’ve been keeping a spreadsheet of which of these appear in the long-term controls I track for Who’s Mailing What! Flattery and greed are the two most commonly used. They figure prominently in Denny Hatch’s The Secrets of Emotional, Hot-Button Copywriting, a report that focuses on the seven great ones

But there are other drivers that also deserve a moment in the sun. In another book, Hatch identified twenty-one additional motivators that can also lead to action. Here are three of them, with examples of how I’ve seen them used in the mail.

1. Love
Danbury_01

I’m surprised that I don’t see more mail that really taps into one of the most basic of human emotions. But some marketers, like Danbury Mint, are good at it. This mailing for a “Midnight Spell Necklace” spells it out on the front of the outer: “this holiday season Romance Her Heart with a gift from yours.”

The brochure inside tells of a Polynesian legend that says a black pearl was meant to be a sign of “eternal love”. In the necklace, the pearls “add mystique and glamor to the woman who wears them.”

2. Better Health/Physical Well-Being
CROH_01

This can take many forms, depending on the audience. Maybe it’s a gym, a weight loss program, fitness equipment, or or a diet supplement. In this case, it’s content delivered by a newsletter, Consumer Reports On Health, in a magalog.

“Healthy or Not Healthy?” the headline asks, then teases “21 myth-busting facts to help you feel younger, stronger, healthier.” Fascinations (i.e., fascinating facts), phrased as questions, dangle just enough information to get the reader to turn to the pages inside for the answers.

3. Patriotism
BVA_01

Conveying a sense of national pride has strong appeal across the political spectrum. For example, it’s long been a staple for some non-profits to talk about helping those who have sacrificed so much for the security and liberty of their fellow Americans.

From a recent letter for the Blinded Veterans Association: “They put their lives on the line for our freedom and they deserve more.” “We invest a lot in military personnel,” it continues, “it’s time we all stepped up.” One note of caution: it’s important to maintain a proper tone of respect and good taste to avoid sending an inappropriate message.

There are other copy drivers worth considering, but regardless of what ones you use, either alone or in some combination, make sure that they support the rest of the elements of the mailpiece. To quote Bob Hacker, “If your letter isn’t dripping with one or more of these, tear it up and start over.”