The Christmas Marketing That Worked on Me, and Why

It was the weekend before Christmas, and all through the house, not a wallet had opened, we hadn’t even gone out. … So, some direct marketing shopping was in order, but from who? Here are a couple pieces of marketing that worked on me this holiday season.

It was the weekend before Christmas, and all through the house, not a wallet had opened, we hadn’t even gone out. …

So, some direct marketing shopping was in order, but from who?

Here are a couple pieces of marketing that worked on me this holiday season, and one bit of retargeting that caught the attention of my wife.

ThinkGeek

It probably won’t surprise you that I have some geeks in my life. So I’m on the ThinkGeek email list (along with at least one other TM editor, spot their Schrodinger’s Cat mug).

I wasn’t planning on ordering anything from ThinkGeek this year, but I had some unfilled gift boxes, and this email came.

"Snuggle up with 30% off your order and ThinkGeek's coziest threds"? Don't mind if I do!
“Snuggle up with 30% off your order and ThinkGeek’s coziest threds”? Don’t mind if I do.

Why it worked: There’s a Harry Potter fan on my list, and that person happens to have been looking for a comforter. So X-mas marked the spot in the top-right corner with the Harry Potter House Comforter. In addition, the percent-off offers across the top are aggressive and hooked me in. In fact, I added a second gift for the same person just to get to the next discount level.

A Christmas Faux Pas: ThinkGeek did a good job with everything here, and got my gift in the mail the day after I ordered it (a Sunday, no less). However, they also made a little bit of a rookie mistake: The day after I ordered it, I got an email with the quilt on sale for about 20 percent less.

I’m not too upset over it, since it’s Christmas and the buying experience has been very good so far. But there was a moment there where I felt like a rube. I’m not sure what the best way is to make sure you don’t mail new deals to recent buyers, but as the buyer here, I feel like that’s a good way to undermine your good first impression.

Fairytale Brownies

I don’t only know geeks. I also know some ramblers. I’ve got family in a few states across the U.S. who we send gifts to.

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?

Knock It Off With the April Fools’ Emails

Look, I’m normally not this cranky, but as of 11 a.m. on April 1, I’ve already received at least 12 April Fools’ Day emails. And while I enjoy humor as much as any other warm-blooded mammal, what I don’t enjoy is my inbox being clogged up with garbage. That’s right. I said garbage.

Look, I’m normally not this cranky, but as of 11 a.m. on April 1, I’ve already received at least 12 April Fools’ Day emails. And while I enjoy humor as much as any other warm-blooded mammal, what I don’t enjoy is my inbox being clogged up with garbage.

That’s right. I said garbage.

Liz Lemon Nerd RageJust because April 1 is some kind of unofficial-official holiday of pranks, jokes and general ridiculousness does not mean every marketer with access to an email subscriber list should use the day to test out their sad-excuse attempts at humor.

Nine times out of 10 it falls flat, latches onto a cheap joke and is as disastrous as that guy at open mic night with big-time dreams of doing stand-up for Comedy Central. Knock. It. Off.

“Whoa, Melissa,” you’re saying. “That’s some serious vitriol you’re spewing. It can’t be all that bad.”

Well, let’s take a look.

April Fools Day email from Third Love
Just … no. I’m sorry, this email is ridiculous, and honestly kind of gross. I don’t care if it does include a dog, it’s not cute. When you click through on the “Shop Now” button, you’re taken to a landing page for “Pawfect Fitting Dog Bras.”

Here’s the thing: Third Love makes slightly higher-end bras that are made of high-quality materials and designed to fit a variety of shapes and sizes. Nothing about this brand is cheesy, or funny at all. Yet, they decided to spend time and energy not only creating an April Fools’ Day email featuring dog bras, but a landing page and product pages.

I’d love to know what marketing manager signed off on this gem. Because it’s an off-brand, off-putting joke campaign that has actually lowered my interest in trying out Third Love products in the future.

April Fools Day Email from PlatedPlated thought it would be cute to spoof dating apps … but there already are foodie dating apps. So again, it’s a lame idea with a somewhat okay execution. The landing page even includes a video for the dating service. Eye-roll. Again, time could have been better spent elsewhere.

April Fool's Day email from King Arthur FlourAll my crankiness aside, I must tip my hat to King Arthur Flour for the email it sent on this most foolhardy of days. Every year, KAF features its annual baking blunders blog post in an email sent to subscribers. As a baker, it can be nice to see that you’re not the only one who mis-measures the flour or burns the pizza crust from time to time (misery loves company, right?).

So King Arthur Flour stayed on-brand with its email, and offered me relevant content that honestly made me laugh. Nicely done.

But, truly, if we want to talk about the experts at April Fools’ Day emails, you’d be remiss to not mention ThinkGeek.