I Double-Dog Dare You!

When I was working at the Email Experience Council, I worked with some industry friends to come up with a number of email dares that we felt were worth testing -- or at least worth talking about. Most of them were pretty out there -- even radical -- so we figured we'd have to double-dog dare folks to consider them. The dares included:

  • Design an email that scrolls horizontally rather than vertically.
  • If you include your Web site navigation bar in your emails, test to see if it's truly worth the real estate.
  • Add an unsubscribe link to the top of your emails where it's more easily seen.

  • Ask your subscribers to rate your emails.
  • Entice subscribers to enable images by alt-tagging suppressed images with funny teasers.

  • Start your email program over from scratch.
  • Add "share with your network" (SWYN) links to your emails.
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    Nearly two years later, some of these dares seem a bit less radical than they were at the time. After all, Abercrombie & Fitch sent more than a dozen side-scrollers last year., Norm Thompson and PC Connection all have opt-out links at the top of their emails. Chadwick's has added a "rate this email" module to the bottom of all of their emails. And SWYN usage was at 12% last summer and is surely over 20% by now

    In light of that, it appears that we need some new dares. So here we go. I dare you -- no, I double-dog dare you! -- to...

    Add a secondary navigation bar to your emails. Nav bars can be very powerful, sometimes garnering more clicks that the primary call-to-action of an email. A secondary nav bar -- like the one REI did in this Mar. 5 email or the holiday nav bars used by Bloomingdale's, Home Depot, and Sephora last holiday season-- could attract even more clicks.

    Ask outgoing email subscribers to join your Facebook fan base or Twitter following. Just because customers are opting out of your email channel doesn't mean that they aren't open to connecting with your brand on Facebook or Twitter. Yet only 2% of major retailers used their opt-out confirmation pages to pitch their Facebook pages, and only 1% to pitch their Twitter feeds.

    Add tweets to your emails. Product reviews are huge, so why not add comments about your brand or products from Twitter? So far, NikeStore is the only major retailer I've seen pull a tweet into an email. They did it in this Dec. 3 email.

    Include your discount code in your subject line. Wanting to lower the barriers to taking action, a handful of retailers -- including Ann Taylor, JCPenney and Sears -- experimented with including discount codes directly in their subject lines late last year. That way, if subscribers were interested, they wouldn't even have to open the email to take advantage of the promotion. For the less daring, consider highlighting discount codes in your preheader message instead.

    Have a double-dog dare of your own? Add it to the comments below.

    4 comments about "I Double-Dog Dare You!".
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    1. Kelly Lorenz, April 13, 2010 at 11:18 a.m.

      Hey Chad,

      Good post and ideas! Just wanted to chime in and say that Zappos includes tweets from their CEO at the bottom of their emails. This is a great way to integrate other channels and cultivate engagement.

      -Kelly Lorenz

    2. Ben Isaacson from Part-Time Privacy, April 13, 2010 at 1:53 p.m.

      Many marketers have an 'opt-down' option to reduce frequency when a user goes to unsubscribe, but few mention it in the email copy. For those who think they may be sending too many emails (or anyone sending more than 1/week), I dare you to offer them an opt-down in the email itself.



    3. Chad White from Litmus, April 13, 2010 at 2:12 p.m.

      Thanks, Ben. That's a great dare.

    4. Jordan Lane, April 15, 2010 at 7:28 p.m.

      Try adding symbols to your subject line. Yes this is risky (deliverability, rendering etc.) but that is what a dare is all about. Take a look at this example from Tommy Bahama.

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