I remember vividly that over a decade ago, only a few folks really kept up with the industry: the geeks who signed up for virtually everything that was available, just so we could have a pulse of what people were doing with email. Now, there are more email awards each year than I can even keep up with, much less try to submit client’s work to. I used to try to be active in judging, but I became far too clinical in my judgment of what was good. Without a concrete brand connection, we are simply looking and judging email marketing by its skin. In the spirit of the Emmys, I thought it would be fun to add my own email collector’s reflections about the best, and a little side note about what makes them work.
Disclaimer: These are my personal opinions, based on emails tied to my behavior and brand engagements, or those my spouse has forced me to be involved with. I am a discriminating email consumer, but easily amused.
Best Drama Series: MD Anderson, connecting patients, caregivers, donors and alumni, and healthcare professionals. This is one of my favorite community efforts and communication streams, with an ever-growing, diverse set of communication portfolios. It’s a perfect example of relevant content and the right frequency, reinforced with an active social community drive. Not everyone wants to talk about cancer, but telling stories and putting them in containers that can be shared delivers on the promise. High level of involvement matched with the right mix of communications. (notice, inform, promote, share).
Best Comedy Series: Spirit Airlines – This is probably the most entertaining stuff I get, but it lasts about two seconds, after I read the subject line. I may have to take this award away if they send me another promotion and I can’t fly there from my host city. Still, it’s very creative, written with unbridled sarcasm and relevant to news/topics and trends. There’s nothing like getting through the inbox clutter by being relevant to today’s trends. Consumers aren’t always in buying mode, and email CAN make brand connections!
Best Mini Series: Nike – Episodic, promotional, strong brand and quality merchandised creative. Few brands can be promotional with such class. Simple is better when you have an iconic brand identity.
Best Actress: Sephora – While I’m not a lipstick guy, I do have three females in the house, so you’d better believe I have to be in the know or I’m not relevant. Good creative and mix of promotion and targeting. Good use of mobile, tied to the mobile app. One of the few retail brands that can merchandise and still make a girl feel good. This cosmetic case of content is blended well with style-based imagery optimized for mobile email. L’Oreal and others, take notes.
And a few awards I’ll give to those that just need a bit more creative thinking:
Best Dressed /Worst Date: Gilt – I’m guilty! High-end, with content I love to browse – but, seriously? Another case of a brand lacking an email identity. From great idea to a daily deal bore. Gilt is one email away from getting into the Groupon/Living Social folder.
Best Idea/Worst Delivery: “I See Me” – One of my favorite sites for people giving personalized gifts to friends/family with kids. But the special brand connection sure gets lost in this blind lust for promotion. I See Me needs to see me for the persistent buyer I am and be far more creative in its messaging and promotional strategy. I can just see the communication calendar (promotion timed to every calendar event involving parents/grandparents). This gets credit for persistence, but a big miss for a really creative, personalized product. How you communicate is part of your brand connection.
I’m sure we all have a few “best of” emails that come to mind. What are your nominations?