The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

This week I’m in Los Angeles for the OMMA Hollywood show and I’m presenting a session called “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly,” in which I review last year’s e-mail creative. The following are some of the highlights of that speech.

Welcome E-mails

Back in February I reported that I had tried to opt-in to 246 different brands’ internal lists. Out of that 246, only 71 had an option to receive e-mails. Out of the 71, only 22 sent a welcome message. Welcome messages are one of the lost opportunities in e-mail marketing. Companies such as Wal-mart and JC Penney, for instance, only send a brief text message. But other companies really seem to get it. The “Steak and Ale” restaurant,  for instance, allows you to print out the e-mail and bring it in for a discount on your first meal. Dillard’s sends a well designed HTML message and invites you to fill out a survey on how they can make their e-mails even better. Neiman Marcus includes a code in their welcome e-mail that provides free shipping on purchases over $100, while Kraft provides a free recipe in their welcome e-mail.  




In general, automotive e-mails are some of the best crafted, particularly the luxury brands such as the ongoing monthly Lexus e-mail campaign. However, one e-mail stands out as, if not bad, at least odd. An e-mail promotion sent out on behalf of The New York Times and a local Mercedes-Benz dealer offered customers a prepaid Exxon/Mobile “gas card” worth $500. In case those dim-witted Mercedes-Benz drivers missed the point, the copy goes on: “To put this into perspective, if your vehicle averages 20 miles per gallon and gasoline sells for $2.50 per gallon, this would mean fuel for your first 4,000 miles of driving your beautiful Mercedes-Benz would cost $0!”. What it doesn’t say is that if your fuel costs $2.50 and you’re averaging 20 miles to the gallon, you’re probably driving a Honda. And if the thought of getting a $500 gas card is an incentive to get you to buy a new car, you are probably driving a Kia!

Holiday Spirit

If there is one thing that alcoholic beverage companies like to do, it’s send out holiday e-mails around Christmastime. Unfortunately, while most of them are very well-designed, most of the companies seem to be under the illusion that they are creating a print ad; most do little to engage the viewer or provide any type of interactivity that would drive the recipient back to the Web site. The exception to this is the wonderful Tanqueray e-mail that features their character “Tony Sinclair.” The e-mail is filled with interactive features that let you stream video, play a virtual jukebox and other features that pull the recipient in.  

I’ll end by mentioning my favorite campaign: the e-mails from the Wynkoop Brewing Company: An e-mail that invites you to send your resume in to be considered for their “Beer Drinker of the Year” award features a photo of the 2005 winner standing proudly in the center of a group of men dressed as English judges, all wearing powdered wigs, and all saluting him. Now if you don’t click through on something like that, you just ain’t human!

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