Archive for the ‘Text Email’ Category

I was recently traveling on business to a destination far far away (meaning many hours in the air) on an airlines that didn’t have any inflight movies.  I found myself so bored that I decided to hop on the wireless service provided during the flight so I could peruse my Facebook page, catch up on the latest with Goldman Sachs and chat with friends.  How’d I do it?  Gogo Inflight Internet.

The service is pretty cool and it was a new experience when the flight attendant asked me to check an Amazon.com order status for her instead of eying me suspiciously and telling me to turn off my computer (or, as they say, “anything with an on/off switch”).  But, apart from the cool service which they get handsomely rewarded for (it is a monopoly after all), the email experience was lackluster.

Here’s the email I got from GoGo – my first interaction with them via email.

Are they for real?  All I get is a text email with a quick “thanks” for doing business with them.  No color, logo, call to action or even a link to point me back to the site.  Under this, they had my order details listed out but there was nothing pushing me back to GoGo to interact with their site.  Here’s where I put my thinking cap on.

  1. The subject line is boring.  I know I just ordered the service and I appreciate them providing me with an e-receipt.  But, seeing as how this is the first email I’ve EVER gotten email from them, can’t it be spiced up a bit?  How about a “Welcome to our service!” or a “GoGo with GoGo?”  Something witty or even personalized would be better than this banal subject.
  2. I get two horizontal gray bars separating the message from the order details.  Whoop!  Some extra time and effort could’ve been invested in making this email pop.  Email designers everywhere are cringing.  This message is above the fold so I didn’t even realize I had details listed below it until I went back and took a closer look.  Even an image with a plane in the down direction (as a clever pointer) letting me know I had order details would’ve reinforced the idea I just bought from this company something I could use on an airplane.
  3. The message itself is something that reminds me I am just a nameless, faceless drone with a credit card who signed up for the service.  Nothing more than what it took someone in the copy department 10 seconds to write up.  They don’t even remind me what airlines I’m flying (which I would think would be a “gimme” for the airlines to incent customers to remember where they can get inflight internet when deciding who to fly the friendly skies with next time).
  4. Well, what do I do now?  They’ve thanked me and notified my card was charged.  My next move was to move on in my inbox.  Nothing more since they don’t have any call to action or navigation options.  I have to remember the link to the site’s login page to get back online.
  5. Is there a reason I should purchase another time share for Wi-Fi?  According to this, not really, unless I find myself bored again and needing internet access on a flight.  No marketing material in their transactional message letting me know where I can go to check history, look at their packages, or even an introductory offer to win me back after the flight.  I don’t fly all the time so this will have a hard time competing for space in my frontal cortex next time I’m looking for entertainment when I have my Kindle and iPod under the seat in front of me.
  6. How do I get other devices pared with the service?  I know I can get my Blackberry online with GoGo because I turned it on and the GoGo network was showing up as an option.  But, I didn’t know what I needed to do nor did I care enough to play around with it long enough to figure it out.  Having a link to a set of instructions or side bar call outs letting iPhone, Blackberry, or other wireless device users know how to get plugged in would’ve been great.

If they’d created a cool tracking device in the email which would tell me what airlines I was flying (they know it since it’s a very finite connection point – what router is aboard the plane) and where the plane was heading since they’d also know the flight number, I could’ve played around with the site after being pushed in that direction from the email.  Or, it could have asked me to fill out a profile on GoGo where I could put in airlines I normally fly and whether they’re available on those carriers.  Having something pop in the email would’ve kept the concept relevant and not just brought the act of communication down to it’s lowest function of simply giving me a virtual nod letting me know they had my money.

Again, it’s a really cool service.  But, they should invest a bit more time into their email program to tie it into the technology that’s running the backbone of flight internet services and spruce up their email with more compelling content that will get me excited to sign on when I’m 60k feet in the air.  The email didn’t reinforce the act itself of being online.  It was static and rudimentary in the manner in which the information was conveyed.  I wasn’t buying a flint and some sticks here to reminisce about the good old days when our ancestors lived in caves.

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Last week, I signed up for the Kohls.com email list. Sure enough, as I (and any good email snob should) expected, I got the first email within minutes of hitting the submit key. Here’s what I got:


Let’s go analyze what’s good and bad about the message. First, what’s good.

What’s good about this welcome email:

  • Timeliness – this message arrived within minutes of completing the form. Certainly hits when I’m most in the mode to receive it. Kudos.
  • Whitelisting request at the top.
  • A simple welcome message and incentives to open subsequent messages. Very nice use of incentives IMHO.
  • Sets up expectations extremely well with what you’ll receive in these sales alerts.
  • The subject line is great. “Your First Kohls.com Sale Alert” gives me a sense of urgency, as well as matches the expectations of signing up for the email list.
  • Good highlights of what Kohls.com has to offer.

What’s not so good about this message:

  • I understand it’s technically a transactional email, but really? Plain text? I even checked to see if it was an images-off version with alt-text (which if it was, that would mean AWESOME use)… but not so much. I’d expect a major retailer like Kohls to use images.
  • The From line shows up in Gmail as myaccount.help. Who? Exactly. (To be fair, subsequent emails have come from Kohls.com, but this is your first contact, so change it up!)
  • At the bottom, it says “This mailbox is unattended, so please do not reply to this message.” WOW. That’s one way to sort of hide a Do-Not-Reply, but seriously, reply handling can be done with almost any ESP.What’s even crazier is that later it says “for other inquiries, email us at myaccount.help@kohls.com.”–Which, if you’re paying attention, is the FROM line of this message! So first you’re saying don’t reply, but I can send a message to the email box that this message comes from, even though you claim earlier it’s unattended? Are you confused? Good, I’m not the only one.

All in all, despite my distaste for the use of plain text in a first message of this sort, a solid effort put forth by Kohls. If they add images and fix the from-line/do-not-reply issues, they’d be even better.

Not bad, Kohls. Not bad.

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After I learned that I would be a contributor to this blog, I decided it would be a good idea to slowly immerse myself by signing up for email programs for select companies. One of those companies is CNN, and part of what I signed up for was the Political Ticker alerts.

I’ve read the Ticker itself on the website countless times. I know there is a lot of information and a lot of scrolling to be done. But I didn’t expect the Ticker Alert email to essentially be one long list of the stories, too. Here’s what I’m talking about:


Now imagine that, but about 3-4 more “pages” of that. No easy organization. Just story after story.

Notice that at the top it talks about a Speed Read. I don’t see this as a “Speed Read,” but more as a “Speed Skip.” Too much content in a very text-heavy format that’s not particularly easy to scan.

What this message badly needs is a table of contents, some images, and some method of organization that allows for better scanning and is ultimately more conducive to clicks. If you were to scroll through the entire message, you would find that the stories are broken up into four categories: Washington/Political News, National News, International News, and Business News (not sure how that slipped in, but I guess with the recession it’s pertinent enough for “Ticker” status).

These categories need to be prominent and obvious, rather than having to scroll through three pages to check out business news.

I’m not sure of the best way to present this information. The message could be broken up into four silos (columns) with easily prominent categories as titles at the top–though this would still create the need to scroll quite a bit. The message could also not contain as many stories at once, still present the four silos, and offer prominent links to a ticker specifically devoted to those categories. Come to think of it, in my mind this landing page solution would be best.

I’m anxious to hear what others think about this message and what could be done with it to make it more appealing to the scanning reader like me.

Scott Cohen
The Email Marketing Apprentice

P.S. And here I was all set to rant about how Target and Abercrombie & Fitch never sent me welcome emails once I subscribed–a big party foul. But I figured a post with a visual would be much more fun.

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