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Posts Tagged ‘email best practices’

I’ve tweeted about the digidayDAILY email before and thought this may be worth a whole post. For those of you not familiar with them, they send a daily email with snippets of stories from the digital media and marketing world. Overall, I’d say it has lots of great content, but I’ve noticed a few things over the past few weeks that I think may be hindering the performance of their emails.

For starters, I am curious to know what kind of testing process their emails go through prior to being sent out. Notice “from” name below:

Whoops_1

Whoops. Someone should’ve have caught that. I honestly did not think it was a legit email. Your “from” name is one of the most crucial parts of your email as it’s one of the first fields your subscribers look at.

The next “from” line did show improvement however it’s not quite right just yet:

digidayDAILY "from" name #2

After a couple tries, they got their “from” name ironed out:

digidayDAILY "from" name #3

It’s a shame it took them 3 days to work this out. How many people in those 3 days marked their emails as spam?

Next thing I noticed were their subject lines:  244 characters is a bit much, don’t you think? I was actually overwhelmed by it and thought I don’t have time to read all of that content, but when I opened the email it turned out to be only 4 stories in all which is not bad and the layout is very nice. The long subject line though could be misleading and deter opens. I don’t think it’s necessary to convey every aspect of your email in the subject line. If you think about it, the subject line is going to get truncated anyways, so most people won’t even see half of it. Yahoo!’s new email preview feature only shows about 44 characters so save your copywriter some time and just put the most attention-grabbing piece in your subject line. The people over at SmartBrief do a great job with this. Their email publication is similar to digidayDAILY where they have snippets of stories, but their subject lines are significantly shorter (see image below) and usually just mention one thing. They always grab my attention and get me to open.

SmartBrief subject lines screenshot

Finally, I saw a couple tweets go back and forth this week regarding digidayDAILY and whether or not they were sending unsolicited email. Well, if I remember correctly I did sign up to hear from them, but it’s never a good thing for your recipients to think you are sending unsolicited email. Whether you’re renting their name or they legitimately signed up to hear from you, it’s always best to remind them why they are receiving your email newsletter. It can just be a simple line of text and perhaps just part of your footer. Seeing these tweets though really sparked my curiosity, so I decided to check out their subscription center to see if they remind recipients how they got their name on that page. Here’s what I see:

DigiDayDAILY update preference page

As you can see, there’s not a whole lot of information here and it looks like they forgot (or chose not to put in) the headline and text. That’s a missed opportunity for sure! Why not brand yourselves a little? That would benefit you and your subscribers. I also don’t remember creating a password for this so now I am just confused and slightly frustrated. This page could definitely use some tweaking.

Overall, the whole program and process seems a little sloppy to me. I think digidayDAILY means well. The content they offer is great and worth reading.  They just need to clean things up a bit. It’s absolutely crucial to run all your emails (and all landing pages) through a vigorous testing process to ensure everything is exactly how you intended it to be. Otherwise it looks unprofessional and could lead to a bad subscriber experience. That’s the last thing you’d want! As an email marketer myself, things like this are always a great reminder to double and triple check all areas of our email program to ensure we are not guilty of any of the things mentioned above. Nobody’s program is perfect and there’s always room for improvement so let’s all take this opportunity to fine-tune our programs!

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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:

Kohls_Welcome_Email

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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