11/10/2022

Dunkin' Rewards: America Runs on Loyalty Programs With Correct Information

Dunkin' recently overhauled their Dunkin' Rewards loyalty program. Some regular customers are not pleased. Coffee rewards that used to be available after spending $40 on coffee now require at least $50 in spend. The program has also become more complex, with a different points earning formula, monthly boosters and a greater emphasis on food. With greater complexity comes greater risk of error.

I would describe myself as an occasional coffee achiever. I might stop for coffee early in the morning when walking the dog, but not that often. I currently have 257 points according to my app -- not enough for one free coffee.

Screenshot showing I have 257 points

So, imagine my surprise when I received this email. 

Dunkin' Rewards Loyalty Email
Points amount email
34,438 points = almost 69 free coffees!

The points value in the email is not only incorrect, it is outrageously wrong. Why would anyone hold on to 34,000 points?

In a prior role, I worked on a loyalty program mailing that included a mention of a customer's point balance. Here are some of the quality control steps I took:

  1. Verified output data against source data
  2. Verified lettershop proofs against both source data and output data
  3. Requested manual review of customers with points balance more than two standard deviations above the mean against source data. 
Perhaps Dunkin' skipped step 3 above. What they could have done is ask themselves something along the lines of, "Who in the email communication appears to have enough points for more than 10 of the top points item? Should that really be the case?"

Lesson: 

When sending personalized information, verify the accuracy of all variable data including outliers.

10/10/2022

PenFed Credit Union: What's the Point(s)?

 A couple years ago, I wrote about a credit card solicitation I received from PenFed Credit Union. It took some serious sleuthing to understand why I would be eligible for membership. Since then, I've received a few others from PenFed, including this one for a PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card.

I received this mailing as someone who isn't a PenFed member, isn't a member of the armed forces, and is someone who knows about PenFed only because of writing this blog. The letter includes a paragraph explaining that I need to become a member to get the credit card. So, it's probably safe to conclude that the mailer's target audience is who don't know much about PenFed.

Their recent solicitation is again pretty typical for a mid-tier credit card provider: window envelope; letter with Johnson Box; clear Call to Action; Schumer Box; brochure insert; and required credit prescreen opt-out notice. Let's break it down.

The window envelope is clearly branded. Unlike the one from two years ago, this one does not have a teaser

PenFed Credit Union Credit Card Offer Envelope

The personalized letter opens with a straightforward Johnson Box message: Earn 15,000 points when you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days. Nice. The letter opens by communicating a benefit that the rewards card works with my lifestyle. I can earn bonus points by doing what I do. I can get 5x points for filling my car's tank -- or even charging my EV, so forward-thinking! -- 3x points for food shopping or eating and doing other everyday stuff, and everyday 1x points for all those other purchases. The points accrual rates are reinforced in the right margin. 

PenFed Credit Union Credit Card Offer Letter

The letter closes with an explanation that I need to become a PenFed Credit Union member to get the credit card. It's a simple process, so all I need to do is scan the QR code or go to their website to get started.

The back of the letter reinforces points accrual and compares it to other credit card providers that offer points, then reinforces the Call to Action. 

PenFed Credit Union Credit Card Offer Letter

The points proposition is reinforced with a tri-fold brochure reinforcing points accrual rates. It also communicates some secondary perks such as Tap to Pay and Fraud Monitoring, but mainly it's about how all those points can really add up -- and the Call to Action is reinforced yet again.

Brochure Cover



Brochure inset

Brochure inside

Brochure back

The letter package also includes the legally required Schumer Box and accompanying language disclosing the card product's terms.

Credit disclosures, including Schumer Box

 The back of the disclosures page is blank.
Back of credit disclosures page (blank page)

This isn't a quite a Fail for Creative; however, there are some improvement opportunities: 

  • Consider an enticement for the prospective customer to open the envelope. There should be an envelope teaser that would motivate the recipient to open the envelope. Given that the target audience is non-members (e.g. do not have a relationship with PenFed) this is more important than usual. (The "You're Pre-Approved" message in the standard size window is easily missed.)

  • Since the audience is non-member who don't know them, PenFed should introduce itself Maybe PenFed has strong brand recognition within the military community; but, since I also received it, they are obviously also soliciting new customers who haven't served. Consider using the Who We Are content from the website and include it on the back of the required disclosures sheet, or squeeze a message in the letter or the brochure. 

  • Share the value of points. There is plenty of space allotted to points accrual, but nothing about how the points can be used. Explain if points can be used for travel, cash back, donations to the USO, or something I might enjoy. Also, the lack of quantification of value can be suspicious. Perhaps that 15,000-point intro bonus is worth less than the 10,000-point bonus with the compared-to American Express EveryDay Credit Card -- or perhaps it takes 20,000 points to get a shiny nickel. 

Lessons:

  1. Think about your target audience. If they are not current customers, help them get to know you.
  2. When soliciting prospective customers, include a conspicuous teaser message to give them a reason to open your envelope.
  3. Communicate benefits. Points are not a benefit. They are a vehicle of earnings toward a benefit. 
  4. Paper is expensive. Don't waste any. Leverage blank space to sell some more.

7/23/2022

Jockey: Late Recognition Of Getting In My Pants

After months of COVID lockdown and isolation, I was finally going to set foot outside of Queens. My wife and I arranged for a weekend getaway upstate at a bed-and-breakfast with plenty of ventilation, air filtration and outdoor seating. It was our anniversary and, pandemic or not, we wanted to make it special. 

We brought masks, gloves, sanitizer, and more sanitizer. I packed a rag and Lysol disinfectant just to give our room a once-over when we arrived. We brought packaged food in case the nearby restaurants were too busy. After confirming all the details and driving north for a few hours, I realized had I forgotten my mother's advice: Always pack clean underwear. Sorry, Mom!

I discovered a Jockey outlet store near our B&B. It had reopened from COVID lockdown the day before our trip. So, on our anniversary, we stopped at the store for a couple pairs of jockeys. The store manager, also wearing a mask and plastic gloves, understood that I wasn't familiar with the brand and helped me pick out something comfortable in my size. 

The manager apologized that not all price tags were up to date as the store was shorthanded and had just reopened. No worries, I said; just ring me up. She asked to put me on the email list with an offer of an instant discount on my in-store purchase. I agreed, providing my email address.

That was two years ago. I haven't purchased anything from Jockey since then. (The underwear is fine; I simply don't need any more.)

In May of this year, I received an email with a Subject Line of "Thank you for joining Jockey Rewards!

New Jockey Rewards

New Jockey Rewards

New Jockey Rewards
Jockey Rewards Introduction Email, May, 2022

The wording of that subject line makes it seem like I recently joined the Jockey Rewards program, which is not the case. Perhaps giving the manager my email address in that outlet store two years ago had enrolled me in an older version of the program and I had now been auto-enrolled in the current program. This supposition is based on the answer on the Jockey's reward program FAQ:

Jockey Rewards FAQ
First FAQ at jockey.com/rewards mentioning "new and improved rewards program"

So, the program is "new and improved." OK. Perhaps. But since I hadn't just joined the program, better subject lines would include:

Welcome to the new Jockey Rewards!

We've improved Jockey Rewards!

Other than the confusing subject line, the email is nicely done: on brand, communicative, friendly and persuasive. Overall, the email doesn't deserve a Fail for Creative. Perhaps it merits a C+.

Lesson:
Your subject line should be relevant to your customer.


5/25/2022

PayPal: Where $1 Cash Back For Every $20 Spent Is Less Than 5%

Since last July, the value of PayPal stock has fallen by about 75%. While many analysts are discussing the company's "fundamentals" and suggesting at what price to purchase the stock, I'm staying away for a different reason -- because they often produce Mail That Fails. 

My first post about PayPal's several Fails was in 2011 when they mailed me a shoddy credit offer. There are a few more, including a recent one about a confusing and poorly targeted Venmo offer. Now, add to my list of PayPal Fails this offer of "$1 cash back for every $20 spent at restaurants." 

PayPal Restaurant Rebate Offer - May, 2022

PayPal Restaurant Cash Card Offer - May, 2022

PayPal Restaurant Rebate Offer - Disclosures

PayPal Restaurant Rebate Offer - More Disclosures
PayPal Cash Card Restaurant Rebate Offer
Received May 9, 2022

Scanning the headline might make you think that going out to lunch four times -- spending $25 each time with your GooglePay app to use your PayPal balance for those lunches -- would earn you $5 cash back ($100 divided by $20 equals $5). But you'd be wrong…twice. The offer requires me to first request a PayPal Cash Card, then receive it in the mail and use it at a restaurant. All within 5 weeks of first receiving the offer – some of which is spent waiting for PayPal to process my request for the card. That's a lot of effort and a short window of opportunity for a small benefit, e.g. a Fail for Offer

PayPal could have easily avoided this by using a rolling offer expiration date. For example, PayPal could require the customer to request the card by a specific date, but then give the customer a reasonable amount of time to use the card after activation, say, 60 days. That would be clear to explain and fair to the customer -- unless, of course, the intent is to make imply the offer is more generous then it actually is.

Which leads me to the actual offer value. I read through the disclosure text a few times, and I'm pretty sure that cash back offer is on a per-transaction basis. So, while each purchase of $25 would be worth $1 cash back and a $100 dinner might net $5 cash back, four lunches adding up to $100 would be worth only $4 cash back. If I'm right, this is a Fail for Offer and Content for being misleading. If I'm wrong, it is a Fail for Content for lack of clarity.

Another Fail for Content lies in the disclosures. It appears this disclosure was rushed and not proofread. Take this paragraph, for example:

"Eligible Purchase(s)": Eligible Purchase is defined as every $20.00 USD spent in-store or onlineusing the Card and finalized by the merchant during the Offer Period (defined below) in thefollowing category: restaurants (according to the Merchant Category Code (“MCC”) assigned byeach merchant, their processor, and the credit card networks. Only acceptable MCCs for this offerare 5812 and 5814). PayPal is not responsible for assignment of MCC codes. As a result, Reward willnot be awarded if the MCC code assigned to a particular merchant does not fall within a restaurantcategory, even if you believe that the merchant is a restaurant. Eligible Purchases do not include:(1) purchases that are marked as “pending” in your Card account as of the end of the Offer Period,(2) purchases made at eligible merchants using a third-party delivery service (3) ATM transactions,(4) gift card purchases, (5) any purchase or portion of a purchase that involves a payment methodother than the Card, or (6) in-store cash withdrawals/cash back. 

Spaces are missing between words. The punctuation is inconsistent. Some numbers in parentheses have spaces before them; some do not. There’s also a missing comma after "service" in the last sentence. 

There are references to "e-mail" in some paragraphs and "email" in other paragraphs. According to grammarly.com, both are correct as long as you use it consistently. PayPal is not being consistent.

These types of possibly misleading offers and unclear communications suggest to me that PayPal's leadership is spending their marketing dollars without full consideration of what they are doing and how they are doing it. As a stockholder, that would frighten me. As a customer, that also scares me a bit. If I can't expect to get a clean offer and clear communication, should I really be trusting PayPal to keep my personal information secure?

Lessons:

  1. Clearly communicate your offer.
  2. Allow your customers adequate time to respond to your offer and benefit from it's value.
  3. Proofread your entire communication, including your disclosures.
  4. Your customers' trust is potentially built or destroyed by every communication.
  5. The debate between "e-mail" and "email" isn't over, but at least pick a side.

5/15/2022

Pacific Magazine Billing: Even a Scam Can Be Mail That Fails

Remember the good ol' days when penny candy was only $5 a pound? Back then Entertainment Weekly actually published an issue every week. 

Those good ol' days lasted until about three years ago. In August 2019, Entertainment Weekly went monthly -- lasting only until the April 2022 issue before ceasing print publication for good. Ah, well, I used to enjoy reading their "Must List" on the subway.

About six weeks after EW's last issue, I received this envelope package from Pacific Magazine Billing. (Normally, when I first mention a company, I include a hyperlink to the company's website; however, there is no website to be found.) 

Pacific Magazine Billing not-a-bill for Entertainment Weekly

Pacific Magazine Billing not-a-bill - EW Back
Not-A-Bill for cancelled publication

The "NOTICE OF RENEWAL / NEW ORDER OFFER" was for two years of Entertainment Weekly for the low, low price of only $99.95. The Terms and Conditions call out that this is "just an offer and not a bill ..." but it sure looks like a bill. 

Outer Envelope

Pretty Simple Reply Envelope

A lot of sites declare Pacific Magazine Billing to be a scam such as here, here, here, here, here and -- well, you get the idea. Sometimes a scam is a scam but might still be legal. I don't know; I'm not a lawyer. I do know that a scam mail package is naturally a Fail for Creative. But this package isn't only an apparent scam; it is Fail for Timing. I mean, it is pushing for a subscription renewal for a defunct publication. 

Alas, I "Must Not."

Lesson:
If you are going to scam, scam smartly. 


5/04/2022

Fidelity Rewards Visa: Bonus Offer Improvement

I recently wrote about a confusing email offer from Fidelity Rewards Visa with a complex bonus statement credit for a specific category of purchases and a failure to reinforce it's basic product benefits. It merited a Fail for Creative and potential Fail for Offer. 

About six weeks later, Fidelity sent a new and better executed offer to the same person.

Fidelity Rewards Visa Bonus Offer

Fidelity Rewards Visa Bonus Offer

The offer is straightforward and simple enough to explain to my mother: Earn 3 points, rather than 2, for every dollar spent online through May 31, 2022. Unlike with the previous email, there's no minimum spend level, and the email clearly explains the $25 incremental rebate cap using icons and simple language to support communication clarity. Below the three icons, the email reinforces the basic product benefit, specifically that the bonus is in addition to the 2% cash back already available for all credit card purchases.

On the other hand, the email still has one issue. To enroll in the offer, the recipient has to click on the "Enroll now" link in the email then enter a promo code (which may be unique to the recipience, so it's blacked out here as potential PII). The code is 13 digits, which is a lot to enter. In user experience jargon, the need for a customer to enter a long code adds traction to the enrollment process.

So, how could Fidelity Rewards improve this email even more? If the promo code is unique to the customer, perhaps Fidelity could offer1-click enrollment, as other companies do. If it is not unique, why make the promo code so complex? Fidelity could go with something easy to transpose, such as "OnlineBonus22."

Lessons:
  1. Your offer should be simple to explain.
  2. Don't forget to reinforce your basic product benefits.
  3. Take as much traction as you can out of customer enrollment -- the easier for customers, the better.


4/04/2022

Fidelity Rewards Visa: Offering Nothing for Something, or simply unclear?

The Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card offers a 2% rebate on purchases. Their product home page touts, "Earn unlimited 2% cash back on everyday spending." So, why are they are sending emails to  existing credit card customers offering a "2% statement credit, up to $25?" To me, that sounds like a limit.

Fidelity Rewards email with Home Improvement Offer



Fidelity Rewards Card Email with Rebate Offer


The email headline reads, "Earn up to a $25 statement credit." The offer appears to be an opportunity to earn a 2% statement credit if a customer spends at least $200 at a Home Improvement or Lawn & Garden store, with a maximum statement credit of $25. Huh? So, if a customer spends $180 at Lowe's, the customer gets nothing? And if the customer spends $2,500 at Home Depot, they get effectively a 1% rebate? This seems like eating a doughnut hole. Spend too little and there is no benefit; spend too much and the benefit is diluted. Is this a Fail for Offer, or just strange?

But what about that 2% rebate that is supposed to be available for everyday spending on that very same card? The email doesn't speak to that at all. This merits a Fail for Creative because the email does not explain that the statement credit opportunity is incremental to the 2% rebate. The headline could have read, "Earn up to $25 more when you spring into home products." Or the body copy could have read, "In addition to the rewards you already earn, enjoy an additional statement credit up to $25 when you ..." Then there could be an implication that the effective customer rebate could be as high as 4%.

Lessons:
  1. Your offer should be simple to explain and allow customers to easily benefit.
  2. Don't forget to reinforce your basic product benefits.



Updated 4/7 to remove additional PII from email.

3/06/2022

BCHP: A hard-to-find doctor for my non-existent child

When someone asks me if I have children, I sometimes joke, "None to my knowledge." In that context, when I receive a postcard asking me, "Looking for a pediatrician or pediatric specialist?" I have to wonder if someone knows something I don't.

Maybe I do have a child. Maybe my wife has a bun in the oven. Or maybe the reason I received this postcard is less dramatic  that the postcard from Boston Children's Health Physicians (BCHP) merits a Fail for Targeting.

Let's set aside for the moment the fact that I do not have any offspring and break down the postcard's content.

Boston Children's Heath Physicians
Mommy is happy with her healthy baby.

The front of the postcard simply suggests that I choose Bost Children's Health Physicians. It doesn't suggest why I choose one of their doctors. What makes their physicians desirable? To put it in marketing terms, what is BCHP's unique selling proposition?

BCHP Boston Children's Health Physicians
Where is Forest Hills, Queens?
Not in the area shown on the postcard.

The address side of the postcard includes a minor sales message that supports the Call to Action – to “find the expert care your child needs to grow and thrive.” And the postcard displays a map that appears to show the locations of doctors. There is an arrow pointing to the map, reading, “Find a pediatric provider in your area” with emphasis on “your.” Quick takeaway: most of New York City doesn’t even appear on the map.

Maybe there is a provider near me, but how would I know? Rather than communicating how to find the provider – and placing it next to the Call to Action to do so – there is a bunch of white space below the map. The response method is on the other side of the postcard…well, sort of.

Buried on the bottom right corner of the picture of mom and her smiling baby is a URL leading to the Boston Children’s Health Physicians home page. Somewhere on that home page is information that supports the postcard’s messaging, but it isn’t easy to find. The QR code doesn’t lead to the same page as the URL; it leads directly to the practice locator page. And the placement of the QR code (within an image on the opposite side) is a Fail for Creative.

BCHP Boston Children's Health Physicians
BCHP locations not quite near Queens
Let’s get back to finding a provider in my area. I tried the QR code on my smartphone. It indicated that the nearest practice was in Bardonia, NY.

As the crow flies, the distance from Forest Hills, Queens, NY to Bardonia is about 27 miles. As the parent drives in traffic, however, it is two toll bridges and typically an hour drive or longer with a sick or tired child in the back seat. (That assumes the parent has a car. After all, this is New York City.) This long distance to a physician confirms that the postcard was poorly targeted geographically – another Fail for Targeting.

Returning to the caption below the map, what is a “pediatric provider?” Why use that kind of industry jargon when the front of the postcard uses “pediatrician” and “pediatric specialist” while the address side of the postcard cites having 55 “practices”? Why throw yet another term out there? I realize I’m not a parent but, if I were, wouldn’t I want to find a “doctor” for my child?

IMHO, this postcard from Spectrum Marketing Services does not really support Boston Children’s Health Physicians. It is poorly designed, written, and targeted.
 
Finally, unless there is a back-end method in place for tracking response to the individuals being mailed, this isn’t direct marketing – it’s mailed advertising.


Lessons:

  1. Vet your data sources to target matching demographics.
  2. Just being available is not enough. Even a medical practice needs a differentiator.
  3. The means of following through on a Call to Action should be located close to the Call to Action, and easy to find.
  4. Vet your physical targeting to people who can easily get to your physical business or medical practice.
  5. If your Call to Action includes a web site, don’t just list a home page. Use a direct URL that aligns with the Call to Action.
  6. Apply jargon consistently using terms your customers understand.
  7. Even a postcard for a medical practice should include some method of tracking results.


12/16/2021

Athletic Greens: Landing page does not work out

For more than a decade, I've written about the four pillars of a successful direct marketing campaign: Targeting, Offer, Creative and Timing (TOCT). But there is something that binds these pillar together: Execution.

If you properly thought through your TOCT and planned your work, execution is working the plan. To execute successful, everything should work the way it should.

Which brings us to Athletic Greens. I recently received this self-mailer:
Athletic Greens
Cover panel

Athletic Greens
Address panel, with offer URL


Athletic Greens
Inside panel



Athletic Greens
Sales panels
Athletic Greens


Creatively, this is quite a good piece for the category. The paper stock is thick, making it stand out in the clutter of mail. The message are simple and straightforward. The Call to Action is to subscribe to receive dietary supplements by visiting www.athleticgreens.com/startag1 and taking advantage of an offer for new customers. When I tried it, the URL did not work. 
Athletic Greens
Non-functional landing page


Because the landing page was non-functional, this otherwise compelling self-mailer merits a Fail for Execution. If customers can't get the offer they were promised, why would they trust the product?

And it's not like a prospective customer can easily call to take advantage of the offer. The self-mailer lacks a phone number. Sure, there is one on a page buried in the web site (888-390-4029), but that is listed as "Customer Service." Are there no salespeople available? I believe this approach of mailing an offer without a phone number as a secondary call to action is pennywise and pound foolish. It may merit a Fail for Creative.

I received the self-mailer 10 days before Christmas, a time when people are thinking about indulging for the holidays, visiting family and friends, and end-of-year financial activities. A typical mailbox is full of charity solicitations, catalogs and holiday cards. Is this really a time to mail an offer related to personal self-improvement that attempts to motivate people to change their dietary habits? I think no, and that this could be a Fail for Timing

If I planned this campaign, I would have timed the maildrop with an in-home date three weeks later, e.g., the first week of January. I would have also tested the landing page before mailing.

Lessons:
  1. When you include a web address on your solicitation, make sure it works.
  2. When using snail mail to sell your product, don't assume people will go online to response. Include a phone number in your Call to Action.
  3. Carefully consider the impact of seasonality when timing your mailing.






11/30/2021

PayPal: Venmo $10 Giveaway Email Lacks Explanation or Focused Targeting

This recent email from PayPal trying to cross-sell Venmo merits Fails for Creative and Targeting.

PayPal Venmo $10 Offer
Enrollment offer email, sent to long-term
Venmo customer

The email offers me a straight cash bribe (or, as we say in marketing, an incentive) to sign up for Venmo. The Call to Action is to click on the “Claim Your $10” link that will bring me to the below landing page.

Venmo $10 Offer Landing Page
Landing page
lacks explanation of Venmo product features or customer benefits

The landing page reinforces the incentive and discloses information about fees -- and allows me to sign up for Venmo and verify my phone number.

But what is Venmo? Neither the email nor landing page include a product explanation. Simply put: If someone hasn’t used Venmo -- which is, after all, the kind of person the email is targeting -- they would have no idea what it is or why they should provide their mobile number to get $10. Both the email and landing page should include benefit statements or at least some brief sales messages.

Now, in fact, I know all about Venmo. I’ve been using it for a long time, long enough for Venmo’s parent PayPal to know that I am an active customer. That is why I give this a Fail for Targeting. There is no value in sending a new customer acquisition offer to a long-term active customer like myself. Communications like this can make customers question the strength of a brand.

Speaking of brand, why doesn’t PayPal put its name behind Venmo -- at least on this marketing email? For customers who haven’t heard of or used Venmo (like the ones targeted by the offer), including phrasing such as “backed by PayPal” or “a PayPal service” would at least lend some credibility to the product.

This isn’t the first time PayPal has offered me an incentive for something without explanation. Last year, PayPal sent me an offer for Honey that lacked a product value proposition. Nor is this the first time that PayPal has demeaned its brand with shoddy marketing communications. These communications can implicitly send a message to customers that PayPal doesn’t have its act together, which could lead to decreased trust and decreased use. Is this a company to trust with cryptocurrency purchases?

Sometimes marketing managers are so obsessed with their products, they forget the basics. That’s why they need to take a step back, review lessons like the below, and avoid sending Mail That Fails.

Lessons:

  1. Explain what it is you are selling and why it is beneficial.
  2. Extend your new customer offer only to potential new customers.
  3. If selling an affiliate service, consider explaining the relationship with the affiliate.

10/25/2021

DoorDash: No Sleep till Queens ?!?

We live in Queens -- a borough of New York City. It is also it's own county. It is not like any other borough or any other place in the world. 

So to suggest that we live in nearby Brooklyn is like someone suggesting San Francisco-based DoorDash is actually in Oakland -- sure, it's nearby, but it's a different world.

I ordered from DoorDash once, although I'm not sure when or why. Maybe it was to take advantage of a credit card offer, or perhaps it was that time last year when my wife and I really, really wanted a Carvel ice cream cake but didn't feel safe taking the subway there in the middle of a pandemic. Regardless, that one order was enough to be added to their email marketing list.

DoorDash email to Queens customer touting Brooklyn

DoorDash knows where I live: firmly in a Queens zip code. So, the only reason to send me an offer email with a Subject line of "Hey, Brooklyn" is to want to get a Fail for Creative. Brooklyn is a nice borough, but to suggest that we live there is insulting to those of us who can walk to the World's Fair Site or the Louis Armstrong Museum -- or can brag they live in the same borough where Peter Parker grew up with his Aunt May.

But, to suggest I live in Brooklyn? Ouch! Not even a month of free pizza could get me to say, "Fuhgeddaboutit." I'm going to just leave this picture here.

Lesson: 
If you want to appeal to your customers based on locality, make sure you get their location right.



10/11/2021

Hooters: Timing and Grammar Matter

This birthday email from Hooters merits a Fail for Timing and a Fail for Creative.  

The email informs the recipient that he has "10 Free Wings (Birthday)" and that his offer will expire in "1 days."

Hooters Birthday email - after the fact
Hooters Birthday email
arrived well after the birthday


The recipient's birthday was in late August. He did not receive a communication about his free wings prior to his birthday or on his birthday. The first time he found out he had the opportunity to have free Hooters wings served to him (presumably by a "Hooters Girl") was on September 20 -- one day before the offer expired. 

The opening of the email reads:

Just a friendly reminder that your 10 Free Wings (Birthday) is about to expire. Come in and redeem your offer before it expires in 1 days.

This brief paragraph would read better as:

Just a friendly reminder that your 10 Free Wings offer for your birthday is about to expire. Come in and redeem your offer before it expires tomorrow.

One might joke about the sentences being written by a Hooters Girl, but that would be insulting to smart women who take the job. Regardless, it appears to me that the sentence was written by a someone using rudimentary mail merge software. The first sentence identifies the type of free offer in parenthesis. The programming of the second sentence did not take into account that the number of days may be a singular number. 

Let's hope the wings are better than the grammar. 

Lessons:

  1. Recognizing a customer's birthday is a useful way to engage a customer, but only if properly executed.
  2. When using numerical values in your communications, make sure to account for values that are not plural.

8/26/2021

Hard Rock Casino: Guns N' Rose ?!?

The Hard Rock Hotel Casino recently sent this email about upcoming entertainment that included a band called "Guns N' Rose".

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino email for Guns N' Roses
Email from Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City

This is a Fail for Creative, but no worries -- the band is going to make up for this faux pas by playing their new song "Sweet Children of Ours."

Lesson: 
Be sure to thoroughly proofread your communications, including the email Subject Line.

 

8/14/2021

Freshly: Referral Offer Freshens Up

 A couple months ago I wrote about a referral offer from Freshly that merited a Fail for Creative. Last week, the company sent me a similar offer and, from a creative and user experience standpoint, it is an improvement. 

Freshly Referral Offer
Freshly email

This email is personalized, addressing me by name. Although it positions the referral offer as something I had "earned" (which feels a bit gimmicky), the email does recognize both my purchase history and enthusiasm for the product. 

Rather than the previous mailing -- which provided a code to share but without adequate instructions about how to use it -- this email offers a simple link with a Call to Action to "Send a Free Box." That seems easy, and needs no special codes. 

The landing page includes a 3-step, easy-to-understand process for the customer to follow to give a friend a free week of Freshly. 

Freshly Freebie Box Landing Page
Referral offer landing page

The input fields are clear. The email message and subject lines include stock language with an opportunity to personalize. That's almost as flexible as switching next week's meal from the Cauliflower Shell Beef Bolognese to the Indian-Spiced Chickpea Curry Bowl.

One element included in the May email that is lacking here, however, is an expiration date. Instead, the email body copy mentions "... and will expire unless you share it soon ...", while the disclosure reads, "Freshly reserves the right to modify, replace, or cancel offer(s) at any time" -- a statement that lacks a sense of immediacy. This is not a Fail for Creative but is an improvement opportunity. Even if this referral offer is intended to be evergreen, I would include a soft expiration date using language such as "... so send a Freebie Box in the next 7 days and give the gift of better meals made easy!"

Referral offer Thank You page

Lessons:
  1. Referral programs are a useful approach to allowing your customers to be your advocates.
  2. When you want your customers to do something, take all the traction out of the process.
  3. If your offer does not have a expiration date, at least suggest a timeframe for the customer to take action.

7/25/2021

Sorry, I’m late to ask for your vote

In New York City, our primary election for local offices took place on June 22, with early voting taking place June 12 through June 20.

Stringer should have been ready and in the mail before Day One

I received eight oversized postcards from political candidates between June 23 and July 6. A couple of them are shown here. 

This postcard arrived on 6 days after the election, e.g. it is trash

These are Fails for Timing. I want to say, "Sorry, New York City does not offer late voting."

Lesson:

When producing mail for a political candidate, mail early and mail often.