Just Energy: Limited Offer for Unlimited Electricity with Failed Mail Limitations

Just Energy Unlimited electricity offer envelope
Outer Envelope with 'Limited Time' mention in the teaser
Sometimes brilliant ideas fail on execution. That might be the case with this solo letter package from Just Energy. Their offer of unlimited electricity is innovative and potentially compelling. For one price, you can get all you can eat, er, consume.  

Just Energy Unlimited PA landing page
404 error message on landing page /UnlimitedPA
But this direct mail marketing campaign merits some Fails for Creative. The largest Fail is for a non-functional landing page. As I write this, the website listed at the bottom of the letter has a 404 error message. A customer cannot sign up.

On the letter itself:
  • Just Energy overuses branding. The company name is mentioned several times, filling up the page when critical space could be used to message benefits and reinforce the call to action, which is hard to find at the bottom of the page.
  • Variable content is misaligned. The price, the green checkmarks, and the promo code all appear to be a bit higher on the page than they should be. This gives the appearance of a shoddy form letter, which makes the company seem less trustworthy. 
  • Much of the focus is on features but there is little focus on benefits.  
  • The box in the middle of the page mentions “JustGreen,” but there is no payoff of the term. I presume that JustGreen is a trade name or product name for renewable energy sourcing; however, this is not explained to the reader.
Just Energy Unlimited Electricity Offer Letter
Offer Letter Front
  • Some of the language is a bit heavy on industry jargon. For example, residential consumers understand energy “usage” but might not understand what “consumption” means.
  • Another product name, “Unlimited Plan,” is capitalized inconsistently. In the Johnson Box (and later in the letter) the term is proper-capped; however, in the second paragraph, only the word “Unlimited” is capitalized. 
  • The signatory is generic. Rather than closing with “Your Just Energy Team,” why not close with a signature from the CEO or Vice President of Customer Service? That would make the letter appear to be more sincere.
  • It is missing a respond-by date. The outer envelope headline asserts that this is a limited-time offer, but there is no mention of time-based limitations in the letter. From a direct marketing perspective, a respond-by date gives urgency to a marketing communication and therefore supports immediate consumer action. In the electricity supply industry, it also protects the seller. What if the cost of electricity shoots up and the monthly price of $129.99 cannot be supported? Someone responding to this mailer a month after receipt would be upset when told that the price is now $159.99 per month. 

Below the summary of lessons is how I would rewrite the letter, encompassing the given product with a focus on benefit statements while leveraging proven direct mail marketing elements. This copy would be reformatted and integrated with corporate branding elements for a smooth but not overwhelming balance of color.

  1. Ensure that all back-end processes are in place supporting your campaign, especially your phone number and landing page.
  2. Make your offer letter look presentable.
  3. Use consumer-facing language.
  4. Focus on benefits.
  5. Include a respond-by date.
  6. Proofread.

Offer Letter Rewrite

Enjoy unlimited electricity supply with a simple price
Sign up by xx/xx/xx to lock in your monthly bill for this winter
  • Unlimited Electricity Supply
  • 100% environmentally responsible
  • All for only $129.99 / month
  • Easy sign-up at JustEnergy.com/UnlimitedPA
Dear xx, 

Most people don’t know how big their electricity bill is going to be until they receive it.  That’s because energy costs and electricity usage change each month.  But you can stop worrying about that.

At Just Energy, we believe in being clear and straightforward. That’s why we created the Unlimited Plan. No matter how much electricity you use, your monthly supply price remains the same so you can have peace of mind knowing how much you pay each and every month.

With the Unlimited Plan from Just Energy you’ll enjoy:
 No Cost Surprises – Pay the same amount for your electricity supply each month.
 Comfort without Compromise – Turn up the electric heat because your wallet is protected from changes in temperature.
 Environmental Responsibility – We purchase renewable energy credits to offset 100% of your electricity usage.

Stop guessing about how much you’ll pay and breathe easy this winter.  Take advantage of this offer by xx/xx/xx.  Sign up at JustEnergy.com/UnlimitedPA.  Be sure to use promo code xxxx to benefit from this low fixed price! We look forward to having you as a customer.

Deborah Merril
Chief Executive Officer, Just Energy

P.S. Still unsure?  Call one of our friendly energy specialists at xxx-xxx-xxxx and mention promo code xxxx. They will be happy to answer your questions and help you sign up.


PayPal: Still Shoddy After All These Years

Four years ago, I received a shoddy-looking letter from PayPal informing me that I had been preapproved for a PayPal credit account. I wrote about it in a previous blog post, expressing concerns about overall effectiveness and dilution of PayPal’s brand equity.

PayPal crap
Still Hard to scan + Still Hard to read
+ Still Hard to understand = Still Hard to believe
Last month, I received a similar mailing with a similar style -- blind outer envelope, full-justified copy, black-and-white printing that appears to have been printed on a faded mimeograph, and nearly the exact same copy. Even the first mention of the word “on-line” is hyphenated while the second mention of “on line” in the same paragraph is two words.

The only significant differences appear to be the brand name change from Bill Me Later to PayPal Credit and that PayPal VP Carolyn Groobey no longer associates herself with this solicitation. The signatory is an impersonal “PayPal Credit.”

I find it interesting that PayPal Credit has continually optimized their online tools -- including engaging responsive design and making many of their tools mobile friendly -- yet they continue to use the same shoddy, cheap direct mail solicitation. The quant in me would like to presume that PayPal has run extensive A/B tests and learned that this approach is the most effective. But the right side of my brain is yelling, “How can this cheap creative that looks like a bureaucratic form letter with typos and everything be effective? And how can PayPal allow its brand to be cheapened for so many years! How?!? Why?” 

Is there a lesson here? Perhaps this letter isn’t a Fail for Creative. Maybe the appearance of a poorly created form letter is optimally effective for reaching a credit-worthy (but credit-needy) target market. If so, this is my lesson learned. Or perhaps this is a low-end marketing program that falls under the radar at PayPal headquarters and the lesson is to review your creative content, keep it relevant, don’t let it look lousy, and test it from time to time.

Perhaps the lesson is that, even in the mobile age and at the most tech-forward of companies, there remains a use for direct mail marketing.