Delta Airlines: LGA, Delays, and Holidays

This email from Delta Airlines is a minor Fail for Creative.  

The Subject Line reads “Easier Holiday Travel to LGA.” As a New York City resident, I’m already aware that, with the construction going on at LaGuardia Airport, traffic is so bad at times that people will leave their taxis and walk the last quarter-mile to their terminal. My first thought was that the email will remind me to allow extra time to get to LGA from anywhere in New York City.

But then I noticed that the Subject Line is not about traveling from LGA; it is about traveling to LGA, which implies the email is about what to do when going to LGA from out of town. That might be relevant to me if I had a reservation to fly into LGA — perhaps returning home — or recently flew into LGA on Delta. However, I have not traveled recently on Delta to or from LGA, nor do I have a future reservation that involves LGA. But I frequently fly Delta to and from JFK International Airport.

The email itself makes no mention of the specific dynamics at LGA, such as the long lines in security, crazy traffic, and leaky ceilings. (There is a reason former Vice President Joe Biden said that being in LGA is like a being in “some third-world country.”) The closest mention of local relevance would be the reminder to arrive two hours before my domestic flight.

Finally, the subsequent panel refers to JFK International, not LGA. Given this, my recent travel on Delta and future reservations on the airline — and the fact that the email refers to domestic travel when all flights out of LGA are domestic — perhaps the Subject Line was a mismatch.

When personalizing an email, be sure your personalization is relevant and appropriate, and all of your content is aligned.


Affinity Federal Credit Union: Missing the Point — er … Points

This self-mailer from Affinity Federal Credit Union merits a Fail for Creative for failing to fully explain their offer.
Outside of self-mailer

Affinity Federal Credit Union
Address Panel

During most of the year, purchases on the AffinityFederal Credit Union Pure Rewards Visa Card earn 1 point per dollar spent. Based on their redemption options, I estimate this equates to a rebate value of approximately 0.7%. Every year for the past several years, the credit card has proactively offered customers a simple points multiplier of double points or triple points for purchases in November and December to encourage purchase activity during the holiday shopping season. 

This year, the points multiplier appears to be vary based on the type of merchant. According to the self-mailer, purchases at “Bookstores, including Amazon.com” earn “5 Bonus Rewards Points,” while purchases at “Gas and Restaurants” earn “3 Bonus Rewards Points” and “Supermarket and Wholesale stores” earn “2 Bonus Rewards Points.”

Affinity Federal Credit Union Pure Rewards Points Fail for Creative
Interior of self-mailer

The language suggests the customer might earn 5 Bonus Rewards Points per purchase at Bookstores. What I believe the credit union is attempting (but failing) to explain is that some purchases earn 5 Bonus Rewards Points per dollar. Even the Disclosure copy fails to explain this as such. It reads:

*Bonus points are earned as follows: in additional to the standard points you earn (1 point per $1 spent or 2 points per $1 spent if you quality for EvenMore perks), you will receive 5 bonus points on bookstores, 3 bonus points on gas and restaurants, and 2 bonus points on supermarket and wholesale store purchases less returns during the promotional period …

It appears to me that, if a customer makes a $100 purchase at a bookstore, the customer will receive 105 points. If the intention is that the customer should receive 600 points for that purchase (6 total points per dollar spent), then the offer copy should read “5 Bonus Rewards per Dollar” and the Disclosure should read:

*Bonus points are earned as follows: In addition to the standard points you earn (1 point per $1 spent or 2 points per $1 spent if you quality for EvenMore perks), you will receive 5 bonus points per $1 spent on bookstores, 3 bonus points per $1 spent on gas and restaurants, and 2 bonus points per $1 spent on supermarket and wholesale store purchases less returns during the promotional period …

The communication of the bonus points offer appears sloppy in a couple other ways. First, Amazon.com is not a bookstore. According to Wikipedia, Amazon.com started selling items other than books in 1998. Rather than “Bookstores, including Amazon.com,” the category headline should read “Amazon.com and Bookstores.” 

The second category reads, "Gas and Restaurants" when it should read "Gas Stations and Restaurants" for clarity.  Otherwise, a person who purchases gas at CostCo would expect to receive 3 bonus points per dollar.  The third category reads, “Supermarket and Wholesale stores” when it should read “Supermarkets and Wholesale Stores.” 

  1. Explain your offer clearly and concisely in the body of your communication as well as in your supporting Disclosure.
  2. Be sure to have your marketing communication proofread for clarity and accuracy.
  3. Amazon.com is not a bookstore.


Google Express: Holiday Giveaway a Bit Late and a Bit Off

This minor Fail for Creative and Timing is a lesson for all online marketers. 

Google Express had a targeted promotion where customers who make an eligible purchase through their shopping portal between November 5 and November 25 would receive a “surprise” thank-you discount with a personalized promo code on November 27. Deep in the disclosure, the copy explains (in presumably intentionally hard-to-read, faded gray-over-gray type—a Fail for Creative) that, while most customers would receive a $10 discount, 100 customers would enjoy a $100 discount—and five lucky customers would get a $500 discount. I guess that is what makes it a surprise.
Holiday Promotion 2018
Google Express promotion solicitation email
with a long, hard-to-read disclosure

I made a qualifying purchase and, while I did not receive the discount code on November 27, I did receive it on December 1. It was four days late and for only $10, but that still beats a poke in the eye.  
Holiday promotion
Fulfillment email from Google Express

Two days later, I went to make a purchase using the promo code by clicking on the email button labeled “Shop Now,” with a sleeping fox on it. I was greeted with this landing page:
Holiday Promotion 2018
Shop Now landing page

The headline reads “Our thank-you offer has ended.” However, I had received my thank-you email—not with an “offer” but with the promised discount code. It appears to me that this web page was written to be displayed starting November 26, the day after the purchase eligibility period ended.  

If this was the appropriate landing page for the “Shop Now” button sent on December 1, it should reinforce the holiday discount. Or perhaps “Shop Now” was supposed to go to a different landing page. Either way, the lessons are the same.

  1. If you want your customers to understand your offer, don't disguise your disclosure content with poor color contrast.  If you don't want your customers to understand your offer, ask yourself why.
  2. Be timely in your fulfillment of an offer. It’s better to underpromise and overdeliver than overpromise and underdeliver.
  3. Ensure that all links in your customer emails are mapped to the correct landing page, and that your corresponding landing page is current and appropriate for your marketing campaign

Update 12/5
Google Express changed the 'Shop Now' link landing page to something even more confusing:
Shop Now landing page 12/5/18


Jet.com: Flying in a Bit Late

Jet clearly has a large marketing budget. In addition to being exposed to NYC-centric TV commercials and subway billboards, I received three mail pieces from the company. This blog post is about the third one.

This multi-fold self-mailer arrived at my home on Saturday, November 24. While the front cover thematic is about giving gifts

jet.com holiday mailer front cover

 the thematic on the first fold-out is about Thanksgiving Dinner … 

and the last inside panel has a capture that reads, “Can’t wait for Black Friday? Preview our top deals at Jet.com/BlackFriday.” 
jet.com Black Friday reference

That makes this a Fail for Timing because it arrived after Black Friday. 

Timing mail arrival when mailing Standard Rate is not easy. Based on the postage indicia on the address panel, I know it mailed from Chicago. This was likely a saturation mailing that was drop shipped to the local post office—presumably on an SCF level. That not only reduces postage expenses but also helps with speed of delivery to the recipient’s address. But, even then, the local post office does not have any obligation related to speedy delivery. 

During the holiday season, postal volume spikes. On the day I received the Jet.com self-mailer, for example, in addition to normal marketing and personal mail, I received five catalogs and two other holiday-related marketing self-mailers. Jet may have attempted precise timing but was a couple postal days late. Perhaps they should consider mailing early—even if they are mailing often.

When timing the arrival of your mail, do it carefully. Consider the normal time delivery, then add extra time if mailing between mid-November and late December.