Last year, I wrote about Upstep's 9/11 "Patriot Day" sale on custom orthotic insoles. This year, Upstep had a Labor Day sale. While not as distasteful sale as last year's, their recent series of emails merits Fails for Creative and Timing.
The first email arrived Wednesday, September 2, with the Subject Line "Labour Day Sale Extended!! Last Chance!!"
Not only did it arrive a few days prior to Labor Day, the header opens with "Labour". While that is not necessarily a misspelling, it is rarely spelled as such in the United States (where this reader and presumably the company is located). However, the body of the email spells the word as "Labor". So, the spelling is even consistent within the same communication.
The phone number appears in the style of (xxx) xxxxxxx. It is missing a dash after the third digit. That does not align with the style recommend by google and elsewhere for U.S. phone numbers.
Furthermore, the email communicates a Labor sale being extended prior to there being an email communicating that the sale was starting.
Upstep's second Labor Day email arrived Saturday, September 5:
The timing is on point. However, the graphics (which appear better aligned with Independence Day) do not seem to match the timing. Perhaps a picture of a family picnic or a person standing in front of a barbecue grill would be more relevant -- and the representation of a person standing up in comfortable shoes would tie to the product proposition.
The phone number in this email appears in the style of xxx.xxxx.xxx. While I've often seen phone numbers with the format of xxx.xxx.xxxx, I've not seen one where the second dot is after the seventh digit.
The third Labor Day Sale email arrived the day after Labor Day, Tuesday, September 8:
The Subject Line is "Here's 2 more days to save". OK, grammatically off a bit, but not a bad use of immediacy and scarcity of time when offering savings. The Call to Action of "Start Now" is odd, thought, because there the body of the email lacks supporting copy to explain what a customer might be starting.
Again, the phone number is in the unusual style of xxx.xxxx.xxx.
The fourth Labour, er, Labor Day Sale email arrived Friday, September 11:
This appears to be almost identical as the first email on September 2. The Subject Line, copy, and even the phone number style are the same.
Upstep's fifth Labor Day Sale email arrived Saturday, September 13:
The phone number appears in the style of (xxx) xxxxxxx. Dashes, anyone?
Only the fourth and fifth emails provide a street address for Upstep -- . I looked it up on Google Maps, and it appears to be a light industrial complex. There is no mention of Upstep (or an agency acting on behalf of Upstep) being located here. This seeming lack of transparency might give pause to potential customers who are researching the company.
In countries other than the United States, Labor Day takes place on different dates. Did Upstep get confused about when it happens in the U.S.? Is "Samantha," the person mentioned in some of the emails, a real person not originally from the States? I can only speculate about whether the writing style is international or just sloppy. Recipients might ask themselves those questions and hesitate to purchase from the company.
Is this nitpicky? Perhaps. But, when timing details are missed and unfamiliar communication styles are used, a reader is less likely to trust the content of the marketing communication and make a purchase.
- When having a holiday sale, time your emails appropriate to the holiday and use imagery appropriate to the holiday.
- Your writing nomenclature, including phone numbers, should be appropriate to the local market.