Showing posts with label email. Show all posts
Showing posts with label email. Show all posts

12/15/2020

FTD Flowers: A Mistake and a Quickly Wilting Apology

In a single day last week, I received five emails from FTD Flowers, each with a different subject line:

  1. Psst... Someone Special's Birthday is 5 Days Away
  2. Share The Love ❤️ An Important Anniversary Is In 7 Days!
  3. 🌹🌹🌹 3 More Days To Order Anniversary Flowers! 🌹🌹🌹
  4. Someone Special's Birthday is TOMORROW!
  5. Someone Special's Birthday is 7 Days Away!

Here is an example of one of those five emails.

FTD Anniversary Coming Email
1 of 5 emails I received on 12/9/20

That evening, when I read the first one, I was confused. Whose birthday was in 5 days? According to my Google calendar, the only person I could find with a birthday that day was a former business colleague. We were friends, but not close enough that I'd send him flowers. I checked my FTD purchase history and found nothing for this timeframe. Hmm, I thought -- maybe I need to dig up my old personal calendar I last used during the Clinton administration. 

The next email reminded me of an important anniversary in seven days. It wasn't between my wife and me -- we had a June wedding. It wasn't my parents' or my siblings'. I was confused.

By time I read the third email, I realized something was off with FTD. So, I ignored the forth and fith emails. Ah, well, I thought, we all make mistakes. I categorized this as a Fail for Timing and figured that FTD incorrectly sent those emails.

The next day, I received an email from FTD with a subject line of "Ooops! Hit Send WAY Too Soon 😬". I correctly guessed that FTD had realized their mistake.  

FTD apology email
Apology Email Sent 12/10/20
25% Discount Expired 12/11/20

FTD had quickly recognized its issue, admitted the error, and offered an explanation and an apology. This is a thoughtful approach, similar to what Amazon did several years ago when it sent out a BCS Championship winner merchandise email early

But FTD went a step further ... sort of. The apology email on December 10 included an offer of 25% off my next purchase "to show our appreciation for your understanding." I state, "sort of" because, buried in the email's disclosure, was information stating that the 25% discount would expire just before midnight on December 11 -- and that was the next day.

*Offer expires at 11:59 p.m. CT on 12/11/2020 or while supplies last. Quantities may be limited. All discounts shown. Discounts are not applicable on: (i) product customizations including vases or product add-ons, (ii) FTD Membership fees, (iii) gift card purchases, (iv) service, delivery or shipping fees and applicable taxes, (v) special collections including Nambé, Baccarat or other special collections designed by FTD, and (vi) all "Gifts"under $24.99 or products under $19.99. Discounts cannot be combined. Offers may be subject to change without notice. See www.ftd.com for additional details.

The apology email merits Fails for both Offer and Creative. The Fail for Offer is because the discount window less than 38 hours after the apology email was sent. That's barely enough time for a customer to react to the email and make a purchase. The Fail for Creative is because a customer has to read the fine print to realize this, thus the apology appears to be disingenuous. 

When an offer with a short response window does not message the offer expiration date in the body of the communication, the seller risks customer dissatisfaction -- the type that motivates a customer to shop elsewhere. Or, to put it bluntly, if you pee on a customer's leg and tell them it's raining, that customer will not buy an umbrella from you.

Lessons:

  1. If you make a mistake, own up to the error.
  2. When making amends for a mistake, offer a genuine goodwill gesture.
  3. If your offer expires quickly, you should communicate that fact in the body of a communication, not bury it in a disclosure.

10/27/2020

PayPal: Selling Honey Without the Other Ingredient

A couple weeks ago I wrote about an email from PayPal selling Honey without communicating a value proposition. Over the weekend, I received this email:

PayPal Honey Value Prop email

PayPal explains Honey in one sentence, "Install Honey in just two clicks so when you shop online you can automatically get some of the best prices from over 30,000 online retailers." That is a well-worded product value proposition. 

Where the prior email encouraged immediacy but lacked a value proposition, this email includes a value proposition does did not encourage immediacy in the call to action. As I draft this post, the $5 bonus offer appears to still be active. Perhaps they have not reached the limit of 40,000 new customers eligible for the offer they mentioned in their first email.

Here's an idea: Combine the value proposition and encourage immediacy in a single communication by explaining the product then closing with a $5 bonus offer. The email could be summed up in a few sentences:

"Install Honey in just two clicks so when you shop online you can automatically get some of the best prices from over 30,000 online retailers. Hurry -- the first 40,000 people to install Honey and make a purchase of $10 or more will receive a $5 bonus."

Will you get that $5 bonus in addition to shopping online with Honey? I don't know, but you should make sure your email isn't a Fail. Act now!

Lesson:

Communicating a value proposition is important, but so is giving the customer a reason to take action now.

10/02/2020

PayPal: Selling Honey Requires a Key Ingredient

   This recent email from PayPal merits a couple Fails for Creative

PayPal Honey Offer. What is Honey?
PayPal Honey Offer. What is Honey? 

The email includes a Subject Line of "Get a $5 bonus for shopping smart with Honey." The headline reads "Give Honey a try. Spend $10, Get $5." Below that is a gif of a small box parachuting into a celebration, followed by a message reading, "When you add Honey to your browser for the first time, create an account, and spend $10 or more with PayPal, you'll get a $5 bonus. That's just the start of the savings. Honey members save over $126 annually." Below that are step-by-step instructions about how to install and use Honey, and a disclosure.

There is a clear Call to Action and an incentive for the customer to take action now. The email was sent on September 25 with an offer expiration date of October 4, so immediacy is encouraged. 

But, what is HoneyWhy would I add it to my browser? How do honey members save money, and compared to what? None of these questions are addressed in the email.

Based only on the email, one might guess that Honey is a rebate program or online savings account. In actuality, though, it is an online coupon provider. According to their home page, "Honey helps you find some of the best coupon codes on 30,000+ sites." That is Honey's value proposition, and it is missing from this email.

The other Fail is less important, but worth mentioning.  According to the disclosure and the detailed Terms & Conditions found on Honey's site, only 40,000 customers are eligible for the award. Once that limit is reached -- even if before offer the expiration date -- the reward will no longer be available. This type of restriction is fairly common in direct-to-consumer marketing. I've included number-of-customer limitations in several campaigns to ensure the product is not oversold or to cap potential incentive liability. When I did, I would use this clause to my advantage by communicating it in the body of the email. PayPal could do this by including above the Call to Action a message along the lines of...

Be one of the 40,000 people to get your $5 bonus by October 4th. Bonus must be used by October 31st.* 

or ... 


This exclusive bonus offer is limited to the first 40,000 people to take action by October 4th. Bonus must be used by October 31st.* 

This type of messaging approach not only makes the in-house lawyers happy by clearly communicating an offer restriction; it also communicates scarcity, which is a known factor to drive immediate action and increase response -- and that makes your manager happy.


Lessons:
  1. It is not enough to have a call to action and encourage immediacy in your direct-to-consumer emails. They should always include a value proposition.

  2. If your offer is limited to a specific number of customers, do not bury that restriction -- use it to your sales advantage.

9/16/2020

Upstep: Labor Day Sale Ending, Then Starting

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!!"
Upstep Labor Day Email 1

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:
Upstep: Labor Day email

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:
Upstep: Labor Day Sale extended

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:
Upstep: Labor Day Sale email #4


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:
Upstep: Labor Day email #5

The phone number appears in the style of (xxx) xxxxxxx. Dashes, anyone?

Only the fourth and fifth emails provide a street address for Upstep -- 30 Chapman Road in Pine Brook, NJ. 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.

Lessons:
  1. When having a holiday sale, time your emails appropriate to the holiday and use imagery appropriate to the holiday. 

  2. Your writing nomenclature, including phone numbers, should be appropriate to the local market.

5/22/2011

AT&T's new Terms of Service for those without service

The email from AT&T gets an easy Fail for List.  I know of several people who received it who have not had AT&T Internet for over a year.  Sending an update of your Terms of Service for current customers is one thing, sending it to people that are not current customers is something else.  It will make some people less likely to be AT&T customers again.

Lesson: Don’t force changes to your Terms of Service on non-customers.