Showing posts with label remail. Show all posts
Showing posts with label remail. Show all posts


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 While I've often seen phone numbers with the format of, 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 

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.

  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.


Comcast: Sending the same Failed Mail – it’s Comcastic!

This letter from Comcast arrived today. If it looks familiar, it is because it is almost exactly the same failed mail I covered earlier this month. The outer envelope is exactly the same as the first mailing – e.g. semi-blind outer envelope addressed to me “or Current Resident” – so I did not bother scanning it. The letter shown here has the same offer, layout, and body copy as the original letter. The only changes are the respond-by date and response phone number.

This suggests that the original letter was deceptive. The original letter stated … this special offer is only available until March 31, 2010.” However, it now appears to be widely available for at least another half month. There is nothing wrong with creating urgency by including a specific respond-by date, but stating that an offer expires by that date when in fact it does not is misleading when you plan a second mailing of the same offer. It erodes trust with your customer. An appropriate approach in the original letter would be “Please respond to this special offer by March 31, 2010.” or “To take advantage of this special offer, call 1-xxx-xxx-xxxx by March 31, 2010”.

It is generally not misleading to have a grace period after a respond-by date. For example, if want people to respond by March 31, you could accept responses until say, April 7, because some people read their mail late, don’t get around to calling, or delivery is delayed. What is misleading is when your urgency level suggests the offer is final but you send the same offer with a later offer expiration date.

Let’s assume for the moment that the offer in fact expires April 16 and assume that the rest of the letter is final. Even if the offer is available only for existing customers, including the word “customer” in the close is superfluous. The limitation of “only” does not apply to the availability but to the timeframe. An improved means of closing the letter would be “Hurry! This special offer is available only until April 16, 2010. Call 1-xxx-xxx-xxxx today.” If your manager or legal reviewer is directing you to emphasize that the offer is available only to customers despite having a disclosure, then replace “special” with “exclusive”.

Another Fail for Creative applies for the extra space in the closer between “until” and “April 16, 2010.” Someone did not check the spacing.

Of course, a basic Fail applies for repeating use of the same envelope and letter without material modifications. As explained here, if a recipient does not open or respond to the first letter, there should not be an expectation that the recipient responds to the second one using the exact same approach.

On a positive note, Comcast intelligently used a different phone number in the second mailing. This will enable adequate tracking of raw call counts for each of the two letters.

Learnings:  While it is productive to maintain a sense of urgency, do not mislead customers about when an offer expires. Proofread your grammar and every line in your communication. When resending the same offer, modify the creative from the original version. Track distinctly responses from each sales communication.