The Hired Hand – Not just another blah-blah-blog

May 6, 2014

Emails even Mom would be proud of – a look at Mother’s Day promotions

Filed under: Advertising,Design,Email marketing,Writing — Darcy Grabenstein @ 12:08 pm
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by Darcy Grabenstein

U.S. online consumers will spend an average of $162.94 on Mother’s Day gifts this year, down 3.6% from $168.94 last year, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation. The survey said 29% of consumers plan to shop online. As email marketers, it’s our job to get a slice of that Mother’s Day pie. Let’s take a look at how online retailers are promoting the holiday. I’ll start with a few emails I saved from last year’s swipe file. The first is from JC Penney, reflecting its epic (or epic fail?) rebranding effort. I give JCP credit here, with its clever “mother’s may” and bold graphics and color. JCP Mother's May
Next is one from Rachel Roy, with an attention-grabbing subject line: Happy MILS Day! 20% Off. The headline, too, may cause you to do a double-take. Mother's Day Rachel Roy - Happy MILS Day! 20% Off

And a favorite of mine, uncommon goods, uses a brilliant play on words to tout its preferred shipping: “Don’t you think Mom would’ve liked A Faster Delivery?” Mother's Day - uncommon goods
Fast forward to Mother’s Day 2014.

I’d like to give a shout out to Wayfair, which used the subject line “Mom’s the word: Get gifting with hand-picked favorites she’ll love.” (Full disclosure: I used “Mom’s the word” for a Mother’s Day email when I was a copywriter at Lenox.) Pine Cone Hill uses copy to sell without overdoing it. The headline — THE MOTHER LODE — draws you in.

Pine Cone Hill - Shop Mother’s Day Gift Picks - and Get It Shipped for Free!
Bath & Body Works has an all-encompassing subject line: Give Mom The World! All NEW Fragrances + $6 Fine Fragrance Mist & More! The body of the email pays it off, promoting fragrances inspired by other countries.

Bath & Body Works
Some emails focused on new moms. This email from Nordstrom tugs at the heartstrings. It’s a study in pink. My question is whether a blue-themed email was sent out as well. Nordstrom - Mother's Day Gifts for the New Mom
David Yurman takes it a step further, using cause-related marketing. The subject line reads: Gifts that Help New Mothers. The copy-heavy email explains that a portion of its proceeds will benefit a foundation promoting maternal health. As an added bonus, those who contribute will receive a jewelry box as a thank-you gift. David Yurman - Gifts that Help New Mothers
The following retailers used cross-promotions in their emails. Jack Spade keeps it all in the family, promoting the kate spade new york site. The subject line serves up a dose of motherly guilt: Your Mother Would Love To Hear From You. It’s paid off with the headline below. Jack Spade - Your Mother Would Love To Hear From You
Burlington Coat Factory includes a co-op promotion with 1-800-flowers. The subject line spells out the offer — Just in time for Mother’s Day – 20% off at 1-800 Flowers — but doesn’t feature any of its own products. It also appears that there may have been special characters, such as hearts, that did not render. Burlington Coat Factory

Speaking of flowers, ProFlowers gives its subject line a sense of urgency with “URGENT: Last Chance for a $19.99 Special for Mother’s Day!” The layout and copy are straightforward, simplifying the purchase decision (even for those with hard-to-shop-for moms). It convinced me. My mother will be receiving a colorful bouquet, courtesy of ProFlowers.

ProFlowers - URGENT: Last Chance for a $19.99 Special for Mother's Day!

 

Like flowers, chocolates are popular Mother’s Day gifts. This Godiva email does a good job of promoting gifts for all the moms in your life — mom, wife, sister, friend.

 

Godiva - Mother's Day is May 11 - We've got a Plan!

 

Not all Mother’s Day emails receive this mom’s approval, however. Take the Dirt Devil email, for instance. The subject line is filled with good intentions: Make Mom’s Life Easier This Mother’s Day. And the headline is spot on (pun intended). But do moms really want a vacuum cleaner for Mother’s Day? One year I received a waffle maker for Mother’s Day; it was one of those gifts where you say “You shouldn’t have!” and you certainly mean it.

Dirt Devil - Make Mom's Life Easier This Mother's Day

 

And what about this email from J. Peterman? I expect more from the cataloguer known for its creative copy. I’m sure Elaine from “Seinfeld” would agree. A “Roses are red, violets are blue” rhyming poem? Seriously?

J. Peterman - Final Day - Mother's Day Celebration - 25% Off + Free Shipping.
In this Dean & DeLuca email, the cheesecake gets lost on the white background. I’m sure the monochromatic look was intentional, but a darker plate would have made the product pop.

Dean & DeLuca Free Shipping for Mother's Day Begins Today!

This email from Michael Kors leaves me scratching my head. The subject line reads ” For the Mother Who’s Ahead of Her Time.” I’ll admit it’s cute for an email promoting watches. But the watches definitely are mini and petite, as the hero image focuses on the model (who’s not very “Mom-ish”) as opposed to the product.

Michael Kors - For the Mother Who's Ahead of Her Time
On the other hand (pun intended), Fossil uses a simple but effective subject line: Got a great mom? We’ve got a great watch. The design showcases the watch, and the copy (“momentous savings”) is subtly clever.

Fossil - Got a great mom? We've got a great watch.

I doubt that the folks at Belldini meant to give a plug to MailChimp, but that’s what they did when they forgot to remove the template copy in their email. With their offer of 20% off sitewide, I’m sure moms will forgive them.

Happy Mother's Day From Belldini

 

As Mother’s Day approaches and we wax nostalgic over fond maternal memories, an old song comes to my mind. With lyrics by Howard Johnson and music by Theodore Morse, the song “M is for the Million Things She Gave Me” debuted in 1915. While its words paying tribute to moms everywhere still hold true today, I took the liberty of creating my own acrostic (in the spirit of Rachel Roy’s MILS email) paying tribute to Mother’s Day emails. No “Roses are red, violets are blue” for me:

M is for the Millions of potential gift buyers
O is for the Offers we that can’t be refused
T is for the A/B Tests we love to conduct
H is for the list Hygiene we practice
E is for the Emails sent hawking Mother’s Day
R is for the big ROI we hope to see

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

January 1, 2014

Jingle sells, jingle sells… the ho-ho and ho-hum of holiday emails

Filed under: Design,Email marketing,Writing — Darcy Grabenstein @ 5:58 pm
Tags: , , ,

by Darcy Grabenstein

As we start a new year, let’s take a look at Christmas emails past. The 2013 holiday season was filled with promotional emails galore. Here are a few that caught my attention.

Black Friday

Gymboree gets the award booby prize for one of the earliest emails, hitting my inbox on Nov. 4. Home Depot, Lillian Vernon and Skis.com weren’t far behind, sending holiday emails on Nov. 8.

Bebe brings it on with this headline: Bringing Sexy Black Friday

I’d like to give a shout out to these companies with subject lines that set themselves apart from the rest of the crowd:

Betsey Johnson
A Black Friday Offer You Can’t Refuse
Bon-Ton
☑Get your BLACK FRIDAY list ready | Over 500 Door Busters
Ready, set, click! Shop 500+ Black Friday Door Busters online.
$100 COUPON ends tonight! Black Friday Round ❷…
Current Catalog
❸ ❷ ❶ Black Friday Triple Offer Starts Now
e.l.f.            
☻☺☻☺☻☺☻ ☛
bbbbbbbbBBBBBLACK!
Ethan Allen
Black Friday Goes Red: Are you ready?
(I’m a sucker for alliteration…)
Fisher-Price
Black Friday Frenzy! 20% Off, Plus FREE SHIPPING!
(interesting how both the e.l.f. and Hartstrings subject lines were exactly the same; Hartstrings showed up first in my inbox…)
Hartstrings
bbbbbbbbBBBBBLACK!
Imagine Toys
Tech the halls
(and in true J. Peterman style…)
J. Peterman
Unequivocal Blackness Today – Up to 67% Off & Free Shipping
Jared
Gift Ideas She’ll Definitely Take A Shine To + Free Overnight Shipping!
Judith Ripka
Bling in the New Year with Judith Ripka
Magic Cabin
Black Friday savings with all the fixings
(That one gave me an idea for a subject line for a Black Friday reminder email:
A second helping of Black Friday sales)
Nasty Gal
BLACK OUT—40% Off All Black Everything!
Nicole Miller
Don’t Go Cold Turkey – Shop Our Sale. Up to 70% off.
The Container Store
Oh! Oh! Oh! FREE SHIPPING on Stocking Stuffers

Both Ikea and Mod Cloth had similar headlines with a play on words that captured both the immediacy of the offers and their value:
Ikea           
Seize the days
Mod Cloth
Seize the deal

Mod Cloth also wins points for including content as well. The subject line – Feast your eyes on 5 Black Friday Tips + our fab 50% off sale! – says it all.

Modcloth email

Other headlines that caught my eye:

Backcountry
This should jingle your bells
(perfect branding…)
Bissell
May all your holidays be clean and bright
J.Crew           
those stockings aren’t going to fill themselves

When it comes to content, Wal-Mart does it right. The subject line – Be prepared with your Black Friday Ad and Map – tells you exactly what to expect in the email. The email includes a link to a store map so shoppers can navigate the aisles (and crowds).

Wal-Mart email

Cyber Monday

Here’s one subject line that caught my attention, as opposed to all the Cyber Week and other offers out there:

Avon
Cyber Sunday! FREE Shipping & Up to 50% OFF!

And now for the emails that made my list of nice and not so nice…

Ho-ho

Fossil earns extra points for a compelling subject line – The feeling is virtual – and copy that pays off the concept, which is promoting e-gift cards.

Fossil email

Ugg also ties in its subject line – Looking for the perfect gift? You’re getting warmer – with clever copy:

Ugg email

Nordstrom also slips in a cute email selling slippers:

Nordstrom

Vineyard Vines manages to tie in product to the holiday with both subject line – Check it out! New Sport Shirts are in… – and headline/imagery:

Vineyard Vines email

Tiffany brilliantly builds on its brand equity (See? I told you I like alliteration):

Tiffany email

And Dwell Studio puts a clever spin on last-minute shopping:

Dwell Studio email

These emails use compelling design to convey Christmas messaging. Nicole Miller keeps you coming back with its 12 Looks of Holiday:

NicoleMiller

Shopbop promotes its holiday boutique with a unique visual:

ShopBop email

And J.Crew separates itself from the rest of the pack with this simple email:

J.Crew email

Ho-hum

Here are a few emails that made me go “Huh?” I think Bergdorf Goodman confused Christmas with Easter:

Bergdorf Goodman email

Neiman Marcus missed the mark with this one:

Neiman Marcus email

And Bumble and bumble lives up to its name. This email had me pulling out my hair over the headline:

Bumble

Now that Christmas 2013 is behind us, what are your New Year’s email resolutions for 2014?

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