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
Tags: , ,

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!

October 23, 2013

You had me at hello – welcome messages with “wow” factor

by Darcy Grabenstein

If first impressions are lasting impressions, then the welcome email is key to subscriber engagement. A welcome email – or series of emails – sets the brand tone and sets expectations of things to come.

A glance at my inbox folder full of welcome emails revealed many subject lines that read “Welcome to [fill in the blank].” Yawn. A couple of the emails had subject lines that began “A warm welcome from [fill in the blank].” How nice. Now show me the money!

Several subject lines did include offers, ranging from 10% to 15% to 20% to free shipping. Some subject lines only hinted at offers. Some of those offers had expiration dates (boo); others didn’t (yay).

Athleta’s subject line – Welcome to the Team! – is in keeping with its product line of athletic apparel. JC Penney’s subject line includes specific instructions on what to do to complete the subscription process: “Welcome! Just Open And Confirm Your Email.” Alrighty then!

Most of the email “from” lines simply have the company’s name. That’s a good thing, especially for a welcome email. Ruby Tuesday, however, takes it one step further; its “from” line reads: Ruby Tuesday So Connected. Panera’s is “My Panera” – a nice way of inserting a bit of quasi-personalization into the mix. That’s the name of its loyalty card, and the welcome email actually does include first name personalization, along with the card number (however, the image slice for the number personalization doesn’t line up exactly with the card image):

Panera welcome email

I’ve subscribed to many emails, particularly B2B, that rely solely on the ESP’s automated, cookie-cutter subscription confirmation email. There’s a missed opportunity here. If the ESP doesn’t offer customization of the opt-in confirmation, then follow up with your own branded welcome email.

Here’s a look at a few companies that do a great job of putting out the virtual welcoming mat.

But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. While the welcome email is important, so is the subscription confirmation landing page. It’s yet another chance to acquaint the subscriber with your brand.

Ruby Tuesday’s landing page includes a clever play on words:

Ruby Tuesday welcome landing page

In true Sally-Field-Oscar-acceptance-speech style, Zappos uses its landing page to thank the Academy its subscribers, then gives a snapshot of what’s to come.

Zappos welcome landing page

Its welcome email continues the tone (friendly, enthusiastic) and style (italic headline) of the landing page. I think the “XOXO” might be a bit overkill, though.

Zappos welcome email

Athleta’s welcome email resonates with its female audience, repeating the mantra “Power to the she”:

Athleta welcome email

Moosejaw is the master of irreverence. Its welcome email is a case in point:

Moosejaw welcome email

“Madness” perfectly describes the Moosejaw experience. And that’s OK. It’s what Moosejaw customers come to expect. Anything less would be a disappointment.

Woot is another company that’s delightfully cheeky. Even its name reflects a fun-loving, laid-back attitude. A couple of excerpts from its welcome email say it all:

Woot welcome email excerpt

Woot welcome email excerpt

The UK’s Innocent Drinks also uses humor effectively:

Innocent Drinks welcome email

Moosejaw’s and Woot’s irreverent tone is in keeping with each brand’s voice. However, if a luxury brand, such as Tiffany, tried this it would come off as inauthentic and offensive. Tiffany’s welcome email is true to character – simple, straightforward, and incorporating its iconic robin’s-egg blue:

Tiffany welcome email

There’s no one-size-fits-all guideline for welcome emails. Successful welcome emails – like any email – are those that are true to the brand and resonate with their audience. However, a company must live up to the expectations it sets for product, pricing, customer service and more.

Otherwise, it’s like pulling out the proverbial welcome mat from under your subscribers’ feet.

April 17, 2013

The importance of copy

Filed under: Advertising,Branding,Writing — Darcy Grabenstein @ 10:03 am
Tags: , , , ,

Hawaii ad mock-upIn the season opener of “Mad Men,” Don Draper is pitching a print ad to his client that promotes Hawaii.

The mock-up shows a beach shoreline strewn with a man’s jacket, tie and shoes – with footprints leading into the ocean. The headline reads: “Hawaii: The jumping off point.”

Like Don’s client, I immediately thought of suicide. Then I realized that it was the copy that led me to that conclusion.

Instead of “Jumping Off Point,” if Don had used a headline or tagline of “Hawaii. Shed your cares,” I’m guessing his client would have bought the concept.

Not only does this episode emphasize the importance of copy, it also shows how graphics and copy must work together to create a clear, cohesive message.

We all know Don has a dark side to his character. Apparently, he let his personality cloud his copywriting. This also illustrates how agency creatives must listen to their clients, even when they think they’re right and the client is wrong.

Me? I’ll take a fact-finding junket to Hawaii any day.

Aloha.

Check out Darcy Grabenstein on Google+

October 14, 2012

You can take the girl out of copywriting… but you can’t take copywriting out of the girl

After a copywriting career spanning more than 20 years, I decided to make a move to the account side of the business. I’m now managing email campaigns for a division of one of the world’s largest beauty companies. It’s stimulating. It’s challenging. It’s a learning experience.

It’s not copywriting.

I’m not saying I have regrets, but I am saying that I still need to feed my creative juices.

I can’t help myself. It’s the way I’m wired.

I’m one of those people who watch the Super Bowl not for the gridiron greats but for the 30- and 60-second advertising spots. I actually like to receive commercial emails in my inbox. I flip through magazines, giving equal time to headlines and clever ad lines. Most people record  TV programs so they can fast forward through the commercials. Or flip from one radio station to the next, in an effort to avoid the on-air advertising onslaught.

Not moi. I actually hit the pause button on my DVR so I can capture all the ad details. I sign up for text alerts not to receive the special offers but to see how they’re crafted. I make a mental note of billboards that not only catch my eye but capture the essence of a brand. I click on banner ads to see if they really click with their audience.

My favorite TV shows are (no surprise here) Mad Men and The Pitch.

Call me crazy. Call me whatever you want – but call me a copywriter.

Check out Darcy Grabenstein on Google+

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