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  • April 22, 2010

AM Inbox: The danger of having multiple email templates

The Retail Email Blog monitors the email marketing campaigns of more than 100 top online retailers. Here are highlights from my inbox this morning:

Toys “R” Us, 4/21 — Go Green! Celebrate Earth Day with Outdoor Activities.‏
At Smith-Harmon, we tend to design single, very flexible templates for clients. Having a single template makes it easier to update fine print and to replicate any design or coding improvements. Here, Toys “R” Us demonstrates the danger of having several templates. For this Earth Day email, they abandoned their usual template, which they’d recently updated to be optimized for viewing in Hotmail using Firefox, thereby avoiding the rendering issues discussed in our Majority of Retailers Fail Hotmail-Firefox Rendering Test report. This template isn’t optimized for Hotmail-Firefox, so there are many image gaps throughout the design. Also, the body text is left-justified in Hotmail-Firefox, but is centered in Hotmail-Internet Explorer, which is more difficult to read and makes the bulleted section of text awkward. But those two rendering issues are trivial compared to the fact that this template renders their preheader text and administrative text in white text on a white background—which makes their opt-out language and mailing address invisible, a violation of CAN-SPAM. And using “click here” for all of their administrative links—rather than more descriptive links like “unsubscribe”—certainly didn’t help their cause.

Here’s the email in Hotmail-Internet Explorer (left) and in Hotmail-Firefox:

Click to view this Apr. 21, 2010 Toys R Us email full-sized in Hotmail using Internet Explorer Click to view this Apr. 21, 2010 Toys R Us email full-sized in Hotmail using Firefox

Harry & David catalog insert
I often talk about using email to promote other channels, but Harry & David has given me a good opportunity to talk about using other channels to promote email. In this case, they sent me a Mother’s Day catalog that had an insert in it incenting customers to sign up for email. The insert offers them $5 off their order, but it also does a great job of succinctly explaining the ongoing benefits of receiving their emails. The insert is well-designed, with a clear hierarchy of information and easy-to-scan bullets.

Here’s a scan of the insert with the catalog cover in the background for size perspective:

Click to view this Harry & David catalog insert full-sized

Spiegel, 4/21 — The Ultimate Washed Linen! Only at Spiegel, shop styles from $17!
Spiegel sold gift cards at a 20% discount during the 2008 holiday season and Old Navy did the same last holiday season. Now Spiegel is using this tactic again and is even offering 25% off gift cards worth more than $100. Clearly targeting gift-buyers for Mother’s Day, it’s an interesting tactic that gives a discount to the gift-buyer, while still giving the gift recipient an opportunity to redeem the gift card on sale items. It’s a margin hit to be sure, but I imagine this is an appealing and unique offer.

Click to view this Apr. 21, 2010 Spiegel email full-sized

SUBJECTIVITY SCANNER: Select noteworthy subject lines
1-800-Flowers.com, 4/21 — Hurry, Admin Professionals Day is today! Gifts start at $29.99
Crutchfield, 4/21 — Want to go green? We can help.
J&R, 4/21 — Save the Planet and Some Money. . . Go Green This Earth Day!
Fingerhut, 4/21 — Fingerhut: FREE Gift with Your Garden + Patio Order!
Barnes & Noble, 4/21 — Love Mom and Love to Save? Get 50% Off the Perfect Mother's Day Gift!
Costco, 4/21 — Celebrate Mom! Mother's Day Bouquet $59.99 Delivered and More Perfect Gift Ideas.
Williams-Sonoma, 4/21 — A Great Gift for Mom: New & Exclusive Calphalon 3 Piece Set
Bass Pro Shops, 4/21 — Mother's Day Gift Ideas
Diamond.com, 4/21 — Pearls Made For Mom - 72 Hours Sale
Bed Bath & Beyond, 4/21 — Something for every mom…
Frederick’s of Hollywood, 4/21 — The sexiest things you'll take off this summer + free shipping.
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