In addition to the Subject Line Hall of Fame and Oopsy Hall of Fame, this year I’m introducing the Design Hall of Fame, which recognizes standout examples of design across a variety of elements. For this inaugural list, I’m highlighting inspired uses of animated gifs, calls-to-action, send-to-a-friend functionality, and image creativity. I hope you find this year’s inductees inspiring.
MOST INSPIRED USE OF ANIMATED GIFS
Animated gifs can amuse, extend screen real estate and draw attention to a message. Here are a couple of standout examples from 2007:
Lands’ End, 3/6 — One part sandal, one part slide
Lands’ End provided a few really good examples of how to use animated gifs effectively in emails last year, but this was the best. Not only does this email show off some of the colors that the Beach Trekker Sandal comes in, it also demonstrates how the Croc-inspired shoe becomes a slider. And in cases where the subscriber’s email client blocks the animation, the email’s message hasn’t taken a huge hit because of the strong text supporting the image.
Here’s the animated portion of that email:
KB Toys, 10/16 — Hurry, Halloween Offers End Soon
This is a really good, fun use of animation in a secondary item. It’s not in your face and it doesn’t immediately draw the eye. Instead it gives you a few seconds to scan the email and then it strikes (pun intended). Also important, if this email were viewed in Outlook 2007 and the animation was blocked, no content would be lost, just the eye-attracting effect.
Here’s the animated portion of that email:
For more animated inspiration, check out the Animation in Retail Emails Study.
MOST INTRIGUING CALL-TO-ACTION
You should be testing calls-to-action in the same way that you do subject lines. Depending on your customer base, they may respond better to something other than the oft used “Buy Now.” Softening the sell, injecting humor or using a benefits-related call-to-action may be more enticing in the end. Here are some standout calls-to-action from 2007:
SmartBargains, 10/10 — Closeout price & free shipping: AeroBed(R) pillow top mattress
SmartBargains has a lot of fun calls-to-action that are full of puns and benefits-related messages. This one combines urgency with a pun on the product.
Backcountry, 7/31 — Save up to 30% - Summer Shoe Clearance
The nice shoe pun aside, I can’t read this call-to-action without it kicking off Beastie Boys’ “Fight For Your Right (To Party)” in my head:
You wake up late for school man you don't wanna go
You ask you mom, "Please?" but she still says, "No!"…
CLEVEREST USE OF SEND TO A FRIEND
If your deals are enticing or content interesting, your emails are regularly forwarded on by your subscribers. Providing send-to-a-friend functionality, not only reminds and encourages subscribers to forward your emails along, it provides you a way to track forwards and include a message asking the forward recipient if they’d like to become a subscriber like their friend. Here are some standout uses of send-to-a-friend functionality from 2007:
Ann Taylor, 11/28 — Private Sale, Friday through Sunday. Pass it on!
Ann Taylor was one of the few retailers to urge subscribers to forward the email by using the subject line. The “pass it on” message is reiterated in the body copy at the top and at the bottom next to the send-to-a-friend link.
TigerDirect, 11/20 — Email Only HDTV Sale!
This email doesn’t actually use send-to-a-friend functionality, as it would counteract the tactic here, but I still felt it deserved a mention. Throughout this email, subscribers are urged NOT to forward it along to friends and family, saying that it’s a deal so good that it’s intended just for subscribers only. I assume that this is a reverse-psychology ploy designed to actually boost the pass-along rate (although by not using send-to-a-friend functionality it’s difficult to track outside of clickthroughs). I didn’t see any other retailer use this tactic last year.
For more insights and inspiration about send-to-a-friend programs, check out the Send to a Friend Benchmark Study. Also check out the Refer a Friend Benchmark Study.
MOST EYE-CATCHING IMAGES
There are at least a dozen major retailers with consistently solid photography and images in their emails—Banana Republic, Ralph Lauren, Neiman Marcus and Tiffany jump to mind. While models can be stunning and products beautifully captured, here I highlight images with an extra umph! of creativity. Here are a couple of standout examples from 2007:
Crutchfield, 9/11 — Free stands or wall mounts with Samsung HDTVs
This image creatively combines technology and sports in a new and fresh way.
Old Navy, 11/14 — Get free shipping and free returns at Piperlime.
The creative in this email was fun, seasonal, cleanly presented, and well executed.
Urban Outfitters, 11/23 — Step away from the leftovers: Free Shipping Ends Monday!
What could possibly be more eye-catching than a talking turkey-hand that’s not wearing pants? I struggle with Urban Outfitters anti-slick presentations sometimes, but I think this one’s a winner.