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  • February 1, 2012

Design Hall of Fame: 2011 Inductees

Welcome to the Retail Email Blog’s fifth annual inductions into the Design Hall of Fame, which recognizes standout examples of email design. With the number of permission-based emails sent climbing every year, design is one of the key ways you can stand out in the inbox. After reading more than 18,000 retail emails during 2011, here are my picks for the most eye-catching designs, best animated gifs, and greatest multichannel messaging in emails:

Great eye-catching design combines great copywriting and inspired imagery. Here are my picks for standout design from 2011:

Backcountry.com, 7/7 — You Have A Problem? We Have The Footwear
While the message is as simple as “Do you need new shoes?” the execution in this Backcountry.com email is super compelling thanks to a truly awesome hero image, solid headline and original call-to-action.

July 7, 2011 Backcountry.com email
View this email full-sized.

HP, 12/8 — Exclusive: HP's First Ultrabook is Here
I’m a big fan of email design best practices, but I’m also a big fan of occasionally ditching those best practices to stand out in the inbox. HP does exactly that in this email, where they jettison their preheader text, header, and navigation bar and increased their email width to 800 pixels from 570. Those changes helped put more focus on the hero image of their new ultra-thin laptop.

 Dec. 8, 2011 HP email
View this email full-sized.

Sephora, 12/15 — Top-rated products
S-curve designs—where images and text alternate between right- and left-hand placements—are proven to draw the eye down through an email. In this Sephora email, they use a very literal interpretation and a very long execution of the S-curve, while using product orientation to keep product groupings cohesive. Very cool and eye-catching.

Click to view this Dec. 15, 2011 Sephora email full-sized
View this email full-sized.

Dell, 9/23 — You know it's time to upgrade to a new PC when...
Dell stands out in this email by using fun, yet instructive illustrations and a simple “if, then” setup that echoes Jeff Foxworthy’s iconic “You might be a redneck if…” jokes.

Sept. 23, 2011 Dell email
View this email full-sized.

Nike Store, 12/19 — You Choose The Gifts. We'll Get Them There On Time.
During the holiday season, a number of retailers create unique, creative and even branded snowflakes. Re-imagined Christmas trees are considerably more rare—and none was more unique and eye-catching than the one in this Nike Store email. It’s surprising, festive and athletically aspirational in exactly the way that Nike wants to be.

Dec. 19, 2011 Nike Store email
View this email full-sized.

Animated gifs can amuse, extend screen real estate and draw attention to a message. Last year, nearly 8% of retail emails included an animated gif, down nearly a percentage point from 2010 when usage doubled vs. 2009. Here are my picks for standout examples:

Sony, 5/26 — Game On: NEW Xperia PLAY Smartphone is Here | $25 Android Market Gift Card + FREE Shipping‏
For me, the coolest use of animated gifs is showing subscribers how products work. This Sony email is a fantastic example of this tactic in action. The animation shows subscribers how this new smartphone opens up into a game player, communicating it much more clearly than copy or multiple images would.

May 26, 2011 Sony email
View the email full-sized.

And here’s the animated portion of the email:

Animated portion of May 26, 2011 Sony email

J. Jill, 8/14 — Curtain call: 15% off Wearever ENDS TODAY!
The month before sending this email, J. Jill used animation to highlight products that were part of a sale (see July 26 AM Inbox). This email builds on that concept and takes it to a more sophisticated place, using animation to circle the products that make up the outfit of the featured models. It’s a very compelling example of how to mix and match pieces to make an outfit.

Animated portion of Aug. 14, 2011 J. Jill email

Bed Bath & Beyond, 3/17 — Microdry®: a soft start to your day.‏
Bed Bath & Beyond is one of the most prolific users of animation and they have a knack for using it humorously. In this email, they use animation of Humpty Dumpty to make a point about how soft their Microdry bathmats are. The animation also brings the reader down into the email a little and Humpty Dumpty highlights the primary call-to-action by stopping right underneath it.

Mar. 17, 2011 Bed Bath & Beyond email
View this email full-sized.

And here’s the animated portion of the email:

Animated portion of Mar. 17, 2011 Bed Bath & Beyond email

Brookstone, 10/25 — Forget about daylight savings
Animation doesn’t have to be big dominating element of an email. Sometimes a little goes a long way, as in this Brookstone email. In it, they promote TimeSmart self-setting alarm clocks and use animation to demonstrate this self-setting capability.

Oct. 25, 2011 Brookstone email
View this email full-sized.

And here’s the animated portion of this email:

Animated portion of Oct. 25, 2011 Brookstone email

Dell, 3/17 — Pop. Click. Switch. Introducing the new Inspiron R laptop‏
Using a video gif—a rarely used compressed, streaming animated gif—this Dell email demonstrates how the laptop lids for their Inspiron R can be swapped out quickly, in addition to showing off several of the lid designs. Video gifs are blocked by Outlooks 2007/2010 just like animated gifs are, but feature higher frame rates in exchange for additional production and hosting costs.

Click to view this Mar. 27, 2011 Dell email full-sized

To see the video gif in action, check out the hosted version of the email.

Email marketing is a great partner for catalogs, store campaigns, Facebook messaging, mobile tactics and other marketing endeavors. Here are some inspired examples of multichannel engagement from 2011:

Lands’ End, 10/4 — Warm walks, warmer hearts
Needless to say, models are an important element in connecting with your customers. Beyond helping your customers identify with your brand, your model choice can also make a social statement. In this email, Lands’ End uses shelter dogs to model their doggie apparel and pairs that with an appeal to adopt dogs from shelters—as one of their staffers did during the shoot. Along with this social statement is a social call-to-action for subscribers to share stories about shelter dogs they’ve adopted. Judging by the reaction on their Facebook wall at the time, the campaign generated a lot of goodwill, in addition to highlighting product. Those comments also mention that Lands’ End used this campaign in their current catalog too, so this campaign involved at least four channels (email, web, social and catalog).

Click to view this Oct. 4, 2011 Lands’ End email full-sized
View this email full-sized.

Sephora, 5/27 — Today's Obsession‏
This email promoting the Sephora To Go app does a fantastic job of showing, not telling. The app delivers daily “obsessions” that highlight a beauty product, so Sephora uses the current product along with the previous six days worth to create this email. In a way, it’s an email inspired by app content. Perhaps you also have app content that can be repurposed for email. In addition to promoting the app, this email also has a Facebook call-to-action to get subscribers talking about their beauty obsessions.

May 27, 2011 Sephora email
View this email full-sized.

Dell, 11/10 — Download the New Dell Mobile App
This email targets subscribers that are on their mobile devices a lot, so it makes perfect sense that the email would be extremely optimized for smartphones. It’s just 320 pixels wide, has text that’s easy to read, doesn’t include a navigation bar, and has a call-to-action button that’s easy to tap, and none of the other links (besides a few in the footer) are crowded too closely. I’ve seen a lot of emails from retailers asking subscribers to download mobile apps, but this is the first that’s gone this far to be mobile-friendly so subscribers can take action right from their smartphone.

Nov. 10, 2011 Dell email
View this email full-sized.

Art.com, 9/19 — Free Shipping on Fall Colors and Framing
This Art.com contest is emblematic of where things are headed. The contest engages professional and casual artists and art-lovers, whose votes determined the winners. The winners get their photos transferred to canvas, allowing Art.com to promote their Photos {to} Art service, but also get their photos featured on Art.com’s Facebook page, which is easily the bigger prize since most artists hunger for more visibility. The next step would have been to make the winners’ photos available for sale on Art.com. Perhaps we’ll see that next time around.

Sept. 19, 2011 Art.com email
View this email full-sized.

Dick’s Sporting Goods, 8/19 — PACE: Protecting Athletes Through Concussion Education
Ignoring the very odd email-within-an-email format that squanders the benefits of the skinnier design that makes up the majority of the email, this Dick’s Sporting Goods email engages across multiple channels. It leads with an educational call-to-action that’s followed by a several philanthropic calls-to-actions that reward subscribers for spreading the word about this effort on Facebook and Twitter and for checking-in at a Dick’s store. It then concludes with a community call-to-action that appeals to student athletes and their parents to get their school testing software. Those three different content modules appeal to different kinds of people, increasing the chance that subscribers will click through.

Aug. 19, 2011 Dick’s Sporting Goods email
View this email full-sized.

>>Check out the Design Halls of Fame from past years: 2010, 2009, 2008 and 2007

>>Plus, the Email Design Look Books from past years: 2011, 2010 and 2009.

>>Also check out the other Halls of Fame: Subject Line Halls of Fame and Oopsy Halls of Fame.
BROWSE... Archive / Post Categories / Selling Seasons / Topics Covered / Retailers Tracked

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