I subscribe to the Silvercraft mailing list. I bought some pressies for the wife via Groupon and Silvercraft were very persuasive / persistent in asking me to sign-up, so I did.
I’m not the prime customer since the baby was born because ear rings and necklaces etc. are not optimal apparel for a breast feeding mother.
This email popped into my Updates tab (even though it’s clearly a promotion) and I had to double-take before I realised what they’d done … everything wrong, technically.
- Sent the email at about 5.30pm on a Friday – or Pub time.
- Not the optimum time to send an email seeing as most of the nation would have just started drinking the week away.
- Sender Name was in all Caps
- General bad practice: Classified as shouting, trying to gain more attention than others by using bigger, louder letters. Historically this has been abused by brands with little permission and played against a sender who has not delivered consistently. However, it can work as a novel one off.
- Used “re:” at the start of the subject line
- Classed as very bad practice: putting re: at the start is trying increase chance of an open by trying convince the recipient that this is a reply to an existing conversation between themselves and the brand.
- Used “noreply@” as the prefix
- General bad practice: noreply is a statement that this is an out going email only, the brand is only interested in putting content in front of your eyes in order to get your money and is not inclined towards any kind of interaction in the email that email were created for. This is happily accepted for transactional notifications like order receipts but is frowned upon for marketing emails.
- A giant empty header banner
- At the very top of the email, the first thing a recipient will see is the green logo bar which is not so bad but part of that image is some kind of icy, diamondy pattern with a picture of a bloke smiling in a while shirt and white tie. All this tends to do is push the content down the page, making an opener scroll down the page to get to the content promised by the subject line.
- Addressed me as “Dear Customer”
- There are a few differing opinions on addressing recipients: some say only do it if you can do it well; some say always say hello in some way and there are all sorts of middle ground. Personally “Dear” is very formal and immediately gets me defensive, if only a little bit in this instance. I don’t mind being one of the customers but I don’t like being called a customer in a personal context. I’d rather a Hiya or Hi there or more accurately take the name from the address I gave them when I bought something or even better ask me for my preferred greeting when I sign-up.
- Capitalised the offer title
- Again, a bit shouty. In this instance I could assume that they were limited by the MS-Word interface in their Outlook so went all caps instead of a bigger font or a header.
- Used jargon (PCS)
- this could be a bit pedantic or not? I’m not sure what it rally means, it could be an acronym or it could simply mean “pieces” although why not write that instead. Either way we get the idea but it would have communicated just as well without it at all.
- Offered a call to action for each language per item
- Each of the two offers had 7 links each, one each for each language the web-site is in. So while it makes them look all continental it also shows that they have no idea which language people speak, also it makes you wonder where this limited stock is held and will the delivery change be enormous?
- More images coverage than text
- This is basic content best practice. At the lowest level Spam Assassin assumes all font-size is 12px and likes a 60%text 40% image coverage. The larger free consumer inboxes (Hotmail, Gmail etc.) will be more lenient depending on reputation.
- Significantly smaller plain text copy than HTML and short enough to be read by junk filters
- This is again a Spam Assassin basic which is about the filter’s ability to read and compare the plain text and HTML versions if the total character count in each is less than about 450 chars – if they are different enough, it will junk it. This is a common problem with high image images but rarely a problem in the free consumer inboxes.
- Missing company contact and reg details
- This is less about the the recipient experience and more about general requirements for marking emails. Full accountability is a required. A recipient should technically have enough in the email in order to be able to write a letter to the sending brand requesting an opt-out or through their rights as UK consumers they could make a written request for all information that brand has about them.
- Put full urls in linked text (links weren’t tracked so it wasn’t a problem)
- This is an anti phishing thing where the tracking could make the link go somewhere else first and not mask the text .. read on more.
- No tracking
- This is a general marketing 101. The software you use to send the bulk emails will add some stuff behind the content to trigger alerts when someone renders the images or clicks links. It is not required to do marketing it is simply the convention so you can track your success.
- Mailto opt-out method
- Normally the opt-out method is a link to click. Asking someone to send an email to unsubscribe is generally expected to be a tiny brand who cannot afford to do it properly and in that case, the recipient ill have a stringer rapport with them. Also, not being a click means that they have to reply to an individual person to manage their request. If the recipient perceives that the brand should be big enough not to need that they will question their trust in the brand, however not many recipients will think that deeply into it. It’s more likely that there will be a lack of trust or inclination to work that hard and they’ll just head for the opt-out link.
- Not responsive
- Still not universally deployed and virtually impossible to implement from Outlook alone but due to around 50% of opens being on mobile devices it is a good idea.
All these thing are on the check lists I give clients about what not to do and talk them through it in the same way as above. I must always be aware they when I get to them they have been doing this for a little while and they’re obviously still in business so I’m there to educate not discipline them.
They point when instructing on function and experience is not to stifle creativity. In this instance I think I’m safe though.
Of course on the other hand, this is my job, so I analyse content in a different way to most so the general recipient might not care enough or simply know any better but I expect they get some great emails to compare them against.
Essentially it looks like someone who doesn’t really know what their doing had a pop. More likely to be a sales manager than a marketing bod and was at least made in Outlook!
However, I give it all that drama but I’m the one who’s opened the email and is now blogging about it.
My main point of discussion is how important all of these technical elements are. I know they are not all vital and context is always required for the contents’ affect on the recipient experience and conversion success but this email was made in complete ignorance whist still having some respect for the recipient. It makes me wonder if the power of that obvious ignorance played in their favor or not.
More importantly if I’d had my way would some level of charm been missing from the email or would I simply have made them a bucket load more cash?