Ann Taylor, What Have You Done?

I don’t normally name names, but recent emails I received from Ann Taylor, the specialty apparel retailer, reminded me of an email marketing best practice that is too often overlooked:

  • Tell recipients WHY they are receiving your email.
Email Marketing Best Practice: Tell Recipients why they are receiving your email.

Don't let this be a recipient's first reaction to your brand: "What? Why am I receiving this? Unsubscribe! DELETE!!!"

Since last Tuesday, I have received an email newsletter from Ann Taylor EVERY DAY.  Why?  I have no idea.  I’ve never purchased from Ann Taylor, LOFT, or what I can tell are its affiliate brands.  I don’t visit the Ann Taylor website.  And, while I appreciate a pretty email (they do have beautiful images), I do not take kindly to receiving unsolicited commercial email.

The problem? Nowhere in the welcome email (right) did I get a why.  Not even in the tiny print at the bottom.  Nada. The most I got was “Now that you’re on our email list…”

A brief intro goes a long way.
It really only takes a little snippet of text, preferably above the main body of the message, that says “You are receiving this message because…” or something similar to introduce yourself, your brand, and explain why you, the sender, feel the message is relevant to the recipient.

The when for the why: Any time you are sending to a list of new recipients, an introduction is a good idea.  Also, if you are mailing to an older list, be mindful that recipients may not remember who you are or that they opted to receive email from you.

Ultimately, a little explanation of why an initial email is being sent will:

  • Demonstrate that you’re a responsible sender, showing respect for your recipients’ time and interests.  Brownie points for transparency and valuing your relationship with the recipient!
  • Build trust for your brand and lessen the likelihood of spam complaints and unsubscribes.  Spam complaints are brutal, and depending on your ESP, they can damage your sender reputation and possibly result in your ESP threatening to ditch you as a client.

Also, although it should go without saying, be sure the list you are emailing has been acquired in a legitimate manner. List renting or buying is generally frowned upon and can do more damage than good to your brand and sender reputation.  Really… think of the puppies!

Got any email marketing horror stories to share, either as a sender or a recipient?  Please leave your thoughts in the comment section.

In the meantime, I’ll be on the lookout for an example of a good intro to share.  Sign up for email notifications or like Blue Tomato Creative on Facebook to receive instant updates!

Fun with Twitter, a Win-Win

Liquid Highway shows a playful side on Twitter and gives followers a good reason to come visit their store.

Liquid Highway's Twitter Stream

As somewhat of a (long overdue) followup to my previous post on social media as a marketing channel, I’d like to highlight a business who has the right idea on how to use Twitter to engage loyal and potential customers.

Liquid Highway, a specialty coffee company with locations across South Carolina, has been part of the Twitter community since early 2009.  In that time, they have found a way to translate their Twitter presence into that of a fun-loving friend who is a delight to be around, who you look forward to hearing from… the kind of friend you’d like to introduce to others.   Why? They’ve chosen to add fun tidbits such as games to their tweets, with the prize being discounts in their stores.  And from their tweetstream, you can see that they are as passionate about pleasing their customers as they are about coffee.

The games come in all sorts, all of which encourage followers to visit a Liquid Highway store: everything from a “Happy Mooonday!” invitation to make an animal sound to receive a free shot of espresso, “Twitter Tuesday” where a tweet about Liquid Highway gets you a free small coffee, to “Truth OR Dare Thursday!” where brave souls can receive 50% off their drinks for participation.  What’s great about this? These are DAILY games… meaning followers look forward to seeing a new day’s challenge and are more likely stop by multiple times in a week.  Plus, followers have many, many options for sharing deals with friends.  A win-win… win. 🙂

Social Media Soup

Social media is on the rise as a marketing channel, but is that what consumers want to hear?

I can now ‘Become a Fan’ of, follow the tweets of, and subscribe to any number of rss feeds from the companies/brands I enjoy.  Does having a Twitter account with a river of tweets about products make me more likely to purchase from a company? No.  It’s hard enough to keep up with what  friends are tweeting about, much less take in advertisements.  So, what angle should a company take to get attention in this blossoming channel?  How about share something interesting with those who opt to hear from you.

When friends opt to see status updates from each other, they expect to see something personable… something to keep them in the know about each other.  Companies should keep this in mind when attempting to harness the various social media outlets.  Instead of a push of impersonal ads, how about something that relates to the company/brand’s story?  Could you share bits of historical interest?  Photos? Provide some interactivity such as a game or contest?  Special offer and sale notifications are acceptable as well, in moderation.  If you’re interesting, in a real sort of way, you’re less likely to land an ‘un-follow.’  Just something to think about.