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!


One of the Worst EVER eMarketing Mistakes

Anti-relevance.  And, I know it’s not just me who thinks this!

I’ve long stressed the importance of relevance to the budding eCommerce designers, developers, and marketers I’ve managed. It’s what most online marketers now think of as common sense, especially with the advent of paid search and getting folks to what they are searching for at all costs.

One area where so many websites still drop the ball is once the customer gets to the site, regardless of how or why, they must even be taken to relevant pages WITHIN the site when clicking around.  Seems like that would make sense, yes?  However, so often, the homepage of a website will show a picture of a flashy, attention-getting product, but with NO WAY TO GET TO THAT PRODUCT.  As a consumer, if I see a picture that catches my eye, and that picture is clickable, I expect to end up at a page that contains that item, explains more about it, and/or allows its purchase.


If I were to click on the flaming pink guitar, you’d think I’d see it on the resulting page… but no.  It’s nowhere to be found.

category page:

resulting page:
So, food for thought when designers are putting together the page.  Just because an item is flashy and attention getting doesn’t mean it’s always the best choice for a teaser.  If it’s nowhere to be found for sale, it’s likely to generate more customer frustration than interest!