Panera Hero

Emails with Live Updates

From: Panera
Date: 10/13/18
Subject Line: Amy, vote for your favorite Mac & Cheese!

Panera Cropped Email    Panera Animation

We’ve seen it before: emails that refresh the content each time you visit. Mostly it’s been used to count down the time until a sale ends. Well, Panera has come up with an innovative way to use live email updates. They ask subscribers to vote for their favorite Mac & Cheese creation, with the email displaying the live results! What a cool way to get customers up-to-date information that’s also interactive. In this case, it was also a fun way to let customers know that new fall “Soups and Mac” have arrived.

The live results aren’t the only thing Panera is doing right in this email. They also animated the hero to grab my attention, used my name in the subject line and email to make it feel personal, and made the design mobile friendly. Nicely done!

I could see this strategy being used for other types of retailers. For instance, Gymboree recently had a vote-for-our-next-toddler-model contest. Wouldn’t it have been cool to see which child was “in the lead” in the email? I could also see a clothing retailer having shoppers vote on their favorite fall outfit. What about having subscribers vote what the next holiday “deal of the day” should be? The possibilities are endless!

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Animate Your Catalog hero

Get Your Catalog Moving

Are you trying to create awareness of, or drive traffic to your online catalog? There’s an email for that! Sure, you can throw a graphic in your header or footer, but if that’s not cutting it for you, go for gusto with an animated hero! What better way to grab someone’s attention?! Here are three retailers that did just that.

From: Michaels
Date: 8/26/18
Subject Line: Your Fall Lookbook Is Here! 👀

Michaels email shortened   Michaels animation

 

Michaels did a good job placing their message above the fold. They also included images of leaves which continue throughout the design, tying it all together nicely. However, it’s missing a call-to-action and the animation begins without mention of the catalog. If the viewer doesn’t take the time to watch the entire gif, they might miss the objective entirely. Our next email has a solution for this exact issue.

From: Mark and Graham
Date: 8/26/18
Subject Line: 20% Off Sitewide + Over 100 NEW Arrivals Starting at $29!

Mark and Graham email   Mark and Graham animation

Mark and Graham placed their headline “View the New Online Fall Catalog” and CTA above the animation. This way, wherever you start watching the gif, you’ll know what it’s about and will always have a place to click-through. If I were to change something, I would remove the photo that’s next to the headline, allowing the title to take less space, moving everything up. The use of the picture and horizontal line also make it feel like 2 separate messages – I would like them to feel better integrated.

From: Target
Date: 8/05/18
Subject Line: Your new Weekly Ad is here.

Target email   Target animation

I saved the best for last. One noticeable difference that Target implemented: instead of flipping through the Weekly Ad, they animate the cover. I LOVE this! It brings the cover to life, making it fun and drawing your attention. You know they had to plan ahead to achieve this, and it pays off! They also fit their headline and call-to-action next to the animation, above the fold. I wouldn’t change a thing. Here are a few others they’ve done in the recent past.

Target animation 2Target animation 3Target animation 4Target animation 5

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Moms Day hero 2018

My Mother’s Day Picks

Did your Mother’s Day email fall short this year? Help add life to your message with use of authenticity, originality and humor. Check out the emails that made my list this year.

From: Hot Topic
Date: 5/14/18
Subject Line: Newsflash: It’s Mother’s Day. Get your cool mom a cool gift.

Moms Day Hot Topic Email  Moms Day Hot Topic Animated

This email animates a phone conversation between a mother and daughter. It not only grabs your attention with the animation, but also makes it fun by adding some humor when the mom asks for Slipknot tank for Mother’s Day. It’s smart that they added in the typing […] graphic to the animation to allow time for reading while also making it feel more genuine. I also love how they manipulated the keyboard and word-suggestion area to call attention to the sale.

From: aerie
Date: 5/08/18
Subject Line: You Got It From Your Mama!

Moms Day Aerie Email  Moms Day Aerie Email zoom

Aerie sent out an email asking their models what they got from their mothers. The design features loving quotes and pictures of the moms and daughters together. What makes this one extra special though, is that all of the women are wearing aerie swimsuits and (as is the aerie way) are shown in untouched photography. It’s refreshing to see women of all ages and body types together, having fun and confidence in their natural forms.

From: Anthropologie
Date: 5/13/18
Subject Line: Isn’t Mom the best?

Moms Day Anthropologie Email  Moms Day Anthropologie Email zoom

Anthropologie sent out a series of emails highlighting their female staff with their kids. It’s a different angle to feature the employee as the mom. The photography is really what brings these emails to life. They are shot outside of a studio and look very authentic — Moms hugging and tickling their kids and playing on the beach. It just warms my heart. The script fonts, shadows and ripped edges add to the natural playfulness.

From: UncommonGoods
Date: 5/08/18
Subject Line: Gifts for Woman Warriors (aka Moms)

Moms Day UnCommonGoods Email  Moms Day UnCommonGoods Email zoom

Finally, this email from UncommonGoods caught my eye. It defines Moms as superheroes and lets you choose which comic best fits your mom’s style. The unique hand drawn covers portray different super-abilities that match shopping categories. For example: “Dr. Brainiac” leads to geek gifts, “Mother of Gardens” goes to garden gifts and (my favorite) “The Gray Tornado” features gifts for grandma. The theme overall is original and fun.

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Christmas Engagement Hero

An Engaging Holiday

The holiday season is upon us! Here are 3 things you can be doing to engage customers now.

1) Encourage creating and sharing wishlists.

Creating a wishlist is a great way for users to see all you have to offer, scouring all the different section of your website. So how can you encourage them to do so? Here are 2 retailers with different approaches.

From: The Land of Nod
Date: 11/08/17
Subject Line: Your Wish is Our Command

The land of nod email

Land of Nod offers a chance to win a gift card to anyone that creates or adds an item to an existing wishlist. The design is short, simple and festive. The bold headline and minimal text makes it quick and easy to know what they’re offering.

From: American Eagle Outfitters
Date: 11/08/2017
Subject Line: 📝 WIN YOUR WISHLIST.
See the animation

American Eagle Outfitters email

American Eagle offers the chance to win your list (for up to $500). The subject line is straight-forward, complete with emoji to make it stand out when scanning your inbox. Their headline says it all, in big animated letters, above the fold. However, I feel the design is lacking a bit of festive flair or some type of product/graphic to make it more memorable. I might also suggest inverting the call-to-action to give it more pop.

Both are great strategies. I might even take this a step further by offering extra entries for sharing your list. The pre-filled email or social media post could mention the sweepstakes (to gain new subscribers) along with a link to the list.

2) Make engagement fun!

Set yourself apart. Try something new and creative to make your brand/products stand out. Children’s Place is promoting their new unique online gift cards. You can choose from a pre-made animated eCard, a custom card where you can add your own video, or a digital photo-book gift card! Plus, they add in the bonus of a $10 coupon with any $40 eCard purchase. I haven’t seen anyone else offer a video or photo book gift card and love the idea! It’s a nice personalized touch that transforms “I ran out of time/ideas” into I made this just for you.

From: The Children’s Place Outlet
Date: 11/10/17
Subject Line: NEW – Animated eGift Cards are here!
See the animation

The Childrens Place Outlet email

The email is also well designed. They grab your attention right away with the animated card placed above the fold. The 3 card types are clearly defined with numbers and scannable headlines. It even has flow with staggered numbers and the addition of arrows.

3) Keep people coming back with daily prizes.

Maurices is offering a “Gift a Day Sweepstakes.” I’m a sucker for these emails. I will actually keep them in my inbox and click on them daily. This is a great way to engage your subscribers. However, I feel this campaign was lacking in a few areas.

From: maurices
Date: 11/08/17
Subject Line: You could WIN a GIFT A DAY!

Maurice

The email states: 1 sweepstakes, 12 gifts, 60 winners, enter daily. It shows 12 numbered products. I was confused if you win certain products on certain days or if they were showing the 12 things you could win at any point during the sweepstakes. I also had to look at the fine print to find the cut-off date. So, a little more clear instruction would have been nice.

Also, the retailer payoff for this type of campaign is to get your subscribers to not only click to enter, but to continue to shop. This requires some type of eye-candy on the entry page. Maurices was missing this. They did have a link to “shop holiday gift guide,” but could have used a product picture or anything to pique your interest. (See the landing page)

One final thing, in an Ulta email that had a similar promotion, they told you after your daily click if you were a winner or not. With this campaign, they say “Here’s to ho-ho-ho-hoping you win! Swing by tomorrow for another chance to win.” I’d like to see a little more info about when and how the winners will be announced.

In short, the learning points here are: be clear in your messaging, don’t forget the details, and remember opportunities for click-through.

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Rejuvenation Hero

The Beauty of a Zoom

From: Rejuvenation
Date: 3/24/17
Subject Line: LAST CHANCE! FREE SHIPPING + bath makeover inspiration

From: Rejuvenation
Date: 3/22/17
Subject Line: Don’t miss out! Free Shipping on your first order!

From: Rejuvenation
Date: 3/20/17
Subject Line: We’re treating you to Complimentary Shipping on your next order

Rejuvenation   Rejuvenation   Rejuvenation

These emails by Rejuvenation are the new evolution of design. Two major staples of my methods include: 1) creating flow by staggering products and 2) not overwhelming layouts with too many products. These email do neither, so WHY would I find these emails so aesthetically pleasing? The answer is in the photo zooms! If you tried this layout with photos of a typical shooting distance, it would become overwhelmingly cluttered; your eye wouldn’t know where to look and your brain would have trouble processing every element before you got bored and moved on to the next email. The zooms, however, add a clear and beautiful level of detail that are simplistic and easy to digest. Each image leaves you wanting more. The angles that the photos were taken at are also important; if each photo was shot head-on, it would become stale and lack movement. However, Rejuvenation cropped each image to add balance and interest to a layout that would otherwise be devoid of flow. I also love how each design has its own color scheme; every image coordinates with the hero perfectly.

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happy holidays hero

A Very Merry [something] to You!

We live in a politically correct world where people can be easily offended, so simply wishing subscribers a Happy Holiday can be a tricky thing. Because Christmas and Hanukkah are religious holidays, you don’t want to exclude anyone or step on any toes. Here are a few ways retailers messaged their subscribers this year, ranging from the daring to the all inclusive and a little vague.

1. Retailers That Went For It

I was surprised to see a few retailers going with the Merry Christmas message this year. I personally only recommend going this route if your company is clearly marketed toward a specific religious group (ie: The Christian Book Store). I wouldn’t want to offend and potentially lose a customer.

From: Michaels
Date: 12/24/16
Subject Line: We Wish You a Merry Christmas!
See it animated

Michaels

There’s no doubt which holiday Michaels was backing this year. Their headline spells out in all caps and dancing letters, “MERRY CHRISTMAS.” It is colorful, festive and attention grabbing. One nice thing about singling out a holiday is you don’t have to worry about choosing imagery that caters to everyone (for example snowflakes over Santa). They went a bit generic though with gold glitter stars throughout the email –glitter seems to be a common trend among holiday emails of all types this year.

From: Christopher & Banks | CJ Banks
Date: 12/25/16
Subject Line: Wishing You A Merry Christmas From All Of Us!

Christopher and Banks

Christopher & Banks also wishes a Merry Christmas in both the subject line and headline. They chose a nice photograph of a wreath hanging on a front door to fill the design. The copy is heart-felt and personal, coming from the President & CEO. I always enjoy receiving these types of communications (personal letters). It’s a nice reminder that there are real people behind the company that appreciate my business.

2. Did We Cover Everyone?

These emails did their best to incorporate multiple December religious holidays. This method can be fun and a little comical with original holiday phrases. It also shows your desire to bring everyone together.

From: Cupcake Polish
Date: 12/25/16
Subject Line: Merry Christmahanakwanzika! Celebrate with a FLASH SALE! ❤💚💙

Cupcake Polish

Cupcake Polish invented the word “Christmahanakwanzika” in their subject line. Their email went on to read: “Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa! Happy New Year! We hope you are having a great day no matter what you celebrate!” I like how all encompasing it is with a bit of humor. The email design is a little lack-luster, but they did included a graphic “word cube” that includes all the holidays with some graphics.

From: Madam Glam
Date: 12/24/16
Subject Line: Merry Chrismukkah ! 🎉

Madam Glam

Madam Glam started with a similar approach, using the subject line and headline Merry Chrismukkah, but the copy leans a bit more Christmas (mentioning Santa). The graphic they chose could be viewed as generally winter themed — a tree made of glittery gold hearts, surrounded by falling snow. Overall, not a bad email, but make sure to stick with the plan from beginning to end.

From: Gap
Date: 12/25/16
Subject Line: May your day be merry and bright

Gap

Gap started out with a vague subject line (May your day be merry and bright), but got more specific within the email. They laid it out plain and simple: Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah from our family to yours. The imagery is winter-clad models sporting cozy hats, coats and scarves. Glittery titles and background add to the generic but wintery design.

3. Happy … December?

And finally these retailers took the safe approach by sending well-wishes in a general way. It’s honestly the safest approach. It’s a way to say, hey, we care about you and want you to be happy, whatever you’re celebrating. There were plenty that used the well-known “Happy Holidays,” so here are a few that used an alternative method.

From: Tiny Prints
Date: 12/25/16
Subject Line: ❄ A Special Season’s Greeting for You
See it animated

Tiny Prints

Tiny prints decided to go with the headline “Merry Everything.” Since this choice of words doesn’t call out any holidays specifically, I’m going to place this under the slightly vague category. It is all encompassing, but a little noncommittal. It’s not a bad option, but I did find it a little funny to read, thinking, “Wow, they really weren’t sure what to say here.” It is, however, one of my favorite designs with texture, depth, color and even a subtle animation.

From: Neiman Marcus
Date: 12/25/16
Subject Line: Merry Christmas + a treat for you!
See it animated

Neiman Marcus    Neiman Marcus wink gif

Although the subject line is clearly Christmas, the email itself is more general holiday. The headline reads “May Your Day Be Merry & Bright!” The design, while colorful and creative, got the creepiest award in my book. The good: a model with a winter hat surrounded by doodles of snowflakes, doves and swirly patterns. I could even be okay with the strange choice to doodle a mustache on her, but … The creepy: they add an animation of her winking in a really weird and unnatural way. The right eye doesn’t squint as it should in a normal situation. It’s just a little unsettling.

From: Serena & Lily
Date: 12/24/16
Subject Line: Brightest holiday wishes.
See it animated

Serena and Lily

Serena & Lily went with a broad headline, “Wishing you a bright holiday.” They created their own unique graphic of a snowflake containing drawings of home furnishings. They also animate a little sparkle. I have to say, it is quite unique, but the design lacks a bit of flow and color.

One Final Observation:

As far as these day-of holiday emails go, I prefer it when the message is solely focused on well-wishes. It shouldn’t look like a last-minute inclusion tacked onto the top of a product/sale message. It makes the message a little less personal, not to mention that not many people will be shopping on the day of the holiday they’re celebrating. However, I don’t mind the addition of a link to send a virtual gift card. That’s an easy last-minute gift that doesn’t involve shipping or leaving the home.

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Holiday Gifts Link Hero 2

Tis the Season to Give

Well, it’s officially time to break out those holiday designs! This year, make sure to extend your theme beyond the main message and include it in the framework of your email as well. You can add fun graphics or just switch up the colors for a festive touch. Today, however, I want to talk about one specific addition — a “gifts” button. It provides a quick and easy way for subscribers to shop for their loved ones and see what your business has to offer. Much like a recovery module, it offers an opportunity for click-through even if the subscriber wasn’t interested in the main message. Here are a few examples of gift call-to-actions that popped!

From: Anthropologie
Date: 11/16/16
Subject Line: New tops in need-now shapes: 25% off + free ship.

Anthropologie introduces a new “gifts” link in their footer. It can’t be missed with contrasting red text that animates! See the email animate.

Anthropologie    1118_gifts_anthro_200

From: American Eagle
Date: 11/16/16
Subject Line: A fresh take on destroyed denim

American Eagle follows suit with a red animated link, but they take it a step further by placing it above the fold. Love this idea! See the email animate.

American Eagle    1118_gifts_aeo_200

From: UncommonGoods
Date: 11/14/16
Subject Line: Win the Holidays

If you want to go all out, instead of a singular “gifts” button, break down the gifts by category. Shop by: gender, personality, price point, age, hobbies, etc. — the sky is the limit. (Side note, I just have to say I love this main message design. The use of graphics is so clever, bold and simple. It’s just perfection. But anyway, back on topic…) Uncommon Goods includes a footer at the bottom with “shop by” categories to help simplify gifting. Normally I would say it could use a headline to call out gift giving, or something to make the section stand out a bit more. But since the entire email is essentially a shop-by-category theme, it might have been overkill. Well done.

Uncommon Goods    Uncommon Goods Footer

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Sephora Weather Email Hero

This Email is HOT

From: Sephora Beauty Insider
Date: 7/01/16
Subject Line: Happy Fourth! The forecast is in…

Sephora

I liked this email’s clever use of location targeting. Sephora pulled the upcoming weather for my area and then suggested products based on that information: “This scorcher calls for frizz-fighting hair serums, refreshing face mists, and lots of SPF.” Scorcher might be a strong word for a high of 75, but in WA state that’s shorts weather… and they’re right about the humidity. The way they display the information is eye-catching and quickly digestible with weather graphics and bold, simple headlines. They continue with the theme and offer more opportunities for click-through by listing products that meet the criteria (Living Proof No Frizz Humidity Shield and NARS Broad Spectrum SPF 30, for example). Although, many of the products seem to miss the target for relevancy; it might have been better to list the more applicable products first. All in all, very clever and well done!

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