Superbowl Mobile App Hero

Super Bowl Stunner

From: American Eagle Outfitters
Date: 2/07/16
Subject Line: Time for kickoff: 20% off your purchase on the app!

American Eagle Outfitters

I received many football-themed emails the day of the big game, but this one is my favorite. AEO uses this email to promote their new mobile app. They offer a 20% discount for shopping on the app, beginning Super Bowl Sunday. The copy is clever, incorporating football lingo throughout the email. Here are a few examples: the app-time show, fumble-free shopping, and no penalties for excessive celebration. The copy is also a good length for scanning. I <3 the design. It has great movement which is made possible with angled products, negative space, and sketches that resemble a football playbook. I love the size and placement of the imagery. Even the color selection is a plus, providing nice contrast; the dark textured background really makes the white text pop. They find unique ways to incorporate screenshots of the new app into the design without it getting boring.

They followed up the next day with the same email, but updated a few portions of copy:

  • Subject Line: INSTANT REPLAY: 20% off ends today!
  • Headline: We’re Goin’ to Overtime
  • Preheader: Your closet FTW!

Overall, this email gets an A+ for originality and execution.

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Targeted Hero

Product Targeting: Tips & Types

Who wouldn’t like their own personal shopper? By utilizing link tracking and shopping history, you can send messages about products that are relevant to each customer’s interests. This is referred to in the industry as an Event Triggered Email. There are many ways you can utilize this information (from birthday discounts to product ratings), but for now I’m focusing on product triggered messages. Below are six types of messages you can be sending and some helpful takeaways.

Do: Include a picture of the product(s)
Do: Get creative with layout
Do: Be clever with wording
Do: Cross promote (product suggestions)
Do: Give a reason to buy: Customer service, price match service, urgency, sale, etc.
Do: Add a personal touch (make it less generated feeling)
Do: Run tests

Let’s dive in with six types of emails you can product target with…

1) Product Recommendations
Based on your browsing/shopping history, we thought you might be interested in these items. (Or, other customers who shopped for [product] also liked…) 

From: Crate and Barrel
Date: 11/14/15
Subject Line: You may also like…

I like how this email feels personalized and less like a template. The images are a nice size and fit together without a bunch of dead space. The wording, “Our experts have hand-picked these items just for you” feels so much more personal than “we thought you might like….”

Crate and Barrel

From: UncommonGoods
Date: 11/10/15
Subject Line: We did a little personal shopping

This email is similar to the last example, but with more products. It’s well made, (and this is just my humble option) but I’m not a fan of the wording chosen for the CTAs (show me more). Show me more, what? Products? Something like, “shop now” or “check it out” sounds a little more product specific. I might recommend running some tests on a few options. Testing is always a good idea in general — get the most out of your messages by seeing what customers respond to best.

Uncommon Goods

From: OshKosh B’gosh
Date: 10/01/15
Subject Line: We picked these just for you!

I love that this email shows a product you’ve viewed, along with corresponding suggestions. Sometimes your suggestions feel out of left field and you’re left wondering — why on earth would they think I would like that? This email clearly answers that question. The variety of image sizes also makes the design more appealing. They also included a secondary message for “favorites,” which is a nice addition.

Oshkosh Bgosh

2) Exclusive Discount
Still thinking about this item? Use this code for X% OFF!

From: Express
Date: 10/30/15
Subject Line: Style you love + free shipping = no regrets

Express pulls out all the stops with this email. They offer a one-day only discount for free shipping. They also include corresponding products and a few best sellers. Sometimes an incentive like a personal discount is what the customer needs to get them ready to buy!


From: Shutterfly
Date: 8/20/15
Subject Line: WOW. 40% off to finish your photo book.

Shutterfly also offers a great incentive to order — 40% off! I like the image choice and the bold CTA, but the headline is a bit long.


3) Abandoned Cart
Don’t forget– you left this in your shopping cart.

From: American Eagle Outfitters
Date: 11/03/15
Subject Line: Did you forget something?

The copy in this email is straight forward and scannable. My biggest gripe — I would have preferred it if they included the product image or name in the email.

American Eagle

From: Williams-Sonoma
Date: 10/14/15
Subject Line: Come back soon – items remain in your cart!

Williams-Sonoma adds some urgency by placing a time limit on how long the product will remain in the shopping cart. If you’re not ready to bring down the price as an incentive, this is an easy way to add motivation without hurting your bottom line. I also like the inclusion of the product image, the offering of product support, and the recommendations.

Williams-Sonoma Home

From: Crazy 8
Date: 10/18/15
Subject Line: Going, going, gone! Don’t let the items in your Shopping Bag sell out.

I am really impressed with how specific this email is! Rather than just telling me that I left items in my cart, the email shows me my entire shopping cart with products and current prices! They also finish it off with a few recommendations at the bottom. Nicely done.

Crazy 8

4) Browse
We saw you eyeing this, take another look.

From: Crate and Barrel
Date: 10/26/15
Subject Line: Thinking about it? It’s still waiting for you.

I like the customer support angle that this email took. They make reaching them effortless while keeping the email personable.

Crate and Barrel

From: Express
Date: 10/19/15
Subject Line: These are definitely worth a second look…

I loved the wording Express chose for this email. My favorite is actually easy to overlook; in the preheader, “It’s called retail therapy for a reason.” Followed by the body copy, “Not to make you feel guilty, but your closet is getting pretty lonely.” It’s clever and fun, making the email feel less generated. They also include related products without calling them out as being such, continuing the natural flow. The varied image sizes add to the design. Finally, they include best sellers.


From: Best Buy
Date: 9/09/15
Subject Line: ⚠ Friendly reminder | Amy, thanks for checking us out:

I like how Best Buy mentions their price match guarantee. It’s important to remind your customers why they should chose to shop with you over your competitors. This email also includes my name, which is a nice touch. Although, both of these things aren’t very prominent in the email. I might suggest testing the name in the body copy and make the guarantee part of the main message. What if they headline was, “We’ll Match Any Price!”

Best Buy

5) Back In Stock
This item is now available!

From: Pottery Barn Kids
Date: 9/25/15
Subject Line: This item’s back in stock and we wanted you to be the first to know!

What a helpful and unique way to use target messaging! By reminding a customer that a product they viewed in back in stock, it may light a fire to order it before it goes out of stock again.

Pottery Barn Kids

From: Forever 21
Date: 12/09/15
Subject Line: They’re Back! Your Waitlist Items Have Arrived!

Here is a similar email from Forever 21. Their copy includes more urgency, “Snag them now before they’re gone (again!).” They also include additional must haves.

Forever 21

6) Sale
That item you’ve been eyeing is on clearance!

From: Williams-Sonoma
Date: 12/18/15
Subject Line: Now On Sale: Williams-Sonoma Giant Snowflake Cookie Cutter With Cutouts

Similar to the emails that offer an exclusive discount, this email makes the customer aware that the item is on sale. I don’t know about you, but I can’t resist a deal, so I would LOVE to know when a product I’m interested in is available at a lower price.

Crate and Barrel

And a final note — something I would love to see included in all product targeting messages:
Not interested in this item anymore?

Half of the time my targeted messages are based on items I bought for someone else, food for a cat I no longer own, or because I clicked on a product by mistake. This link could help save customers from the annoyance of a message that “missed it’s target.”

If they do click that link, turn a negative experience into a positive one. Allow the customer to select categories that they ARE interested in so you can better understand and target them in the future. Maybe even offer a discount or other incentive for filling out their preferences!

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November Design Inspiration Hero

Design Inspiration of the Month

The holiday season is here! Are you in need of some fresh design ideas? Break out of that template and make your emails stand out. Here are some cool designs that hit my inbox this month.

I just love this image layout! Cutting images into diamonds and triangles and forming them into a geometric shapes… Just so much yes. Creative. Stunning. More of this please!

From: American Eagle Outfitters
Date: 11/22/15
Subject Line: BOGO 50% off the sweaters (& everything else) you need now.
See the email

American Eagle Outfitters

Date: 11/23/15
Subject Line: Online Now: Up to 50% Off + Free Shipping
See the email


Neiman Marcus first sent an email with animated little people painting the border around the email. So clever and cute — as if they were setting the scene for the beginning of the holiday season. Then, a couple weeks later, I received another email with the return of some tiny people. This time they were sort of photobombing the scene (as was the product). It gives the image a little something special to grab your attention.

From: Neiman Marcus
Date: 11/05/15
Subject Line: The Love to Give Collection is here!
See the email

Neiman MarcusNeiman Marcus

From: Neiman Marcus
Date: 11/18/15
Subject Line: Triple Point Event + Our exclusive gifts!
See the email

Neiman Marcus

Sephora sent an email using red ribbon for a little holiday accent and a pop of color. It’s a classy (and holiday neutral) graphic choice that I love. It’s reminiscent of another email they sent back in September with gold ribbon weaving throughout the products and design. The ribbon adds flow, dimension and a little fun to the email.

From: Sephora Beauty Insider
Date: 11/21/15
Subject Line: 12 party-perfect samples, 1 festive bag
See the email


From: Sephora Beauty Insider
Date: 9/15/15
Subject Line: They’re here
See the email


I really like how Michaels added bows and tags onto their products. It’s a great way to make an ordinary item feel more in the spirit of the holiday season. It also takes less imagination to consider the products as being gift worthy.

From: Michaels
Date: 11/18/15
Subject Line: The Latest Creative Tech Tools – Now on Sale!
See the email


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showroom hero

Straight from the Showroom Floor

I like how these emails give you a feeling of shopping in the store by showing the products as you would see them in person: displayed on a table, carefully folded or hanging on the rack. It makes the images seem less doctored when they’re not being worn by a curvy model or in a perfectly decorated setting.

From: American Eagle Outfitters
Date: 11/01/15
Subject Line: Take 25% off, ’cause we APPreciate you!

american eagle outfitters

I ADORE this email design. The wood grain background that extends the full height of the email sets a nice inviting and rugged tone. The leaves add to the ambiance, giving a sense of fall. But the best part (as it should be) is the products. The way they overlap on top of one another, along with drop shadows, really give them interest. The way they’re positioned draws your eye around to each item and down the page.

From: maurices
Date: 10/21/15
Subject Line: Top picks for 9 to 5.


I love how the folded clothes overlap the hero to draw your eye into the next section. The products are fanned out and folded in interesting ways to add movement. The call to actions are well placed to fill the empty space and connect with the items.

From: Express
Date: 11/06/15
Subject Line: New Express One Eleven! Let’s hang


Puns galore are included in this email from Express. The hero image shows a rack of clothes on hangers. The subject line says “Let’s hang” and the headline is “The tops you need for major hang time.” Cute.

From: babyGap
Date: 10/22/15
Subject Line: snoopy’s here!

baby gap

Baby Gap shows off its new Snoopy collection by folding and laying them all out as you would see in a store. It’s effective at fitting a lot of products into a small space while also giving a true sense of what each garment looks like.

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No Pants Hero

Will Drop Pants for Clicks

Just in case you didn’t get the memo: Pants are out. I found it inconceivable and hilarious that I recieved these two strikingly similar emails in the same month. Both feature an animated GIF of a man dropping his pants to reveal his underwear. It’s sure to grab anyone’s attention and maybe even cause a little chuckle – I’ll give them that!

I’ll break down the pros and cons for each email, but I have one suggestion that applies to both. In each, the animated GIF is used to show a multitude of products. For AEO, 5 boxers are shown; in Moosejaw, 3 pants cycle through. I would suggest adding images of these products below the GIF. This will allow the subscriber to 1) get a better view of the product, 2) let them see it for a longer amount of time, and 3) will also provide a link to each product.

From: American Eagle Outfitters
Date: 10/05/15
Subject Line: Pants off, sale on.
See the animated email

American Eagle Outfitters  AEO GIF


  • Large clear image and headline. It’s eye grabbing and straight forward.
  • The way the links are integrated over the hero image is a nice touch. It’s a nice way of bringing everything together into one solid message.
  • Cute preheader. “More AEO underwear = less laundry…#winning”


  • 4 Meg GIF = Slow loading time

Date: 10/15/15
Subject Line: Keep Your Pants On | Free $10 for Taking a Survey
See the animated email

Moosejaw  Moosejaw GIF


  • 700K GIF = Quick loading time
  • For those that read the copy, it’s hilariously well written. Here’s a snippet: “Let’s face it, nobody likes wearing pants. As a matter of fact, I’m not wearing any right now. Ever wonder why some people are jerks in the morning? It’s because they had to put on pants.”


  • Not very scannable copy. I love the humor, but titles or bolded text could help get the point across quicker for those that don’t have time to read.
  • No flow. Everything is full width and stacked. Not ideal.
  • Lack of hierarchy. The first two messages are related, but the third isn’t. It feels out of place. I suggest treating it more like a secondary message by making it smaller, or removing it entirely.

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The Land of Nod

A Personal Touch

It’s easy to forget the need to build a relationship with your customers, to get past the data associated with each subscriber and remember that you’re reaching out to real people. When I signed up for a (certifiably insane) number of emails recently, my inbox was flooded with a sea of welcome emails that were full of links and content. Each with it’s own mission — to get me to learn or click or DO something. It all felt so forced — action and reaction. Until I opened this email from The Land of Nod.

From: The Land of Nod
Date: 7/23/2015
Subject Line: A special thank you from The Land of Nod.

The Land of Nod

I loved the letter format, the focus being the words welcome and thank you. I didn’t feel like I was a part of some agenda, but was actually being welcomed into a tight circle of new friends. The personal photo in the side column was a great touch. They kept the email concise and to the point. All this, while still delivering a nice design AND including a discount without making it the focus.

I also have to give an honorable mention to American Eagle Outfitters. I liked it for the same reason; it didn’t feel pushy or calculated. I especially loved the wording they chose for the title. Although, I didn’t feel the secondary image was necessary.

From: American Eagle Outfitters
Date: 7/23/2015
Subject Line: We’re gonna make a great team

American Eagle Outfitters

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