Personality Quiz Email

If there’s anything Facebook has taught us, it’s that people love personality surveys. So why not create your own? Make a quiz that determines the subscriber’s personal style. Then offer product suggestions based on their results! Tip: Don’t forget to make your survey answers images, like in the popular Facebook quizzes. Finally, include a button to allow the subscribers to share their results on Facebook. Well, aren’t you just #trendy?

From: Michaels
Date: 11/11/15
Subject Line: Have You Used Your Coupon?
See the full email


Here’s the email that inspired the idea. Michael’s included a sub message where viewers could see their “tree profile.” By clicking on which tree they liked best, they’re given an explanation of their personality type and offered DIY projects and items that fit their taste. Pretty cool. Here is the landing page for the top/right tree.

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Sur La Table

Creating the Perfect Design

Do you ever see a design that just feels right but you can’t put your finger on what makes it so great? Well here’s a breakdown of things every designer should know to make their design fabulous. I chose this email from Sur La Table to dissect as an example. I thought the design was well done overall. So let’s dig in!

From: Sur La Table
Date: 11/09/15
Subject Line: Our Holiday Gift Shops are ready — take a peek!

Sur La Table

You want to weave the subscribers’ eyes through the design — over each product and down the page. There are many ways to create flow from staggered products, angled images, or added graphics. Sur La Table used a numbered list to zig-zag your eye through the page.

Sur La Table

No email is sent without a purpose. Make sure it’s clear to the subscriber as well by making your call to action clear and present. Make it pop on the page and keep the copy concise and specific. This email isn’t the best example of this, but it’s not bad. The call to action is a nice contrasting red to the light grey background, but a colored box could have helped it stand out a bit more. Spoiler alert: I’ll have another blog coming soon all about call to actions!

Color can be a great way to add flow and interest to your design. You can stagger colors (just like images) to create flow. In this email for example, the white is used as negative space. The dark brown curves your eye around the section. Color can also be used to unify sections and products. If you notice all the imagery in the first section sets a grey tone. The secondary section is primarily reds and browns. It helps to separate the sections and makes the product feel like they belong together.

Sur La Table

Again, you don’t want to confuse subscribers about the focus of the email. Without a sense of hierarchy, you will lose their interest. Make sure sections are clearly defined, sized appropriately, and don’t try to cram too much into one email. Although Sur La Table’s primary and secondary sections are fairly equal in size, they are clearly separated and defined. They use extra white space between the messages and placed the secondary headline in a color bar. I love the addition of the arrow to tie the headline with the products and draw your eye down.

Sur La Table

Time for me to get a bit OCD on you. Sometimes image and text groupings just click. They feel right but it may not be obvious why. Well, here’s a big tip for you. Place every object with equal balance and purpose. And I don’t just mean aligning your copy. Look at the space that surrounds the copy vertically and horizontally. Is it equal? What about the space that borders the entire hero? Now that you’ve seen it, it can’t be unseen. I’m sorry and welcome to my world.

Sur La Table

I created an animated gif below (a before and after), showing how I would modify this hero. I made the following adjustments:

  • Centered the call to action to the headline
  • Centered the grey body copy
  • Moved the call to action up so that the space below the button was equal to the space above the headline
  • Moved the stocking image right so that the space to the left and right of the headline was equal

Sur La Table

Doesn’t that just feel a little bit better? It’s all in the details. No one will measure the pixels in your design (other than me), but when it fits, the design simply feels complete.

Whenever you get the chance, break out of the box. Find unique ways to add interest by using things like graphics, textured backgrounds, fun image borders, animations, etc. Sur La Table added a little value with some curved text and a fun font.

Sur La Table Sur La Table

The last thing I want to mention is content does matter. The wrong copy and/or imagery can really kill any design. If the copy is too wordy or bland, subscribers will lose interest. It’s also hard to get bad imagery to work. These can be real struggles for a designer since content is usually handed to them. But when you see an opportunity to make an improvement, pitch your idea! Support your claims of why it’s a good idea. Show an example of working copy from a competitor or take the time to find some stock imagery that might be suitable. They just might be appreciative of the new perspective.

So there you go! Every email is a piece of art just waiting to happen, so get creative and go rock it!

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Who Wore It Better Hero

Who Wore It Better?

I’m sensing a trend here. What better way to make someone feel like they’re getting the most bang for their buck than to offer a versatile garment that can be worn day after day? Here are three emails that highlight just that. So which email design “wore it” best? Let’s evaluate.

From: Anthropologie
Date: 8/14/15
Subject Line: Our most versatile dress yet (+ free ship).


0825_check-mark Product image above the fold
0825_check-mark Design flow
0825_check-mark Outfit pairing(s)
0825_check-mark Stunning product imagery
0825_uncheck Landing page expectation

I love this email’s outdoor photography (as opposed to studio) and the product pairings with each outfit. These two elements make the design most appealing and adds value by doing the tough “pairing” work for the subscriber. Not to mention that it offers the most opportunity for click-throughs. My only criticism is that none of the links take you to the featured product. Instead they go to the general category where you are forced to scroll to find the product. Even though their copy suggests that it might go to the category (tanks, shirt dresses and pullovers), the imagery and email topic sets another expectation. I would suggest either providing links for the product in addition to the category, or at the very least providing the name of the featured products.

From: Banana Republic
Date: 8/21/15
Subject Line: Take this dress in 2 directions

Banana Republic

checkmark Product image above the fold
checkmark Design flow
checkmark Outfit pairing
uncheck Stunning product imagery
checkmark Landing page expectation

Banana Republic comes in a close second. While it has lots of things going for it, it doesn’t have as much versatility when it comes to product uses and pairings. Out of the three emails, it’s landing page was handled the best (although still not entirely ideal). It too only has a link to shop by the category. However, what makes it better than the others is that the product list begins with the featured dress.

From: LOFT
Date: 8/25/15
Subject Line: How to wear it: 1 piece, 2 ways


checkmark Product image above the fold
uncheck Design flow
uncheck Outfit pairing
uncheck Stunning product imagery
uncheck Landing page expectation

Although LOFT places last, they excel in original uses for the featured product. The text slightly overlaying the images (also done in the Banana Republic design) is a nice touch to break from the norm and tie in the copy with the images. Their biggest downfall is with their landing page. Like the other emails, the “shop” links all take you to a category page, again forcing you to scroll and search for the product. The “explore” button (that’s above the fold) takes you to a more appropriate landing page that matches the email design, but even the links on that page have issues. For example, when the “shop” button below the cargo skirt is clicked, it goes to a page featuring the poncho or the cardigan first. IMHO, the skirt should appear first and the pairings below it. The hero image is also broken on EVERY product page, saying “Hold, please. Image coming soon.”

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