UncommonGoods hero

No joke – this email is great.

From: UncommonGoods
Date: 6/14/17
Subject Line: Shopping for Dad Is No Joke

UncommonGoods Email

This email from UncommonGoods is filled with fun, humor, and originality. It’s the one Father’s Day email that really stood out to me this year. It has the theme: Dad always tells the lamest jokes. They encourage you to shop all the usual categories (ties, beer, gadgets, grilling, etc), but the spin is they pair each section with a cheesy and relevant joke. For example, “I used to hate facial hair. But then it grew on me. [Shop personal care].” Every joke is also being told by a character that represents that category (a mustache with legs for instance). Most of the characters are crying with laughter, which put a smile on my face. The design flows nicely, staggered left to right. I had a lot of fun reading this email and even told my son some of the jokes. It takes a lot of creativity to come up with something for every section, and they pulled it off flawlessly. (BTW, I also love the preheader: Email died laughing? View in browser.)

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Loft Mother's Day Hero

A Mother of an Email

From: LOFT
Date: 5/05/17
Subject Line: Two things we love: our moms…and a SALE

Loft Mother's Day Email

Mother’s Day is right around the corner. I love Loft’s approach to celebrating the holiday. They decided to do a mother-daughter photoshoot with the staff! The email introduces the staff member & their mom, has a personal quote about their relationship, and (the best part) includes a throwback photo of the two of them together. I like how personal this email is — you really feel like you’re getting to know the people “behind the curtain” at Loft. To top it off, all moms are dressed in Loft attire! It’s a great way of showing how versatile their clothing line is. Plus, it doesn’t take any stretch of the imagination to picture your own mom in the same wardrobe. They include calls-to-action that lead you to buy the clothing they’re wearing.

From: LOFT
Date: 5/03/17
Subject Line: Real moms, real style

Loft Mother's Day Email

Loft took two different approaches with this message. In this email they focus less on the individual staff members (removed the names, quotes and throwback photos) and made it more of a general message. They rely on you to click through to the landing page to learn more about the staff/moms. In this email it’s less obvious to me that the mothers are wearing Loft clothing (in the other email the copy points out that the moms are stepping in as models). Because of this, I find the main call-to-action (shop now) a little out of place. I would expect to see the “meet our moms” CTA first. Still, it’s very sweet and personal (because of the photos), but I favor the content in the other version more.

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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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Sur La Table Recipe Email Hero

Now THIS is How You Sell a Product

From: Sur La Table
Date: 7/17/16
Subject Line: This Week’s Recipe—Shrimp and Pineapple Curry

From: Sur La Table
Date: 7/24/16
Subject Line: This Week’s Recipe: Barbecued Corn & Tomato Salad

Sur La Table Pineapple Email    Sur La Table Corn Email

I ADORE these recipe emails from Sur La Table! These are great examples of how to feature a product in a way that can appeal to anyone. They’re packed with information including a recipe, product, tip and trivia — but despite all the content, they are fun and don’t feel overwhelming. The gorgeous recipe hero image is eye catching and includes a large call to action above the fold. Right from the start this email has added value by giving you something for free without trying to sales pitch you out the door. The well implemented left-to-right flow and wonderful use of negative space draws your eyes to the next section where you see the product that was used to make the recipe. A video is included in both emails to illustrate how easy the product is to use. There are so many graphic design choices that really add interest, including: textured headline backgrounds that POP, drop shadows on products, boxes with dotted borders, overlapping imagery, various arrows to lead the eye, colored drop shadows and the headline flourish in the trivia section. I ❤❤❤ these emails! Nice job, Sur La Table!

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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…


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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hashtag hero

Don’t Waste That Hashtag

I keep seeing email after email underutilizing hashtags (ahem, examples above). Retailers seem to be using them as a way to look trendy, but with no real purpose. This is such a missed opportunity. Hashtags are essentially FREE MARKETING! By encouraging your customers to share their images and thoughts about your brand, they are marketing to their friends, family, and followers for you. So how can you use hashtags to your advantage? Here are a few suggestions:

Who doesn’t want free stuff? Contests are a great way to get people involved. In this example, Williams-Sonoma offers a chance to win a grill or grill set for Father’s Day. The hashtag makes a bold appearance in the headline. This campaign could have even more impact if the headline included the words win and/or contest.

From: Williams-Sonoma
Date: 6/18/16
Subject Line: 3 Days Left! 20% Off 1 Item + 5 Great Picks for DAD – In Stores & Online

williams-sonoma message

Social media is addictive. People love to sit back and watch the “like” meter count up. Why not give them their 5 minutes of fame. In this email, Live Love Polish encourages subscribers to tag their nail art photos for a chance to be featured on their website. The headline is well-worded (very direct), and the use of imagery from other customers is an inspiring addition.

From: Live Love Polish
Date: 6/03/16
Subject Line: Ripper NEW BRAND From Down Under!

live love polish message

Sure, incentives are a great way to populate your hashtag feed, but some people are more than willing to contribute for nothing. Simply make people aware of the hashtag and what it should be used for. Here, Pottery Barn Kids invites customers to simply share their 4th of July photos. I like the use of the Instagram logo used to emphasize the preferred social platform (just in case people are too lazy to read).

From: Pottery Barn Kids
Date: 7/04/2016
Subject Line: Happy 4th of July! Up to 25% off EVERYTHING + FREE SHIPPING (’til midnight!)

pottery barn kids message

What a fun, free (for the taggers anyway) and effortless way for customers to donate to a cause! Encourage them to share and in exchange, you make a donation! Aerie shares the love by donating $1 for each post using their hashtag. With this message they decided to go big or go home; it’s hardly a secondary message since it’s comparable in size and location to the primary message. It works though! I only wish the headline was a bit more direct in calling out the donation aspect.

From: aerie
Date: 6/30/16
Subject Line: 500+ Swim Faves Now $10! For REAL.

aerie message

Okay, so let’s say you’re successful in creating and populating a unique hashtag. Some of the marketing has already begun by people simply contributing to it. New posts will show up in “new” or “popular” areas of social media, and followers of people who have shared will see the posts in their feeds. Now’s the time to take it one step further. Include a link in your emails (and/or website) to encourage more people to check it out and contribute.

There are a few options for creating links to these posts. You can link to a page within Instagram or Twitter, but that will limit you to that one social media provider. If you want to grab hashtags from all social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, for example), companies like Tagboard offer just that. You can link to a page within the site for your hashtag, or (for a price) Tagboard also allows you to embed posts on your website (displayed in an iframe).

A SMALL TIP: For a hashtag that’s more general, feel free to give it hierarchy in your email when you wish, but there’s no reason you can’t permanently give it a home at the bottom of your email. Here are two examples, from Carters and Land of Nod, showing how they included their hashtag in their footer.

carters footer  land of nod footer

ONE FINAL NOTE. Make sure when using a hashtag that you’re clear about how it should be used. If customers don’t know what it’s there for, you’ll be missing out. Here’s an example illustrating this from Banana Republic. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that they’re attempting to create a public hashtag; they call it out in two separate emails (in a prime location) and even in the subject line. However, there is no explanation about how the hashtag should be used. (IE: who should be using it and what type of posts should go there.) As a result, there have only been a couple posts using this hashtag to date, all made by Banana Republic. I would like to give them props for making the hashtag bold; it definitely stands out. It just needs a bit more instruction with it.

From: Banana Republic
Date: 6/19/16
Subject Line: This week in Your Life. Styled.

banana republic message

From: Banana Republic
Date: 6/20/16
Subject Line: Now, later, always: #BRClassic

banana republic message

In summary, if you’re going to use a hashtag, think beyond looking #trendy and make them work for you!

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Forever 21

A Design FIT for Greatness

From: Forever 21
Date: 2/05/16
Subject Line: A (F)IT Girl: Tips From SELF Magazine

Forever 21

There’s a lot to like about this gem from Forever 21. The clothing retailer steps up their game by making the email all about the workout. They offer 3 muscle-building moves to add to your routine. Each move is paired with an image of a model in fitness attire that can be purchased. The design is inspiring with many positive takeaways.

Let’s count the things I love about it:
1) Flow. I love the line that draws your eye down the page from the very beginning. The movement continues by use of staggered imagery and text placement.
2) Scanability. The bold and concise headlines make it quick and easy to read.
3) Organization. The large pink numbers provide nice separation between sections. They keep the email from becoming a jumbled mess with no end in sight.
4) Style. The editorial type layout resembles that of a magazine (after all the subject line says the tips come from SELF magazine).
5) Depth. The overlapping imagery in varying sizes adds interest to the design.
6) Theme. The variety of image types include products, exercise equipment, and motivational signs. The image mix adds to the feel of the email so it doesn’t look product driven.
7) Details. The careful attention to alignment gives the design a finished feel. For example: In the first section the number 1, the title and the copy box are all top-aligned. In the next section the vertical lines align with the title and the copy block.

As much as I adore this email, there are a few things I would change:
1) Clearer Instructions. I would have liked to see images or illustrations of the steps for each routine. Sometimes it’s difficult to understand in words; plus, images are so much quicker to scan. If there’s not a good way to work them into the design, a link to a landing page could work.
2) The CTA. I have a few gripes on this one. There is only one call to action for the primary message, and it’s placed at the very bottom. I would have liked to see product names as links throughout the design, as well as a general button above the fold. The CTA wording is also lack luster and unclear: “Shop Now.” I would assume this would take me to fitness clothing, which it does… but then the next section says “Shop Activewear” which goes to a different landing page. So I’m left wondering what the difference is between these sections.
3) Last, I have a small copy suggestion. In the right column of the opening paragraph, it bothers me that it begins with a number. I would have rearranged copy, added words, or spelled out eighteen to make sure that didn’t happen. The length of that line compared to the others also doesn’t settle well with me. It wouldn’t be so bad anywhere else, but it doesn’t work well in the first line of a column. Nit-picky, but that’s my 2 cents.

Overall, I love this email. Nicely done!

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