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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DOs and DON’Ts for Animated GIFs

Animated GIFs can be a great way to make your email stand out, but there are a few things to keep in mind when using them. Check out my DOs and DON’Ts for using animations in emails.

DO: EMPHASIZE YOUR CALL TO ACTION

From: Moosejaw.com
Date: 10/16/15
Subject Line: Win a Full Ski Outfit From Black Diamond
View the Animation

Moosejaw 1103_gif_mj_gif

I LOVED this animated hand from Moosejaw. It not only moved in an up and down motion (pointing at the call to action), but it also changed into a variety of funny hands. There’s no way anyone would miss the button in this email.

From: LOFT
Date: 10/24/15
Subject Line: Everything’s on sale (so don’t hold back)
View the Animation

LOFT 1103_gif_loft_gif

LOFT’s flashing call to action is also sure to grab your attention. I’m a little on the fence about this one though. Although it stands out, the flashing can get a tad annoying.

DO: USE GIFS TO DRAW EYES DOWN THE PAGE

From: aerie
Date: 10/30/15
Subject Line: 31% Off! All Treats For Our Girls. No Tricks!
View the Animation

Aerie 1103_gif_spider_gif

I really liked Aerie’s dropping spider animation. The spider itself looked nicer than your standard clip art and the drop shadow was a nice touch. By having the spider drop down the page, your eye is drawn down so you don’t miss anything in the email.

From: Charming Charlie
Date: 10/27/15
Subject Line: Five new faves! Starting at $19.
View the Animation

Charming Charlie 1103_gif_acorn_gif

Charming Charlie used a clever method to draw your eye downward. They used an acorn that rolled along the diagonal lines down the page, passing the products along the way.

DO: USE FLUID MOTION WHEN POSSIBLE

From: Aéropostale
Date: 10/12/15
Subject Line: ENDS TODAY! Extra 30% off during our bdayyy
View the Animation

Aero 1103_gif_aero_gif

Taking the time to add the extra frames can really make a difference. I like how smooth the GIF is of the candle blowing out — almost like a video.

DO: USE THEM TO ADD A LITTLE INTEREST

From: MoYou-London
Date: 11/04/15
Subject Line: ❅ New Festive Plates! ❅ This Friday!

MoYou MoYou

Like in this example from MoYou London. The subtle snow falling and blowing hat adds value without being too flashy.

From: Moosejaw.com
Date: 11/04/15
Subject Line: Get 30% Back on Almost Everything
View the Animation

Moosejaw Moosejaw

Or in this email from MooseJaw. Check out the banner near the bottom. A window washing dinosaur? Why not! It doesn’t take much to go from meh to magnificent.

DON’T: CUT A SINGLE GIF INTO TWO PIECES

From: Gap
Date: 10/30/15
Subject Line: news you’ll love: gap factory is now online
View the Animation

Gap Gap

Here’s an oopsie from Gap. The animated GIF was cut into two pieces, resulting in out of sync images. In this situation, it was the top of the peoples’ heads that were cut separately so it resulted in humorous hairstyles atop the wrong heads.

DON’T: GET SLOPPY WITH YOUR ANIMATION

From: Charming Charlie
Date: 10/18/15
Subject Line: How you love to shop–by color!
View the Animation

Charming Charlie

This email from Charming Charlie animates between color swatches and products. Instead of using one large GIF, each color is cut and animated separately. This results in an unpredictable and somewhat chaotic flashing of images. Sometimes multiple products will show up at once and other times there will be seconds with no animation. When creating an animation, be very purposeful about where and when you want someone to look at something – draw their eye around the page and keep them engaged.

DON’T: ANIMATE TEXT TOO QUICKLY

From: Moosejaw.com
Date: 10/02/15
Subject Line: This. Is. BIG. 20% off Full-price and Sale Stuff.
View the Animation

Moosejaw 1103_gif_moose2_gif

I really liked the idea behind this email. The concept is clever and the animation is cute. However, the animation moves a little too fast to read. They do finish the animation with the text showing for a handful of seconds so they redeem themselves in the end. This is a good example for being aware of the speed of your animation, particularly when text is involved.

DON’T: MAKE YOUR FILE SIZE TOO LARGE

From: American Eagle Outfitters
Date: 10/14/15
Subject Line: Last day for up to $50 off your purchase!
View the Animation

American Eagle

American Eagle backed their headline with a time lapse sunset. Great in concept, but HUGE in file size. Due to the size of the hero and length of the animation, this image is a whopping 14 megabytes! This will dramatically slow loading times, particularly for those viewing on mobile devises.

DON’T: ANIMATE MORE THAN YOU NEED TO

From: Charming Charlie
Date: 10/14/15
Subject Line: Ends tonight! Last chance BOGO jewelry.

Charming Charlie Charming Charlie

This example from Charming Charlie is a good reminder to cut your GIFs in the most efficient way possible. Only the call to action blinks in this email, but the entire email was cut as a GIF. This resulted in a very low quality, grainy image. Keep in mind that GIFs don’t have the same color range as JPGs. Think ahead and cut your design appropriately. (NOTE: The web version of the GIF was actually higher quality than the one in the email. To see how it looked in the email, see the larger image above or click here.)

Lastly…
DON’T: FORGET OUTLOOK!

Remember to include all of your pertinent information (or the best looking portion of your animation) in the first frame. Why? Because Outlook doesn’t support animated gifs — they will only show the first frame.

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Polyvore

From Garb to Goul

Want to join in on the Halloween fun but don’t sell Halloween products? No sweat! Polyvore and LOFT sent these emails showing how to turn everyday clothes into one-of-a-kind Halloween showstoppers! With the right foundation and a few accessories, you can make your products relevant and irresistibly original! It just takes a little imagination.

From: Polyvore
Date: 10/14/15
Subject Line: The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Halloween

Polyvore

As for the design, they did a great job making the text scannable and staggering the products for flow. However, I would have liked to see a little more Halloween flare by using color, backdrops or graphics. Also, the landing page experience was less than ideal. After looking through pages upon pages of products, I was unable to find the clothing featured in the email. Whenever you’re linking to a category rather than a specific product, ALWAYS begin the list with the featured item.

From: LOFT
Date: 10/29/15
Subject Line: 40% off EVERYTHING (costumes included)

LOFT

LOFT took a similar approach. In fact, the designs are nearly identical. They chose to add a flashing call to action, which is sure to grab attention. (And an additional call to action at the bottom, which also can’t hurt!) However, the banner at the top of the email (IMHO) takes up too much space, pushing the main message and products below the fold. Their landing page is better than Polyvore’s, but could be improved upon. Every link goes to the same page, containing all of the items featured in the email. They took the time to write out the different products (ex: striped shirt + high waist skinnies + gloves = mime), so they could have easily linked each word to the corresponding item’s page on the website.

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Video gif hero

Get Your Video Moving

Do you have a video to share? As email retailers are painfully aware, videos can’t be embedded into emails. But don’t let that stop you from getting the next best thing. Converting part of your video into an animated gif has multiple clear advantages. Right off the bat, the motion is sure to grab your subscribers’ attention. Furthermore, showing part of the video will give them a better idea about what to expect by clicking. Not to mention that the teaser is a great way to leave them wanting more.

When going this route there are a few things to keep in mind.
1) Animated gifs don’t support audio, so choose a part of the video that works best without sound.
2) Select the section of the video that is most interesting. You can only show a few seconds, so make them count.
3) If your gif is playing on a loop, make sure there isn’t an awkward transition from the end of the video to when it replays.
4) Don’t forget your call to action. Make sure people know the video is clickable by adding a play button to the video itself or a button nearby.
5) File size. Try to keep your video around or under 1-megabyte if possible for quicker loading time.

From: LOFT
Date: 9/28/15
Subject Line: LOFT loves Busy Philipps
See it in motion

LOFT

Here is one example from LOFT. They chose a section of the video that contained the most humor and least amount of talking. They also added the play button to the center of the video throughout the gif. Both good calls. My only suggestion — I personally wish this video played on a loop. While reading or scrolling through the email, it’s easy to miss the beginning of the gif. Having it replay will ensure it gets viewed in it’s entirety.

From: Sephora Beauty Insider
Date: 9/23/15
Subject Line: The #1 beauty secret?
See it in motion

Sephora

Sephora also chose a section of video that was most interesting. They doubled up on their call-to-actions by having a “Watch the Video” link as well as a play button in the corner of the video. The more the better, I say. I also wish the videos looped in this email.

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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.

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

Anthropologie

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.

SECOND CHOICE:
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.

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

LOFT

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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Partners Hero

A Message From Our Partner

Sending an email about a partner can be tricky. If your message is too off-brand, you might scare your subscriber away thinking it’s spam. If you’re unable to create a connection between the companies properly, you’ll leave them confused. Here are a few examples of partner emails I’ve received recently; some done right and some a bit off target.

From: west elm
Date: 8/11/15
Subject Line: Reminder – You’re invited! Top Dog Photo Contest‏
West Elm
Here we have a home store (west elm) partnered with a company that mails doggy treats (BarkBox). I would imagine finding a similarity between these brands would be difficult, but this email did a great job bringing them together. It’s clearly west elm branded with header and prominent logo so there’s no confusion who the email came from. They perk interest and tie the brands together by creating a contest held in west elm stores: Snap a photo of your dog in our stores, Instagram it, and you’ll be entered to win a BarkBox. Nicely done.

 

From: LOFT
Date: 8/06/15
Subject Line: Amy, new at LOFT: Horoscopes
LOFT
Next we have a clothing retailer (LOFT) partnered with a company that provides horoscopes (Saturn Sisters). On the upside, I was able to tell who the email came from, but the tie-in between the companies left me puzzled. Rather than using the copy to explain the connection, it mentions coffee, twice. I thought maybe the landing page would bring it together somehow, but it didn’t. Furthermore, the landing page didn’t work for mobile and the email was missing the legal footer (not to mention a link to unsubscribe to partner emails). My suggestion for a quick solution would be to revise the wording both on the email and landing page. For the landing page, if the fortune was to take time to yourself, suggest or show a picture of some LOFT lounging pants; if it’s to embrace your wild side, link to some brightly patterned tights. I did enjoy the animation in the email and they did get a click from me, but there was so much missed opportunity and a bit of disconnect.

 

From: Evite
Date: 7/28/15
Subject Line: Prep for your party in no time with Sally Hansen and Evite‏
Evite
The final example comes from a company that sends digital invitations (Evite), partnered with a self-tanning lotion brand (Sally Hansen). Now that’s a reach to find common ground. On the up side, the email has the evite logo, a title that clearly states “from our partner,” and copy that (miraculously) was able to draw a connection between the brands: have great tanned legs at your next party. But, despite all of that, at first glance I thought this email was spam. My suggestion would be to include a bit more imagery from the evite side of the partnership — maybe more of the header from the evite website. Perhaps they could also work an invitation into the design — a “Best Legs Bash” invitation?

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