email marketing

Fathom Events Email Issues | Brand Experience Project

by Jamie Sanford on October 18, 2017

Click here for all posts in the Brand Experience Project.

Another week, another email to analyze. This one was really odd, so let’s get into it.

Subject Line

“Welcome to Fathom Events” is a strange choice, because I’ve been signed up for emails from them for ages.

Fathom Events Logo in Header

This logo isn’t a link! This irritates me every time. If you’re going to put a logo in the upper left corner of anything, make it a link.

Messaging re: Customizing Account

This is a great option, especially for Fathom Events, which is a company that schedules special broadcasts in movie theatres. I could certainly dial in my preferences for events that I want to know about, and so I appreciate the heads up.

Follow Us on Social Media Callout

That there aren’t links to said social channels built in to the email right where it suggests that we connect on social channels is a miss.

Coming Soon

This is where it goes really downhill. All 4 of those events took place in July. I was genuinely excited to see the Angels in America listing, only to find out that it happened months ago. I then clicked the others to find out that they are all from the past.

Design

It seems disjointed, to be honest. The “Fathom Events is original programming” in the center seems weirdly placed to me.

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Overall, I am confused about the timing of when I’m receiving this email, unhappy about the content issues, and unimpressed by the design. I highly recommend that the folks at Fathom Events take a look at this, especially if it is automated, and create a better experience. I think the Fathom Events service is a wonderful idea and I am very much looking forward to attending more of their events in the future, so hopefully their communications improve in the future.

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Ulta Password Change Email | Brand Experience Project

by Jamie Sanford on October 12, 2017

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Another email today, but I want to talk about both the email itself, and the action that Ulta has taken here. Take a look at the email and let’s discuss.

OK, here we go.

Design

I love this email’s design. I love a good combination of fonts and recognize the ability to do that is a skill that not everyone has. The color scheme is very on-brand for Ulta, and I find the email to have the perfect balance of images paired with what is approaching too much text. I’ll give them a pass because it is an important message.

Content

I have not received too many “we are forcing a password change on you” emails, and the feeling I have is a mixture of “thanks” and also “wait, is there a reason for this that you aren’t telling me?”

This is certainly a  good way for an e-commerce site that stores credit card data to proactively try and prevent themselves from being involved in any password scandals that can result from people using the same password for everything.

I am naturally suspicious though, so my first thought was that something already happened and they came up with a brilliant way to spin that they changed everyone’s passwords.

Have you received a forced password change from any other e-commerce sites you shop on? Tweet me about it.

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Tone-deafness in promotional emails isn’t new. I was reminded recently that it isn’t just about making tone considerations when you’re composing new emails, but to be mindful of previously created or scheduled content that may suddenly become either very strange or just not appropriate for a certain time frame.

Case in point, I got this email from Sonesta on Friday, September 8th. This was not a day after we were bombarded with news and images regarding absolute devastation on the island of St. Maarten.

I absolutely understand the concept of scheduled email content, as I create it myself, but whoever is in charge of said content also needs to be aware of major events in the world, particularly those that are impacting your business. Scheduling content is great, but the price you pay is having content go out at inappropriate times. There are many unfortunate news events in the world that take place, where brands sending out happy emails about sales and whatnot just feels wrong to me as a consumer, so I have a process in which I check my plan for scheduled content as soon as I think something relevant has happened.

It’s a question of appropriateness and tone once again, and seems to be especially ridiculous when this message is from the company that owns a property in a place that has been destroyed. I have been to St Maarten and it was so beautiful. I hope that the islanders are able to recover and flourish once again, as quickly as is possible.

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Click here for all posts in the Brand Experience Project.

Today’s email topic is one that I’ve wanted to talk about for some time, and a recent email that I received from Peter Thomas Roth was the perfect jumping off point.

Let’s take a look:

It is a nice message, apologizing for website issues, and offering a special free gift with any purchase to make amends.

Here’s where I get into the email marketing conspiracy theory. Did the website really have issues? I have received enough of these emails that I don’t necessarily think that these are real issues every time.

I absolutely understand the struggle of increasing engagement with promotional emails, with seeing your emails getting lost in inboxes, never to be opened or clicked on. In response to the current online environment of people (unfortunately) looking to pounce on anything that someone has done “wrong,” perhaps the open rates on emails admitting fault are impressive and worth the potential risk of someone thinking you should not have had an issue in the first place.

I see a few different scenarios in which people open this email:

  • “Ooh, what did they screw up?” (see above)
  • “Ooh, they’re sorry about something, will I get something out of it?”
  • A genuine responder who had an issue related to the content of the email
  • The rare individual who opens all emails from a specific company

Is the “sorry” email a sad development in the evolution of email marketing? I’d love to know what you think. Let’s chat on Twitter.

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I have written about Parabo Press products in the past. I have tried out two different companies to have Instagram prints done, and this one has a lovely product. I received a message about a free set of prints (I paid for the shipping), and placed an order. I received the following email alerting me to my Parabo Press shipment.

The content of this email is good – I love the reference to the obsessive tracking that some of us definitely do while waiting for online orders. Where it goes wrong for me is significant though, because this is a shipping confirmation email.

The tracking link is under “Square Prints” in a larger, bold font. It isn’t immediately obvious that this is the link to my tracking information. I would MUCH prefer that this link said something different, even a “click here to track your order” would be fine. In addition, there needs to be some spacing between the listing of the item I bought and the link for my shipping.

Another strange addition is “if you are not going to be present leave a note with your signature so we can leave your order.” I don’t remember ever getting this kind of messaging from any other company, and while I appreciate the warning that I might have a FedEx door sticker in my future, it is in no way clear or helpful.

Here’s how I would change this email:

Once I clicked the link in this email, I was taken to the Parabo Press Aftership page. Aftership is another company that e-commerce companies can use to better present their shipping information to customers. I do not know if my problems with the shipping page is specific to Aftership, or if my issue is with how Parabo Press is customizing the Aftership page.

Let’s look at the page I see when I click the shipping link:

It’s a very simple page, as you can see. I have more issues here:

  • The tracking number is not a link to the tracking information available via FedEx.com. I understand that part of the point of using Aftership as a service is to translate tracking into a single page that better aligns with your brand, but I don’t see an issue with having this link open a new tab.
  • The “view tracking history” is a link to expand the page, but it isn’t very clear! It isn’t underlined, it doesn’t feature an arrow or another symbol that would indicate clearly and prominently that all of the information from FedEx is being translated into this Aftership page.

Here’s how I would update this page.

Why have such a service in place if you aren’t going to utilize it in a way that is clear and easy to use?

I would love to know more about the decisions made by companies with regard to things like this. Is “good enough” really good enough? It just isn’t impressive or surprising, and Parabo Press makes a lovely product. To me, it is disappointing that a company would have good focus on their product quality, but don’t necessarily have the same commitment to a quality experience throughout the purchase process.

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