What better way to kick off 2013 than a look back at some of the best emails of Q4.There were plenty to choose from at this busy time of year but we’ve decided not to include anything seasonal – it can be a little depressing looking back at jolly, full-fat Christmas campaigns in the middle of an abstemious January!
So it’s over to you to help us choose an overall winner by voting in our Subscribers’ Choice Awards. There are four categories – ‘Best Design’, ‘Best Copy’, ‘Best Strategy’ and new for this year, ‘Best Subject Line’. See if you agree with our rationale then simply choose the email you think is strongest in the voting box at the bottom of the page
Your Q2, 2012 winner
Brooks Brothers mailing won the Subscribers’ Choice Award for Q2, with a 73% of the vote. For more sparks of email inspiration, check out the Q2 shortlist.
Simple = powerful
Winner: ASOS – Like it, Click it
Subject Line: Top to toe. Automatically gorgeous
Why we chose it
Every creative area in this email has been well thought out, well executed and works together to produce a strong, on-brand marketing message. The design is simple and the flipbook-style animation is engaging while also displaying multiple products. In essence, it is a portal to ASOS’ world of online fashion retail, designed to make customers click and to leave a positive brand impression.
Why it’s great
WHO: The logo is front and center – but remove it and the clean styling, pastel colors and quirky shapes still identify this as ASOS.
WHAT: So what should I do in this email? Quite simply – Like it, Click it! The product is the star and the action of mixing, matching and choosing is what clothes shopping is all about. There is no clutter – all secondary messages, indexes, nav bars, roundels, flashes and sub-heads have been stripped out. The focus is a single core proposition: find something you like. A clear and concise headline summarizes the content and simple CTAs tell you what to do.
WHY: The design of the flipbook is very tactile, it’s begging to be clicked, even without the animation. The first frame of the animation is the strongest, so should it fail to work in some browsers, the strength of the message is undiminished. The panels and quirky pastel triangles look clickable and the big text-only CTA uses ‘like’ and ‘click’ – two of the most powerful digital action words. And even on such an uncomplicated email, there are multiple CTAs and areas to click. These take you through to a dedicated landing page with a fully interactive flipbook that links to the individual sales pages.
Less is more
Winner: RNIB – can’t view this email properly
Subject Line: ##name##, imagine if every email looked like this
Why we chose it
You may already be familiar with this email by Elvis Communications, as it has been doing the rounds since March in many “Best Email Creative” blogs and votes. However, we have chosen it for its copy. At first glance that might seem odd as there are only 25 words but having the confidence and talent to write just a few words to convey a powerful message is what great digital and charity copywriting is all about. It is also a good example of copy and design working together to create a message that is greater than the sum of its parts. Finally, it shows that email creative, particularly for charities, can be approached in a similar style to above-the-line brand advertising.
Why it’s great
WHO: Interestingly and unusually the branding for this email has been placed at the bottom of the page, much like a printed poster. That goes against email best practice but the trick with all best-in-class creative is knowing when to break the rules to achieve standout. Having the branding at the bottom allows the power of the message to sink in before you know who it is from.
WHAT: The strength of this email is in the simplicity of the idea and the simplicity of the execution. Charities rely heavily on emotional triggers but are at their most effective when they place their subscribers in the shoes of the people they are aiming to help. So the use of personalization in the subject line is very effective – we want YOU to imagine how this would affect YOU.
WHY: The copy gets straight to the point by placing the recipient in a familiar situation – “Can’t view this email properly?” before delivering the emotional punch, “If only everyone could see with the click of a mouse”. This simple line changes the emotional pull of the message. It’s no longer about sympathy for the plight of people who face this problem every day, but about the guilt that all YOU have to do to conquer this problem is a click a mouse. Guilt is a much more powerful emotional trigger than sympathy. And the final line offers an action to assuage that guilt – “Click here to help blind and partially sighted children”.
Sell & harvest with 1st contact
Winner: Caribou Coffee – welcome email
Why we chose it
Welcome emails can be wordy, functional affairs designed to make sure a real person is behind the request or so brands can talk about themselves. However, welcome emails arrive in a customer’s inbox at probably the most engaged they will ever be, so they are an opportunity to get a sale/conversion or extra piece of data straight off the bat. Caribou Coffee’s bright, engaging welcome email does just this. (Although our production team marked it down because of the image break on the milkshake. Sorry guys – but it’s still a good strategy idea!)
Why it’s great
WHO: The pastel colors, hand-drawn typography and subtle watermark are all instantly recognizable as the distinctive style of Caribou Coffee.
WHAT: Apply the ‘1 second test’ to this email and you come away with two clear messages – “THANK YOU!” and “TODAY’S OFFERS”. One is signposting you to the reason why you have received this email, while the other is directing you straight to the actions that you should take. In addition, each offer has a dual purpose – the birthday offer gathers birth dates and promotes brand, the $1 OFF encourages a shop sale and collects an address with the coupon, and the free shipping promotes online sales as well as increasing AOV. There is also a ‘click here’ for preferences to gather information that will be useful for segmentation and frequency. So even in an email that is often perceived as transactional – Caribou Coffee is collecting useful data, promoting brand and potentially making money. And isn’t that what email marketing is all about?
WHY: There are multiple opportunities to click and engage – from the bullets, to the offers, to the preferences, to the nav at the top. More importantly, incentives are used in exchange for information. If you want useful data points from your customers, then give them incentives to dos so when they are at their most engaged. It’s likely to be the best opportunity you ever have.
BEST SUBJECT LINE
A clever twist on an old message
Best Subject Line
Winner: Astley Clarke – Charming Christmas
Subject Line: A rather peculiar 21% off
Why we chose it
We’ve introduced ‘Best Subject Line’ as a category for two reasons: firstly, because we believe subject lines are very important and secondly, because Astley Clarke’s “A rather peculiar 21% off” is one of the best we have seen for a while. What got us talking was the choice of a 21% saving. Why not 20% or 25%? Because 21% is unusual and allows for an intriguing subject line that delivers on its promise. We even checked our own database of half a billion subject lines and couldn’t find a single use of the word ‘peculiar’! In all likelihood, this subject line is unique and not many can claim to have produced one of these that is also so intriguing and effective. Not so peculiar after all.
Why it’s great
WHO: Nice, big, smart looking logo is beautifully complimented by an elegant design style and high-quality product photography. Everything about this email has a luxury feel so even if you don’t take any further action you connect that elegance with Astley Clarke.
WHAT: It’s a sale that doesn’t mention savings. Heavy discounts can cheapen a brand, particularly in the luxury sector. So Astley Clarke entices you through the ‘shop door’ with a juicy and intriguing offer before dazzling you with their gorgeous jewelry rather than garish savings. The quality of their photography assets has allowed them to design a beautiful email that pulls you down the page through the product. There is also a ‘Men’s Cheat Sheet’ CTA that takes you to a landing page designed to help men make the right choice. Any clickers on the CTA are likely to be male subscribers and could be targeted later.
WHY: Selling jewelry is all about making the product look stunning. This email does this superbly by making the product the star of the show – you just want to reach out and click on them, which of course, you can do.