This content is just for you, and other lies brands tell us in emails

I’m finally caught up on my inbox, and I even managed to get up early and categorize everything. Now I have a spreadsheet full of post ideas that may or may not ever get written, but at least I’ve looked at every single email today. It’s a journey, people.

Here are a few emails I came across a few weeks ago. Copywriting for emails can be a challenge, especially when you write emails for a brand that sends emails every day. Unless you have exciting new products or promotions every day, it’s easy for copy to become stale and boring. But that’s no excuse to just say things because you need to get an email out the door.

This email came from NY & Company in April. The subject line started off promising:

Subject: Get 50% off NOW!

The email itself was exciting too – Get 50% off EVERYTHING (in huge letters). Okay, great, But then there’s the fine print explaining what is not actually 50% off. It’s, um… actually a lot of stuff. Enough to make the use of the word “EVERYTHING!” seem REALLY sketchy. Don’t lie to me, NY & Company.


Then Dillard’s sent me this automated email. I know as an email marketer, I’ve been approached by MANY vendors who promise the ability to automate personalized emails based on site activity, and I’m always a little bit wary. This email from Dillard’s is one such email.

The problem? The only time I’ve ever spent on their site was when I was signing up for their emails, and at that point, I only viewed the home page and the email signup. I filled out a preference center and selected everything, which might explain how Dillard’s picked these products “Just for me.”

Subject: Just for you!


Granted, most of their subscribers probably aren’t selecting all possible preferences. I’m sure these emails can be very effective if someone is browsing specific content, and they get shown similar items. But that didn’t happen here, and I ended up with a really weird email. Let’s just throw random products in an email and see what sticks!

Last, we have this email from Banana Republic on 4/24. The subject line certainly made me open the email…

Subject: Hey! Youll want to see this…

Turns out, I didn’t. I like Banana Republic as a brand. I buy a lot of clothing there. They do have a lot of emails that I really do want to see. But this one? There was absolutely nothing special about it. It was a 40% off sale (which they seem to do every week these days), and there weren’t any new products. I’m sure this email performed well, because the subject line was strong, but I felt a little cheated out of a good email…and I really hate that.



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