Subject Line Sunday: July 6

I know I keep going back and forth between Subject Line Saturday and Subject Line Sunday, but it’s honestly just going to be whenever I have time to write. I’ll get on a real schedule someday. But you’ll be happy to know I’ve reviewed every email in my promotions tab, and have a spreadsheet filled with things to write about. But first, some subject lines that caught my attention for all the wrong reasons, one that was really good, and one that is flawless.


1. NORDSTROM RACK – 7/3/14

Subject line:  It's On! CLEAR THE RACK is Here

Whoops. Don’t forget to send yourself a test email. And if you’re a retailer, you might want to double-check and make sure your subject line looks right in Gmail.

Speaking of weird characters…

2. MICHAEL KORS – 6/27/14

Subject line: Don’t Miss Out祐hop Our Summer SALE! 

Okay, I’m sure we can all figure out what happened here. According to Google Translate, the character between “Out” and “hop” means “Help.” The subject line was actually a secret cry for help targeted toward MK’s Japanese-speaking subscribers. It’s pretty obvious their subject line writer, who is likely Japanese, was kidnapped by Michael Kors to write subject lines, and this person is trying to escape.

3. GAP – 7/1/14

Subject line: What are you waiting for, ?

Personalization can be extremely effective for open rates. We all know that. But when the personalization doesn’t quite work, well… not so much. I don’t know if this was a mistake for everyone or just me. When I registered for emails using this address, I made my first name “ES,” so I’d at least expect to see that here. I didn’t get this email in my personal email account (and Gap should DEFINITELY know my name there), so I don’t know.  The lesson: If you’re going to personalize a subject line, spot check, scrub your list, and have a default name to use if it makes sense. Another option would be to pull a segment of subscribers who don’t have a first name filled in, and send them a different subject line altogether.


4. DILLARD’S – 6/28/14

Subject line: Add’I 30% off clearance today, 6/28/14

I’m just curious why they abbreviated “Add’l” here. The subject line wasn’t terribly long, and a few extra characters wouldn’t make or break anything. Or perhaps they just read this article about the ideal length for any piece of content on the internet according to SCIENCE. (Subject line ideal length: 28 – 39 characters. Dillard’s, you could have left out the date and spelled out “Additional.”)


5. STAPLES – 6/27/2014

Subject line: Dollar. Days! Dollar. Days!

I don’t even know what this was. My best guess is that they were trying to make it sound like some kind of chant, possibly tying it in with World Cup excitement. It was just really oddly punctuated. It got my attention though, so there’s that.



Subject line: Oops! We shrunk our satchel…

I liked this one. It’s a nice subtle reference to some great 90s kids movies, and it makes it pretty clear what they’re promoting – a smaller version of their satchel bag. And the “Oops!” at the beginning grabbed attention because everyone loves to see someone fail (and if you don’t, why are you reading this blog?), and made people want to see if they had made some mistake. Nice subject line!

And finally…


7. BANANA REPUBLIC – 6/29/2014

Subject line: You woke up like this. 




How to make a 4th of July email in 4 easy steps

Step 1: Timing

As with any holiday, it’s important to begin marketing about 4th of July immediately after the previous holiday. In this case, it’s Father’s Day. Otherwise, how else will everyone know how culturally relevant you are?

Step 2: Subject lines

Since you’re a clever brand that knows what people associate with Independence Day, it’s absolutely crucial that you use any (or all!) of the following words and phrases in your subject lines.

  • Made in the USA

  • ☆, ✰, or ☀
  • Star Spangled Sale
  • Star Spangled Savings
  • Star Spangled Coupon

  • Red, white and blue

  • Red, white and NEW (aren’t you clever?)

Step 3: Images

If you don’t have a gif of fireworks in your email, what are you thinking?!? Everyone loves gifs (pronounced the CORRECT way, with a hard G). Gifs can go in emails. HOW COOL. HOW ORIGINAL. HOW PATRIOTIC.

Americans also love a good artfully curated picnic table covered in red, white and blue items. We like to have cookouts on summer holidays (HECK YEAH WE DO!), and everything on our tables must be color-coordinated to match the holiday we’re celebrating.

Some of us even go so far as to dump out our purses filled with expensive patriotic items all over the table so that everyone else at the cookout can see how much more patriotic we are than everyone else.

  Step 4: Unless you’re Bonobos, just go home and try again next year. ‘Murica.

Happy 4th of July!

Daddy issues: Father’s Day email roundup

I have 105 emails in my “Father’s Day” label right now. I haven’t even opened about half of them – I just lazily did searches for Father’s day and applied the label.  It’s no surprise that certain brands really pushed it hard with the Father’s day emails – Lowe’s, Jack Spade, Bonobos, and Nordstrom Rack – Men’s are sending a lot of emails. (None of these are stores at which I would buy something for my dad, but whatever. Okay, maybe Lowe’s. If I lived near one. Or if I lived near my dad.) I wanted to write about cringe-worthy/bad father’s day emails, but I honestly didn’t get that many. So most of these emails are really good.

Except this first one… It’s for a fondue restaurant chain, The Melting Pot. The email has information about a specific location at the bottom, so I’m not sure if this promotion was national or what.

1. The Melting Pot (Sent 6/6)

Subject Line: Celebrate your H.O.T.T.Y on Father’s Day

Just…. just look at this. I can’t.

hotty1 hotty2

Yeaaaaah. Wow.


2. Sephora – (Sent 6/3)

This next email was a bit of a surprise. I enjoy Sephora’s emails a lot, and I think they do a great job with their loyalty program. But it’s not exactly the first place I would think of to purchase a father’s day gift. (Or, perhaps it’s genius. I buy my dad a grooming kit or cologne or whatever, and then get the free gift of the month/points for the loyalty program. Everyone wins.) The email was nicely designed, as usual for Sephora.

Subject line: Our Father’s Day gift guide

sephora1 sephora2 sephora3 sephora4



3. Spades on Spades (Jack and Kate)

The Spade brands are really on top of their game with emails. Anyone who’s read at least 3 consecutive posts on this blog (any three, doesn’t even matter) could easily see that I’m totally obsessed with Saturday. I thought these brands did a nice job of leveraging each other’s audiences and strengths. Jack Spade obviously has plenty of products geared toward men, and they’re certainly nice enough to be father’s day gifts (and they even steer away from ties and golf stuff!).

I particularly liked this one – it took the angle of wives (or husbands…) shopping for their husband who happens to be a father. I guess that’s totally normal. I’m still coming to terms with the idea that my peers are becoming parents, and this type of email would be just right for my demographic.

Jack Spade  (Sent 6/2)
Subject line: Look What the Stork Just Brought In

jackspade1 jackspade2 jackspade3


And Kate Spade smartly directed its subscribers to the Jack Spade site with this simple gif email (the background in the letters looks like it’s running through a field)

Kate Spade (Sent 6/4)

Subject line: hey daddio! the jack spade father’s day gift guide is here



4. J.Crew

This subject line was great, and I bet it performed really well. The email was really nice, and it definitely made me think of shopping for my dad. (Apologies for the spliced screenshots – the images were staggered weirdly.)

Subject line: Open this or we’ll tell your father

jcrewfd1 jcrewfd2 jcrewfd3 jcrewfd4



5. Bonobos (Sent 6/2)

This email was just good. The pre-header and content were funny, it had a neat gift with purchase, and they promoted blog content with dad-inspired outfits.

Subject Line: Dress shirts for Dad + a unique gift with purchase

bonobosfd1 bonobosfd2


Happy Father’s day!

Subject line Saturday: June 14

Good news – my crazy few weeks of vacations and house guests are finally complete. And my sinus infection is (mostly) cured, so I am actually in a position to sit here, at my computer, and write. All for you. I’ve actually been keeping up with reviewing and categorizing emails, and my “To write about” spreadsheet is getting a little nuts, so this weekend I’m going to try to plow through it. Here we go…


1. Banana Republic – 6/4/14

Subject line: Sloan had a little something done.

Oh, that Sloan. Sloan is a style of pants that Banana Republic sells. I’m not sure how many BR customers know that, but I don’t think it even matters, which is why this subject line works so well. For subscribers who were really familiar with that particular style of pants, they had reason to open the email – to see what updates/changes had been made to the pants. For people who had no idea who/what Sloan was, it was simply a really intriguing subject line, and the pre-header clued them in pretty quickly.


2. Kate Spade – 6/13/14

Subject line: her name was…

Continuing the theme of products named after women, Kate Spade sent this email about the new Lola Avenue Collection of bags. The pre-header text cut to the chase pretty quickly: our new lola avenue collection was designed with everyday adventures in mind.  I love it when brands use song lyrics in subject lines, and I thought this was fun (even if it may have been a little obvious and expected.)




3. Staples – 5/27/2013

Subject line: Rock, paper, scissors – guess which one is $4

I don’t even need to tell you why this subject line is awesome. I don’t know how this email performed, but I bet they could have made their open rate a teensy bit higher. The pre-header text said, “Paper it is!” so customers who weren’t interested in paper probably didn’t open this email.  The design and content of the email was pretty bland and nothing special, but this subject line was great.


4. J. Crew – 6/5/14

Subject Line: Heck yeah, summer: 25% off right now 

If I don’t mention at least one J.Crew subject line, is it even Subject Line Saturday? The sale part of this email wasn’t really anything special – they offer discounts all the time, and usually they’re more than 25%. I just liked the use of “Heck yeah, summer.” Because I think we’re all saying that right now, especially after the winter that we all dealt with.


5. Mark and Graham – 6/13/14

Subject line: Black is the new black

Well, it’s obvious that this subject line is pretty topical right now. I don’t mind when brands play off excellent TV shows in their marketing when it’s clever and relevant. The email featured a black tote bag filled with black products. But then the pre-header and header of the email had to go and ruin it all with a “SEE WHAT WE DID THERE?!?!? LOOK HOW CLEVER THIS EMAIL IS!! DO YOU LIKE US YET?!” Oh Mark and Graham – trust us, we got it.

Preheader: Black {not orange} is the new black

blackisblack1 blackisblack2


Now if you’ll excuse me, I still have six episodes of Orange is the New Black to watch (okay, and some more blog posts to write).

And now a break from email to talk about Twitter (and Weezer)

I’ve been on Twitter since election night 2008. I wasn’t the earliest adopter by any means, but it has consistently been my favorite social network. It’s where I get most of my news, and I’ve made some friends on Twitter who became “real-life friends.” In short, I’m a huge fan of Twitter.

When I was in high school, I was pretty awkward and quiet. (Still am.) And not in the way that someone like Taylor Swift says she’s awkward and quiet – I actually was (…am). Especially my junior year. My family had just moved to another state, and I didn’t know anyone at my school. Since I didn’t dare actually approach people who I thought would be interesting, I took a more subtle method of making friends: I wore Weezer shirts almost every day. I had four of them. (On the fifth day of the school week, I alternated between Dashboard Confessional and Emily). It’s a known fact that people who like Weezer (or at least, people who liked Weezer circa 1999-2006) are generally really awesome. Chances are, they’ll like other similar bands, and their common interests expand beyond that into books and TV shows as well. I had been to a few concerts, and had confirmed that these were my people. So my logic was pretty sound for a 17 year old, even though I was that weird kid who only seemed to have 5 shirts (and one pair of beat-up Chuck Taylors with a =W= drawn on the toes). I eventually met the three other people in my school who had good taste in music, and even ended up dating one of them. But that wasn’t enough of an outlet for me. So I turned to the internet.

This was before Facebook, Myspace, and most other social media. We had Livejournal. We had AIM.  And we had forums. I wanted to meet more =W= army members like me, so I found the official Weezer forums. And they were fun. I made anonymous online friends in a way that’s comparable to what happens on Twitter today. We talked about the band, analyzed cryptic lyrics, and compared setlists from shows. But there was another board as part of this forum – AllThingsNotWeezer. Here, people talked about everything. And it proved my theory was right: these people were cool, and I wanted to be friends with them.

Then, the band’s label (or Karl. I don’t know…) changed the format of their forums on their site. In recent years, we’ve all seen how people react when any popular site makes a change that affects usability (hint: they don’t like it). This amazing online place had become something different, something unwanted. There wasn’t a place to talk about what we wanted to talk about. There were new moderators who kept trying to bring the conversation back to the band. The old forums had been hosted by a certain company (I don’t remember which one. It’s not important). We didn’t have anywhere else online to unite against this. We couldn’t complain about it on a Facebook group or with a Twitter hashtag – they didn’t exist.

So something incredible happened. One of the (original) moderators did some digging online and found out the company that had hosted our old forums. Then they found out some other sites that used that same company. With one post on the old (newly-awful) forums, we were given our marching orders, and we were forceful.

We invaded the Vanessa Carlton forums.

(Remember her? She sang that “A Thousand Miles” song that had a lot of piano in it in 2001. Incidentally, her forums were less active than ours, despite her constant radio airplay from 2001-2002.) None of us really liked or disliked Vanessa Carlton. We just wanted her forums. So we all just started and continued our Weezer (and not Weezer) conversations in their space. Her fans didn’t know what hit them. They were (rightfully) totally confused about this sudden massive influx of hundreds of new members, and they didn’t want us there. But there were more of us, and we held our ground. Even though our own social network had failed us, we persevered, and we got what we wanted. There was a fuzzy time for a few years (I don’t remember what we did, but we didn’t stay on the Vanessa boards for more than a year or so). Eventually, a moderator created new boards for us, and that’s where the REAL fans existed. I was involved with Weezer Nation forums well throughout college (yes, even after Facebook started). That was the first time I experienced the true power of online community, of people taking a stand against changes a site made so that they could interact with each other in the way they wanted to.

Today, I went to an email conference. I didn’t have a computer with me, so I was on my phone all day. Tweeting tidbits from speakers (as marketers do…) all day long. I spent a lot of time switching between my personal Twitter handle and @EmailSnarketing handle. On my phone, that meant logging out of the app and then logging back in. A lot. All day long. And if you’ve done this in the past day, I bet you know what I’m about to complain about: Twitter seems to keep forgetting who I am. It’s asking me if I want “More World Cup Excitement?!?!” (nope.)  The “no” option says “No, just get me started on Twitter.”


Then it asked me to write my profile (which, you know, is already written). THEN they have the audacity to try to make me automatically follow 20 people who will be tweeting about the World Cup.


(Whew, there’s a skip  button here. Okay, Click.)

Then it tries to import my contacts from my email/phone. NO. (But oh, hey, my stepsister’s on Twitter now…And so are a bunch of people I already unfollowed 4 years ago because they never tweeted.) SKIP.

THEN it finally gets me into the normal app. I could almost understand it if this happened once for everyone while Twitter tries out a new marketing technique (you know, annoying and confusing people into doing what you want them to do.). But I have a feeling it’ll continue through the entire World Cup. And I have absolutely no idea how long that is. Is it a weekend? A month? Couldn’t tell you. I’m not following the World Cup on Twitter, after all. And if it goes well for Twitter, I’m sure they’ll do this for other things.

And as much as I love Twitter, it makes me want to gather my tribe of followers and people I follow, and find a social network that is the Vanessa Carlton to Twitter’s Weezer.

….See you on Google Plus.

(Also – Happy Birthday, Rivers).

Email automated content fails

Automated emails are a marketer’s dream. I remember in the not so distant past being blown away by the concept of pre-scheduling a send, and then being blown away even more by the even better concept of having daily automated sends. Now, there are even more ways to automate emails so they pretty much write themselves.

Awesome, right? Or not.

Over the weekend, I went to BookCon in NYC. It was a day attached to the end of BEA (a large publishing industry convention) where book lovers could see panels, meet authors, and get a lot of free books. The organizers of the event had an app that participants could download to see schedules, updates, and most interestingly, a newsfeed with comments and photos from other BookCon attendees. It was a cool way for attendees to find people with similar interests, and I’m sure on the marketing side, it was a great way to get real-time feedback about the event and data about the attendees. (Hmm, the 17-22 year old group seemed overwhelmingly interested in all things John Green. Go figure.)

BookCon also sent a few automated emails throughout the day. At other conventions/conferences I’ve been to, that’s a pretty routine thing. Usually there are updates about events and speakers, or perhaps links to recordings from presentations. BookCon decided to pull user-generated content from the app. These are the two emails I received during the day, while I was still at the event. I heard there were about 30,000 attendees. Granted, they probably didn’t all opt in to email, and they probably didn’t all download the app. But of all the comments people were leaving about how cool it was to meet their favorite authors, this is what BookCon sent out to attendees.

1. Subject line: Today at BookCon
Sent at 1:17 PM


2. Subject line: Today at Bookcon
Sent at 6:10 PM



(For the record, Evie R. and June H. were pretty accurate. I left with a pile of free books; several of which were autographed. I had a great time, but I also chose not to wait in crazy lines for the really good panels. It got pretty nuts.)

The lesson: If you’re going to send emails with user-generated content, um, read it first.

The next automated email I recently received was from the social media platform everyone loves to hate and hates to love: Google Plus. Poor Google Plus. They tried, but they never really caught on. Maybe it’s because they send me emails like this. (This email went to my old Gmail account under my maiden name):



(Sorry for the hacky photoshop job. Just wanted to illustrate that they put me in there twice).

Granted, I think I have Google plus accounts through several email addresses, including my work one. So I could see how they might have pulled it in twice. But this isn’t the first email like this I’ve ever received. I don’t even use Google Plus, and this isn’t going to make me start.

The lesson:  Find ways to de-dupe people’s accounts so they don’t get ridiculous emails like this.

Then today, I got this email from the Barack Obama campaign. I think. Well, it was from the Democratic Party, but the from name said “Barack Obama.” I’m sure we all read the article a while back about all the amazing A/B testing the Obama email team did during the elections. (If you didn’t, go read it. It’s more interesting than this post.) They’re pretty impressive with their  subject lines. And today was no exception.

From Name: Barack Obama
Subject line: I need you in [neighborhood I live in. Small part of an outer borough of NYC]

obama email

Now, it’s not even necessarily a bad email. And $3 really isn’t a lot to ask. It’s the “P.S.” that gets me. They already know I live in New York. A flight and hotel in New York City is not really an incentive for me (I live closer to an NYC airport than Manhattan…). Surely they could have pulled in different content for subscribers who lived in New York (I don’t know, maybe a trip to Washington DC or something?).

The lesson: If you’re offering a free trip, make sure it’s relevant to the people you’re offering it to.

Subject Line Sunday: June 1

Here are the most noteworthy subject lines I received last week. Several brands referenced the long weekend for Memorial Day, and others seemed to be very cognizant that people weren’t very focused on work during the week. Here we go…


Over the course of several days, they sent out a few emails that kind of felt like work emails. Subject lines referenced “High Priority,” “Deadline,” and “Check your calendar.” Of course, they were all about a sale. But they sent them starting on a Thursday before a holiday weekend, and continued them throughout the weekend. I like to keep my work and shopping separate, J. Crew. The actual email designs looked like they had memos in them and used a courier font. (You know, because most people still use typewriters to send memos at work these days.)

5/22/2014 – High priority: shopping for summer weekends


5/24/2014 – Sale deadline approaching…


5/24/2014 – Check your calendar…


5/26/2014 – OK, seriously, check your calendar!!

I will say, this last one was a nice way to follow up to the other “Check your calendar” email. I hadn’t engaged with the first one. Many email marketers struggle with how to give certain promotions an extra push when they don’t have extra content to send, I thought this was a fun way to bring urgency to the email.



This next subject line from Walmart caught my eye for a few reasons. $10.42 is kind of a weird number. I know there are data out there that says specific dollar amounts and percentages that don’t end in 5 or 0 grab more attention, so maybe that was their angle. But $10.42 seems kind of low for a graduation gift…

Walmart – 5/23/2014
Subject: From $10.42! Get gifts grads love.

These next few were about Memorial Day weekend without actually talking about Memorial Day, which I kind of liked. There seemed to be a common theme with these (and the J.Crew series above): We would all rather shop and focus on getting our summers started than be at work.

Express – 5/26/2014
Subject: Day off? It’s time to shop!

Banana Republic – 5/26/2014
Subject: Going back to work tomorrow? – 40% off should make it easier.

New York & Company – 5/27/2014
Subject: We just couldn’t let go of the long weekend…
Pre-header: Extra day to shop the Shorts & Crops Sale, NY Deals and more! Shop NOW

Then we all went back to work on Tuesday, and Kohl’s sent this gem of a subject line (at 5:30 AM. I would have like to see it arrive around 11 given the subject line, since it referenced lunch.) The hamburger ingredients appeared on the sandwich one at a time as a gif. I just loved how silly and fun the subject line and email were. They threw in a Father’s day module at the bottom of the email, because everyone knows that in the marketing world, as soon as one holiday is over, you’re already behind in promoting the next holiday.

Kohl’s – 5/27/2014
Subject: What’s for Lunch? How ‘Bout Extra 20% Off with Cheese




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.


Subject line Saturday: Summer is coming (and other stuff)

So, I did a great job last weekend cleaning out my inbox, writing and pre-scheduling three posts, and adding new ideas to my spreadsheet about other things to write about.

Then I had a really busy week at work, a long-term houseguest make an appearance, and a cold on top of that. So it’s back to 200 again. Sigh. An email snarketer’s work is never done.

I did find a lot of emails with interesting/horrible subject lines though, so it seems like as good of a time as any to actually do Subject Line Saturday like I always intended. Here goes!

From: Gap
When: 4/14/14 (A Monday…)
Subject: Is it the weekend yet?

I ask that every Monday.

From: Banana Republic
When: 4/24/14
Subject: Hey! You’ll want to see this…

I didn’t. It wasn’t introducing any new products, and it was the same 40% off discount they’ve been promoting for the last… all the time.

From: Bonobos
When: 5/7/2014
Subject: Almost 300 new items? Holy $#!%

Whoa. They had been pushing that they had a lot of new items for a few days, but this subject line got my attention. The email was very simple, but nice – a collection of various products (with no text around them) organized by color.

From: J. Crew
When: 5/12/14
Subject: OK, it’s really, truly, actually sunny out. Sandal shopping’s a go.

Love it. I was on vacation at the time, and it was definitely sunny and I was definitely wearing sandals. I’d like to think they geo-targeted this a little and saved it for days when it was actually sunny where they sent it. The body of the email was cute too – the header said “9 reasons to get a pedicure ASAP. Start scrolling” (Oh, J. Crew. I don’t need 9 reasons. If it’s warm enough for open toed shoes, I promise my feet will always have a pedicure less than 2 weeks old.) Then it showed 9 large, pretty pictures of cute sandals. Niiiiice.

From: Staples
When: 5/13/14
Subject: Think mailing supplies aren’t cool? Try mailing without them.

Um, could this subject line be any dorkier? I love it. I’m picturing someone who works in a mailroom or post office and is really, really, proud of their work, and trying to convince other people their job is cool. (And I think as email marketers, we can all relate to this. The struggle.) The email itself wasn’t anything special – showed some normal looking mailing supplies, offered a discount, showed some other products.

From: Barnes & Noble
When: 5/16/14
Subject: From Page to Screen – Top Books That Made It to Theaters & TV This Year

This subject wasn’t particularly flashy or witty like the others. It was actually really direct and clear. I love reading, and a lot of my favorite books seem to end up getting made int movies. I opened the email because I wanted to see if the ones I’ve read were “top” books, and I wanted to see if there were others I might like. I haven’t written about Barnes & Noble emails yet, but I think they do a great job of showcasing lots of different books, with just the right amount of text summarizing them.

From: J.Crew
When: 5/20/14
Subject: All packed?

Right before a holiday weekend, when everyone is daydreaming about not being at work. Yaaaaasssss. This email highlighted a few products that might be nice for a long weekend, and offered up a 25% discount, online only. (The flaw in that plan – would the products actually get to someone who was leaving 3 days later in time for them to pack them for a trip?)

From: Jack Spade
When: 5/21/14
Subject: Out of office

Jack Spade took a similar route. This email was so simple, but so great. It used one of the images from the road trip email they sent a few weeks ago, and then just had a few products that people might want to bring on a long weekend away. 

From: New York & Company
When: 5/23/14
Subject: $5?

Well, that’s the shortest subject line I’ve ever seen.  Their pre-header gave more detail: Unbelievable NY Deals + Everything else buy one, get one 50% off! Shop NOW. Since most of their emails rely heavily on discounts (it’s not like they can rely on having stylish clothes…), I’m sure this appealed to their customers. It only had one $5 item (sunglasses), but then had other things that were pretty low-priced.

Quit trying to make “Spring Black Friday” happen, Lowe’s

When I got my first “Spring Black Friday” email from Lowe’s on May 1, I tensed up a little. Is this really a thing? Am I going to start getting Spring Black Friday emails on top of the 40 Mother’s Day emails I’m already getting every day too? Over the next few days, I kept my eyes out for Spring Black Friday emails from other brands.

Like it or not, Black Friday is powerful and works because just about every brand participates. They pretty much have to. Even brands that don’t do promotions (like mine) still have to send some sort of counter Black Friday email to stay relevant.

But Spring Black Friday? I’m sorry Lowe’s, but this is the Fetch to your Gretchen Weiners. As in, stop trying to make it happen. It’s not going to happen.

Don’t worry, marketers. Spring Black Friday isn’t a thing. Lowe’s is the only brand I saw sending emails about it. And it wasn’t even a Friday. It was two whole weekends. The whole campaign was executed so poorly they’ve pretty much guaranteed this will NEVER be a thing.

First up, the subject lines I received:

May 1: Heads Up, New York! Spring Black Friday Starts Today

May 2: Spring Black Friday Is in Full Swing

May 3: Amazing Spring Black Friday Offers Continue

May 4: Don’t Miss Spring Black Friday Savings

May 8: Final Days! Spring Black Friday Savings! 

May 9: Hey New York! It’s the Final Spring Black Friday Weekend

May 10: Spring Black Friday is Almost Over!

May 11: Don’t Wait! Spring Black Friday Ends Tomorrow.


S0, of these days, May 2 and May 9 were the only Fridays.  Yet this one “Friday” seems to extend Thursday-Sunday, for two weekends in a row. Why call them Black Friday at all? For me (and this may be the extreme introvert talking), “Black Friday” conjures up thoughts of getting up way too early, cold weather, stampedes, extreme crowds, and a lot of anxiety. However, Spring, gardening, and working on making my apartment nicer… don’t. I don’t want to make a sexist generalization here, but I’d imagine their target demographic is men. Men probably don’t react to Black Friday the same way women do (other than camping out at Best Buy, I guess), and I bet they care about Black Friday even less.

Then there’s the personalization by city thing. Lowe’s has a few locations in Brooklyn and eastern NJ, but they’re way too far away for most people in New York City to want to shop at. Most purchases at this type of store are generally bigger and require a car (or, you know, owning a home or yard that needs improvement). We have several Home Depot locations in Manhattan (near subway stations, no less!), and a few in Queens.

Since this campaign was a pretty big deal for Lowe’s (I guess?), and they sent eight emails about it, surely the emails were at least really good, right?

Meh. Granted, I’m not exactly their target market (despite my NYC location. Or something). I have no idea if these are even good deals, since I never really purchase any of these items, and won’t need to for the forseeable future. Lowe’s emails always have a very – basic design that just screams “I was built in in a WYSIWYG.”  I don’t even mind that it’s simple. Really simple.

I’m a little curious about the language of the green buttons – some say “Shop now” and some day “Buy now.” Was that an A/B test within the email (which wouldn’t work, since it’s totally different products and price points), or just inconsistent copy editing?

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I’m just glad we all survived another Black Friday.