Monday, March 4, 2013

your email sucks - templates they can help but they also can hurt

in today's installment of your email sucks, i'm going to talk about templates and how using can make us as email marketers sloppy.

check your template
and rendering before
you hit send by
testing with multiple
devices.
over the past couple of weeks, i've noticed that the emails i get from kgbdeals.com are a little "messed up". you'll notice by looking at the example here, that there is a ton of "white space" at the bottom of the email.

in the past their emails have been longer, now they are going with a full width feature deal at the top, and then three ancillary deals below that. great, you're reducing the number of deals, and it makes me go to your site to dig around for more when i see something that catches my fancy, but if you really want to drive me crazy (and probably the rest of your readership), don't adjust your length of your template.

so you may be asking yourself, what's the issue with that? well if your readership reads their email on their smartphone or other device, and using a gmail account, more than likely we're not getting the full email delivered to us in the first place. the top deal renders on screen without an issue, but then my iphone tells me this "'this message is only partially downloaded.' download the remaining x kb". so i do...

when i down the rest of the message i get the three bottom deals, and the footer, which to most people is the visual prompt that there is no more content - we're all conditioned to that after many years of seeing html email, but if you're like me you continue to scroll, and scroll and scroll... what am i left to think about this email?
  1. that this email is broken, so the reader will give you a couple of rounds of this cat and mouse game.
  2. that this email is always broke after a few times, so i stop opening them, but i'm not motivated enough to unsubscribe.
  3. i unsubscribe on the premiss that your email is always broken.
  4. i think that this email is broke, and i click on spam and your sender scores get affected
  5. or worse, that your reputation as a quality company isn't what i thought it was, and i unsubscribe, never visit the site again, and i tell my friends about you and to not deal with you either.
in actuality 1-4 aren't really that bad, you know the damage of someone not looking at your emails - open rates go down, sender scores can be recovered and you know when you lost me as a customer because you complied with my request to be unsubscribed, but what about number 5?

well, just like going into a brick and mortar store and having a bad experience - or if your store is sloppy and not clean and unappealing, i'm not going back. but i'm also going to tell my friends about it when i see them, that yeah i really liked the store and the merchandise but it was hard to find and nothing in the store is visually appealing to make me want to look through tables of unfolded clothes and for lack of a better word - crap. you've lost me as a customer, and you're district manager is eventually going to tell you to clean up your store. but with email, you may not have that feedback.

you're not going to know how many people i tell that the email is always broke or that it doesn't function right. by the time you figure it out, you've lost subscribers and if the old saying holds up, you've also lost 10 potential subscribers, because that's how many people i've told in passing about you when your competitors come up in conversation - and they always do.

so how to remedy this, test your email on different platforms, and look at the way they render. if you're using a template and you change the amount of content, think about the way this is going to affect the look and feel of your template, and change the template. it's a simple thing to go in and change the height of the container, and it will have a dramatic effect on the way your email, and your storefront is perceived, because after all, perception is reality.

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