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Once you start paying attention to the little things in promotional email messages, it is really hard to stop yourself.

I create promotional email content as part of my current job, so it is really important to me that I get it right. I especially hope that I would maintain that level of attention to detail in the event that I would have to quickly create and deploy an email in response to a mistake.

Unfortunately, we are about to get a crash course in unfortunate mistakes made during that exact scenario.

I received the email below from Anthony’s Coal-Fired Pizza. Take a look and I’ll continue below.

This is really unfortunately done. My major issues are as follows.

  1. The “from” name is Not Anthony’s, or anything easily recognizable as the brand.
  2. The subject line is “Placeholder Subject,” which is fairly tragic. I would be kicking myself for that one.
  3. I received this email, even though I definitely did not open or click through on the previous email that they mention here. Instead of sending this email about a mistake to everyone, they could have changed the landing page for the link they sent earlier to add messaging about a mistake, and then segmented the email list to only send this email I received to anyone who opened AND clicked the email with the original survey link. They likely sent this follow up to thousands more people than they really needed to.
  4. It says “we sent an email out in error,” 2 sentences in a row. This appears to have really been written in a hurry.
  5. It also looks like it was formatted for mobile devices only, and wasn’t set up to be responsive? This screenshot is from my desktop computer.
  6. I didn’t touch their survey, but they have now sent me an extraneous apology email. I’m very surprised that this didn’t offer me some kind of small discount coupon to use in the future to make me feel better about not getting the $10 reward they are giving to everyone who did take the survey.

I genuinely feel for whoever assembled and sent this email, as the issues here are many and mostly avoidable. Hopefully the Anthony’s team will have better success distributing their next survey.

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Ticketmaster Device Issue | Brand Experience Project

by Jamie Sanford on February 28, 2020

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I have recently experienced a strange error message when shopping for event tickets with Ticketmaster, and wanted to share my thoughts on how this is presented and how it can be improved.

I was most recently shopping the fan pre-sale for the upcoming New Order/Pet Shop Boys tour, and once I chose a pair of tickets, I tried to move forward and received this message.

I almost don’t know where to start with how useless this is to me as a customer.

  1. there is no explanation of what the actual issue is with the device I am using;
  2. there is nothing here addressing that I waited in a queue in order to purchase tickets, behind over 1000 other people, before I had the opportunity to even buy these tickets, and at no point was I given information on how certain devices might cause my purchase to fail;
  3. when I was buying tickets to a separate event earlier this week,  got this message, clicked “OK” and then tried again and was able to purchase the tickets I wanted.

Anyway, after clicking the go button a bunch of times, trying to somehow to get around this strange error again, I decided to try the purchase via the Ticketmaster app on my phone. Here’s how that went.

Good on them for seeing me in multiple locations I guess? Better to stymie the scalpers and bots I suppose.

I closed the browser tabs on my computer and then clicked “Confirm.”

…and then I was done. I gave up on buying these tickets. I went back the following day and ran into the same issues on the website, and so far, still don’t have tickets to this event.

While the whole experience was problematic, the message about “unable to complete your request on this device” is the one I found the most egregious. Why should one device work and another one not work? Please tell me exactly why my device of choice is problematic, particularly in an environment when purchasing tickets to a popular event requires planning and speed of transaction.

I do think that Ticketmaster has made good efforts to thwart the bots, which is wonderful. However, they clearly have some issues remaining that desperately need to be addressed.

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ASOS Breaking Up With Paper Email | Brand Experience Project

by Jamie Sanford on February 26, 2020

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I have blogged about ASOS before, where I really loved the content within their product descriptions. I am so happy to be back again to talk about this excellent email that I just received from them.

Let’s take a look.

How cute is this email!?

I also love that this email came into my inbox on the day my latest order is arriving. This adds another level of excellence to this email—forethought! If this messaging had been hidden in the original order confirmation, it is incredibly unlikely that I would have seen it. The subject line for this was “Missing something from your ASOS order?” which is also a strong choice, because I opened it immediately, expecting that they were going to tell me that something had not been shipped. I was pleasantly surprised to find this friendly email with a positive, Earth-friendly update. As a company that uses multiple forms of transportation to move product, I appreciate that reducing their footprint cannot be easy, and any efforts are valuable.

In addition, I know that ASOS has the data on the return rate that comes along with their customer orders. I’m sure there is an expected balance between savings on paper and printer ink and perhaps additional customer service time for any shoppers who struggle with the return process becoming more customer-driven.

All in all, a winning move by ASOS, combined with an impressive communication strategy.


The only thing I do take issue with is the math. (If you aren’t interested in nitpicky stuff, you can move on. All of the marketing stuff is over.)

According to the encyclopedia, the biggest measured blue whale came in at approximately 200,000 pounds. (A blue whale is a baleen whale so the image above could represent a blue whale.)

320,000 kg = 705,479 pounds, so I’m guessing that we are talking about a currently-unconfirmed GIANT blue whale?

Please note that the average weight of either an Asian or African elephant fits into the appropriate range for ASOS’ math, so I don’t take issue with not identifying the specific type of elephant.

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I know, anyone who has visited this website before knows that I am no stranger to bringing up my issues with Sephora and their website. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I am back again.

I recently received an email from Sephora, promoting new additions to their Rewards Bazaar, where shoppers can use points they have earned to purchase items.

You see how that says “1,000 available now?” I have been waiting for an opportunity to try out Biossance products, so I clicked this right away.

…only to find out that the product in the email was not actually available. You can see sold-out items in this screenshot, so it seems that they aren’t simply out of stock, but haven’t actually activated this item before sending an email about it to potentially thousands of people.

I reached out to Sephora on Twitter and it went like this:


Yikes. This is not the response I would expect, and certainly not one that I would want anyone in my organization to give to a customer experiencing an error on our part.

The first response I received certainly seems either pre-written and automated for any tweets to them mentioning the Rewards Bazaar, or, they have a customer service team trained to use automated responses as often as possible. I understand the interest in maintaining consistent messaging, but a human reading my tweet to them should have realized that I had received an email from Sephora with incorrect information, and responded in a way that made sense.

You can see that at NO POINT was the fact that I received an email promoting something that wasn’t actually available addressed. Not even a “we will let our email team know about this issue” message.

Sephora is a really large company, presumably with a large customer service team to match. I would recommend that they develop a system to sort and perhaps elevate customer messages based on the content of said message.

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2019 Birthday Wishlist

by Jamie Sanford on November 21, 2019

I can’t believe I skipped a birthday wishlist last year! I won’t be making that mistake again. Let’s get into it.

Squirrel taxidermy. DONE.

Giraffe doormat! This is adorable.

Hummingbird skull necklace. Macabre and also somehow classy.

Upside down Christmas tree! This is a little one to hang from the ceiling.

The Chris pocket bag from Zana Bayne. For when I want to have a bag but don’t want to carry a bag.

I’m sure I could think of more things, but I have covered all of the things that popped into my head first. Fun things that I would love to have and maybe wouldn’t immediately buy for myself, or I would have already.

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