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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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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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Lyft Year in Review Email | Brand Experience Project

by Jamie Sanford on January 10, 2019

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It may be too late to say “happy new year,” but it is not too late to talk about new year content.

Today I wanted to share the email I received from Lyft, with a recap of my use of their service in 2018. I’ve seen these from a number of brands, but the content of this one really struck the perfect balance of personalized information about my own use of this service and company information. Included here is information on how to better use Lyft, what Lyft is up to in terms of their philanthropic efforts, where Lyft service is available, interspersed with specific information about my stats for 2018.

I don’t get a lot of emails from Lyft that aren’t related to specific usage of their service, but I opened this one as it totally played into me wanting to know more about me. The personalization of this email was super effective at pulling me in, and in the meantime, taught me a bit more about Lyft as a company.

What I do notice and appreciate is that nothing here is about money spent on this service. Why bring you down with a reminder of how much money you spent? December is generally a spendy month for many people, so a reminder about having spent $X over the course of the year on rides isn’t going to help anyone. Good move on Lyft’s part.

I would like to see other companies create this kind of recap of my own activity with their service or store. I am slightly concerned that for some customers, it would backfire into letting them know that they might be shopping a bit too much, or taking Lyfts a bit too much, but the avoidance of including dollar amounts is a key point.

Scroll down to take a look.

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It’s been a while!

I had to acknowledge this effort from a brand I know and love, Excedrin. Excedrin was the go-to choice for headaches in my household growing up, and so there is always a giant bottle of it in my home now.

I saw this Instagram post today and was intrigued. It’s Tan and Antoni from Queer Eye!

This is a brilliant idea. It makes complete sense to associate headaches with common triggers, and this particular choice of spokespeople is relevant and far-reaching. We all get headaches!

Here’s a look at the packaging on the Excedrin website:

Unfortunately handled was the page where you could sign up to receive a free sample of Excedrin Extra Strength with the limited-edition packaging. I filled out too many fields before finding out that they were apparently out of the free options.

The Excedrin team should have been ready to edit this page to alert visitors that they had run out of the giveaway items. It’s a miss in a day full of fun branding wins.

Which package would you pick if you had to choose the one that best fits you?

Here’s a news article covering the variety of content associated with this promotion.

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I’m back with a packaging review! It’s been a while, but since I had never ordered from Colourpop before, it seemed like a good time to get back into these posts.

I ordered a palette when they had a sale, and it arrived within a few days. Let’s take a look.

Customized with the sticker, but it doesn’t appear to be a custom envelope.

Here’s a look at the back, and also at the bubble-wrapped package contents.

Out of the bubble wrap, we have a little Colourpop catalog/brochure, the packing list, and the palette in its outer box.

Here’s the inside of the brochure and a shot of the very cute note that was also included.

Spoiler alert – this is my favorite thing in this blog post. They label the palette with release dating! Every company should do this!

The front of the All I See is Magic palette. Unfortunately, you can see that some shadow has escaped the palette and smudged on the outer cover of the palette.

Sadly, this is a bit worse on the inside of the palette. There are issues on some of the individual shadows as well. I don’t know if this is because the palette wasn’t padded enough in shipping, or if the formula of the eyeshadows is such that they are fragile and that this is to be expected, no matter the padding for shipment.

This is the back of the palette. This is the thing that bothers me the most. I can accept that there is a cost savings in not printing eyeshadow names on the inside of the palette. These names are on the back of the palette, but the issue is that it is confusing when you have to flip it over to get the names, because if the shade name is behind where it actually lives in the palette is probably not the name?(The color descriptions on the website do clear this up.)

This could be improved in a few ways:

  • If possible, make it work so that the color names can be printed on the inside of the palette
  • Use photos of the actual shades on the sticker on the back to ID colors, to avoid the confusion of the layout
  • Put this sticker on the inside of the palette! These palettes don’t often have mirrors, so the sticker could just be placed there for ease in seeing the shadow names

The back of the palette box has the same information as on the sticker on the back of the actual palette. This all could be a little bit better. Again, I know that Colourpop is known for being budget-friendly for great quality, but I would still prefer that they identify issues like this and work it out so that the experience of their brand is just that much better.

I think Colourpop is a really interesting brand, and they appear to be growing like crazy, so I’m hopeful that they can address issues like these while still being able to maintain the tenets of their brand that has brought them to their current place in the market.

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