Thursday, September 27, 2012 3:44 PM
Back in August, Responsys Inc published their 2012 Look Book, highlighting their favorite email creative from the past year. The choices were excellent, including thought-provoking fundraising emails (Royal National Institute of Blind People), entertainment emails populated with dynamic content (Sky), personalized + event-triggered e-commerce emails (Pizza Express), and many more.
We found ourselves particularly drawn to one of the emails, which had actually made the rounds here at Whereoware back when it was originally sent to subscribers in April 2012. The email came from Brooks Brothers and was part of an effort to promote a new line of polo shirts. While the topic in and of itself might have been take-or-leave-it, Brooks Brothers went above and beyond with a creative concept which teased readers with the idea of a $2000 polo shirt that in fact turned out to be a little something more.
In this blog post, we’re breaking down the Brooks Brothers email, figuring out what works, what could be improved, and why it merited inclusion in the Responsys 2012 Look Book.
About the email: subject line
The subject line for this email was just one ‘word’: “$2,000.00?” The brevity of this subject offered no suggestion as to what the content of the email might be, placing a rather large burden on the body (text and image) to get the message across.
About the email: format
When the email first appeared in the preview pane, recipients saw a navigation bar with the Brooks Brothers logo, followed by a stack of 4-5 polo shirts and the words “INTRODUCING THE $2,000.00 POLO…”
Scrolling down the page, they were greeted by an astounding 44 polo shirts in all colors of the rainbow, before they finally came across the bottom image of the box that held the entire stack of shirts, with the words “…BOX SET.” The joke was further explained in smaller text:
The quintessential polo in a 44 color box set*.
3 Days Only – Now through April 18, 2012
(SHOP ORIGINAL FIT SET) (SHOP SLIM FIT SET)
Prefer Just One or Two?
2 for $119 (OR $64.50 to $69.50 EACH)
This made for a very long email with limited copy. Was it a good idea?
- Length: normally, designers and marketers alike would recommend against having such a visually long email, since it requires the reader to scroll for an extended amount of time, making them likely to jump ship before reaching your call to action. However, in this case, the length of the email creative was crucial to its message, and Brooks Brothers banked on the enigmatic title and colorful creative to convince the reader to scroll. Did it work for you? It did for us!
How to make it even better
- Layout: the email’s one column layout was its saving grace. Quirky, unusual emails like this can be a real hook, but readers only have so much patience. Since the recipients had to scroll all the way to the end to get the message, keeping the creative fairly simple in a single column was a very wise decision.
- Make things easy: the call to action was all the way at the bottom. While it was purposefully created that way to complement the intriguing hook, the email may have made a bigger splash if a call to action was also included at the top. This needn’t be more than just a simple line, like “see what makes the polo so special,” which could then direct reader to the polo landing page. There, the informational copy from the bottom of the email would be front and center. In this way, even consumers unwilling to scroll wouldn’t have to be lost for good.
- Subject line: this subject line was a tricky sell. While a certain number of clicks may have come from curiosity alone, the subject gave no hint as to the content of the email, so some readers may have dismissed it as irrelevant to their interests.
While best practices recommend front-loading crucial information and using trigger words in email subject lines, this one relied entirely on the element of surprise.
Future emails might be better off modeling their subject line after something as simple as the copy in the email’s body: “Introducing the $2000.00 polo…” This would maintain the intrigue of the email while still conveying that the focus is on polo shirts, a piece of information customers could then use to judge the message’s relevance. Even just adding that one word, ‘polo,’ lends clarity to the subject line. For brevity’s sake, this could even be shortened to an inquiry: “A $2000.00 polo?” or something similar.
The bottom line
The true success of this email came from the element of surprise. Since it was directed to a B2C audience, it stands to reason that buying a $2k box set of polo shirts would not be high on customers’ priority lists.
However, the high “cost” grabbed readers’ attention at the beginning, their need to scroll all the way down to the bottom introduced them to the many colors available, and the closing copy at the bottom not only tied the whole ‘joke’ together, but set the stage for the calls-to-action and allowed readers to slip back into their normal spending patterns: “Prefer Just One or Two? 2 for $119”.
Overall, this was a good implementation and a great idea, but probably not a repeatable one since the surprise factor is gone… What did you think? Was this a hit, a miss, or a mixture of the two?
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