Over the holidays I received this from PacSun with the subject line “Your recently viewed items” featuring the exact items I had viewed and no related recommendations. The approach with the enthusiastic, “Take Another Look!” did not seem creepy to me at the time, and I was in fact, grateful for the option to conveniently get back to some holiday gift items I had considered but was not sure about previously:
I recently looked at a number of console tables at Hayneedle and received this email with the subject line “Find everything Console Tables…plus free shipping on most.” The copy “Take a look…hand-picked for you. Interested in Console Tables?” is a little less assuming than “we know you’re looking at console tables,” and the featured tables are actually not any that I recall looking at specifically:
Even more subtle is this beautifully-designed email from Jambu, which simply acknowledges a site visit and invites me back, with the opportunity to go directly to new arrivals:
As with the Hayneedle example above, featuring products that are related to but not exactly the items looked at may seem less “creepy” in certain instances, however, it’s best to provide some sort of context around what you’re merchandising.
I recently searched for console tables at Overstock, too, and then received this email with the subject line, “Are you still interested in this product?” What I found confusing is that I was not looking for a magazine snack table, don’t recall even browsing this item and certainly didn’t put it in my cart, yet this seems to be a shopping cart abandonment email. What does work, however, is the recommended sales, as the first two categories are ones that I also recently browsed:
Similarly, while I did not personally receive this email from Williams-Sonoma with the subject line, “Thanks For Your Interest In: Williams-Sonoma Essential Oils Collection, Winter Forest,” my colleague who did claims she did not look at this specific item. While I have seen countless Williams-Sonoma messages that are great examples of what to do in email marketing, this one unfortunately serves as an example of what not to do. The colon in the subject line may as well say “(insert name of browsed product here)” and the name of the product is way too specific, in my opinion. In addition, after the obvious miss of thanking the recipient for her interest in a product she hasn’t browsed, recommending “Customers Who Purchased Similar Items Also Purchased” seems somehow vague and inappropriate, and the products themselves seem to have no logical relation.
The same clickstream and transactional data that can be used to provide timely, relevant and helpful messages can, if used incorrectly,be confusing, annoying or even creepy. Serving up the right products at the right time with the right messaging is crucial.