Retail TouchPoints: Banana Republic; Urban Outfitters Shine in Email Design Look Book

Aug 17, 2010

By Amanda Ferrante

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion
is a summary of a current article from the Retail TouchPoints website.

marketing service Smith-Harmon, a division of Responsys, recently compiled
an Email Design Look Book, bringing together
20 compelling emails, a large portion of which are retail-driven.

"While some form of conversion is usually the primary goal, engagement
is becoming an increasingly vital goal of email campaigns," said Chad
White, Research Director at Responsys. "With ISPs now factoring in engagement
metrics into their filtering algorithms, email campaigns that generate opens
and clicks are important to maintaining healthy deliverability rates. Plus,
the growth of social initiatives also means that email campaigns are often
focused on getting subscribers to participate in a brand’s community
by voting, uploading content, commenting or taking some other non-revenue-generating

Among the book’s shining stars:

  • Banana Republic’s February promotional email bearing a subject
    line "What to Wear 7 Days a Week," offered an image-focused
    message to create clicks. By only revealing half of the third image, the
    only way recipients could view the full "seven days of outfits" would
    be to click through.
  • With Valentine’s Day in mind, Uncommon Goods sent a promotional email
    in early February with a cutout "Do Not Disturb" sign with directions
    to "Print. Cut. Lock the Door." "Very few emails invite
    physical interaction, so this email really stands out," Mr. White said. "But
    even if subscribers don’t turn on their printers and pull out their
    scissors, the ‘Do Not Disturb’ messaging sets a great Valentine’s
    Day tone and the ‘Take a Peak’ call to action is enticing."
  • To raise awareness around a new brand relaunch, Ann Taylor’s September
    email communication stressed "What You’ve Been Waiting For: Meet
    the New Ann." The company sent nine emails over 11 days, boasting
    the company’s new fabrics, new web site, new styles and new attitude.
  • For the busy holiday shopping season, Urban Outfitters kept it simple with
    an email that boasted "Gifts Under $50." The innovative campaign
    employed lettering that resembled gift ribbon, bringing the message to life
    via creative typography.

Mr. White points to three major elements of email messaging that email marketers
should hold a lot of weight to. "First, is the preheader text optimized
and the header nice and tight, preferably with a navigation bar that’s
composed of HTML text links?" White said. He also said rendering is important,
especially when images are blocked. Lastly, Mr. White said email marketers should
ask questions like:

  • How scannable is the email?
  • Are content blocks clearly defined?
  • Is the text easy to read?
  • Are calls-to-action clear and easy to spot?

"Consumers spend very little time looking at an email, so the design should
aid them in quickly assessing the content," he said.

Discussion Questions: 
Which design elements should retailers prioritize in driving engagement around
e-mail campaigns? What have you liked and disliked in retailer e-mail campaigns
that you have seen?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

4 Comments on "Retail TouchPoints: Banana Republic; Urban Outfitters Shine in Email Design Look Book"

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Gib Bassett
Gib Bassett
11 years 9 months ago

With the cross channel shopper shown to be the most valuable, promotional emails that tap into that trend would seem to be the most effective. If a retailer lacks permissions among its email subscribers for mobile opt-in, they should develop creative aimed at getting it. If the retailer already has these permissions, they should develop creative ways of enabling the cross channel shopping experience across email and mobile.

Another interesting idea is to identify the cross channel permission-based customer as a unique segment to be developed and grown–since they spend the most, they deserve special attention apart from their single-channel peers. Retailers should also make it easy for anyone to cross promote an email offer into Facebook or Twitter.

Ed Rosenbaum
11 years 9 months ago

Email design look books for the tech savvy consumer will be big for the retailers as they become more creative and design conscious in getting their messages out. Once the retailers receive permission to send their promotions to a larger audience via the email appearance, they should see new trends in buying habits develop. It will take time to watch for and interpret trends. But retailers need to find new methods to reach the buyers who are the spenders.

Rick Moss
11 years 9 months ago

Targeting your offers properly is 90% of the battle. All the design in the world isn’t going to convert a shopper who’s not right for the merchandise offered.

Along those lines, it seems that retailers should actively encourage each (decision-making) member of the family to opt-in separately. How many times have you opened an email from one of your favorite retailers only to find the sale items were meant for your spouse?

And then perhaps ask during the checkout process if the purchase is for you, another family member or intended as a gift. Then maybe Amazon would stop sending me offerings for books on Jewish Mysticism just because my daughter ordered that topic for a college course four years ago.

Cathy Hotka
11 years 9 months ago

New designs are always great. Greater still would be emails that do not appear every day. There are ten or twelve retailers that send out a message every two or three days…this cannot be a best practice.


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