Friday, 8 February 2013

Always take the weather

Getting weather-related emails right is trickier than it first appears. While a cold spell can work well as an anchor for a promotional email, marketers need to be careful they’re not too flippant as to offend people badly affected by the stormy weather. Here are a few examples of recent snow-related emails that hit the mark for us:

Presents for Men

We like to consider ourselves practical shoppers, which is why this email from Presents for Men has a particular appeal. Titled “Ready for the big freeze? Best cold weather gadgets”, the email features a main image of a duck with the accompanying copy: “Are you ready for the first big freeze of 2013? Essential gadgets to duck the cold weather”. Below that is a selection of handy cold-weather goods like windscreen covers, hand warmers and ice grips. We also thought that its plug for sister brand Travel Paraphernalia & Outdoor Leisure showing a sunny, waterside scene was a nice touch—nothing like daydreaming about our next holiday to help beat the January blues.

Speaking of which, “Beat the January blues with our outstanding offers!!” is the subject line of an email from cookware retailer Procook.  Packed with ideas like what to do with the kids because school is closed, to tastier ways to keep our healthy eating resolutions, there’s even a competition to “really brighten up your day!”


We also didn’t fail to notice how the colour scheme shifts from bleak to sunny as we scrolled down the email—a  neat trick.

Another subject line that caught our eye was “Snowed in? Warm up with our fabulous Winter Offers…” from Feather & Black. Sadly, this was the only reference to the snow in the email, which could have been titled “Up To 50% Off + Further Savings With This Week’s Special Offers!”, as per the first line of text in the email. Still, the message is loud and clear: don’t bother getting out of bed. Stay in and shop online to make your home even cosier.--MT

Feather & Black

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

January Catalogue Log

The snow and ice we experienced throughout January didn't seem to impact on catalogue volume. We received 114 catalogues at the Direct Commerce offices last month, that’s 50 percent more than December and a whopping 87 percent more than we received in January 2012, when we logged a paltry 61 catalogues.

As well as the usual factors we track—percentage of catalogues featuring a discount, free delivery or free gift offer on the cover—we noted that January is prime mailing time for gardening catalogues. We received catalogues from Chiltern Seeds, Dobies, Marshalls, Pomona Fruits, Unwins, and garden structures specialist Agriframes. January is also a time for thinking about the summer holidays with a bunch of newspaper inserts and standalone mailings featuring travel deals. Now there’s an image of Britishness for you: we’re a nation of gardeners who dream about more exotic climes.

Another major theme of the catalogues we logged in January was, of course, the January sales. I counted 56 catalogue covers, or 49.1 percent, mentioning a special price promotion. Boden was one of the most prolific mailers with three separate catalogues: a 12-page catalogue featuring 10 percent off, free delivery, free returns and £15 off a first order; a 196-page book with 10 percent off, free delivery and returns and a 268-page catalogue also promoting 10 percent off and free delivery and returns. I've since received another Boden catalogue, this time offering 15 percent off, free delivery and free returns.

Given that it’s January, you’d think that the percentage of catalogues touting a discount would be higher than during the run-up to Christmas, but that’s not entirely the case. While 49 percent is higher than we experienced in September, October and November, it’s still considerably lower than the 59 percent we logged in December.

Free delivery was roughly in line with pre-Christmas levels, with 21.9 percent of the catalogues we tracked featuring a free p&p offer on the cover, compared with 18.4 percent in December and 21 percent in November. Apart from Boden, other mailers choosing to tempt us with free shipping were Lakeland (free on purchases of £30 or more), silk-flowers specialist Bloom (on orders of £60 or more) and the Duvet & Pillow Warehouse, which teamed up its free delivery offer with a half-price sale.

January had even more in common with November, with the percentage of catalogues offering a free gift being exactly 7 percent for each month. I liked the tactic from b-to-b mailer Viking which, on the same cover, gave away a gym ball set AND a whole jar of retro sweets.

On a final note, kudos to Bettys for its early-bird approach to February’s biggest retail event, Valentine’s Day. It mailed us an edition titled Celebrations and Valentine’s Day in January, proving it’s never too early to think about cake.--MT