Welcome to our monthly Email Hall of Fame / Hall of Shame, highlighting some the best and worst transactional and triggered emails.
This month’s selection features emails from Warby Parker, PayPal, lululemon, and more. We hope you enjoy them — and learn from them — as much as we do.
Hall of Fame:
Warby Parker, the prescription glasses retailer
This order confirmation email from Warby Parker very concisely provides the customer with everything they need to know: the product ordered (including image), color selected, shipping address, payment method, and when to expect delivery. Then they go a step further to include a link to find out if the customer’s insurance accepts Warby Parker claims, plus three methods for finding help.
That product image, for starters. The large photo provides the customer with an unmistakable visual reminder of what they ordered. A very useful touch — because let’s face it, a customer is far more likely to remember what their new glasses look like than the model name. The email also reminds the customer that the prescription ordered is for single vision glasses, a handy detail for someone who might have intended to order bifocals.
And bonus points for the links to browse sunglasses and find a physical store nearby.
PayPal, the online payment and money transfer service
Okay, okay… so this isn’t a transactional email. But it’s a really good promotional email so we’re making an exception.
We love the structure of this email. It’s clean and straightforward, telling the customer at a glance exactly what’s being offered — 20% off eligible purchases at retailer L.L.Bean when paid through PayPal. If the customer’s interest is piqued, it’s easy to find the details that matter — the coupon code and expiry date — and the clear and obvious CTA.
PayPal takes a great email and makes it exceptional by also providing a link to preview upcoming deals. That isn’t something we see very often but we like it.
Segment, the customer data infrastructure company
C’mon. That animation is pretty darned cool, illustrating data coming from an assortment of sources and flowing into a variety of business-uses to which it can be put. It’s enough to get any data nerd — and we’re all data nerds — excited about collecting and putting all that juicy customer data to work.
Hall of Shame:
Plaid, the financial services API provider for developers
Seriously — you have to ask?
This is a case of someone (or someones) failing to properly device-test a transactional email. Far too often, corners get cut when it comes to QA on transactional messaging. The image above shows how the email appears in Gmail’s desktop inbox. But when viewed in iCloud webmail or Android’s native app, the email looks fine. It’s still not perfect but it’s a darned sight better than how it’s displayed in Gmail. In the other clients/devices, the email actually has readable text and a proper logo and a CTA and a footer and everything.
The fact that this particular email is virtually unreadable in Gmail, probably the most common provider, is especially troublesome — it’s the email address verification link that Plaid sends to every single customer upon sign-up. Sigh. Truly shameworthy.
Lululemon, the yoga-inspired athletic apparel retailer
This is lululemon’s Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey, sent after an in-store purchase. But… oh, dear. Where to start?
First, the email arrived almost two hours before the customer’s email receipt. There goes a point or three off this customer’s score. Why would any company expect a high rating when they’re asking for feedback before they can be bothered to send a receipt?
Second, it looks, sounds, and feels like an NPS survey, and that’s exactly what the question included in the email is, but clicking through leads the user to an extensive, muli-part, multiple question customer experience survey. NPS surveys are typically no more than two or three questions, often even just the one in this email, so that’s what the average consumer would expect when clicking through. But they’d be wrong. And with no indication in the email about the length or depth of the survey on the other end of that click, they’d probably feel misled. (Can’t help wondering what their survey completion rate is like?)
Finally, beyond the customer’s first name, the email includes zero personalization. They mention the store name but they also could have reminded Leah about what she purchased or the name of the associate who helped her. Providing cues about the specific experience the survey is asking about can go a long way in eliciting an honest and accurate response.
FasTrak, the service that allows Bay Area motorists to pay bridge and express lane tolls electronically
The FasTrak user who submitted this account statement email described it as, “A text box email of a boring death.” That just about sums it up. The email contains a ton of unnecessary information, including the fact that the statement will be available for three years. (Seriously — who needs to know that?)
In order to access the information they need, the customer has to click through to their account, using either the always-helpful ‘click here’ (not) hyperlink or that long, indecipherable, ugly-as-heck URL. It’s 2019, people. The days of including a copy/pasteable URL for people unable to click hyperlinks are long past.
The days of avoiding including statement details in an email are long past as well. Many, many businesses — from financial institutions to utilities to retailers to subscription services — haven’t just demonstrated that it’s possible to provide useful statement details in the body of an email without compromising PII, they’ve proven that it’s exactly what customers want and expect. FasTrak could take a lesson. Or three.