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 Honda, Amazon, FedEx, and more. We hope you enjoy them — and learn from them — as much as we do.
Hall of Fame:
Allbirds, the wool footwear company
Never underestimate the power of a good play on words to delight your customers. Pair it with an adorable dancing sheep in GIF form, and you’ll have yourself a Hall of Fame-worthy transactional email.
But there’s so much more that’s good about this order confirmation. It’s clean and uncluttered, with a great balance of text to images to white space. It includes all the important order details — what was ordered, including image, color, size, price, payment method, taxes, order total, and shipping address. And while there is no obvious CTA, at least there are clear options for contacting the company for help.
Even though a cross-sell offer of related items would not be out of place here — Allbirds are, after all, ‘the world’s most comfortable shoe’ — they do get bonus points for explaining their return policy in a grand total of 17 words. And that includes ‘click here’. 👍
Well, that GIF, of course. So thank ewe, Allbirds, thank ewe very much.
Rover, the online marketplace for pet care services
We mentioned how much we love a good onboarding checklist just last month, but with this email, Rover takes the concept to a whole new level. Triggered when the pet owner confirms a meet-and-greet with their chosen pet-sitter, the email links to a checklist of questions to ask the sitter that will help ensure both the customer and their pet have the best experience. The list includes ten questions to always ask, plus several optional lists based on specific scenarios, i.e. the sitter is coming to your home, the pet is staying at their home, etc.
The email itself is clear and to the point, accurately reflecting Rover’s brand experience. And in this case the user was new and did not know Rover even has an app, so for them, those app promos were perfectly placed and perfectly timed.
A couple of minor quibbles might be making the text on the CTA button more obvious and perhaps including a few sample questions within the email, (maybe the ten to ‘always’ ask), to entice the user to click through. But otherwise, it’s a great email.
As pet lovers ourselves, we ♥ the fact that Rover doesn’t just address the human by name, they include their dog’s name as well. What’s not to love about a brand that personalizes with your pet’s name?
Honda, the car company
How often do you see a triggered email from the manufacturer of your new car? (Well… maybe more often than we think, but you’d have to buy a new car to see one. 😳)
Anyway… this email is great, with a clear CTA leading to a personalized web page. How cool is that? What a perfect way to keep a new customer engaged. And an engaged customer is open to cross- and upsell offers, for things like mats, air fresheners, extended warranties, tire and rim protection (whatever that is), etc. Plus a personalized web page makes it easy for the customer to make service appointments, so they’re more likely to keep up with that all-important maintenance schedule.
The list of the new car’s features is great. Each one links to full instructions – some with video – on how to set that feature up and get started. Beats the heck out of searching through a 900+ page owners’ manual.
Hall of Shame:
Amazon… sigh… again
Amazon is an e-commerce giant. No, scratch that — they are the e-commerce giant. Founded way back in 1994, you’d think they’d have this whole transactional email thing down pat by now. But far from it — this is the second (and probably not the last) email of theirs to make it into the Hall of Shame.
This email notifying the user that 2FA has been successfully enabled has zero branding and zero personalization. It also has no CTA besides a ‘Contact Us’ hyperlink with instructions for the user to click if they did not recently make any changes to their security settings. Hmmmm… sounds an awful lot like a few phishing scams we’ve seen.
Transactional email, particularly one regarding an account update related to security settings, should instill trust in the user. The best way to do that is through proper branding, making sure the email looks, sounds, and feels like it comes from who it claims to be. This email has nothing, not even a footer, to reassure the recipient that it truly is from Amazon. If the user didn’t make the change to 2FA, how likely would they be to trust the link enough to actually click it? Anyone with even a drop of healthy caution would — and probably should — think twice.
FedEx, the global courier and delivery service
It’s 2019 and a FedEx tracking email looks like this? Hooo, boy.
Plain text with a full URL, rather than a hyperlink, to track the shipment online. And it’s really weirdly formatted plain text, with misaligned copy and random double spaces between words. (There’s this new-fangled thing called a ‘table’ that would fix that alignment problem right up, FedEx. We can help with that — give us a call. 📞)
But hey, at least they got that super important copyright year updated, (cuz there’s so much in there worth plagiarizing). Too bad they didn’t bother fixing anything else when they were at it.
Apple iTunes… seriously, if you don’t know who Apple is…
As transactional emails go, this movie rental receipt from Apple’s iTunes Store is actually pretty good. It’s clear and concise, well branded, and it includes all the details about the purchase the customer needs, including an image of the movie rented.
So what makes it shameworthy, you ask? There are two key – and eminently avoidable – problems.
First of all, though you can’t see it here, the email was designed with no designated preheader text. That means the customer’s email client pulls the first bit of text from the email body to populate the preview. In a lot of cases, that might not be horrible, but here it means the preheader displays the user’s Apple ID, name, and the last four digits and type of credit card. Maybe some folks are okay with that but personally, we’d prefer that kind of information stay out of the preheader.
Secondly, Apple includes two identical versions of the same email, one in English and one in French. This despite the fact that they know the user’s language preference. Asking for a language preference in a market like Canada, where there are two official languages, should mean sending the customer a single email in their language of choice. To ask and then continue to send two versions of the same email is just, well, lazy. And a lousy customer experience.
C’mon, Apple. Surely if you can localize for Australia, doing the same for Canada’s two languages shouldn’t be that hard.