An Example of an Email Marketing Best Practice not Practiced

Don’t you just love serendipity? Or maybe I should say, don’t you just love when you say something to the world, and then you see what you’re proposing being put into action?

That just happened. We at ClickMail, an email marketing vendor, are publishing our newest email marketing newsletter chock full of email marketing best practices for list building tips, and then a great example of one of those tips happens to me in real life. Good! On the other hand, there’s plenty of room for improvement with this example too. Bad! Which drives home the point that it’s not enough to know about email marketing best practices. You must put them into practice.

Here’s the story: Thumbing through a Restoration Hardware catalog yesterday, I noticed a small insert fall out of the catalog into my lap. One usually notices something falling into one’s lap, and being a marketer, I was intrigued anyway, so I took a look at it. It was a black piece of paper with silver text that said:

Special Events
New Product Introductions
Special Private Sales
Exclusive Online Savings Offers
…and Much More


I’m an email marketer. Right away, I’m thinking, “Hurray, this is one of the email marketing best practices we recommended in our last newsletter, and here’s someone doing it to build their email list!” But then I took a closer look and realized what started out as a great idea—and email marketing best practice—fell horribly short.

Here’s what Restoration Hardware did right:

• Soliciting email signups offline
• Giving reasons for signing up, not just asking people to do so

Here’s what they did wrong:

• They’re not really soliciting email signups. They meant to! But they fell short and left out the most important info

Do you see what’s missing from the text? What I said above about what they did right is based on assumption, because I assumed all that verbiage was intended to drive email signups. But…do you see anywhere in this text the words “sign up for our emails”? Or even the words “sign up”? Or even “go to”? I don’t.

If you flip the card over, there’s a call to action, albeit it a weak one: “Visit today to sign up.” The call to action would be much stronger as “Sign up for specials at”

But then you have to assume the catalog peruser is going to turn the card over. And if they only look at that side, the side with the call to action, the benefits are missing, so why sign up?

At ClickMail, we want every client and email marketer to be as successful as they can be. That’s why we practically preach email deliverability best practices and email marketing best practices. That’s why we have this blog. That’s why we have a newsletter. That’s why we publish email marketing whitepapers.

But in the end, all we can do is talk about the best practices. It’s up to the marketers to implement them. And that means thinking them through, testing, being clear on the result you want. If Restoration Hardware had done all those things, their clever trick for growing their in-house email list would likely gain them many more subscribers. But done the way it was, I think most of those black pieces of paper are now bookmarks…if not tossed.

I only hung onto mine so I could blog about it…

Published On: August 31st, 2010Categories: Email marketing best practicesTags:

About the Author: Jared LaRock

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