What Not to Wear: Email Edition

Posted by Bonnie Malone on

I have a soft spot in my heart for Stacy and Clinton from the TLC show “What Not to Wear”. If you haven’t seen it, the premise of the show is that they help a different fashion-challenged person each week to update their wardrobe, hairstyle, and present themselves in a new package that more accurately reflects them as an individual (as their previous look would often scare others away). It’s strange, sometimes alarming, to meet each “nominee” as we learn what fashion faux-pas they are suffering from. But then, we watch it quickly transition into a battle of wills (how much are they willing to let go of the past and embrace change?) until the final reveal of yet another fashion triumph. 

I’ve come to realize that, perhaps, the show is so endearing to me because it’s a lot like my experience as a consultant in the email marketing world.  Let me explain:

1. The WNTW “fashion-challenged” wears sweatpants and workout gear every day for every occasion and doesn’t own a pair of pants without an elastic waistband.

The email edition sends the same newsletter they’ve sent since 2003 to the entire subscriber base. Suffers from high inactives and occasional spam traps.

Return Path “fashion update” includes a new content strategy. Revive the stale newsletter with a modern design and streamlined articles. Add triggered messages that engage subscribers on the topics and timing that are right for them.

2.The WNTW “fashion-challenged” wears kitschy holiday-themed sweaters, blinking hair accessories, and “fun” multi-colored shoes with floral or plaid patterned skirts.

The email edition sends a wide variety of content and takes liberties to change up color schemes, font styles, and the from address to “keep it fresh”. Obsessed with using emojis in subject lines.Suffers from high complaints and rendering issues.

Return Path “fashion update” includes a creative refresh. Introduce a new set of cohesive, well-branded email templates that prioritizes key content and celebrates social media, while providing an optimized and personalized experience across different viewing environments.

3. The WN/tW “fashion-challenged” wears skin tight dresses, tops with uncomfortably low necklines, and 5-inch heels to “social” occasions like children’s birthday parties and the office.

The email edition sends every product that is on promotion to everyone who has ever bought before. Sends 20% off coupons to everyone else five times a week. Suffers from subscriber tune out and high attrition.

The Return Path “fashion update” includes a lifecycle framework. The new framework will provide structure for emailing each subscriber segment optimally throughout the customer purchase cycle to keep them engaged and interested–even anticipating the next message.

Does any of these sound familiar? Is your email program suffering from a “fashion faux-pas”? If so, check out our Pinterest page for inspiration or contact us to learn how Return Path can help your email program with a makeover!


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About Bonnie Malone

Bonnie is passionate about excellent customer experience. With a background in marketing, merchandise buying, and retail management, she helps companies stay relevant amid the changing digital landscape. Bonnie leads the knowledge and consulting teams at Return Path, the global leader in email deliverability. She is an active Email Experience Council committee member, featured speaker for events, and writes monthly for the Return Path blog and TotalRetail.

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