Porch Swings Gone Wild

This is the story of great branding gone wrong.  I often preach the importance of establishing a brand identity with your online customers.  Obviously this extends to all areas of marketing to consumers, but in the online and especially email/social world, it is critical.  Let’s do a quick review of why email branding and recognition is so important to email marketing and deliverability in particular.

Deliverability can be summed up in one quick sentence.  Send email to people who want to receive it, and email will most likely be delivered.  Sounds simple enough, but for us as email senders — or as email consumers — reality is never so simple.  ISP’s are in business to make money.  Consumers have put a lot of pressure on the ISP’s over the years to keep out “SPAM.”   This situation has created an environment that assumes almost all email is unwanted.  You need to prove to an email provider that the mail you are sending is wanted.  How does that happen?  Reader interaction.  It’s the only way to keep you out of the SPAM folder.

This concept takes us back to branding.  A top goal for email senders should be to have users adding your address to their personal address books.  Why?  Being part of a personal address book means that your email WILL be routed to the inbox.  Inbox placement means recipients have a chance to interact, and email providers know that you have followed the Email Golden Rule — send unto others as you would have sent unto you.  Here are some thoughts to keep in mind when crafting your email.

  • Consistent “from” address is critical — it’s what’s added to the personal address book
  • Branding should be consistent (Pretty From, Body From, whatever you want to call it)
  • Maintain some basic subject line consistency, not so much in actual words but in tone

Let’s talk about porch swings, and an example of how this branding can hurt you.  I bought a beautiful new swing from porchswings.com this summer.  I couldn’t be more pleased with the swing.  I purchased it from the site after buying a swing from my local big box hardware store.  I brought the store-bought swing home, opened the box, took one look and returned it to the store.  The quality was very poor and it was around $200.  My wife and I found porchswings.com through a general Web search and bought a very high quality swing for much less money — and it was shipped for free.  The experience and the product were great.  Now back to email…

Right away porchswings.com took a pretty aggressive approach to marketing to me.  I sometimes see two emails in a single week.  My question has been the same from the first marketing message.  How many porch swings do I need?  The answer is a little more complicated.  Porchswings.com doesn’t only sell porch swings.  The company is part of a larger company called Hayneedle.  Hayneedle has over 220 different stores all selling different types of products.  I did not know this was the case.  My relationship was with a site that just sold porch swings.  When I continued to get marketing messages from them, I didn’t even open them because I didn’t need another swing.  Maybe, if the company had done some education in the transaction process, I would have understood that they offered more than just porch swings and I would have been open to their other products.  Instead, I just ignored their emails because they were too specific in nature.

Here’s a shot of the email.


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