Web Design

Email Marketing Strategy: Major Industry Fails and Holy Grails

Email marketing is one of the trickier marketing strategies to figure out. It’s also one of the most potent, as almost everyone with a smartphone requires an email app to get the most out of it. Being a huge market and one of the direct means to contact any user, companies need to use it to expand their business.

In some cases, a marketing campaign can pop off and lead to great results that end up affecting the revenue positively, especially with the help of professional design services. In other scenarios, it can go against you and have some unexpected results. Here are some memorable fails and wins from the industry for email marketing:

The Holy Grail


Dell had been focusing on rejuvenating the laptop market by working on a convertible, which could turn from a laptop to a tablet and vice versa. While this was a flagship product with lots of potential, Dell had a challenge ahead of itself. Many people weren’t fully aware of how a convertible worked, so Dell needed to come up with a smarter approach.

Instead of coming up with an interesting copy or a set of images, Dell opted for a GIF that illustrated the convertible in function. The change gave them a 109% increase in revenue on the product.

Making It Personal

Personalized emails, when done properly, can be a huge win. Chemist Direct is an excellent example of getting it right. The company used its data properly and developed personalized emails to recommend various products to its customers. This allowed them to provide their users with things that they were interested in and led to a 30% increase in revenue.

EasyDNS Changes Route

EasyDNS is among the top options when it comes to hosting services. They focus on being a premium domain name and hosting provider thanks to their approach towards security, which allows them to charge a pretty penny from their dedicated fanbase. While their services flourished, they weren’t doing so well with their marketing emails. To change things up, EasyDNS focused on the following:

  • Introductory or Hello Emails
  • Emails to users that abandoned carts.
  • First-Time Customer Emails
  • Frequent Customer Emails
  • Inactive Customer Emails

All of these made a huge impact on their email engagements and had a difference in their revenue, being a fruitful venture.

Working on an email marketing strategy.

Hammock Offers Help

A B2B marketing agency, Hammock was not having a lot of success with its newsletter, which is ironic for a marketing company. They realized that that kind of content didn’t attract people, so they decided to look at other routes. Instead of sending out a puff piece, Hammock worked to create content that was informational and offered valuable tips called an Idea Email.

Hammock noticed a better engagement rate, with a 48% increase in the open rate indicating that the business was doing well.

The Fails

Sending A Message To The Wrong Person

We’ve all mistakenly sent a message to the wrong group chat or a person. It’s a common blunder that can happen to anyone, but as a business, it’s not something that you can afford. Modern email marketing is often fairly personalized, which is why it’s not out of the ordinary for a single person to receive an email based on a particular event.

A major example is when Shutterfly sent an email to an individual to congratulate them on becoming a parent based on their recent purchases. While it may seem harmless, it can be fairly harmful to anyone that’s lost a child or cannot conceive. Shutterfly was quick to respond.

The Wrong Message

Adidas sent out a message to many people with the text “Hi, you survived the Boston Marathon.” This was considered fairly insensitive as this was during the 2013 bombing of the Boston marathon where several people were wounded or killed. It’s believed that similar messages were sent for other marathon events, which suggests that this was an automated email sent out and not foul play on Adidas’ end.

A person working on a marketing plan.

Similar to Shutterfly, Adidas sent out an apology later on, but it was too late, and the damage had been done. It’s important that emails, even if they’re automated, are proofread by various authorities before being forwarded.

Wrong Design at The Wrong Time

With marketing, timing is key. Messages that could be relevant at one time could not fly in other situations. A great example is where Airbnb designed an ad with a floating house and invited people to stay above the water. The ad was harmless and featured work that probably had graphic design services, but it was received during Hurricane Harvey.

Campaigns must be looked into before their eventual launch for various aspects, especially from a social perspective, as their tone and implication can convey another meaning.

No Link

People that send out emails regularly will admit that they’ve missed out on attachments in their emails where there should’ve been one. It’s a common error, and unfortunately, it happens a lot with eCommerce stores. A recent example is from Shopify. The brand sent out a detailed, curated post for a product. Many people reportedly were interested in it as well.

The only problem was that no link was available for people to find the page and buy the product.