When a promotional email gets it right and wrong

Received an email from American Express yesterday that stuck out:


First, on a positive note:

Messaging about Father’s Day immediately after Mother’s Day seemed incredibly wise to me. AMEX jumped while the holiday is top-of-mind for consumers.  As gifts were just exchanged for Mother’s Day the day prior, for many gift-givers it’s a logical thing to now consider what you’re getting dad for the next upcoming celebration.  Also, since this was likely sent to a number of women who just received gifts themselves, there’s probably an element of reciprocity involved — leading them to want to give back something of equal or higher value than what they just received.  I haven’t yet seen other promotional messaging about Father’s Day so this was unique (a bit shocking when you consider the adage that as soon as the Halloween candy comes out of stores the Christmas decorations go up). To me, the timing was impeccable sending this message on the heels of Mother’s Day.  I would expect and encourage AMEX to send a follow-up email closer to the actual Father’s Day holiday which would likely result in higher sales, but this probably captured some initial interest, before the Father’s Day gift-giving messaging is widespread/overwhelming.

On a negative note:

Aside from the broken image (weird line in the middle of it), which I won’t dwell on but does look unprofessional, the issue I’ve had with similar pre-paid gift cards in the past is that there is always a processing fee of some sort. So your options are to either buy a gift card for a store/restaurant you know the recipient will love, get one for somewhere like Amazon with a huge selection, or pay an extra fee for this type of card.  (And it sometimes seems the fee 2-sided, applying to both the purchaser and redeemer).  The subject line of this AMEX email was “Order No Purchase Fee Gift Cards for Fathers Day” so I was intrigued.  Under the “Great Value” bullet it then says “…there are no customer service or activation fees, and funds don’t expire”.  Yet, I was still wary given my past experiences trying to purchase similar cards.  And, for good reason. Check out what happens as soon as you click “Order now”:


There, prominently displayed is a $3.95 Purchase Charge.  Confusion ensues!  I then went back to the email and noticed that in very very tiny print at the bottom is a small code you can type in to avoid this fee (EMDADCM). They are basically touting that there are no fees associated with these cards only to initially disappoint/shock/confuse members after clicking through.  Seems that a more optimal experience would be highlighting the code as a prominent aspect of the email itself. Also, upon clicking through, say you either saw a place to enter the code immediately, or the purchase charge lines were crossed off so you get a sense of immediate gratification, not that you need to hunt around.  Imagine your satisfaction and increased likelihood to purchase if you saw something like this instead:



One thought on “When a promotional email gets it right and wrong

  1. Perhaps after reading your blog, they will fix the error of their ways and take your suggestion and use a cross-through to stress their should-be-truly-free processing charge. It’s a great way to make customers feel like they are getting something extra from the retailer.

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