For those of you who do not know Dylan’s Candy Bar, it’s a growing retail candy chain that was founded by Dylan Lauren, daughter of famed designer Ralph Lauren. They have a simple but unique business model; sell new and familiar candy at high price.

They have two locations here in Orlando and several others across the US. Both Orlando locations are located in major tourist shopping malls; one is a standalone shop while the other is much smaller and embedded into a large upscale retailer. They also sell candy online.

After visiting both shops I was not altogether surprised that they didn’t ask me for my email address via the retail clerk, drop box, or kiosk. After all the practice is not yet universally adopted (even though there are new data capture technologies built for this purpose) but considering that they also sell candy online they really should test it.

So I visited their website and found a prominently displayed navigational item “Sugar Rush Email Sign up”. Good.

At the sign up page Dylan’s gave me some an idea of what I could expect out of my subscription; “Sneak peeks, Great gift ideas, Exclusive discounts, Free shipping”. Again this is good; however, I would also would have liked to have seen what I can expect in regard to frequency.

Here’s Dylan’s sign up page.Here's Dylan's sign up page.

Upon submission I was redirect to a traditionally boring confirmation page, which again told me what I should expect, such as discounts. However, the confirmation page would have been a great opportunity for them to give me some of those great discounts that I’ve heard so much about.

The email confirmation came only moments later. As you’ll see below, they did not require that I confirm my email address via double opt-in, which considering their offering, is not a bad idea.

They used the subject line “Dylan’s Candy Bar sign-up confirmation for scott@emailcritic.com”. Not bad but I would have preferred to see my name as opposed to my email address in the subject line as well as a call to action, something like “Scott, here’s your first sweet deal from Dylan’s Candy Bar”. However the real issue was with the friendly from line which read “customerservice”.  Looks too automated…even  though it is. Not good.

The email itself rendered nicely with the email images blocked. They have a nice, albeit uncreative, use of image alt tags.

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With images turned on the Dylan’s email was on-brand and it rendered well again.

dylan3

The biggest item of note in the email itself was the lack of personalization. Instead of “Dear fellow candy fan,” they could have used my first name, and/or the type candy that I stated was my favorite on the sign up page. “Dear Scott (or should we call you Mr. Sweet Tarts),

Note that Dylan’s also asked that I add them to my trusted senders list, this is always a great practice but what make their attempt better than most is that they did it with humor and in an unconventional location. Good stuff.

Besides the lack of personalization my true issue with the entire effort (from sign up to inbox) is the many missed transactional and consumer insight opportunities (not to mention the regurgitated “this is what you’ll get” content). They should have also asked me to follow/fan them on their various social media networks. Kind of a no-brainer right?

I have yet to see the first “regular” email from Dylan’s. I’m curious to see if they treat me, the new subscriber, differently that other users or if they cater content to my profile and behavior. I’ll keep you posted.

Update (12/09/2009): See the lasted in Dylan’s email marketing adventures –  A Retailer’s Email Marketing Saga Revisited