It’s been exactly three months since I signed up to receive email newsletters from Dylan’s Candy Bar. I got my first one today! I also received a second promotional announcement from Dylan’s, regarding their showing on QVC, three days later. I suppose they’re making up for lost time.

In my original post (Dylan’s Candy Bar: Semi-sweet Email Marketing) I discussed the hits and misses of Dylan’s email marketing efforts. Now that the first of their regular communications has been received, it’s apparent that their biggest and most basic challenges are in creating emails that are intuitive, skim-able, and most importantly actionable.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of the brand. I only criticize because I care.

Subject Line

The Subject Line reads:
Personalize-able treats, 20% off beauty and Free Delivery. Could it get any sweeter?

  • It’s long (84 characters with spaces). But it is in-line with the content of the message.
  • Greater attention should be paid to formatting to improve readability.
  • The use of question marks is often practiced by spammers and/or overly aggressive marketers to encourage opens. As a practice, I’m not opposed to using questions in a subject line (I’ve done it myself) but it if you’re going to risk the dreaded spam folder it should have the propensity to improve results and at least relate neatly to the offer.
  • The email also did not take advantage of pre-header text to further the message in the subject line. The subject line in conjunction with the pre-header text read “Personalize-able treats, 20% off beauty and Free Delivery. Could it get any sweeter? Having trouble viewing this email? Click here

I would like to have seen something with a holiday fare and time-sensitivity, considering that the personalized treat is a Chocolate  Gingerbread Man and the Free Shipping promo expires in three days of mailing.

Subject Line Recommendation:
Personalize-able Holiday Treats, 20% Off Beauty Products, + Free Delivery!

Subject Line Recommendation (with Pre-header Text):
Personalize-able Holiday Treats, 20% Off Beauty Products, + Free Delivery! Order before Dec. 7th and save on these sweet deals and more!

With Images Blocked

It’s encouraging to see Dylan’s using Alt text in their images to help make sense of the offers while the images are blocked. Nevertheless it would be best to greatly improved mix of images and text.

A good text to image ratio in email newsletter marketing is easily accomplished and will help the subscriber to not only skim the offers but also improve usability. In the Free Shipping offer, for example, they could have used both text and images to convey the offer and allow the subscriber to copy/paste the promo code.

Note that they did include the promo code text below the graphic offer, but the readability of the text is poor (due to basic formatting) and gives the feeling that it is detached from the graphic above. Again, if they were to have combined the text and graphics they could have drawn greater attention to the offer and reduced the length of the email.

With Images Viewed

Speaking of size, this could easily be the longest HTML email I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t need to be. Nay, it shouldn’t be. But if the intent is to beat the current Guinness World Record for email length, I strongly recommend the use of internal links (anchor tags) at the top of the creative to outline their many offers.

As you can see their use of imagery in the three primary offerings is inconsistent, which lends them more to banners then offers.

On a Positive Note

I’m happy to see Dylan’s integrating their Twitter and Facebook pages in their email. Perhaps they could use those channels to drive newsletter subscriptions and fans much like how Outback Steakhouse, who grew their list by 125,000 between Nov. 16 and 24 by offering a free Bloomin’ Onion to the first 500,000 people who became its fans on Facebook.