I’ve been ordering contacts from Contact Lens King (CLK) for years – their site wasn’t the best, but they were cheap, they shipped fast (and free) and they sent timely email notifications about my order.

Those notifications were always in plain text, but I figured that was just because it’s a transactional email being spit out of some system probably written by the same guy who wrote the copy in the notifications. Not ideal, but hey, they’re not 1-800-CONTACTS (I don’t even remember how I found them, but I haven’t run into anyone else using them) and they probably don’t have a huge marketing budget.

Sending plain text transactional emails is fine, but if you’re going to make the jump to HTML for your marketing emails, please do some research first. Otherwise, you end up with something like this:

Contact Lens King Email Example
(Click image for full size)

“But The Green Bar Still Says ‘Click to Display Images’…”

(Disclaimer: I promise I did not Photoshop this.)

Yes, and were the image in this email hotlinked from CLK’s website, you wouldn’t see it while I still have images “disabled” in Gmail.

But that’s not what CLK did. They embedded the image (see excerpt from the message HTML) instead.

In all fairness, the image did display for me, but this is certainly not something I would suggest doing – embedding the image significantly increases the size of the email, and in some email clients it will not display at all.

Also, the quality of this image? Not so good. It looks like this image was either scanned from a brochure or resized poorly – notice the “fuzzy” feel to the image, especially around the text in it.

Making Me Jump Through Hoops

What really gets me about this email, though, is that it’s just one big link to the homepage. There’s no way for me to jump directly from this email to any of the contacts shown.

Plus, I’ve ordered from CLK many times. I always get the exact same contacts. Why even show me all these other ones? Just tell me you’ve cut the price on mine!

With this email, I’d have to go to the site and search for my contacts just to see if the price had changed (assuming I remembered what the price used to be). I did none of those things.

It’s emails like this that underscore the importance of educating new email marketers. This email could have easily been converted into HTML text, not to mention made more relevant.

It could have been a better experience for the subscriber – even if they would have had to enable images.