Virgin Mobile Email Marketing

Virgin as a brand is widely known for their wonderful complete experience – a company that shoots for not just “customer service” but really outstanding and memorable. They pull this off quite well almost all the time, but their Virgin Mobile brand could use some serious work.

Order Confirmation Email

virginemail1

Virgin Mobile Transactional Email

To be blunt, there is essentially zero effort given in this email.

  1. A bit of branding couldn’t hurt. I’m not saying make it overly flashy but Virgin mobile is so image focused plain text emails should almost never be used. A little bit of branding and value could be added.
  2. Change the from name and address, “FreeMsg” is terrible. Why not “Virgin Mobile” or “hello@virginmobile.com” it’s not ground breaking but it does give the sense of a less fractured brand and is more friendly as well.
  3. Don’t use my full name in all caps, only robots do that, and you don’t want me to think of you as a robot do you?
  4. Don’t advertise that you’re actively not listening. The “this inbox is unmonitored don’t email us” is an awful relic of years past. It’s just not necessary. How many people actually take the time to hit reply and email you back, 1%? Sure there will be the odd “out of office” response but it is trivial to filter these out. Any other responses you’d get could be valuable to you. If there is a customer service inquiry, your customers would be very well served by having easy access to help. This is the kind of thing that turns customers into rabid fans.

What I would recommend:

virginMobileMockup

A quick mockup I made, something like this would be a great starting point.

  1. The email is still very simple but the branding is improved, we can easily tell who this is from at a glance.
  2. The tone of the copy better represents the Virgin brand as well. I’m addressed more casually (first name only, no caps), and the tone is overall less corporate.
  3. A “PS” is added with assurance that you’re there to help them if they should need it. Even if I don’t need any help, it’s good to know that it’s there and easy to do.
  4. A small offer is made. Virgin knows that I just bought a new cell plan along with a cheapo dumb phone. It’d be a great time to hit me with a smartphone upgrade.

Payment Confirmation Emails

virginMobilePaylo

Virgin Mobile Payment Confirmation Email

  1. The first thing I notice is the email is broken, there is no background color set (or it was set improperly and stripped out). This tells me Virgin mobile is a bit sloppy with their code. Not good for a cohesive brand.
  2. The second is all that wasted space in the huge empty banner. Who thought that was a good idea? I imagine no senior person signed off on this, it was likely thrown together and hoped it would be sorted out later.
  3. Third, it’s interesting to note the alt text for the large banner is “Let’s talk service,” this is good but the text doesn’t show up in the actual banner. To make things worse, the from email address is “noreply@virginmobileusa.com”
  4. Fourth, you have my name, why not call me by it? Not a big deal, just an oversight that is easily fixed. On a positive note, the tone of this email is much better than the previous one.
  5. Fifth, admittedly this is a personal taste thing, I don’t care for the “payLo” branding at all. I’m a Virgin Mobile customer, that’s what I need to know when I recommend friends. Not what my payment plan is called.

Support Emails

virginSupport

Virgin Mobile Support Email

A short while back I had a small issue with coverage (couldn’t make calls :\) so I contacted online support.

  1. It’s great they’re using friendly from names here, love it.
  2. The subject line (while probably necessary for support tracking) could be made to be a bit less spammy and relevant for me.
  3. The design is absolutely fine, this is one of the rare occasions I prefer plain text. A small signature logo or something wouldn’t hurt but I won’t be picky.
  4. In the actual content of the email is where I start to get disappointed. I understand that they’re using premade copy/paste text to save time, but at the very least give me some semblance that you read the support ticket or know anything about my account. Out of the 5 questions asked, 1 of them was already specifically answered in my ticket and 1 they is already in my account information with them. Further the call to action made was for me to call in…the very thing I couldn’t do :\
  5. It turns out the issue I was having was caused by them upgrading the towers in my area, this is something (I assume) was scheduled some time in advance, and the service outage was in the middle of the work day, right when I had an important meeting scheduled. At the very least they could have sent out a service message letting me know this would be taking place. Better yet they would have scheduled downtime in the middle of the night when the impact would be minimal.

Virgin Mobile’s Biggest Mistake

All in all, the above is minor compared to this last thing they do that irritates me most. Every month they text my phone a message about billing and taxes and such. Honestly, I don’t want to hear every time you take my money. I signed up for auto billing so I didn’t have to hear from you about it.

————————- VM FreeMsg: Your next monthly charge of 30.00 will be charged to the credit/debit card on file on [date]. State & local taxes may apply. ————————-

This is seemingly at random times of the day, sometimes early in the morning, waking me up, sometimes late at night, sometimes in the middle of a meeting. Every month. This is despite repeated attempts to unsubscribe. There is apparently no way to stop the messages, with other auto text services, they will tell you how to stop the messages. Virgin Mobile doesn’t.

So I try texting back what has worked for me in the past with other companies:

Stop

Their Reply:

————————- You rec’d this msg because you sent a text to a number without the area code or used an invalid short code or you are blocked from using this service. Msg 2133 ————————-

Rather than giving instructions on how to unsubscribe they coyly suggest there is some short code I can use that will end this madness. So I try again:

Unsub

Virgin Mobile:

————————- You rec’d this msg because you sent a text to a number without the area code or used an invalid short code or you are blocked from using this service. Msg 2133 ————————-

Me:

Unsubscribe

Virgin Mobile:

————————- You rec’d this msg because you sent a text to a number without the area code or used an invalid short code or you are blocked from using this service. Msg 2133 ————————-

Me:

Staaahp!

Virgin Mobile:

————————- You rec’d this msg because you sent a text to a number without the area code or used an invalid short code or you are blocked from using this service. Msg 2133 ————————-

No luck. At least I have something to look forward to next month /endsarcasm. What are your thoughts on how well Virgin Mobile did? Does your phone company do anything similar?

About the Author: Evan Diaz does double duty as Managing Director at LuckyRedPixel, and VP of Creative Services at Inbox Group. You can follow him on Twitter (@evandiaz).