Archive for the ‘Failed e-mails’ Category

Separate Mobile Version Is Another Vector For Suck

Friday, February 19th, 2010 by The Director

Jack in the Box’s latest e-mail offers the normal View as Web Page version:

The Jack in the Box e-mail
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Note that The in the salutation is my first name, since I am The Director.

On the Web it checks out:

The Jack in the Box e-mail on the Web
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The Web version changes omits it, since it’s not passing the first name to the Web version, although it could.

The Mobile version?

The Jack in the Box e-mail on your phone
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Suddenly, it reads like a comment thread on Fark or something. Hey, FIRST!

You know, it’d laudable to make a separate version for different platforms. As long as you test it.

I’m Not A Designer, But….

Friday, December 18th, 2009 by The Director

I feel qualified to ask what the designer was thinking when he put a text box with the words “1 message” in the middle of a table of images in the December Lexus e-mail:

Well, if it were two messages, I couldn't see them simultanesously, I guess.
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You know, in QA, you’re not hep to the latest gimcrackery that the designers smoke, and although they would look over their thin glasses at you if you dare, you have every right and qualification to say, “What the Niflhelm are you doing?”

Because users and consumers, even those who might consider a Lexus, are untouched by the design gods and are not capable of interpreting genius that’s demonstrated in the inscrutable or the insane.

The Secret Seasonings of Punctuation

Monday, December 14th, 2009 by The Director

A Welcome e-mail to the restaurant San Francisco Oven’s e-mail list is chock full of quotation marks and punctuation errors.  For flavor!

The punctuation errors make it tasty.
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Let’s see, we have:

  • Extraneous “use” of quotation marks.
  • Periods outside of quotation marks in the British style.  I doubt this was a stylistic decision.  I bet it’s using the American style wrong.
  • Inconsistent use of periods (or lack thereof) in the first paragraph.
  • In addition to “extraneous” use of quotation marks, we have a stray quotation mark.

Speaking forensically, what was missing from the process responsible for this?

  • A professional copywriter.
  • A proofreader.
  • Review by anyone who uses English as a native language as opposed to whatever argot the damn kids speak or text these days.

Solving One Problem. Badly.

Friday, December 11th, 2009 by The Director

As you know, I have a particular problem with the infinity that occurs when e-mails provide a Web version of the e-mail with a link to a Web version of the e-mail.

Fox eliminates that problem in this e-mail in a creative fashion:

This link....
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There’s the link in the e-mail.  Does it appear in the Web version?

... is not in the Web version!
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Hey, the View it in your Web browser link is gone.  Good work, Fox Broadcasting.

You know how you catch this sort of thing?  You promote the e-mail version to the Web before the friendlies go out.  Since your friendlies only lead the actual e-mails by a couple of hours (unless you work at Utopia, where you have until tomorrow as well as no personality conflicts at all nor problems to correct), you can get away with some links to content that hasn’t been promoted yet (if the e-mail touts an upcoming program).

That way, when you test those friendlies, you can test the Web version at the same time.

Another way to catch it: get your own freaking e-mails and look them over.

But to let that go to a 404?  That’s not acceptable.

We Have Met The Argoty, And He Is Us

Monday, December 7th, 2009 by The Director

You know what gets me to open a sales e-mail?  Promising me a BOGO.  As this e-mail does, but does it deliver?

Spot the Bogo and win!
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Do you see the BOGO?  I’m sure you can spot the TYPOs, but those are different things.  What, nothing explains what the BOGO is?

BOGO is marketing speak for Buy One, Get One.  Unfortunately, EZ Vacuum uses internal argot and expects you to know what it is.

How do they sell vacuum supplies so cheap?  They eliminate the proofreaders and professional designers and have the CEO’s nephew and the rest of his kindergarten class create the e-mail and pass that savings on to you!

Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game? StubHub Edition

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009 by The Director

That’s an interesting way to boost ticket sales:

 Hey, Mets fans, that awful season was just a bad dream — if you believe StubHub.

The company sent an e-mail Monday offering tickets for Mets’ playoff games.

“Be there alongside your New York Mets as they chase baseball immortality,” the e-mail said. “Go to StubHub, where you’ll find a fantastic selection of tickets to every playoff game — so you experience the championship chase live and in person.”

Apparently, the rude little raspberry was not limited to offering tickets to a single non-playoff team.  I’m not sure if that reflects worse upon the marketing team or not.

I bet many of them have been put on waivers, so to speak.

Playing Hide The Unsubscribe Link

Thursday, September 17th, 2009 by The Director

In this ABC television e-mail, take a quick look at the standard footer verbiage.  Notice anything?  I’ll put arrows in for you:

That's not an unsubscribe link; that's just text!
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Huh, what are the odds?  The links to unsubscribe and to manage one’s account (unsubscribe!) are styled like plain text, even though a link to view the content on the Web is styled, right above them, like a hyperlink.

Accident, or plain good marketing?  And by “plain good marketing,” I mean “tricks designed to keep our opt-in numbers high.”

Poor Form, Peter. Literally.

Friday, August 21st, 2009 by The Director

I received an e-mail with this form embedded in it yesterday:

A form in an e-mail?  The only way it could be better is AJAX-enabled forms in e-mail
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Immediately, I beset it with submission without anything in it, and the submit button did not work.  I put in simply d and clicked, and the submit button did not work.  Curious, I looked at the source, and I determined there is not form tag, no action associated with it, nothing but a filled with controls.

And a Click here if you’re having trouble link that verifies your e-mail address and opts you into the newsletter.

That’s damn dirty pool, fellows.  On most Web sites, the quick poll feature lets you have a quick say without obligating you to bu.  This trick poll feature makes you think something is wrong with you when there’s really something wrong with your design.

How charming.

Everything You Need And More

Friday, July 31st, 2009 by The Director

eWeek thanks me for requesting a new subscription even though I was only filling out their quarterly “annual” subscription update.  Additionally, they included a typo in their e-mail:

What is that, a Euro sign?
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You know what I don’t need?  An e-mail with a Euro sign in it.  If you’re going to talk to me about money, use a real currency, please.

Three Bullets In The Fountain

Thursday, July 30th, 2009 by The Director

In a cast-a-wide-net e-mail from recruiter, I note three distinct bullet styles:

Variety is not the spice of quality.
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We have:

  • Hyphens (-)
  • Xs
  • No bullets

I love the amount of conscientiousness spent here trying to woo a quality professional.  You know how they say that when you interview with a company, you’re interviewing the company, too?  Well, I say when you send me your documentation about a job, I see your resume.  And I’m not going to call back something this rife with errors.

Because this recruiter would no doubt take as good of care of Applicant 9748 (that would be me)  as he did of Blast E-mail 298.

Putting the Random in Random House

Friday, July 17th, 2009 by The Director

An e-mail from Random House includes Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and social networking links:

I can share this e-mail in my Web e-mail client on Facebook?
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So how does that work?  Not well:

But of course.
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The link in the headline works and leads to the actual Web site, where these links work:

This Facebook link works.
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Random House seems to be generating the e-mail directly from its content management system to ill effect.  Of course, they’re not bothering to look at the e-mails in any detail before sending them out.  This is not the way adults should behave.

Too Friendly With The Recipients

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009 by The Director

g33klady shares an e-mail:

Click here and start typing would have been good advice to heed
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This looks to be a procedural error, probably made by some volunteer the first week on the job.

In other words, one of those admins your developers trust so well.

One E-mail’s Tragic Odessey

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009 by The Director

The people who bring you the latest St. Louis Honda e-mail show you how badly you can do an e-mail.  I found it in my junk mail, for starters.

For seconds, they put the alt/title attribute for the header image to “Please enable graphics”:

I don't think that will do what you want it to do
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I get what they’re trying to do.  If you have images disabled, that text would display telling you to enable image display.  Which is all well and good, but:

  • The e-mail client is already prominently asking if you want to see the images, including a link or button to display them.
  • My e-mail clients block out the alt text, too, so I wouldn’t see that when the images didn’t display.
  • The text will make no sense to a person listening to a screen reader.

Even worse:


Things That Gave Me Nightmares

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 by The Director

This is the sort of thing that gave me nightmares when I was in interactive marketing: minor e-mail glitches that occur only in certain browser/site combinations.

Take, for example, the latest Nintendo e-mail.  When received in a Hotmail box and viewed in IE, it looks like this:

This is how it's supposed to look
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That’s how it’s supposed to look.  However.


An Image Name Is Not Good ALT Text, Redux

Monday, March 30th, 2009 by The Director

Scotts grass tries so hard with its Spring 2009 e-mail, but although it provides decent alt text for some images (Scotts Lawn Photo, Beautiful Lawn Photo, and so on), the filename displays for the product image:

TB Halts 08?  Is that a tuberculosis outbreak casualty headline?
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For Petes’ sakes (all of the Petes, seriously), it takes 20 minutes to run a basic test of HTML marketing e-mails where you mouseover the text and check the links.  But that 20 minutes takes away from the next emergency at the interactive agency.

The Random ALT Text Generator

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009 by The Director

This month’s AAA (American Automobile Association) e-mail uses the super-duper random ALT text generator:

Girls may see diamonds, but not me.
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Well, the image has everything you’d want in a stock road image for United States drivers:

  • Mountains
  • A bald eagle
  • Desert mesas
  • A superimposed road illustration

There is, however, no diamond in the illustration.

A small point, to be sure, but, dammit, doesn’t anyone pay attention?

Don’t answer that; the truth makes it hard for me to get up in the morning.

Maybe the E-mail Had No Friends

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009 by The Director

PhilK, who sends me so much material he ought to start his own blog, encounters a problem with an e-mail.

This is from LogiGear, which is supposed to be some sort of newsletter about Strategic Software Testing:

LogiGear doesn't test its own e-mails, apparently.
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If he clicks the Continue Reading link, apparently the rest of the article is less interesting:

This is not the link you're looking for.
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LogiGear’s team has failed a vital step in the e-mail process:  Testing e-mails sent to friendly accounts after the content has been pushed to production but before the e-mail drops go out.  The e-mail drops are blasts of e-mails to subscribers sent in batches to spread the load over a couple of days.

If you’re going to do this the right way, you need to include e-mail addresses in various Web-based clients like Yahoo!, Hotmail, and gmail as well as accounts where you can open the mails in Outlook and Thunderbird to see how they look and that the links go to the right places on the production server with the proper tracking data on the querystring.

I mean, for Pete’s sake, even if the information wasn’t on the production server yet, you would probably see a standard 404 instead of a chiding e-mail from your mailing vendor.

Of course, this could entirely be a screw up on the part of the e-mail vendor, too, but a bit of testing would have uncovered that before PhilK got a chance to pass it on to the meanest software tester on the Web, ainna?

That’s What Friendlies Are For

Monday, October 27th, 2008 by The Director

If you’re working at an interactive agency that does e-mail campaigns or even if you’re working on an application that sends e-mails, you’d better make sure you get to look at those e-mails before the public does.


Funny you should ask.

To keep something like this from showing up in my e-mail box:

That's a different sort of tag, unsupported by Web browsers
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Also, maybe one should have tested at the e-mail vendor to make sure that the links that were properly formed actually went somewhere:

 This is getting us nowhere
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As you can see, the problem occurs at the e-mail vendor site, not on the target Web site.

If QA had looked at this, they might have seen it.

Below the fold, another e-mail sending lesson. (more…)

Thinking Outside The Blocks

Monday, September 8th, 2008 by The Director

As you know, or you should know, many e-mail clients will block images and links from incoming messages from unknown addresses.  If you’re sending out an e-mail, perhaps you should keep that in mind when your organization designs an e-mail.  Remember to include good alt/title text and try not to put every last bit of copy in an image, okay?  Otherwise the beautiful, wonderful e-mail you designed to look like this:

Hey, that's a pretty e-mail you've got there.
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Looks like this: (more…)

Subject Line Failure, Or Threat To Tell Your Mother?

Friday, August 29th, 2008 by The Director offers good advice with its latest e-mail’s subject line:

Don't wait too long to adjust to ma
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If I waited too long to adjust to my ma, I got a whuppin.  Frequent whuppins led me to a career in QA, where one can abuse others and get paid for it.

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