“Tell A Friend” Email And The Lost Opportunity

Andrew Kordek

3 minute read

All of us that are involved in the email industry know that running an email program is not easy.  Email pundits and those at an arms length are always clamoring at the brand side folks about ways to improve their program thru relevancy (for the record, I despise that term) lifecycle email and these other ways to make your program “better”.  I especially get that since I ran programs for 10 years and always had to read about this sort of stuff and sometimes it drove me nuts.  However, no matter how big or small the program I was involved with, I always took the time to take an inventory of all my email and how things worked when certain actions were triggered.  Once I figured stuff out, I looked for ways to maximize revenue in anyway I saw fit.

The people who run or who are involved in company email programs consistently talk about 3 things when it comes to the optimizing:

1. Make more money.

2. Get more subscribers.

3. Improve engagement.

I was doing some client research today on “tell a friend” emails and become curiously startled at what I saw.  For definition, these are the emails that when on a particular product page, the user sees an item and then decides to send it to either a friend, spouse, partner or family member.  These emails are triggered from a user and provide endless opportunities to improve those 3 things I mentioned above.  Think about this for a second….these emails are generated by the user to another person with the hope that the user on the other end would consider either purchasing the item or have influence to purchase or take a desired action for that particular item.  These emails should be ones which draw high engagement and should therefore have some basic elements to them.

1. The email should contain some sort of branding

2. The email should have a picture of the item with a description of it and ways to easily navigate back to the item on the site.

3. The email should contain a personalized message from the original user on the site and it should be placed in a conspicuous spot for the recipient to see.

4. The email should provide an opportunity for the recipient to subscribe to the companies email program. (see number 2 above in the 3 things most companies consistently talk about)

5. The email should test some sort of discount or offer for the recipient to go and purchase or influence the purchase or action. (see number 1 above in the 3 things)

6. The email should have some form of social sharing capability

7. The email should be in HTML so as to capture some sort of engagement stats (see number 3 above in the 3 things)

and on and on and on…..The email should probably contain more ‘stuff” so as to provide even the most basic of a good email experience to the recipient.  However..for now, lets just stick with the basics.

Below are 11 emails that I received after triggering the “tell a friend” feature from the eTailers.  Only 5 of the 11 were in HTML and provided me a branded experience.  One of the HTML versions was jacked up and one had the wrong item in it.  None of 11 had a place or link for me to subscribe or an incentive to either sign up or go and purchase.  Of all the ones I received, I believe the best was from Saks, but even that had huge opportunities that were missed.

Finally…..I know what some of you are thinking as you read this post…..who cares? These emails are low volume and probably only account for like 1-5% of the email traffic from these retailers.  True..these are probably low volume numbers, but I like to look at email programs from all angles….and a missed opportunity to achieve 1 or all 3 items on the most talked about list is a missed opportunity. Imagine what the RPE on this email could or should be, if a little bit of time is invested to at least brand and test offer.  Furthermore….I would also so to anyone that thinks this is a small opportunity needs to look at the bigger picture here…..this is one email in a vast inventory of emails that each of these organizations have….1 missed opportunity can certainly turn into 15 or even 200 missed opportunities

Trendline Interactive

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About the Author(s)

Andrew Kordek

Andrew Kordek is a Co-Founder of Trendline Interactive.

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