I was inspired to write this post by a recent tweet I saw in reference to the iPad launch email stating that it was the “best email marketing ever,” when the email was in fact pretty mediocre.

Then when I looked at some of the other Apple emails I had received, I realised they could also do with some improvements so of course I had to throw some suggestions into the pot..

So what can we learn from Apple emails?

From addresses:

Order emails are so often overlooked but they are absolutely critical to getting the next phase of your relationship off to the right start.

This is a screen grab from my phone:

This hardly speaks volumes about Apple’s customer service. They’ve obviously done this because people were actually replying and they were unable to filter replies out from bounce messages, but that is no excuse. A simple auto reply could have been put in place instead, pointing people to the correct support/customer service contacts.

Also they have a typo: “we are please”, how many people have read that email and thought a little less of Apple as a result?

To compound the problem they’ve made the “friendly from” the same email address. Apple also uses a veritable plethora of from addresses across the business. They need a unifying naming convention, which sounds very dull but is actually very important to ensure recipients know who they are dealing with. 

donotreply@itunes.com

itunes_uk@new.itunes.com

donotreply@euro.apple.com

news_europe@insideapple.apple.com

news@insideapple.apple.com

Are these the email addresses of an engaging company?

Two simple takeaways: 

1. Use email addresses which encourage engagement as opposed to discouraging it. 

2. Check spelling, especially on transactional messages. 

Next up: images

Apple love their “hero” shots, big glossy pictures of tech. They are playing to their strengths here, since Apple products generally look great. It’s not like they are selling sewage equipment or anything dull.

The trouble with large images is if they don’t load, as above, you are presented with some pretty dull boxes. The traditional advice here is to use “alt tags” to describe what the images are, as they have done with the smaller images, the idea being that the recipient will then be inspired to download the images.

It would have been far more effective to put a call to action within the text, something like “click download images to see our iPad.” This would have worked better here:

This, by the way was the ‘best email marketing ever’, as tweeted by some Apple disciple. Sure it has a call to action but it clearly wasn’t intended, since the image the text is attached to is the ‘pre order’ button. 

It is a good looking email once it’s downloaded, but why wasn’t the alt text the same as the header?

Takeaways:

1. If you are going to use big images, make sure you use alt tags and that they are more than just descriptions.

2. Focus on driving a click through either immediately or post an image view.

Personalisation

This is one area where I am routinely disappointed in the Californian tech giant. They know more about me than I do; they know what Apps and music I have, where I live, my age even! Using simple personalisation they could do an Amazon on me, inferring trends based on what people like me like, they could probably even out-do what Amazon does. 

But not once have I had a “dear Marc”, or a “we noticed you play Angry Birds once every 20 minutes so…” or “you’ve just downloaded the Lonely Planet guide to Paris – would you like a “learn French in two days podcast?” 

Even worse, they don’t seem to have worked out that I live in the UK, I keep getting emails from the USA with “call 1-800-APPLE”.Even a simple split based on domain name would make it obvious I’m not a US resident.

Takeaway:

Engaging with your customers and successfully upselling/cross-selling just has to be a core competency of any business, email marketing is just one place where this plays out.

The post-purchase email 

The short period after a purchase is made is the honeymoon period in any sale, the consumer/business will be excited by the purchase they have made and therefore highly susceptible to upselling.  Plus if you get this first post sale communication right you are buying yourself a lot of leeway moving forward.

Apple has the right idea here, with plenty of useful advice at your finger tips…

But…

Why oh why don’t they have a version of this email for each type of Mac bought? There are only six types of Macs, doing this would have enabled them to give far more tailored advice within the email and so maximised the impact made at this essential point in the customer lifecycle.

Takeaways

Send post sale emails. Whatever your business, there is enormous value in this. Check out this great example from an online turf retailer:

 Online Turf

I’d forgotten who I’d bought it off, now I know who it was I may buy some “lawn master” and I feel as if they actually care if my lawn looks good!

And if you are sending them, personalise them to the purchaser if at all possible.

Conclusions 

Apple have got some things very right, the imagery and brand consistency is spot on, but they are failing big time on engaging directly with their recipients and getting even simple spelling wrong. If you take on board the advice in this blog your email marketing could be more effective than Apple’s.