From time to time I’ll pull a message from my inbox and do a walk-through of its pros and cons. These gentle critiques are intended to educate; I hope that the companies mentioned as well as readers will keep that top of mind. 

I always try to be gentle with these critiques but this time… it’s Microsoft, for heaven’s sake!

Microsoft, which so many people have a love-hate relationship with.

True story: in the mid-1990s I had a boss who refused to let our marketing department become a 100% Microsoft shop. His last stand: we used Lotus 123 instead of Excel. Every other department in the company used Excel. During budget period we were constantly having to translate spreadsheets back and forth between the two programs. and just about every time you did it something was lost. It was a bit of a mess.

Microsoft, maker of my Surface Pro, which I love. But also Microsoft, which still causes me heartburn as an email marketer because its Outlook email client blocks images by default, making it more difficult for my clients’ email messages to make a good first impression.

So why, oh why, does the Microsoft Rewards Team send emails which are more than 90% images – and which look like nothing when images are blocked? Case in point…

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Note: Happy Throwback Thursday! Most of what I do with clients is strategy, but I do often roll-up my sleeves and dive into creative direction and that’s what this post focuses on. It’s from last year (published by ClickZ in October 2014) and it was a very popular article back then, I think because there’s something here just about everyone can test to see if it will improve performance.

I never did hear back from this restaurant even thought I sent the critique to them with a friendly note. But I hope they are still in business — and I hope their email marketing is generating revenue for them (whether or not they ended up taking any of my advice). Enjoy!

I love email marketing. It makes me really sad when I see a small business trying to leverage the power of the channel making small mistakes which could be the difference between success and failure.

Case in point: an email I received earlier this month. It appears below; I’ve redacted the details to protect the organization. To set the scene: I attended a business networking event at this restaurant and dropped my business card in a bowl to win a gift certificate. This is the first communication I received from them.

Take a quick look with your best email marketing eye and make a note of what you’d suggest they change in their next go round. My thoughts on 11 things they could have done better follow. Read More →