How NOT To Do Email Marketing

lv-email-postI was going to publish a post listing 16 different digital products you can sell from your blog, but this one is slightly more important.

The information in this post can help you not look like a complete jerk in front of your audience.

I’ll explain what I mean in a second… 

Here’s the back story:

I was sitting on my computer, working hard on a new project (I’m lying, I was procrastinating, checking email) and one subject line caught my attention.

It said:

“Ideas for the Perfect Outfit” 

… from none other than Louis Vuitton. So, I did what any other content marketer would do – Got Super Excited!

Why? .. because when big giant companies like Coke, Home Depot and even LV start using content to attract and convert more people into customers, it reinforces what we’ve been talking about for years.

… that Content Marketing works!

So my initial thoughts were:

  • Yes.. LV get it!
  • Yes.. Content is the future!
  • Yes.. when I open this email I’m going to see ideas to create the perfect outfit LV style.

But I was Disappointed

By the title of this post you may have guessed that what I saw in that email was not what I was expecting.

Let me show you their “ideas”:


No actual content.

Not one idea.

Nothing but a big image that leads to their collection of accessories. The old “bait and switch”. This email proves to me that LV just doesn’t get it yet.

Now, you might be thinking..

“But they’re LV… They can do that”

But for how long?

How long can they continue to send out emails to their newsletter subscribers with misleading subject lines and no content inside.

How far will they get doing email marketing this way (what we know to be the wrong way)?

I have no freaking idea.

But I do have an idea of how to build relationships with email subscribers. I do have an idea of how content marketing works. I do have an idea of where the online advertising model is headed due to banner blindness.

Maybe it works for them, but it certainly left me with a bad impression.

Lessons From This Crappy Email:

A few things..

  • First of all, don’t do this unless you want to piss people off. People are smart. Their bullshit detectors are on-point and they’ll call you out if you try to pull a fast one.
  • Adding value and actually helping people will go a long way. It may not lead to a sale right away, but would you try to propose on the first date? Of course not..
  • Use images in your emails.. this big picture LV added to the email actually made me click. It’s something you might want to test and see how it works. (just don’t forget the content)
  • Lastly, CARE about your audience enough to put in the effort. Right now I’m feeling LV doesn’t care much. I would’ve been happy with one outfit idea from them, but I didn’t even get that.

What do you think?

… does this email look OK to you? Would you have felt the same way? I really wanna know what you think.. leave it in the comments.

build your audience guide


  1. Shellie says

    I think you are looking at this ad from the biased view of a content marketer. So am I, but as a plain old customer, I may not be expecting written content as much as you are. Here is a large photo of items that are perfect outfit ideas. Okay. As a consumer, I didn’t mind that. In fact, I may not have even wanted to talk about it. I was a little put out at the document design because I had to pause to decide where to click to see my item of interest. Otherwise, big photo of multiple products. Zing. Good. No long list of little thumbnails. Like that.

    I do not argue that LV should take your (our) advice about content. However, sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Your prior expectations and content bias missed that. Their best plan of action is to mix it up, incorporate both.

  2. says

    I totally agree with you. I did look at the subject line expecting content, text, ideas etc.. And it makes sense since we’re talking (and reading) about content all the time.

    But.. I wonder, if I wasn’t so involved in this space, if I was just an everyday consumer, would I still expect more than just a big picture.

    I mean, I don’t care that they don’t have text, but why not change the subject line to “here are a few accessories you can buy from us”, because thats all it was. Not ideas. With that subject line, I wouldn’t feel misled.

  3. Super Nikki says

    I agree with you Hector. I would be pissed off with a crappy email like this too. What a con job!!

  4. says

    Hector, you are spot on.

    And I would hate to see the results of any marketing Shellie might use for her business if she does not feel slighted by that email. Her comment shows she was more concerned in defending LV’s marketing than recognizing what her actual response might have been if she had been the recipient.

    Simplicity is best, but just an image? Not only that, some people do not display images in their emails (esp on SmartPhones) and would have only seen an empty box with nothing to entice them to display that image and see the “message.”

    LV’s marketing department is thinking traditional ads and displays, not email marketing. Bad call.

  5. says

    That’s exactly what I was getting at. They’re concerned with getting people to open the email, click the link, and spend some money. With No regards for how that message is being received by their subscribers.

    Traditional.. Push marketing is what that is.

    And I completely forgot about smartphones.. That’s a really good point. Thanks for sharing :)

  6. says

    Hey there Hector,

    Totally agree with you! I would have felt robbed to have clicked through to find some crummy men’s shoes and a couple of ugly bags sitting on a chess board (?), when I’d been promised outfit ideas.


  7. hitchman35 says

    I agree with you Hector, based on your description of the content, the subject line does seem a bit misleading. But I’m interested to know how you became a part of their sales funnel, and where you might lie within it.

    if you’re a regular ecustomer, maybe LV has it right (as Shellie mentioned), and an action-type subject line just would have been more effective. On the other hand, maybe you’re only an email subscriber, content is what you were seeking and LV just really missed the mark on this piece (like you said).

    I’m most interested in how you, as a customer, entered the sales funnel (how they got your email…), what part of that funnel you’re in, and whether other email from this campaign (including this one) matches that context or not.

    Whether you’re in the space or not, I think you entered the funnel (or exited it) the very same way any customer would, and the question ‘why THAT content?’ is reasonable. As someone who’s only been ‘in the space’ for a very short period of time, I’ve been asking “why THAT content?” for years, when it comes to email marketing.

    What do you think? Care to share your funnel experience with LV :)?

  8. says

    That’s a good question. I’m not a customer, just an email subscriber. Don’t remember when I entered the sales funnel, but I remember looking at a handbag that I wanted to get my girlfriend. (fortunate for me, she changed her mind… and I got her a MacBook Air instead)… Lol

    ..maybe their customer base doesn’t care for content.

    ..maybe they see nice pictures, click and buy on impulse.

    ..maybe they don’t need much persuading.

    We won’t ever really know unless we get a sneak peek into their email marketing stats – all I can go by is this email and the impression it left on me.

    Appreciate the well-thought out comment.

  9. says

    As a visual artist myself I use images instead of words daily to communicate. That said I also use a lot of words. In their image the best power move to win the game is LV accessories – a high powered bag… so powerful you can kick your shoes off and live in luxury… then I think what am I missing here? It’s empty. They did not fulfill the teaser.

  10. says

    I agree Hector. “Ideas for the perfect outfit” implies, well, *ideas*. The picture doesn’t show ideas, it shows products. Any good advertiser knows that products to not evoke an emotional response like content does. Like stories or ideas. The best I’ve seen this done is in the Anthropologie catalog, where there is page after page of story-telling with the products. Now THAT constitutes ideas and gets my blood pumping.

  11. says

    Hey Susan.. Someone at LV must have a different idea of what “idea” means.

    And I’m with you on the story telling. There’s nothing better than introducing someone to a solution to their problem with a good story that they can relate to.

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