Spring Home-Improvement Surveys: And the Winner is...
By Julia Peavy
Major League Baseball has started and the days are longer. Spring is finally here. And for many, that means time to spruce up the yard and garden and start on home improvement projects. To coincide with the changing season, two large home improvement stores used email to get a pulse on their subscribers’ preferences. How did they do?
The following email was sent by Lowe’s in the middle of March with the subject line “A Quick Question to Customize Your Emails.” Using Return Path’s Inbox Insight product, I can see that this email was sent to a large majority of Lowe’s email list.
This survey email from Lowe’s was focused on categories closely tied to spring: Outdoor Maintenance, Outdoor Living, and Plant & Beautify. Along with a graphic and a clear call to action button, Lowe’s provides descriptions to support each category. While this additional information is potentially useful, the design of the email requires the subscriber to scroll down the email to view all of the content. In addition, the length of the email makes it more likely to be “clipped” by mobile devices.
Because Lowe’s sent this to a large portion of their list, the outdoor categories may not apply to some subscribers. The inclusion of some broader categories or a choice for “none of these” could help provide Lowe’s with more data on their subscribers.
Home Depot sent the following email at the beginning of April with a subject line surprisingly similar to the Lowe’s email: “A Quick Question to Help Customize Your Emails.” However, unlike Lowe’s, this campaign was a small, targeted campaign sent to less than 1% of Home Depot’s list.
While Home Depot poses the survey question around the spring season, the email presents subscribers with much broader categories than the email from Lowe’s. These broader categories may help increase response rates because they appeal to more diverse subscribers. In addition, the email is more succinct than the Lowe’s email and doesn’t require as much vertical scrolling. While the email is shorter, the heavy use of images may depress response rates when images are not enabled.
And the Winner is…
Both Home Depot and Lowe’s earn points for using email to gather data from their subscribers to personalize the email program. Of course, data collection is only the first part of the equation. The data needs to be used to personalize the email experience to be truly useful.
Although the emails used almost identical subject lines, the email from Home Depot earned a much higher read rate than the email from Lowe’s. Given the audience for the Home Depot email was more targeted and much smaller, this is not terribly surprising. Even though the Home Depot was sent to a targeted audience, the choices in the email were likely to appeal to more of the email recipients. Lowe’s email could have benefited from broader categories to help increase response.
Given that Home Depot sent their survey email out a few weeks after Lowe’s with a very similar subject line, Home Depot is likely closely monitoring what Lowe’s is sending to their subscribers and using these insights to influence their own email program. In the end, the succinct email from Home Depot with broader categories edges out the email from Lowe’s in my book. But, the email for Lowe’s wins for initially using email to gather subscriber preferences and likely influencing Home Depot to get a pulse on their subscribers. And when subscribers receive what they want, everybody wins.
Julia Peavy is director, response consulting for email intelligence firm Return Path.