Is offering a discount enough?

"Your mystery offer is waiting <checkmark symbol> it out". That was in my inbox this morning from Shutterfly. Thank goodness Google Mail rendered the symbol correctly; though I wonder how many customers got the question mark instead for that special character insertion. I would think that I am already a customer since I made a purchase earlier in the year and while Shutterfly might have marketing automation capabilities, whoever is managing how content is delivered to customers and prospects is doing it from a batch and blast perspective; which is okay if your company fits one of the following scenarios:
  • a consumer products oriented company with a high churn rate
  • customers respond better to discounts because you've conditioned them to expect it
  • your company is a market share leader in its industry, and you simply don't care about losing existing customers
  • your CEO dictates the marketing plan
  • your products are more of a commodity than a premium brand
Before and after purchasing from Shutterfly, I'd always gotten promotional emails and like most consumer emails they are spammy...meaning I get more than four per month. And to top that, all the discounts have been in the 40% to 50% range or free products (e.g., 12 free thank you cards, free photo magnet, free photo book, etc.). It makes me think that their loss-leader costs are minimal.

Take this Shutterfly email as an example. What do you see?
Shutterfly promo email from 2013-08-22

If you saw in the email preview screen that you only got up to 40% off for buying something from Shutterfly, you might just be in the 90% who would see just that. However, if you were really tuned into promotional offers, you'd see that it's up to 40% in addition to existing sale prices. Which did you see, the former or the latter response? If you saw the former, chances are you deleted the email since it didn't look any different than any other Shutterfly promotion. If you saw the latter, it might take you a second glance to see if you really saw the right offer and perhaps that is enough for you to click through. 

If this is a totally new offer (as in, this product pricing scenario has not been used with new customers), the offer needs to be called out in a color other than black text on construction yellow. The italicized black text is still more of the same. This is a callout for the "on top of sale prices" to be in a different color. It's hard to tell though if such an offer would really impact Shutterfly's media plan without having the production data. And, it is just one offer campaign out of dozens that Shutterfly runs each calendar quarter.
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