Copyright: VANS UK
I’ve never been a high heels kinda girl.
The last time I wore a pair (circa 2010), I woke up the next morning with a swollen and (slightly worryingly) purple foot. That and the fact that I could no longer walk was a bit of a giveaway that something was seriously wrong.
After being wheeled around in Accident & Emergency for hours, a perplexed doctor (“Has your foot always been this colour?”) told me I had a condition called tendonitis – probably caused by wearing high heels.
I spent the next week on crutches, and I almost spent my first week of uni on them too.
Since I wasn’t a high heels kinda girl at the best of times, that was enough to put me off them for life.
I’ve happily resigned myself to the comfiest shoes known to man: VANS.
And today, VANS is the company I’m doing an email teardown for.
If this is your first time on the InkHouse blog, let me introduce myself.
I’m Eman – an email conversion strategist and copywriter. I write revenue-boosting, relationship-building emails for online business owners and ecommerce brands.
I love checking out what big brands are doing with their emails, and dissecting what’s working and what’s not. Because guess what: even they get it wrong sometimes.
If you’d rather watch the teardown, you can stop reading here and go hit play on the video below. Otherwise, you can carry on reading for a summary of The Good, The Bad and The Missed Opportunities (MOPs).
Watch the Video
Good 1. Great copy on the home page call to action
The invitation to sign up for the newsletter is: “Get in the Vans family.”
I LOVE this copy.
When I was on the VANS website about a month ago, this copy actually said: “Sign up to our newsletter.” So someone’s clearly been working on this, and I’m really glad they have.
It was one of the critiques I was going to give. “Sign up to our newsletter” is boring and it doesn’t make anyone want to sign up.
But “Get in the Vans family” is obviously a lot more warm, a lot more welcoming, a lot more exclusive. It makes me wants to be part of this group that not everybody is part of.
Good 2. Super cool landing page with great copy
The landing page that invites visitors to opt into the newsletter says:
“Help us get to know you better, you know, because family stays close.”
That’s brilliant copy. It actually gets me excited. I love how conversational, friendly and on-theme it is.
The other thing I really like about this landing page it that it’s really beautifully designed. It makes me want to keep reading.
Good 3. Intention and strategic opt-in form
What’s really interesting about VANS’ opt-in form is that it’s so detailed.
It asks for a lot of information.
It asks for my birthday, which instantly makes me think that they’re going to send me a treat on my birthday. That’s a really nice touch that service-based businesses can do too.
It also asks my gender, which instantly tells me they’re going to segment their emails based on gender. So you’re going to get a specific email depending on whether you select male, female, prefer not to answer.
That’s really clever, especially when you’re a brand that’s appealing to different genders. I’d love to see more brands doing that.
Segmenting your emails allows you to send relevant emails.
And by relevancy, I mean sending the right email to the right people at the right time – and that’s one of the best ways to boost conversions.
When I’ve filled in the form and I click the next button, they take me through to another (shorter) form, which is again pretty cool.
The segmentation continues.
This time, they ask: “How big are those feet?”
I love that because it’s funny, if not a little cheeky, and also because it’s personality-packed. And then it asks you how old you are, when you got your first pair of VANS and three things that you love to do or want to know about – which again is brilliant.
I can see they’re going to segment the emails based on interest and that they’re only going to send me content I’m interested in.
High Five VANS – because the more relevant your emails are, the more people are going to want to open them.
And the more you can train your subscribers to know that you send them relevant emails they’ll want to open, the more they’re going to open them.
This is a fantastic opt-in experience.
Good 4. Email content wins
In the very first welcome email, there’s an image of what looks like the VANS team at work.
Here, they’re showing us what’s going on behind the scenes. That’s great because people are nosy… we like to know what’s going on behind the scenes.
Further down we can see their segmentation in action. I selected woman as my gender in the opt-in form, and as a result they’ve sent me shoes, clothing and accessories recommendations for women.
Bad 1. The length of the opt-in form
Let me make this clear: I LOVE the opt-in form because I’m an email geek.
But… it’s a pretty long form. You have to be really invested to want to sign up to the newsletter because it goes on and on compared to the usual First name and Email address requirements.
This long form wouldn’t work for everyone, some people would be put off by it and wouldn’t sign up.
It’s one of the longest opt-in forms I’ve ever seen quite honestly, but maybe VANS’ audience are invested enough to want to sign up.
I don’t have enough information about their audience to know that – only they know that.
Bad 2. Is the super cool landing page too distracting?
Again, I love the design and copy of the landing page that invites people to sign up the newsletter…
… but as an email strategist, I sense a potential problem.
If you want your audience to act in a certain way (e.g. in this case, VANS wants them to sign up to the newsletter), you need to focus on getting them to do that ONE thing.
Let me break this down:
I was about to join the newsletter, but then I spotted all the fancy flickering stuff on the rest of the landing page that made me want to scroll down and keep reading.
The super cool landing page distracted me from signing up to the newsletter.
Ideally you want to give your audience ONE thing to do on a landing page.
Don’t distract them by giving them loads of different things to explore and click on.
But, I still want give props to VANS for creating a really cool landing page (because most brands don’t put that much effort into them, even though they’re crucial to getting sign ups).
This landing page is something that could and should be tested.
We need to find out whether this page achieves what they want it to achieve.
Does it get people to sign up to the newsletter or is VANS losing potential sign ups because visitors are getting distracted by the multiple calls to action and the billions of other stuff on that page?
Bad 3. Email copy (eek)
“From now on you will receive weekly updates on early access on products, collections, exciting store promotions, exclusive collaborations.”
So the first thing about email copy (or any copy) is that when you write it, you should always take a step back, read it and then ask yourself:
“Would this make me want to keep opening these emails?”
And if the answer is no… if it doesn’t excite you… just delete it and start again, because copy like this (^^) is just really boring.
It’s also really formal and it doesn’t align with the tone of voice that we read and loved on the cool landing page.
We went from “You’re one of us” to “From now on you will receive weekly updates.”
Are you the NHS? Why do I want or need weekly updates from you? You’ve got to think about this stuff!
You need to make people want to keep opening your emails. At this stage, this email does the opposite for me.
It also says: “Stay tuned.”
You can’t just assume that people are going to do something because you tell them to.
Stay tuned? They probably won’t. I definitely wouldn’t after reading this email.
Moving down the email, it says: “Customs. Need some inspiration? Get your customs. Start customizing.”
Too much of the word “customs”, right?
We could definitely work on that copy too.
Bad 4. Lazy calls to action
The call to action on the landing page is a bit boring and it could be a whole lot better.
Remember we want calls to action to also be calls to value. You want to tell your reader what to expect when they hit a button, so they want to hit the button.
Another lazy call to action I saw in the first email: “Shop now”.
Yes it works – ecommerce brands across the world use it a lot, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still lazy.
The Missed Opportunities (MOPs)
MOP 1. Not enough emails
It looks like there are three emails in this welcome sequence.
The first thing I’d say is that the welcome sequence should be a whole lot longer because VANS has so much to share.
I can think of at least another four email ideas right now.
Let’s move back to the landing page. There are a whole bunch of ideas for the welcome sequence there.
“Tell us about your first pair of VANS.”
That would be such a cool email to put in the welcome sequence. I would reply to that email and tell them about my first pair. I love VANS that much.
Another email for the welcome sequence could be about entering their competition to “Win a collection of VANS T-Shirts.”
“Meet the family and see what we’ve been up to.” Meet the team. That could be another email.
And then “By the way, we also have an app” is a whole other email.
I got all these ideas from their landing page.
VANS has sent three emails in their welcome sequence, and we just came up with another four for them.
That’s just me doing a really quick teardown. If I were to sit down with VANS and come up with a strategy there’s so much more we could come up with.
MOP 2. The generic subject line
“Welcome to Vans, Eman”
That’s a pretty standard subject line.
It works – it does the job… but it’s so overused. We can think of something better. That’s one first thing I’d optimise if I was working VANS.
MOP 3. Calls to action (again)
This email has a lot of different calls to action, and I think it could be a bit more focused. Three really strong calls to action would get people clicking a bit more.
Let’s wrap this up
So… there were lots of things I loved. This was a really interesting teardown because they did some great stuff e.g. the fantastic opt-in experience. But the emails could do with some work.
Like I said, someone’s clearly working on this because a couple of things have changed from the last time I looked at the website. And I hope they continue to.
Their emails could be really strong and they have the potential to be high converters, as long as they fix those missed opportunities by increasing the number of emails in the welcome sequence and improving the content within each email.
That’s it from me!
I hope you enjoyed this teardown and be sure to look out for my next one.
Let me know what you thought of this. And if you’ve got any brands you want me to teardown, let me know and I’ll work on it.
If you need some help with your business’ email strategy and copy, drop my team a message at email@example.com
Eman Ismail is a UK-based copywriter and the founder of InkHouse. She works with businesses and non-profits across the world, writing marketing materials and content that increases their exposure and attracts their ideal audience.
When she’s not writing or delivering copywriting workshops, you’ll find her glued to a podcast in the corner of a cosy cafe.