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Rain or Shine: Check the Forecast Before Sending Out Your Email Promotions

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Do you check the weather before you send your email promos? Maybe you should.

I recently received a promo from REI. The promo itself is good on multiple levels:

  1. I love REI.

  2. Winter is my favorite season.

  3. I've always wanted to try snowshoeing.

Also, the promo is attractive and colorful. Here's a look at it:

Seems like a no-brainer, right?

Except for one thing.  Check out the seven-day forecast.

It’s currently 65° as I write this. And it was nearly 60 degrees and raining the day I received this, so all my beautiful snow is melting into a muddy sloppy mess. Now, I'm not an expert, but I'm pretty sure they call it snowshoeing for a reason. You need two things to engage in the sport, and the absence of either one of them profoundly impacts your ability to participate.

Through no fault of REI, the promo didn't hit with the impact it could have. So, the company lost out on a great potential opportunity. You can blame this on global warming, our expanding world population, El Niño, or just bad luck, but the end result is that they hit an audience that could not capitalize on their offer.

The good news is that now REI is in the back of my mind. The bad news is that I wasn't able to act immediately. It's going to take an extra step to dig this back up should the opportunity arise (read: should this miserable weather actually turn into winter). Who knows how many other folks will just delete this email right after reading it because it doesn’t apply?

Receiving the ill-timed promo made me realize the great influence that external factors, such as weather and holidays, have on your promotions. You can have everything for  your promotion planned... and then have it flounder due to unusually warm weather. Or you can plan to promote a major event---only to have it overshadowed by a  product recall, parts shortage, or some other event beyond your control. The unpredictable factor can make you or break you sometimes.

Now, there's no way that REI could have tailored the email to be sent to every region of the country only when there was snow.  The company made a reasonable guess that the weather would be cold, based on the date, and decided to send it. Can’t fault them for that. Just bad luck.

But could they have done something differently? And if so, what?

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Matt Snodgrass is marketing manager for MarketingProfs University, which provides affordable yet comprehensive online training in the interrelated disciplines that make up the marketing mix. Reach Matt via

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  • by Holly Thu Jan 17, 2013 via blog

    Maybe promote a spring item(s) with a messaging of warmer days to come. "Ready for Spring? Warmer days and warmer weather are right around the corner. Come check out our new 2013 spring line." Or maybe they could have promoted the shoes earlier in the snow season.

  • by Bill Thu Jan 17, 2013 via blog

    I get the sense that you're griping over nothing. Thinking about external factors is a good topic of conversation, but I don't think this is a good example. If you want to over-analyze, you might reason that REI actually wanted to send the promo before the weather was optimum for snowshoeing. Who knows?

    With this particular example, if you actually received it in mid-January, I'd be more concerned about that "find more holiday inspirations" link in the email. (Um, what holidays?) Or whether you actually have a family that shops at REI or would use their products (referencing the ad headline).

  • by Bill Thu Jan 17, 2013 via blog

    Personally, I despise marketing/advertising cycles that are a full season ahead of schedule. Target sent me a "spring fashions" email the week after Christmas. They're lucky I didn't unsubscribe. (But I did call them out on Twitter for it.)

  • by Nancy Thu Jan 17, 2013 via blog

    Perhaps a reminder of colder days in the forecast? Are you ready for the snowy season? Winter outdoor recreation is a great way to bond with your family. Are you prepared with the equipment you need when the time is right? Shop our cold weather gear now!

  • by Matt Snodgrass Fri Jan 18, 2013 via blog

    Good point, Bill. I hadn't actually even noticed the "holiday inspiration" section, I was so focused on the main topic :)

  • by Mary Fri Jan 18, 2013 via blog

    So an email marketer for REI should know the weather in ALL markets they're sending to and customize for that specific market's weather? Seems like an unreasonable amount of geo-targeting to me. And won't the snow fall again, even if it isn't at that moment? Also, for those who live in warmer climates, should REI never advertise cold weather equipment? That's making the assumption that no one in warmer climates ever travels to the mountains to enjoy snow sports during the winter. Not trying to be harsh, but I think you missed the mark on this article.

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