The Usability Blog
A Practical Guide to User Experience Insights

Promo Emails Only Work If Your Site Does

Earlier last week, I received an email from Panera Bread promoting their ‘Clean Pairings Menu’ with options for 500 calories or less. Excited at the possibility of having my absolute favorite soup (cheddar broccoli, YUM!) and a salad or sandwich for only 500 calories, I immediately clicked on the link.

email promo | UX

What happened next was both extremely disappointing and immensely frustrating all at the same time. I should also point out I was on my phone. Remember, 65% of the population checks email on their phone first. The link did not take me to a ‘Clean Paring Menu’ it just dumped me on the main menu page. I looked under the drop down but no listing for a ‘Clean Paring Menu’ and nothing under ‘You Pick Two’ but it does list calories. So I have to add it all up and decided what will work I guess?… BUT, that’s not what the email said. The email clearly stated they have a ‘Clean Pairings Menu’ After about 5 minutes of searching, annoyed, I gave up and ordered Corner Bakery instead.

panera snag

However, out of sheer curiosity, the next morning on my computer, I tried the link from the email again and this time it took me to an amazing tool that not only listed the pairings that could be added together for 500 calories or less, but it also calculated the calories for me. AND, it had a fun option to randomize the pairings in case I was really lazy. With this option, I ordered lunch immediately b/c it was so easy and actually fun.


So where did Panera go wrong

  1. Forgetting the majority of the population checks email on their phone and not their computer. 65%!
  2. Not making the same options available on the mobile site as the main one.

How do they fix the issue?

  1. Simple, don’t send promo emails with links that don’t exist on the mobile site. You’ll lose customers who might return.
  2. Or, if it’s not possible to add the feature you want to highlight on your mobile site, add a note to the email saying that so users are not annoyed and leave altogether.

Brands must deliver the same consistent experience, regardless of the platform in order to keep customers. It’s an omni-channel world and if your brand is going to survive, you have to keep up.

-Ashley Connor, Associate User Experience Analyst, Usability Sciences Corporation


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