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The trouble with e-cards

December 6, 2010

Since we began designing, promoting and sending Christmas e-cards in 2004, they’ve become more and more popular each year. Our clients love them because they’re cheaper than traditional cards, better for the environment and the interactive format means you can check whether your customers opened the card.

And let’s face it, going for an e-card is a lot less hassle for a marketing manager than a paper card. No trips to the printers, no waiting around for the Directors to sign the cards individually, no spreadsheet of postal addresses, sticky labels or hefty postage bills.

So, why is it that they can still end up turning into the marketing manager’s worst nightmare; sending them over the edge, just before Christmas? There’s something about e-cards that brings the worst out in a company. For such a seemingly trivial marketing activity, we’ve been amazed at just how many people in the company have been keen to get involved. The poor marketing manager just wants the card signed off and out the door to wish their customers all the best… but the company’s directors, sales managers, account managers have other ideas.

The first bone of contention is the wording. Some insist on using Seasons’ Greetings, rather than a more traditional wording. For one of my clients, to suppress the internal battles on this subject they asked us to use our mail merge technology so that each account manager (there were 32!) could put their own wording in the card.

Next there are the internal politics. One of our clients wanted a series of Santas' Elves, each carrying the face of a senior member of his team. His colleagues posed for the photo, we superimposed their image onto the respective elf’s face and produced the card. By the time the card was ready to go in early December most of the ‘Elves’ no longer worked for them following a company shake up.

By far the trickiest element is managing the involvement and creative design ideas of the “hands on Managing Director!” A long standing client of ours got in touch back November 2007. She’s a very experienced marketer and she had joined a new company. Her first task in the new role: to choose and send the company e-card. By January she had left the company. Working with the MD told her all she needed to know. When he sent her a memo saying that he didn’t like the shape of the baubles, didn’t like the way the stars ‘twinkled’, wanted the wording changed, wanted the background colour changing, she knew that managing larger projects with him was going to be impossible.

So why are the cards so problematic? The only explanation I can give is the following: Most of the time people look at the marketing manager’s workload and are happy NOT to get involved. However when they see the e-cards they think ‘ I fancy having a go at that’ Then they go full steam ahead in a peacock style public display of their secret creativity!

So if you’re organising your e-card this year, perhaps think twice before asking too many people for their opinion. And if you find your MD getting too involved with the card, maybe you’ll be updating your CV over the Christmas holiday!

Would be interested to hear any similar stories if you want to share?

Posted by Jenni Malley
Topical email

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