February 5th, 2021

Going back to basics with Starbucks

How can you give customers a unique experience with rewards emails? This week, we're mixing things up with some loyalty and seasonal emails from Starbucks (plus a Baby Yoda drink).


This FF episode was sponsored by emfluence. Get paired with a marketer to see how your strategy will work in the emfluence Marketing Platform.

📋 TL;DR key takeaways from this episode:

1. Get creative with your CTA buttons. Use different text for each button and make the button stand out with some interactivity or an eye-catching design.

2. Using dynamic content in loyalty emails - like including offer expiration dates - can help personalize the experience for your audience and create urgency to make a purchase.

3. Add a GIF that showcases your menu or product offerings so your audience can visualize items they’re interested in purchasing or ordering.

Matt Helbig:  What's up, email geeks? Welcome back to another Feedback Friday. This week we have Kelly Lamano of Really Good Emails fame. How's it going, Kelly?

Kelly Lamano:  It's going great. How are you?

Matt Helbig: Great. I'm excited to look at some Starbucks emails. It's a little later in the day; otherwise, I'd have a cup of coffee. 

Kelly Lamano: Awesome. Yeah. I went and got the Baby Yoda, which is one of the secret Starbucks drinks. So I figured I'd try that. 

Matt Helbig: Okay. Well, we have some super emails from Starbucks. I'm excited to look at these. So let's jump right in.

Okay, Kelly, the first one looks like a fall email. They have a lot of retro vibes here in the email, lots of live text. We are a big fan of that. Nice color palettes. What else stood out to you in this first example?

Kelly Lamano: Yeah, definitely the retro colors, the fall all around, like all of the oranges, the beige, I think they do an excellent job of showcasing a couple of different things throughout the emails.

So they have the product photography showing you immediately like, Hey, this is something you want to go in the store and order, like, we don't just have coffee. We also have these protein bites and stuff like that. I think it's cool that they also highlight that they have like a credit card and other stuff. So it's going outside of just the coffee. It's like, here's what else the brand has to offer.

Matt Helbig: I think what stood out to me is the color palette and then the CTAs. I feel like we haven't seen ghost buttons like this in a minute on some of these emails. But I think they make it work.

In some of these, the main CTA people will be clicking on is this image of the drinks versus the actual button. I would say they could perhaps try testing a more solid CTA down here, but I think with these product shots being the main focus of these cards, that's probably still all right.

I am impressed with the product photography. I'm guessing Starbucks has a big studio to shoot all these different things, but these are appealing. I liked this very simple one-column layout where this text is short enough to be centered. It scrolls down, especially easy to read on mobile.

Kelly Lamano: Going back up to the top I just noticed that sort of retro design that they have there. It reminds me of the drizzle that's on top of the drink. So I think that's clever and creative—definitely eye-catching. I agree with you. It's very easy to skim through the text on both desktop and mobile. It's nice how they have everything centered. It's just really easy to consume.

Matt Helbig: I like how they create some spatial stuff with the long shadows here. They are making it a little bit more exciting with this retro drizzle like you said. I guess their emails are doing a fair amount with promoting the different offers they have, but it's nice to see how this is plugged in here, plugging their credit card.

Their templates are pretty flexible on accepting many different modules, and playing with these different CTAs adds some variety to these various offers. The food ones have a specific CTA, and then these more app ones have a particular CTA, and these have a little different style.

Allowing those styles on these different cards is a cool way to make the content feel slightly different. Well, we have another one. So what stood out to you on this one?

Kelly Lamano: The GIF. I think that one's fun because I think there's something for everyone. Like there's tea, there's coffee, frappuccino, all the different sort of drink options. It flows nicely. I think having "Free" at the very top makes it very clear for the customer to see, like Hey, this is why I opened this email. I'm getting something. This is what I'm getting. It's very clear.

The CTA is also very clear. Having just that one "Order" CTA is nice because it's very focused, and you don't have to worry about any distractions or anything. Your eye goes right down free and then the gift, and then pretty much what the expiration date is, qualifying item, order. So I think it's very linear, and it leads you right down to that button.

Matt Helbig: It gets the message across. I think the GIF is of excellent quality. I think the whole message is just pretty simple. I guess this would be an example where this could maybe be a solid color versus the ghost CTA here.

I also just noticed they don't have social icons. It looks like their legal footer links out to a lot of these terms of use and the privacy stuff, rather than putting everything here. That's interesting to me, you know, how in other brands we might see it a lot more social icons or longer text, especially where if they're giving you something away or a coupon, they might have to include that.

Kelly Lamano: That's true. 

Matt Helbig: A pretty simple one. I think it caught our eye, just having a nice GIF and having a direct message.

Kelly Lamano: This one is more of a subtle GIF, but I feel like it still works. I like how even at the top of the email, they've got "heartbeat flutters," and then it kind of flows down into that heart GIF.

Overall it's evident what they're going for here with all of the different products. I think they do a great job with the product photography again cause they're showing like the coffee and then heart cookie, cake, and stuff like that. So I think they do an excellent job with the presentation overall, and it's very focused.

Matt Helbig: I think I noticed in this one that these are images versus the other one that was more bulletproof. They look a little pixelated. It's nice to see that on some of their newer emails, even some of these headlines, I think they figured out how to include more live text.

I think they keep it pretty fun and focused on the product. Not overly promotional, at least not right away. It leads you down to this e-gift, which is a pretty nice CTA as a way to send a gift. 

Kelly Lamano: I wonder on the happy hour text if maybe that could be updated. What if I opened the email tomorrow? Like is it still a happy hour at 3:00 PM? Is that every single day? Is that a specific day? So I might want to see more of a particular date on that just if I miss it and I can still take advantage of the offer.

Matt Helbig: We were looking at the code a little earlier, and we saw some Moveable Ink snippets in there. So that maybe is an opportunity for them to create some dynamic piece here that maybe pulls in your nearest store or, as you said, have a specific time that's tied to your zip code or something like that. That would be a nice, subtle touch. Anytime you can bring in some local information, that's a nice touch.

So this looks like some gamification here a little bit.

Kelly Lamano: I think we picked many emails that had the GIFs right off the bat and went into what the reward system is like. So I liked that they mostly use live text in this, at least for the paragraph text. I would like to see that split into maybe two paragraphs. Perhaps it's picky, but it would be nice just to kind of chop that up a little bit more to break it up.

But I liked that they explain, like, what do the stars do? Like what does that mean? And they explained that you could use that towards a beverage purchase. I think it's very focused again with just that one CTA button.

Matt Helbig: Yeah, I think this one's pretty simple. I guess it would be cool if they showed you some more information in the email, but I also liked that it's pretty short and sweet and pointing you towards either a landing page or their app to enter. That makes sense for this one. Excellent use of GIF. Pretty cool way to maybe bring in some gamification or just a general contest email to possibly replicate for your brand.

This one is for Christmas. That Iconic Christmas cup.

Kelly Lamano: What's doing it for you on this one?

Matt Helbig: I think the color. I think it's hard to effectively use this red without it being a little too much, but I think it works for their brand. It's almost like their signature Christmas color at this point.

Everyone knows the red cup, and I think they bring some nice Christmas-y vibes to the email without being too overbearing. It's nice to see the different imagery they're pulling in as you scroll down. So I think what's interesting with some of these longer-form emails is how they organize content and how they maybe try to serve you these modules in a specific order of what's most important to maybe least important.

Kelly Lamano: I agree with that. It's interesting how they have the different blocks of content. Sometimes that can weigh down the email to where it could make the file size larger, but it's nice how they keep everything very organized. And like you said, they keep the most important part of the email at the top.

I love the gradient colors. It's just cool. They keep everything very focused, and the CTAs are very focused. Again, it's interesting that they have that ghost button. So I would almost like to see a white button with red text, or even this will sound crazy, but maybe like a candy cane sort of design.

I know that's maybe taking it too far, but just making that stand out just a little bit more, but I do like how they organize all the different sections. 

Matt Helbig: Maybe like a hover effect or something if they could pull it off where if you hover over this, it does something fun to the cup. Like it rotates or something. Add some interactivity to it. I agree with you. I think the gradient makes it fun, and they seem to care about their emails. They add a lot of custom imagery. I think something like this Uber Eats bag with the "Happy Holidays" and the Starbucks cup is a nice little touch.

I think they have a very nice palette of colors that they use pretty consistently. Overall, I think these emails turn out pretty great. I think they could make them even better. Every time we look at their emails when they're submitted to the site, they get a little better each time.

Kelly Lamano: It's always interesting to see their holiday emails cause they always do something fun.

This is another fun one. I like how they have the single product shot, and it's just enough to where you can see the coffee cup holder with the logo on it. It's very warm. Like it makes you feel like you're there getting a nice warm cup of coffee. They have a very focused CTA "order ahead now." They have these cool kind of illustrations there that are interesting.

I would have liked to see a header to break up the two sections. So it's like the first section is the rewards tip and then driving people to order. Then what's this next part? It's going further into why you should order ahead and explaining that, but it might be kind of cool to have that as a header to guide the reader.

Matt Helbig: This transition maybe is a little awkward to me. Perhaps that's because it's changing where that text is too. I do like this custom hand-drawn illustration of the different cups. It matches their branding and still adds a little fun piece to this email.

Kelly Lamano: Yeah. On the cassette is says PSL faves too. So it just shows you the attention to detail. It's interesting how they have the same CTA text for both buttons. So it would be kind of cool, like you said, to see something dynamic or something different.

Matt Helbig: Great job, Starbucks. I know we're a big fan of your emails. They seem to be learning a lot from the different emails that they're sending. So it's cool to see the evolution of this brand and how they're using their email program. Well, have a fantastic Friday, Kelly.

Kelly Lamano: You too, Matt.

Matt Helbig: All right. See ya.


Feedback Friday



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