Email Critique Edition

Let's make this ecomm email better, shall we?

Fun fact: I don’t have images turned on in my gmail account. I did this as a grand experiment to see what my experience would be like as a receive dozens (I keep my inbox pretty lean) of marketing emails.

Let’s just say, it’s dismal out there. Most retail emails I get either use alt text poorly or don’t use it at all.

So, in the spirit of sharing, I’m going to begin doing email critiques. I don’t do teardowns and I won’t be sharing these emails publicly. This is exclusive to newsletter readers. I dislike when people publicly tear down emails, because as outsiders we don’t know scope and timing and resources.

I hope to lead with kindness and empathy and give helpful tips on how we can bring our emails to the next level.

Alright, that said! Recently I bought myself a pretty new barbell, the Texas Power Bar. It’s the OG powerlifting barbell out there, lasts, and isn’t insanely expensive, so it was a done deal for me.

After I received the barbell, I started getting marketing emails. I don’t even remember if I signed up for them.

Anywho, this is the email with images turned off.

email with images turned off.

As you can see here, I don’t know what this email is about! It’s clearly an all images email. I could just bounce, which is what someone who does not have the gift of sight would probably do, or I can turn on images.

scrolling gif of the Texas Power Bar email

I really like how this email looks. I’m going to break it down into smaller chunks and go over each section.

Hero Section

There are a few things I’d do with the first part of the email, below:

  • Turn the background area into a background-image that goes across the entire body of the email, which would allow us to place the rest of the text and images above it.

  • Make the headline live text

Hero Section: The Gif

I love this gif. It 100% caught my eye when I turned images on. I love how it shows the different cerakote options that are available (don’t ask me what cerakote is I have no idea, I got black [like my soul] brushed steel.).

My only gripe? The bar shaft moves a little when the color changes and that’s messy Photoshop to me. It’s one of those tiny things that bothers me a lot! When I make gifs I spend a lot of time fixing shifts between frames. But honestly, at first look I didn’t notice. So it’s not awful. But I would definitely tighten that up.

Still, A+ gif. This is a prime example of how you do it in email.

gif of barbell shaft changing colors between black, purple, blue, green, and red

Hero Section: Bottom

Not a lot of critique here. The text could be live, otherwise everything from above still applies.

One critical issue is that the CTA needs to be separated and created as live text for easy conversions and for the sake of screen readers. I’d also not use ghost buttons, and instead use a full background on the image so it stands out.

2023 in large white numbers outlined in red. Photo of a man holding a barbell in the front rack position. The barbell cap is in focus showing the Texas Power Bar Logo, which is the shape of Texas. Ghost button CTA says get your bar.


This whole section should be live text. The larger chunks of text need to be aligned to the left. The text is very bold.

Visually, this isn’t a bad piece of graphic design. But is it helpful to people trying to make a purchase in email? I find the background a little distracting, and we have another CTA in an image, which isn’t ideal.

This email could easily achieve the same result with using live text.

Text on a crinkly paper background. A gray CTA with the words order now is at the bottom.

The Good

For those gifted with sight, it is a nice looking email. The GIF is great, they should keep using it.

Needs Improvement

The text and CTAs need to be moved to live text instead of being placed in the image. When images are used, there needs to be meaningful alt text added.

Companies lose a lot of money by not facilitating accessibility best practices! Start from easy wins like live and alt text, and keep iterating from there.

Did you like this? Reply back and let me know (I love replies more than open and click-through rates and it’s how I judge the success of my emails).

Do you want me to critique your email? You can give me context and what you’d like me to focus on, and I’m more than happy to take a look and share here. I promise I’m nothing but nice and constructive and we all need another set of eyes sometimes.

This was fun! If you enjoyed it and feel moved, you can now buy me a tea. 🙂 

Chat soon,