Email showdown: Domino's vs. Pizza Hut

August 16, 2016 McKenzie Gregory


Disclaimer: If there’s anything the entire staff at Emma can rally behind without pause, it’s pizza. Deep dish, New York-style, veggie or meat-lovers – we don’t discriminate.

That said, I tried to remain as objective as possible while judging the two biggest pizza chains in the U.S. – Domino’s and Pizza Hut – on their email marketing. This showdown was a bit of a blowout, but I guarantee you’ll walk away from it feeling inspired to amp up your own marketing (and very, very hungry).

Let’s get to it.




The signup process

You can get on the Domino’s email list a few different ways:

• You order a pizza online.
• You create a “Pizza Profile” on their website and opt into their emails.
• You directly sign up for their list via this form.

It's a bit difficult to find (the tiny “Email and Text Offers” link lives on the footer of their website), but once you do get there, it’s pretty straightforward. I was a little surprised by their choice to pair email marketing and text offers on the same form. And asking for a full address feels like a bit much for an initial signup... but we’ll give them a free pass on that one since they explain it’s to locate your nearest store.




The first few emails

As far as I can tell, Domino’s doesn’t send any sort of welcome series. Instead, I was launched straight into their regular email sends.

The first email I received was this one that thanked customers for their loyalty, promoted a special offer, and called attention to their hands-free ordering app. It isn't an ugly send by any means – a clean top nav, eye-catching hero image, and bold CTA button are more than we see from a lot of brands – but it still wasn’t anything that blew me away.



The rest of their emails continued in the same vein. A couple of my favorites included this one promoting their rewards program (love all that white space around the pizza!)...



...and this one that called attention to their fundraising efforts for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital (a nice philanthropic co-marketing effort).



They send fairly frequently (around 2-3 times a week), and their emails are always clean, generally focused on a single CTA, and – best of all – mobile-optimized for easy ordering on the go.



The customer experience

One thing Domino’s consistently nails is their customer experience. For instance, I was super impressed by the transactional email I received after ordering a couple of pizzas to the office. It contained all the information I wanted to know, and the “Domino’s Tracker” is a nice touch for those who want to check in on the status of their order without calling.



And after an order arrived much later than expected one night, I promptly received this email with an apologetic, personal-sounding subject line.



Domino’s has a solid email program and does a fantastic job taking care of their customers – they just aren’t pushing the envelope from a design standpoint as some of the other big brands out there. On the other hand…



Pizza Hut

The signup process

Not only is their form super easy to find, these guys instantly have a pizza my heart (… eh?) by offering FREE CHEESE STICKS just for signing up for their email list. We always recommend putting a lead magnet on your signup form, and this one from Pizza Hut absolutely kills it. The imagery and copy are so enticing that I’m not even put off by all the fields.



The first few emails

As promised, the “Free Cheese Sticks” email arrives in my inbox immediately after signup. I absolutely love the design and how straightforward it is: Rather than trying to include a ton of content and offers in their very first touch, Pizza Hut simply follows through on their offer and provides a few links to their other marketing channels (their mobile apps and social profiles).



The next few emails (aka, an homage to embracing the scroll)

Pizza Hut does NOT shy away from crafting incredibly long, scrollable emails. Highlights include this birthday mailing (easily one of the best I’ve seen, and I see A LOT of email):



And I absolutely loved this exploration of their new menu ingredients. They provided a CTA above the fold for those only scanning, but if you did choose to scroll…




… it’s a delightful experience. It’s pretty impressive how they manage to include so much imagery and information in their mailings without ever losing that bold, clean aesthetic.

GIFs for days

Another design element their email team clearly loves? Animated GIFs. They use them frequently, and they always hit the right notes: Their GIFs provide just enough interest to the email without getting overwhelming. Stand-out examples include this basketball-themed send...



… this special offer…



… and this dream team of another super scrollable send and a GIF that makes the bottom of the email feel more engaging.




Don’t get us wrong: Dominos does really good email marketing. But Pizza Hut’s email program is next-level stuff.

The final verdict? Pizza Hut delivered.

Winner: Pizza Hut


About the Author

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory is a content writer on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.

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