Email marketing copy can sometimes start to feel stale. For instance, how many ways can we say “sale”!? It’s often necessary for us to actively seek ways to refresh our messaging. As spring begins, let’s take a look at some strong, unique copy treatments. Let’s look at words with fresh eyes.
Choosing from our favorite brand “artists,” we’ve compiled a “mix tape” (or, these days, an iPod playlist) of copy treatments. Check it out and see if it inspires any new moods.
I Saw the Sign: Subject Lines
• Boden subject line: “A Boden offer to get your knits in a twist.” Including branding at the front of the subject line has shown to boost open rates in some studies, implying that some subscribers just scan subject lines without looking hard at the “from” name. Boden picks up this tip and also entices subscribers with the promise of an offer inside. Love the “knits in a twist” rhyme .
• Sephora subject line: “Pick 5 samples!” This short subject line stands out amongst the longer ones and engages the subscriber with a direct call-to-action and a fun offer. While there’s some debate around subject line length best practices (check out Chad White’s Email Insider article), most email marketers aim for between 35 and 45 characters. Some of the most attention-catching subject lines are shorter than that, though, like this one.
• Nordstrom subject line: “Dive In: New Swimwear from Miracle Suit.” The subject line is clear about the email content, and the unique punctuation and fun intro “Dive In:” may garner some extra attention.
• Staples: Last week, Chad White blogged about Staples’ preheader in his Retail Email Blog. Staples used clever copy to appeal to their subscribers’ point of view, asking them “Is your coupon not displaying correctly? Prompt to view.” as well as prefacing their whitelisting request with “Don’t miss the savings.” Staples recognizes that their subscribers don’t care about missing emails, they care about missing savings, and the copy conveys this understanding.
• Piperlime: Because their (adorable!) headline “Tailor Made” probably wouldn’t make sense to someone viewing the email without images, Piperlime writers include a different headline for the preheader text, which maintains the playful tone but adds clarity: “Turn it up in menswear-inspired heels. Shop now.”
I Heard it Through the Grapevine: Forward to a Friend
Most “forward to a friend” links are direct and clear, but some brands spice it up.
• J.Crew asks subscribers to “spread the word” to their friends as a main CTA in this message.
• giggle includes their FTAF link prominently at the bottom of their email and prefaces it with “Psst,” to give the impression that they are inviting their subscriber to pass on a secret.
Greased Lightning: Headlines
• Apple always has great headlines. Their recent email for iPod Touch games is particularly genius: “Score major points this Valentine’s Day.” The play on “scoring points” is fun and, coupled with the image of the iPod Touch Scrabble game spelling out “LOVE YOU,” the whole message is playful and engaging.
• Urban Outfitters: The headline on this email, “YOU LOST” is hilarious. It came long enough after I entered this sweepstakes that I’d forgotten all about it, and the headline caught my attention and led me to read the rest of the email, which contained a special consolation prize discount offer.
• J.Crew‘s headline “On it way…” freshens up a shipping message that would otherwise be drab. Cool copy can make the simplest messages satisfying for the subscriber.
Baby One More Time: Subheadlines
• Barneys New York‘s subheadline, “You really need to read today’s barneys babble,” sounds like an urging from a friend. The subscriber feels like she’d be missing out if she didn’t check it out.
• J.Crew gets a third shout-out for their subheadline from a while back. It reaches subscribers right where they are—on their computers, presumably working on something—and invites them to take a quick shopping break.
Twist and Shout: Body Copy
• Land of Nod has some of the most consistently strong copy in the industry. The body copy in this email reaches out to its audience of mamas by making it clear that Land of Nod really understands what it’s like to have a newborn. “We know it’ll be hard to put the baby to sleep”, they’re saying, “but at least you’ll have this cute bedding to look at.”
• Sephora‘s body copy in their main message and submessages often appeals to the senses, enticing subscribers with quick snippets.
Jack and Diane: Personalization
• Virgin America (whose copy always rocks!) took a fun approach to personalization in this message. Saying “Hey Darrah,” instead of “Hi,” or “Hello,” is conversational enough to immediately engage the subscriber in a dialogue. While “Hey,” doesn’t fit the voice of every brand, it’s worth considering the perfect form of personalization for your subscriber base.
Where Are You Going: CTA
• Piperlime: Piperlime shows some sweet spring sandals and then calls subscribers to “Find Yours”. The CTA make sense coming off the body copy. We feel like the perfect sandals are awaiting us if we just click.
• Anthropologie‘s “See for Yourself” CTA fits nicely into the theme of this email, which introduces some loud and unusual prints and challenges potentially-skeptical subscribers to see how good they’ll look.
• Backcountry uses the straightforward-and-proven “SHOP NOW” CTA in their primary message area, but they get creative in their secondary messages with “Get Layered”, “Skin Up” and “Little Stuff.” A nitpicky point is that the third CTA would have been stronger as a verb phrase for the sake of consistency, but we’ll let it go since all three links are so fun and inviting.
Bye, Bye Baby: Conclusion
All brand “artists” mentioned above have consistently on-brand, unique and compelling copy. If you aren’t already on their subscriber lists, you might consider signing up for some new ideas. The most important consideration, of course, is the harmony between the design and the copy, so get collaborating and see what jives.
Dance party, anyone?
Feeling the Beat,
Alex Madison and Lisa Harmon, Smith-Harmon