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Nov 27, 2017 | Email Writing |

If you are a marketer or working on marketing your business, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a veritable case study in what to do … wrong.

When you’re growing a business, it can seem really tempting to copy what your largest competitors are doing, right?  I mean, they are the ones who are super big and successful.  BUT, that would be the wrong approach.

Here are some things which you have probably done when writing emails to your customers:

Subject Line – “MY BRAND” “Some percentage discount” “Only until this date”

or Subject Line – “Last Chance – Cyber Monday Deal”

or Subject Line – “The ULTIMATE Gift: Peppermint Bark + More Black Friday Deals”

These are actual headlines from my inbox from the last few days, but more importantly, they represent the emails that I deleted without reading.

However, when faced with a crowded inbox, the first emails I will delete will be the ones that tell me who they are from and what they are offering.
This is ok for big brands.  They have a marketing team and will send you 30 – 40 emails during their biggest campaigns.  If you delete eight emails from them, they’re still going to send you more, so you’ll still see their message.
This does not work for smaller brands.  IF you’re on your game during your campaign, you might send ten emails total.  Which is good – your customer doesn’t know and love you yet, so over-emailing is a surefire way to get an unsubscribe.
The challenge is making your emails stand out in a sea of emails coming from gigantic companies with full marketing teams.  Those big brands have years of association with their customers, including memories and perhaps even, nostalgia.  Even if you sent 30 emails over the course of a few days, your customer, who hasn’t really met you yet is unlikely to  have a good reason to stay on your email list.

So, how do you write that email headline, then?

Step 1

The first step is to determine who your customer is.  You can’t say “everyone”, even if you eventually want to be  Right now, you have to be picky. Who is likely to spend money with you?  Who is likely to spend the most money with you?  Write to them.  Think about the movies they watch, the music they listen to, the way they like to eat, if they have families, you get the idea.  If you’re stuck, think about your ideal customer and then head over to Pinterest to see what they have pinned.
Then, head over to and type in a few marketing phrases you think will appeal to your customer.  If the images that come back are from movies or TV shows or memes that you think your customer would like, then you’re on the right track.

Step 2

Now, comes the fun part.  The best emails I saw from smaller brands included titles like “That Brand Your Daughter Just Loves” and “Photographing Yosemite National Park” and “Just Don’t Even Open This Email Today”.  All of these titles were very targeted to me, my sense of humor,  and my lifestyle.

I would not have opened an email that said, “Today Only – Pajamas 20% Off” or “Save 15% on Outdoor Gear and Swag – Today Only”, or “Learn How to Improve XYZ with Us, Brand Name Here”, but those headings would have been reasonable choices for a large brand.  Instead, I asked myself, “What is the brand my daughter just loves, or do they mean me? I’m a daughter” and opened the email.  I hadn’t been thinking about spending money on outdoor gear, although I have an REI wishlist, so I wouldn’t have opened the email, except that to me, photographing Yosemite sounds fun.   Lastly, I appreciated the last email, as it was late in the day(Studies show that during Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday most emails are opened by 10 am and not after.) except that the email was funny.

In conclusion, look up to your competitors, but don’t copy them.  Use your size to your advantage to be witty and put out good content, even in marketing emails.  Then, you can send your delighted clients a bunch of emails and they will love you for it.


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