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Why “silly” emails outperform promo-heavy emails

True story: 

One of my newer clients decided to run a last minute promo for the spring equinox. And this comes directly after having a longer promo, and I was planning on switching our emails up: Away from the promo-heavy and discount-based copy and more into “silly” copy. 

Here’s what I mean:

Instead of droning on and on about their problems and pain points and how my client’s products eliminate their problems and take away their pain, I wanted to take more of a human approach. I wrote about a weird sci-fi movie Peanut and I watched (called The Box, which just-so-happened to have the silliest segue into our products I’ve ever come across… in fact, I even delayed this email for a month because I wasn’t sure if it would even work). I also wrote about how my client plays in a popular polka band—which also has a natural, yet weird segue into our product line. 

And I was planning on keeping the entertainment notch turned up way past the information or promo ones. 

But then we got hit with a last-minute promo and I had to pivot. 

Yet here’s the thing… 

The “Box” email as I’ve come to call it, which I sent a few days before the promo officially began, and thus had no discount code to speak of, outperformed all of our individual promo emails! 

Yes, you read that right: 

I wrote a self-admitted silly email that gave me doubts about whether it’d even work that outperformed all the promo-heavy emails I wrote for this last minute sale we were forced into having! 

And there are a few lessons to be gleaned from this story, cully. 

First, lemme explain why the silly “Box” email crushed where the promo emails only had mediocre success. 

We had already had a sale, a better sale offering a bigger discount, the month prior. Back-to-back like this promos almost always means your best subscribers already took advantage, the analytic warm subscribers still had to think it over, and the cold subscribers were never gonna buy anyway. 

(That’s a simplified, yet more-accurate-than-not explanation.) 

Also another downside to this: 

When you have too many promos, it tires out your entire list. 

Remember, we’re in the age of entertainment. Not information. And not bargain hunting either. 

People would rather be entertained than offered another promo (of which their inbox is already flooded with). 

Second, there’s a weird “glitch” to writing more effective and profitable emails that I’ve noticed and I know other legit email pros in other industries have also discovered: 

Sometimes the best emails have nothing to do with your product, your audience’s pain points, or anything else you’d normally consider “copywriting.” 

That’s not to say that copy isn’t important. On the contraire, copy is even more important here because most brands take themselves too seriously to send “silly” emails that may not work. 

But knowing that sometimes the best performing emails lean heavy into personality and pop culture and entertainment while other copy ingredients take the back seat is what led me to writing the “Box” email. 

And would you look at that: 

My “Box” email—where you had to buy anything you want at full price—outperformed in every metric (vanity and real) compared to the few sales-based emails I wrote. 

Moral of the story? 

It’s better to put a teensy bit of thought into your emails than it is to mindlessly roll out promos. 

Such is the value of working with a professional like your Humble Narrator. 


Want to see how well a “silly” email performs? Hit reply, and we’ll set up a quick call to review your overall email marketing strategy. 


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