This is the second installment in a new series I’ll be doing each week on my blog.

I’m calling it:

Email Of The Week

(Click here for past episodes of Email of the Week)

Here’s how it works:

Each week, I go out into the wild to find a super-effective e-commerce marketing email… and I break down what made it work. My goal is for you to tune in each week, so I can teach you strategies and best practices YOU can use to make your own emails better.

I find these emails in my inbox, but I also accept suggestions from readers who have a remarkable email they’d like to share.

If you recently received an email that was so awesome it made your jaw drop, I wanna see it. Forward it to me (chris at theemailcopywriter dot com) with a brief message about what you liked about it. If I choose to do a breakdown of the email you sent, I’ll give you a shout out and link to your site.

Now, then… without further ado, let’s check out the Email of the week!

A Note About Boring Emails & Wasted Space

Whenever we talk about email marketing, we usually love to discuss all of the awesome ‘sales’ emails we’ve seen.

The ones that made us pull out or credit cards and buy.

The ones that “finally got us”… and caused us to invest in a product or service.

Those are the ‘sexy’ emails that we all love writing.

But what about the unsexy emails? What about those boring little automated emails that HAVE to go out, through the course of your business.


Every single email you EVER send to a customer can change their life. And you’d be amazed at how just improving one of these “boring” emails can transform your business almost overnight.

Smart email marketers understand that there is no such thing as an ‘unimportant’ email.

And to waste valuable real estate inside a touch-point is a sin.

That’s what I love so much about this week’s Email of the Week.

An Email That SHOULD Have Been Boring… That Actually Was Remarkable

You’ve probably heard of Derek Sivers.

Now, I don’t know Derek. But from the stories I’ve heard about him, he’s a super smart dude and a really savvy entrepreneur.

Case in point:

He started a company over a decade ago that was called CD Baby.

Now, just like every other e-commerce business, CD Baby had an email automation set up so that whenever someone’s order was shipped… that person would get a notification about it.

Pretty standard stuff.

I’m not going to go into the whole background of the WHY Derek decided to re-write this email. He does an incredible job of explaining his thoughts on his blog (and I highly suggest you read his short blog post on his thought process behind this, it’s a really good read.)

Basically, Derek saw this is valuable real estate.

And he was smart enough to know that every single touchpoint he had with his customers was an opportunity to brighten someone’s day… and make that person fall in love with his brand.

The email automation he created did that in spades.

In fact, it was so successful it actually went VIRAL.

And his company blew up real fast in the process.

Let’s take a look at this email that changed the game for CD Baby.

The Shipping Notification Email Heard ‘Round The World

I never received this email from Derek.

So I took a screenshot from his blog post about it on his site (click here to read Derek’s full post about it).

I do not know what the subject line was, so we’ll dive right into the body copy.

One of the big fears people have about buying products online is that the item they ordered will somehow be damaged during shipment before it reaches their home.

I think Derek understood this concern, so the whole tone of the email does a great job of alleviating this fear.

He starts off explaining how their CD was “taken carefully off the shelf with sterilized contamination-free gloves and was placed onto a satin pillow.”

What I love about this line so much is Derek’s use of visual persuasion.

You can see, in your mind’s eye, someone putting on a pair of sterilized gloves, walking over to the shelf, and delicately placing your CD on a pillow.

(Quick caveat – obviously this entire email is a bit of an exaggeration. I am pretty sure this entire scene did NOT actually play out as it was written. What’s important to know about this email is that it painted a picture in the customer’s mind… whether the events described actually happened or not.)

Derek cheekily overcomes another objection, explaining how the CD was inspected and polished by 50 employees before being packed up.

He then continues on through the story, again using even MORE visual persuasion… so that you can visualize this absurdly awesome packing ritual taking place.

Derek then wraps up the story, and lets the reader know when they can expect their CD to arrive.

The final part of the email basically thanks the customer for buying from them. And it does so in a way that the customer will remember this experience.

Show, Don’t Tell.

One of the most important parts of being a good email marketer is learning how to use your words to SHOW, not TELL in your copy.

Most people will send generic emails that say “Hey, we shipped your thing, here’s the tracking link, here’s when you should get it. Let us know if you don’t.”

The bar is set very low, for these kinds of emails.

But Derek wasn’t satisfied with just ‘telling’ people.

He used his copy to paint a picture for you. He transported you out of your boring job and boring life into a magical fantasy land… into a story where YOU are the hero for buying.

At the end of the email, even states that they have put your picture on their wall as “Customer of the Year.”

You know this stuff isn’t true… but we live in a world where facts don’t matter.

Emotions matter.

Feelings matter.

We know this stuff didn’t really happen… but we walk away awed by the experience… because someone consciously took time out of their day to make you feel special.

People remember that.

And they treasure the experience.

CD Baby might have been the first company who EVER put this much thought into how their customer feels at every point in the buying process.

Anytime you can build that emotional bond with people, even if it’s through short, simple mandatory email automations… people learn to like the experience of buying from you.

Their brain gets a dopamine hit.

They link that dopamine hit with YOU and your company.

It was a pleasurable experience, one that made them smile.

They feel good about themselves.

Not only do they wanna buy from you again… but they want to SHARE it with other people.

Why This Email Went Viral

People like sharing cool shit.

This email was awesome.

It made people happy.

And by sending this email to their friends (or at least talking about it), the sharer became cool, by association.

You have to remember: people are bored.

Peoples; antennae are always up, searching for remarkable customer experiences.

If you can deliver a memorable experience, people will remember you and want to buy from you over and over again because you made them feel like they matter.

That’s how I buy.

That’s how you buy.

That’s how we all buy.

Big Takeaways From Derek Siver’s CD Baby Shipping Notification Email

  1. Use visual persuasion so people can SEE something happening in their mind
  2. SHOW, don’t tell
  3. Make your customers feel special
  4. Make something that should be boring truly remarkable
  5. Never waste real estate, every touchpoint with a customer provides an opportunity for your brand to stand out
  6. Let your customers know that you really care, don’t just gloss over this fact.

Sneak Peek For Next Week

You know what’s hard?

Launching a new product for the first time.

You know what’s even harder?

Making people laugh… and convincing them to buy… while they’re taking a chance on something they’ve probably never tried before, something that might be a little foreign to them.

A few weeks ago, I got an email in my inbox with a subject line that was so subtle, yet so effective… I had to open it. And what I saw in this email from this BILLION dollar company really surprised me, with how simple yet powerful their approach was.

This email was only 12 sentences long.

But I bet it’ll make you want to buy.

To make sure you get next week’s installment of Email of the Week, make sure you sign up for my email list at the link below!

What You Should Do Next

  1. Subscribe to my email list so you can get ALL of the Emails of the Week delivered straight to your inbox, automatically.
  2. Leave a comment for me below and let me know what you liked about this email.
  3. Send this breakdown to someone you know who has a physical product business. You might give them some inspiration that helps their business go viral!

1 thought on “[Email of the Week #2]: Derek Siver”

  1. Shin Marcelino

    I love how you explain this email, Chris! As a fresh copywriter for ecommerce… this is so helpful!

    One thing that stood out to me the most is the “Show, Don’t Tell” lesson. I haven’t understand it for month until now. This subtle technique made me paint a picture in my mind and proved that it’s not B.S.

    again this is so valuable Chris. thanks you much!

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