Alright, it’s that magical time of the week again…

So grab a coffee, make yourself comfortable and get ready to enjoy the newest edition of Email of the Week!

This is the sixth installment of this series. Make sure you click here to check the archives of past episodes.

In case you’re new around here, here’s how it works…

The Rules for Email of The Week

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.

The only rule is… you can’t pick yourself.

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

A New Take On An Old Classic

A few weeks ago, I broke down Derek Siver’s uber-famous shipping notification email from his former company CD Baby.

Ever since Derek wrote that email and it went viral, a LOT of companies have modeled it for their own business.

I can’t speak for Derek… but I think that’s pretty cool.

Today we’re going to look at an email that was most definitely inspired by that famous CD Baby email.

It’s from Anson Belt & Buckle.

Now, I’ll admit… I didn’t know much about Anson Belt & Buckle when Mark Onusko (one of my OG Email Copy Academy students) submitted this email to me.

But I checked out their site and they actually have a pretty cool back story.

Before we dive into the email, I think it’s worth it to take a look at their origin story. It’ll really help set some context about their brand, voice and style.

Here’s a link to their “Our Story” page (it’s really well done).

You know… I’m starting to notice a common theme with super-successful e-Commerce companies like Anson and CD Baby.

They usually start as something the founder needs for themselves. The strength of their marketing begins with the strength of their product.

I read Derek Siver’s book Anything You Want – which was phenomenal by the way – and he talked about his growth strategy. Or, lack thereof.

When people asked him about how he was growing it, he said he wasn’t.

He created his service to sell his own stuff. Then one friend asked if he could do the same thing for him. And then word started spreading and he was getting tons of requests.

That’s how you know you’re onto a good product… when it’s so needed that it markets itself.

Anson Belt & Buckle seems to have been started with a similar motivation.

The founder needed something… couldn’t find it… so he made it himself!

You don’t really have to PUSH your marketing message on people when you can organically identify a need and solve that problem with an elegant solution.

Something to keep in mind.

Anson Belt & Buckle’s products seem to be cut from the same cloth. So it’s pretty cool that they put a new spin on an old classic with their shipping notification email.

Let’s take a look…

Anson Belt & Buckle’s First-Time Buyer Email

The subject line reads:

You are what makes us great…

This is a great example of making your customer the hero of their own story.

Notice how it shows NO indication that this email is a “transactional” email. It’s a totally blind subject line that draws you in with curiosity.

As soon as you see it, it gives you a little dopamine hit to the brain. It begins the process of linking buying from Anson with feeling good about yourself.

I like it.

After that, the copy begins…


What I love about this first sentence is it introduces a tiny bit of suspense. It starts to set the scene… like in a movie.

You can imagine all the workers in the factory sitting mulling about. Quietly going about their work. Another hum-drum day…

When all of a sudden…

The intercom crackles with a VERY important announcement!

After the dialogue, you see that YOU are the reason for the ensuing pandemonium on the factory floor.


Just like with the CD Baby email, you know this scene isn’t really happening.

But it’s fun to play along and imagine.

It’s fun to think that your order made these people jump for joy. You can’t help but feel important, you feel like a hero.

Most importantly, you feel appreciated.

And when we feel appreciated by a business, we tend to buy from them more often.

^^Might wanna scribble that one down on a post-it and throw it up on the office wall.^^

The email continues…



I want you to pay attention to the level of detail in this paragraph.

When most people tell stories, they leave out key details. But that’s what helps you visualize the story in your mind. We all try and “see” stories as we read them.

If your stories are too heavy on action and neglect detail… it’s very hard for your reader to visualize. You need to use your words to paint a picture.

You can see them popping bottles of sparkling water.

You remember what someone looks like as they’re crying tears of joy and that image pops into your mind too.

You might even faintly hear the song Don’t Stop Believing in your head as you’re reading this email.

It’s kind of like that old psychological trick: when someone tells you NOT to think of a pink elephant… you can’t get the image out of your mind. Your brain can’t help but “see” what the words on the page are commanding it to see.

This email even talks about Alan…

We all know a guy like Alan.

He’s probably an older gentleman. Maybe a bit rugged looking. Real lunch pail and hard hat kind of guy. Comes in, does an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. Goes home, drops his keys and cracks open a Miller Lite.

Simple man, with simple pleasures.

We’ve all met a character like him in our lives.

Well… when you placed your order, even HE smiled.

Again… kind of funny. Kind of silly. Completely made up.

But it makes you feel good about the purchasing decision you just made.

You have never met the people who work at Anson… but you start to feel like you know them. And that familiarity can lead to loyalty.

One important note: this email does a great job of imprinting the idea the Anson is a family company. They are REAL people. The email starts off with a giant picture of the father and son team who founded the company. You have three generations represented in one picture.

Will this brand appeal to a 19-year-old, Tide Pod eating, Gen-Z fidget spinner fuccboi?

Probably not.

But it WILL build a strong bond with a family man. Take a look back at that origin story again if you don’t believe me. It’s 100% congruent with the struggles of a dude in his 30s… 40s… even 50s and beyond.

That picture goes a long way with SHOWING you – not just telling you – that they are a family company. They are people just like you.

Let’s continue…



In this next part, they kind of fast forward through the chaos that erupted after you placed your order. This is a fun storytelling technique: skip the middle and let your reader use their imagination to fill in the blanks.

They then let you know they’re going to get it out to you ASAP.



What I really LOVE about the way they ended this email is they encouraged people to reply back.

This is a good idea for many reasons.

First of all, it will help with deliverability over time.

Second… how fucking annoying is it to see a DONOTREPLY@companyname email address? This is the digital equivalent of calling up support and getting a robot menu.

Sometimes… you just wanna talk to a human to solve your problem.

They are demonstrating here that a human actually reads your emails and will answer your reply. It shows an incredible commitment to customer service. And it helps build a strong bond with that customer from their very first purchase.

They then wrap it up by letting people know they should keep an eye out for an email from them, letting them know their order was shipped.

Here’s one last cool thing…



Since this is a first-purchase email that is designed to welcome people into the Anson family… they want to make sure you actually use the product you just bought to it’s greatest functionality.

That’s why they actually begin the onboarding process within this first-time purchase email.

They show you exactly how to use the product from the get go… just so there’s no confusion.

I’d bet that this goes a long way toward increasing customer satisfaction and decreasing refund rates. After all… if people don’t know how to use your product, they’re probably not going to keep it OR buy from you again.

This little piece of education is KEY for customer retention.

Two Takes On The Same Idea

It’s obvious that this email is a riff off the CD Baby shipping notification email. But it was applied in a different context… and I want to point that out.

The Anson email was sent out 10-minutes after someone buys.

The CD Baby email was designed to notify someone that their order was shipped… and when they can expect it.

The Anson email was designed to get someone to feel good about crossing the chasm and going from prospect to customer.

This type of email is versatile… and can be applied it many different contexts. I even saw one that was a welcome email… done in this same storytelling style. (I’ll break that one down soon.)

If you’re going to borrow an idea, do it like Anson did. They adapted the principles that made it work… and made it fit their own brand.

Really well done Anson.

Special Shoutout To Mark Onusko!

Mark is one of my original Email Copy Academy students who’s been in the program since the beginning. He actually is NOT a copywriter… he’s an e-Commerce business owner.

When I asked for his mini-bio, here’s what he gave me: “marketing nerd.”

So… that’s all folks! lol


Thanks a lot Mark. You are awesome and you’re a smart dude.

Big Takeaways From Anson Belt & Buckle’s First-Time Buyer Email

  1. Make your customer the hero of their own story.
  2. Use specific details in your stories.
  3. Build a bond with your customers from the very first purchase.
  4. Use pictures to show customers you’re a real person too.
  5. Dialogue draws people into the moment.
  6. Encourage replies… and answer them! They’re some of the best customer research you can get.
  7. Begin the onboarding process right from the first purchase to reduce refunds and buyers remorse.
  8. Include an employees name to build a familiarity bridge.
  9. Always let people know what to expect next.
  10. Thank your customers and let them know they’re not just some number on a spreadsheet.

Sneek Peak for Next Week

Next week, we’re going to be looking at an AWESOME automated email from a welcome series for a… wait for it… wine company!

Wine is my hobby. I consider myself an aspiring wine snob.

So I am really excited to dive in and show you this next breakdown. It’s a great story… one that you can easily adapt for your own business no matter what you’re selling.

Get excited.

And remember…

This email was ALSO submitted by a reader. So that person got a special shoutout. (If YOU would like a shoutout and link to your site… send me a really awesome copy-heavy eCommerce email. If I use it, I’ll be sure to link to your stuff.)

Stay tuned for next week’s episode…

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 to write an email that strengthens the bond they have with their customers.
  4. Buy a belt from Anson… they actually look really cool and solve a problem every guy has with their belts.

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