One of the questions I often get from business owners is some variation of:

“What the heck am I supposed to write about in my emails?”

Obviously, we all want to make sales from our lists. But after a while, ramming another 20% sale down your subscriber’s throats for the 437th day in a row DOES get a little old.

Part of the reason why I started my Email of the Week series was to showcase companies who do an excellent job of using email to drive profits in their business. The one thing I’ve found in common between most of these companies is… they don’t NEED constant discounts and sales to sell.

Instead, they begin a dialogue with their customers and take them behind the scenes of what’s happening in their business.

People tend to develop an affinity with your brand and become routine customers when they feel like they have a connection.

That connection comes from stories.

It could be stories from the founder. It could be stories from the employees. It could be from stories from customers.

At the end of the day, the stories are what make that connection and turn people into customers for life.

The email I’m going to break down today was sent in by my good friend and business partner in the Get More Clients Masterclass, Abbey Woodcock.

Abbey is a true PRO copywriter and expert at many things, like voice.

So it should come as no surprise that she has great taste in email.

(If you’re not on her list, you should correct this issue by clicking here to sign up and get her What They Hear When You Write book.)

The email Abbey sent me was from the company Burlap & Barrel.

Apparently, they are a spice company.

I think when most people think about “exciting” or “sexy” products… cooking spices probably aren’t near the top of that list.

Or so I thought.

Watch how Burlap & Barrel take you on an adventure with this email.

They whisk you away from your boring, shitty life and sell you a little piece of excitement…

So without further ado, let’s dive right in!

This is the 19th installment of my Email of the Week series. (Catch up on previous episodes here.)

And in case you’re new around here, here’s how this all 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!

The Shopkeeper Model for Ecommerce Email

Writing emails for your ecommerce store can be a bit tricky.

After all… don’t people just care about sales and discounts and free stuff?

In my experience, saving money is not usually at the top of most people’s minds. Sure, it’s important.

But, let’s do a little thought exercise for a second…

Imagine you had a brick and mortar store instead of an online store.

Imagine if a potential customer walked into your store.

What would you say to that person?

Would you walk up to them, inhale deeply and then scream at the top of your lungs: “20% OFF TODAY, ACT NOW!”

People would be sprint out of your store as fast as humanly possible.

First of all… why the hell are you yelling?

Second of all… why not try having a conversation, you know… like a normal person?

If someone walked into your “physical” store, they’d probably have questions. You’d probably answer them.

And you’d probably answer them in the form of a story.

Burlap & Barrel GET this.

Or at least they’ve demonstrated that might be the case.

They’ve taken an approach to e-commerce email I like to call The Shopkeeper approach. They treat the dialogue that happens in email as if you’re theoretically standing there in the store, right in front of them.

Let me show you what I mean…

We’ll start with the subject line:

Introducing Fermented White Pepper + A Secret New Collection

So, I don’t love the title casing.

But they ARE doing some good things here.

First… they’re Introducing a new product.

As Dean Jackson would say, if you’re trying to sell a horse, sometimes the best sales message is: Horse for Sale!

I think that technique applies here… or anytime you’re introducing a new product. It’s a sound, straightforward strategy that’ll work.

Here’s the thing tho…

Look at the second half of that subject line:

+ A Secret New Collection

That is GREAT curiosity.

You gotta open up just to see what they’ve been hiding.

Let’s dive into the body…

So at the beginning of this email, you’ll notice they have a CTA.

They start off letting you know that they just got (what I assume to be) a popular product back in stock. That’ll get some hyper responsives clicking and buying… it’s low hanging fruit to grab the people who need those Cinnamon Leaves right tf now.

After that, they have four pictures of their new product.

What’s kind of cool about this collage is the way they laid out the pictures.

It’s almost like Step 1… Step 2… Step 3… Step 4.

From the jungle to the shaker, you get to sell the four phases of production.

There’s no words in this part, but your brain kind of interprets this visual storytelling. It seeds the upcoming story… PUN INTENDED!

They get right down to the business in the beginning of this copy.

We got this new thing… here’s two reasons why you’ll like it.

I like how reason #2 opens a loop.

Well done.

Look at that second paragraph tho. This is where things start to get interesting.

“We’ve received a lot of feedback…”

That paragraph demonstrates to you that there IS a dialogue with the consumer. And, you can imagine being in their store and talking to someone behind the counter. This reads like a conversation you’d have with a shopkeeper.

“Yeah, we had a lot of customers ask us about this… so we made some improvements and now we have this cool new feature.”

It’s just so natural.

It looks, feels and smells like a real conversation.

Love it.

Now, this next part is where you really see this whole “Shopkeeper Model” on display.

That first line is SO conversational.

“Back to the peppercorns.”

They begin to explain the ‘origin story’ of this new product.

Any time you share an origin story, you’re doing email right. We all LOVE origin stories. Especially if it pertains to a cool new product that came from a faraway place we’ve never been.

What’s really cool about this paragraph is how they laced benefits into this story.

You learn that these peppercorns are savory, cheesy, and different than anything you’ve ever tried.

On top of that, they actually take you by the hand and bring you on this “quest” to Indonesia.

This is so cool.

The coolest part is that it’s not some BS story they made up. This stuff actually happened. And If you don’t believe them, they actually share the email they got from the farmer himself…

You can tell this email is real.


PROOF always builds trust with your audience.

I bet a LOT of Burlap & Barrel’s competitors just white label cheap ingredients from a distributor. What’s so unique about Burlap & Barrel is you can see with your own eyes the journey they went on to get this awesome, new product.


People are BORED.

Most of us live boring lives.

We aren’t going to drop everything and get on a plane to Indonesia to taste a rare breed of exotic peppercorn.

We just aren’t.

So while this email is selling something, it’s also taking you on an adventure.

It’s fun!

THIS is what you want to do in your emails, as often as humanly possible.

The story continues…


The plot thickens, as you can see.

Now, we not only learn the origin story of the product itself… we learn the origin story of the distributor/farmer.

I think the coolest part.

It’s an origin story with an origin story.


Ok, that was forced.


Here’s what you need to take away from this email copy…

People want to justify to their loved ones and friends WHY they bought something. We have all bought something and then told our friends: “Oh yeah, these new boots? Well, it’s kind of a cool story. The guys who founded it actually dropped out of the NASA astronaut program to start a cattle ranch in west Texas… blah blah blah.”

The details don’t matter…

The presence of a STORY is what matters.

Those stories need to be communicated in a way so that people can easily re-tell the story to others.

This is the secret to word of mouth advertising.

You need to hand people “conversational swipe copy” on a silver platter… so they can spread your Ideavirus with others.

This part of the copy kind of functions as an advertorial. It pre-sells you on wanting the product. So when you click through, there’s a much higher chance you’ll buy.

Pretty awesome stuff.

This body copy was my favorite part of the email.

But this email was actually VERY long. I don’t know anything about Burlap & Barrel’s email strategy… so I’m not sure if this like a weekly newsletter kind of email or what.

But it certain has that “round up” aspect to it.

I’ll show you what I mean.

After the main idea of the email, they transition into the next “section” of this newsletter…



This is the “value” section of the email. Normally, I wouldn’t put this in a regular email. But like I said, it seems like this is a “weekly round-up” style newsletter… rather than an ordinary, daily broadcast.


Peep that play on the Lizzo lyric at the top of this section.

That was kind of, um… hip!

Image result for how do you do fellow kids

Couldn’t help myself.

Let’s keep going…



This part of the email closes that loop from the subject line. The “secret spices” they alluded to.

I love the way they calculated every single possible spice combination. That’s interesting. I like that.

In this last section of the email, they go plug all of their upcoming events.

It seems like they don’t have a “physical storefront” location – although I could be wrong about this. I literally have no idea.

It seems like these events are split between NY and CA.

Again, this section leads me to believe this is a weekly newsletter… as they’re using this space in the email to update you about other cool stuff they have going on.


I love this email from Burlap & Barrel.

This is the only email I’ve ever seen from them… but whoever is writing their email is doing a DAMN GOOD JOB in my book.

Kudos to you Burlap & Barrel.

Well done.

Special Shout Out to Abbey Woodcock

Abbey is a good friend of mind, business partner, and we’re in Kevin Roger’s RFL Supergroup Mastermind together.

She’s also the copy world’s foremost expert on voice. Her clients include Mastin Kipp, Jeff Walker, Ryan Levesque, Ramit Sethi… and a whole lot of other awesome companies.

In other words: she knows her shit.

I’ll say this again… YOU SHOULD BE ON HER EMAIL LIST!

Here’s how to make that happen:

CLICK HERE to get her free book What They Hear When You Write

Also, if you’re a freelancer who wants to close more deals, you should click here to get Abbey’s Socratic Close guide. It gives you 50 questions to ask on a prospect call to close more sales.

Also also… if you want a client acquisition system that’ll help you start getting more leads and clients in the next 90 days, you should pick up our Get More Clients Masterclass.

Abbey didn’t have much to add in analysis other than this…


That’s good enough for me!

Thanks so much for submitting this email, Abbey.

And if YOU would like a special shout out in a future episode of Email of the Week, then make sure you forward me a truly awesome ecommerce email. If I like it, I’ll break it down and link to your site.

Big Takeaways from Burlap & Barrel

  1. Imagine someone is in your store. What’s the conversation you would have about your products?
  2. Stories sell.
  3. Origin stories are always interesting.
  4. Write to ONE person, always.
  5. Proof elements build trust.
  6. Take people on an adventure, away from their uneventful lives.
  7. There are no boring products, only boring marketers.
  8. Curiosity in your subject lines will increase open rates.
  9. Speak like a normal person, NOT like a big corporate entity.
  10. Give people the “conversational swipe copy” they need to spread the word about your products.

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 help them tell better stories and make more sales.
  4. Buy some spice from Burlap & Barrel. It seems like they have awesome products.

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