[Email of the Week #15]: William Painter (special Black Friday edition)
By Chris Orzechowski
One of the big decisions you have to make as an email marketer is deciding WHO your email will come from.
You have a few choices.
You can choose to send it from “your company.”
You can choose to send it from “The _____ Team.”
You can send it from a real, living and breathing person.
Can you guess what tends to work best?
There’s this really awesome saying that pertains to the marketing world – sadly, not enough people understand this yet.
The saying is:
“People buy from people, not from corporations.”
Uber doesn’t pick you up and take you to Hoboken for a raucous night of drinking. Prasanna, who drives for Uber, will tho.
(Prasanna is a real person, and yes… I gave him 5 stars.)
All this is to make the big point of: in email… if you write to one person FROM one person, you’ll begin to form a bond with your customers.
People don’t form bonds with companies. They form bonds with the people they’ve interacted with at those companies.
It’s absolutely imperative you do this in your emails.
And one company who does this well is William Painter.
I didn’t know much about William Painter. They sell eyewear. And they have a pretty fun brand.
They do some really awesome things in their emails.
Admittedly, I don’t absolutely LOVE their email layout and design… but I think they have super-strong copy and email hooks that are worth mentioning here.
If you’ve been struggling to find your voice and to make a connection with your customers, you’re going to love this week’s edition of Email of the Week.
This is the 15th 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!
How do you stand out on Black Friday?
This week’s Email of the Week episode is a special edition.
That’s because we’re going to be looking at a Black Friday promotion email from William Painter.
Black Friday is kind of tricky. Because everyone and their mother is having a sale. How do you stand out?
There’s a lot of ways to stand out. One of the easiest ways tho is to build a brand that people LOVE. Build a relationship with your subscribers. Talk to them like they’re real people… and don’t write bland, boring sales emails.
When you take this approach of injecting personality and stories into your emails, you end up with a really special dynamic:
People actually WANT to read your emails… even if they know you’re going to sell them something.
So, how do you actually do this?
Let’s take a look at an email I got from William Painter yesterday…
Let’s start with that subject line.
“I still can’t believe James did this…”
That is a GREAT subject line.
Why is it so awesome?
Well… when everyone is screaming OMFG A MILLION PERCENT OFF BUY BUY BUY… William Painter takes a much more subtle approach.
This approach stands out.
It doesn’t look or feel like a sales email.
It feels like an email from a friend.
And there’s TONS of curiosity.
What did James do? Was it some crazy shit?
We have to open to find out…
Now, let’s look at the “from name.”
William Painter does like to switch it up in their emails. Usually, their emails come from “patrick” in all lower case.
I don’t love this.
First, there’s no last name or company name.
I think if you’re a personal brand, like Chris Orzechowski or Seth Godin, you can get away with just using your full name.
If you just have your first name, we probably don’t know who TF you are. That applies whether you’re a personal brand or a bigger company.
The format I like for most ecom companies is: “First name @ Company name.”
Kajabi does a great job of this. You’ll get emails from multiple people at their company, but they usually say ____ at Kajabi… which provides great context while also allowing for a personal relationship to be built with the sender.
So that’s my feeling on from names.
Obviously I have no idea how well this is working for William Painter, or if they’ve even tested different approaches. So I always like to remind you to take my analysis with a tiny little grain of salt.
But if it were my company, those are the changes I’d make.
So being that this email is a Black Friday email, there’s obviously going to be a lot of urgency around the deadline of the sale.
That’s pretty standard.
They began their email with a giant countdown timer.
One of my rules is to “write to achieve your objective.”
The objective is to get people to the store so they can by. So it’s reasonable to expect the countdown timer to grab that prime real estate at the top of the email.
I still think they’d find success if they went with a text-first approach. Or at least condensed the size of that banner.
That’s just muh opinion.
Let’s keep going so we can get to the good part…
Again, what were seeing here is more “going for the jugular.”
They want the sale, so they’re presenting their offer right up front.
Free bonus with a purchase and a discount.
It’s a solid, proven offer framework.
I’m ok with it.
Let’s keep going, the best part of this email is coming…
Ok so you got some copy to go with that offer. Good, standard stuff.
I’d love if they left-justified
their text. Again, I’m just being nitpicky.
But ok, here is the REALLY good part…
THIS is the absolute best part of their email. But given the design and layout, they buried this more than halfway down.
And by contrast, this text is so small that your eyes almost miss it.
These guys made a video that explains their sale. It’s on Youtube (watch it here).
It’s actually funny as shit, because of what happens the end.
But MAN… I felt like this was a missed opportunity.
The whole hook of the email was around the last 15 seconds of this video. But you really have to wade through a wall of images and graphics to get to it.
William Painter’s team does a great job of making emails come from one person. And they always inject a lot of humor and personality.
You start to feel like you “know” Patrick after a while.
And watching his partner almost vomit on camera… it’s funny!
It makes you like these guys and there brand so much more.
This kind of thing is what gets you noticed in the inbox.
If I were to rewrite this, I’d make this an all-text email with one link to the video and one link to the sale. I’d make it look like Patrick dashed this off personally… not like he had an entire team of designers working on it.
The copy is great: here’s a video of James spitting out an entire shot of scotch.
They really inject so much personality.
Here’s another example as you continue to scroll through this email…
You can’t help but laugh as you read through this copy.
“We made friends with some beautiful deer. Wish we could have stayed longer!”
Also… not sure why they’re linking to this, unless it’s an affiliate relationship/sponsorship.
Again, there’s just some things we can’t be sure of as we take a look at it. I prefer to keep the attention of the reader focused on one main objective.
But do you see this element of storytelling?
This would be awesome in a plain text email, as one of those “kind of related, but kind of unrelated PS’s.”
Let’s continue through…
It seems like this might be another affiliate/sponsored link. I’m not totally sure.
It seems like they’re employing a strategy of adding content to “add value.”
I’d probably utilize this outside of the BF/CM week strategy. I like that they’re sharing other cool stuff their readers might like… this itself could make a great hook for a standalone email. But I feel like it’s a lot for a Black Friday promo email.
One great thing about this copy block tho: check out how the copy is written in the first person. Again… it’s coming from SOMEONE, not just from a faceless corporation.
As you scroll through this email and read these blocks of copy, Patrick is sharing a little bit about himself, so you feel more comfortable buying from him.
This is awesome email copy technique, even if the overall email strategy seems a bit wonky.
Ok, one last thing to look at…
I absolutely LOVE this part of their emails.
They’re having some fun here in the email. When you read this, even if you were thinking about unsubscribing, this copy is a bit disarming.
You kind of think: “Eh… these guys are actually pretty funny. I’ll stick around.”
I bet this saves them a ton of unsubs.
Now, if they could only clean up their formatting and design I bet they’d be a top tier email marketing company like Truvani.
Overall… I think they do a ton of things right.
And they write very enjoyable and effective emails.
Awesome job William Painter… can’t wait to see what else you have in store in the future.
Big Takeaways from William Painter’s Black Friday Email
- Write to ONE person.
- Make your emails come from ONE person.
- Keep your copy casual and fun.
- If you’re funny, make jokes.
- Keep the main thing, the main thing.
- There’s a time for content… and that times is not always when you’re doing a huge sale.
- Infuse your copy with stories.
- You don’t have to be the next Hemingway to share an intriguing story.
- Intrigue people with open loops and cliffhangers.
- Make jokes, if you’re funny.
- Make people laugh before they unsubscribe, it might cause them to stick around.
- When you’re selling, sell with strength and conviction. Don’t pussyfoot around about it.
- Countdown timers get people to move.
- Discounts + bonuses + deadlines = lots of money and sales
- If everyone’s yelling the same things, change the conversation.
- Don’t design dictate your copy. The relationship is built with WORDS, not HTML.
What To Do Now
- Subscribe to my email list so you can get ALL of the Emails of the Week delivered straight to your inbox, automatically.
- Leave a comment for me below and let me know what you liked about this email.
- Send this breakdown to someone you know who has a physical product business. This might help them make more sales this Holiday Season.
- Buy something from William Painter. Or at least get on their list. It looks like they have some awesome products… and they are really fun marketers to follow.
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