[Email of the Week #16]: UpCircle Beauty (the best Black Friday email I’ve ever seen)
By Chris Orzechowski
I’m at a loss for words. I think this email is the best Black Friday email I’ve ever seen.
I’ve sat here for about ten minutes, trying to figure out how to start this article. But I think I just need to get right down to it…
Last week, you and I both got bombarded with Black Friday & Cyber Monday emails. Some of ’em were good. Most of ’em were probably pretty bad.
But if you were lucky…
And IF you were paying attention…
You might have found a few hidden gems in your inbox.
Sarah Henson found one of these gems, and she forward it to me.
I can only describe this email as “the best Black Friday email I’ve ever seen.”
I know, that does sound a bit hyperbolic. And I’ve seen tens of thousands of emails. But when I think back, I don’t think I’ve found one that does a better job “pre-framing” people for their sale than UpCircle Beauty’s Black Friday ‘prelaunch’ email.
I’ve written a few articles about how to write a successful Black Friday & Cyber Monday email sequence.
One of the things I recommend is to send a ‘prelaunch’ email that gets people sold on buying during your sale, before the cart actually opens.
THIS email we’re about to take a look at is the picture-perfect example of how to do this effectively.
I don’t want to keep nattering on, this thing is too good.
So let’s just get down to it…
This is the 16th 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 to Stand Out on Black Friday
When I surveyed my list about Black Friday email sequences, the one question I kept seeing come up was: how do I stand out in the inbox?
Obviously, no one wants their emails to go unnoticed… or, more importantly, un-acted-upon.
I think I need to take a page out of Don Draper’s book, here.
“If you don’t like what people are saying, change the conversation.”
Everyone says the same thing on Black Friday:
Buy our shit! Here’s a big discount!
This DOES work.
People are in a buying mood, and they’re most likely spending Black Friday on the couch with a laptop on their lap and their credit card in their hand.
But here’s the thing…
Sometimes, you can ‘change the conversation’ in a way that not only gets someone to buy… it gets them to become a customer for life.
UpCircle Beauty did this with their prelaunch email, beautifully.
They’re cosmetics company out of the UK. And as it turns out, they actually got a really cool value proposition and story.
Not only do they give you awesome skincare products… they’re also saving the world!
Pretty cool stuff.
Now, I guess they are what you could refer to as a “mission-based” company. That means they’re not only in this game to make money, they’re also trying to use their business as a way to cause positive societal change.
I dig that shit.
I’m down with that vision.
This culture or belief system trickles down through all of their marketing.
Sometimes, companies who are ‘mission-driven’ feel that if they go whole-hog into a sale, their customers might feel like that sale is a little incongruous with the change they’re trying to achieve.
But, here’s my belief…
You CAN NOT get someone a result that will change their life in a positive way until they commit with their credit card.
Some people get a big dump in their pants whenever they see a company trying to make money, especially companies that do good in the world WHILE they’re making their owner a profit. But without that money… how are they going to keep causing change?
How can you change the world if you have no resources?
It’s pretty damn hard to change the world if you can’t keep the lights on.
Generating sales is actually the #1 thing companies should do if they want to CONTINUE to cause change.
But, alas… some people are still turned off by the ‘over-consumption’ culture we turn into for the last six weeks of each Calendar year.
UpCircle Beauty addressed this inevitable objection to their upcoming Black Friday sale.
Check out how they masterfully handled this…
Subject: The Black Friday Dilemma
This was a great subject line. And in this RARE case, title casing actually makes sense. This reads like more of a proclamation or piece of editorial, rather than an ’email from a friend.’
So, I’ll allow it AND endorse it, here.
It’s also a very intriguing subject line.
I think it was a savvy move to choose the word Dilemma. Because this sticks out like a sore thumb.
It implies that the company is wrestling with this decision. That little bit of tension gets you curious and gets you to open up.
Plus… while everyone is talking about sales, they’re talking about impact.
It’s a total high-ground maneuver.
Now, you probably already know what I’m going to say.
“Hey UpCircle… what the fuck is up with this insanely large graphic and border and text box situation?”
Listen, I think the people who run this company are awesome and super smart. And they’re probably great people, too. But man… do we really THAT MUCH space for a logo and all that other filler?
I just think that if someone sees the “from name” and they agree to open up, they already understand that they’re reading an email from your company. We don’t need a billboard inside the email.
The copy is really incredible, so I will excuse the “center-justification” as well.
(Just left justify your text. Humans learned to read with justified text. Centering it reduces readability and makes it WONKY AF.)
Anyway, let’s dive into their awesome copy…
I love how that first copy block talks all about how Black Friday has become this absurd tradition where people get trampled to death just so they can buy shit that’s on discount.
More people have actually died on Black Friday than have died in the entire history of the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona.
I also like how that first sentence addresses the elephant in the room (inbox?).
They call out that the fact they’re into sustainability and ethics and all that jazz… but at the same time, they’re going to have a sale and most likely push it pretty hard.
But watch how they masterfully shift your worldview with their next few lines of copy…
What an intriguing subhead: Is it possible to do Black Friday right?
Sometimes, turning a statement into a question makes people lower their defenses so they can consider the point they’re trying to make.
Notice how this sale they’re doing for BF is about growing their tribe and encouraging people to make better choices.
They hold the high ground here: you know you’re going to buy these products at some point in your life… but if you buy from UpCircle, you’re actually making a better decision not only for YOU, but also for the planet.
What I really love about this section is their strategic use of a picture of their team. I’m not sure if this is their entire team. But by including a picture, you feel a stronger connection to them. You make a human connection with their brand.
This picture gives you a chance to SEE with your own eyes the people who are trying to make change.
It makes this mission personal.
Such an awesome strategy.
But, here’s where the email gets really good…
Did you pick up on what they did there?
It’s my own personal belief that you really can’t change someone’s life for the better unless they actually buy their solution. People have to have skin (no pun intended) in the game.
If all they did was convince ONE PERSON to try they’re products, then they’d consider that a win. Because that means one more person have joined their mission in making the world a better place.
This is F’in brilliant.
I personally HATE when people pussyfoot around with their sales messaging.
You don’t make a lot of money in life unless you provide a lot of value.
Some people would say you income is directly proportional to the amount of value you put out into the marketplace. (I wanna say I heard that from Frank Kern, one of my personal heroes.)
UpCircle is going to have this sale. YES, they’re going to encourage you to buy. And they’re not going to hide it.
I fucking DIG IT.
Don’t ever apologize or hide the fact that what you’re selling can help people.
That’s what losers do.
And the team at UpCircle are winners in my book.
What I love about this is how they’re framing this upcoming sale.
They’re not going to have to sound the alarm after this sale and try to somehow make up their lost margin. This copy bit shows that they’ve considered pros and cons and made contingencies so that this sale does not negatively affect their brand long term.
IDK what it is about this part, but it just inspires confidence.
I am reading this and thinking to myself: “I somehow trust these people more.”
I really wish I could put my finger on what it is about this piece of copy, but I thought this was very effective persuasion.
They go on to state that they’re not going to foist any negative repercussions down their supply line. Sometimes big companies can hold smaller companies hostage and screw them over, because of their size.
That’s not going to happen here.
They’re willing to eat the cost and dip into their own margin so that they can run this sale and cause this kind of change.
I like how they call out the ridiculousness of some of these other companies.
Maybe your shit is just way overpriced int heir first place, if you’re willing to discount that heavy.
What a fucking mic drop statement that is.
Like, if you’re a competitor who engages in that kind of fuckery, how do you even respond to that comment?
Answer: you can’t.
Incredible piece of copy right there.
Let’s look at the last part…
This last ‘reason’ is a demonstration.
It demonstrates that they LISTEN and are receptive to the people in their buying tribe.
And I love how straight up they are: “Give the people what they want goddammit!!”
I love UpCircle’s approach here.
I love that they cursed!
Fuck yeah, UpCircle!
Every great Black Friday ‘prelaunch’ email should end with a small preview of the deal that’s coming later that week.
They elected to do this with a picture/graphic.
I do wish they would have explained a few of the details of the sale a bit more, with text. But overall, I think this gets the point across.
They also link to a blog post, where they expand on their thoughts in a full blog post. You can read it here.
Overall, this is a damn effective email in my book.
By the time you’re done reading it… I bet you feel completely different about their sale.
It’s not some selfish act of capitalistic greed. It’s actually an event where they’re going to expand their reach and do even MORE good in the world.
Are you really going to be against doing more good in the world?
It’s kind of hard to argue with them.
All in all, great job UpCircle Beauty.
This is one of, if not THE, best Black Friday prelaunch emails these eyes have ever seen.
Big Takeaways from UpCircle Beauty’s Black Friday Prelaunch Email
- If you don’t like what people are saying, change the conversation.
- Address the elephant in the room.
- Don’t EVER apologize for selling something, especially if it makes the world a better place.
- The word dilemma will raise some eyebrows and grab attention.
- Please, for the love of Christ… left justify your text, like a normal person.
- Use at least one prelaunch email BEFORE you begin your sale/promo.
- Title casing subject lines is OK if you’re introducing a piece of pillar content
- Don’t waste space with oversized borders of logos.
- Including pictures of you or your team builds a stronger bond, because it humanizes your brand.
- If you’re going to fire at your competitors, shoot to kill.
- LISTEN to your customers and give the people what they want, goddamit!!
- Curse… because it’s fun, and that’s how 99% of people actually talk in real life.
Special Shoutout to Sarah Henson!
Sarah and I officially met in person this past March at The Copywriter Club In Real Life event in Brooklyn, NY.
I think we originally met inside Copy Chief.
She’s also a student in my Email Copy Academy program.
Most importantly… Sarah is actually an awesome e-commerce copywriter. I’ve seen her work, and she’s got the sauce!
Here’s her ‘official’ mini-bio:
Sarah is an email copywriter for mission driven ecommerce businesses with a passion for natural living and sustainability. She fuses her past acting career with her years of copywriting experience to write copy that engages, connects and converts—producing more sales for her clients and creating more impact with the products they make. When she’s not strategising email campaigns, you’ll find her in the gym lifting weights, pole dancing for fun and messing around with Lego (her kids get annoyed that she takes over their games).
And if you’re not already on her email list, what the BLOODY HELL are you waiting for?
Here’s what she had to say about this email:
As you know I write emails for ecommerce, but I’m particularly interested in mission driven companies with a leaning towards sustainability and ethics etc. That’s why I’m on loads of email lists like this one I’m sending you…I love your emails of the week reviews and thought you might like this email to review.I like how they are positioning themselves differently with regards to Black Friday, while still sticking to their values and ethics.I love how they include a picture of their team, it makes it personable and engaging.They also rise above their competitors not by pulling them down, but by solidifying their message about what they stand for and I think this separates them from their so-called competitors.Thoughts?
Sneak Peek for Next Week
What You Should Do Next
- 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. You might give them some inspiration to write an email that brings them some new customers for life.
- Buy some stuff from UpCircle Beauty. They seem like they have great products and they’re doing a lot of good for the world. Plus, you’ll get to see more of their awesome emails.
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