[Email of the Week #22]: Underground Cellar

By Chris Orzechowski

Screen Shot 2020-01-14 at 10.22.11 AM

The other day I took a look at my email inbox and I was horrified with what I saw.

Now, I might just be on a lot of email lists because of my profession. As an email marketer, I gotta see what everyone’s doing… so I can stay on the cutting edge… and so I can curate the best strategies so YOU don’t have to do all that hard work yourself.

But when I was looking in my inbox the other day, I noticed that less than 5 out of 50 emails in my “first tab” of gmail were ‘personal’ emails.

Meaning: emails from colleagues, friends, or team.

Everything else was either a Stripe notification (which, I’m OK with!), an autoresponder email for somethnig like a calendar appointment, or… an ad.

Actually, about 90% of the emails on that front page of my inbox were ads.

Funny thing is, MOST of them were blatant ads.

Meaning, they didn’t even try to hide it.

You’d open the email and WHAM!!!!

BIG PICTURE

FLASHING GIF

SOMETHING ABOUT A DISCOUNT

BUTTON

“Buy now… ya prick!”

Ya know what most people do with those emails?

They delete em.

Or… they ignore them.

Or they unsubscribe.

What’s going on here?

Well…

A long, long time ago in a distant version of reality, email was a place where people sent personal messages to other people.

Ya know what whole “first impressions last a lifetime” saying?

Our first impression of email was that it was a medium for personal communication.

Then, marketers came in and fucked the whole thing up… as they do with most things.

And nowadays, about 95% of the emails you get are actually just ads.

Here’s the thing tho…

This is actually good news.

Because if YOU have an e-commerce business, that means you have an opportunity to be a little different. You have an opportunity to stand out. You have a chance to make your emails as personal as possible, and build a relationship with your audience… and enjoy a lifetime of higher opens, clicks, engagement and sales.

Yes… glorious sales.

And you won’t need a designer, or a coder or a degree in computer engineering just to figure out how to create some pretty looking, bullshit email advertisement that most people are going to delete in about half a second anyway.

*Breathe, champ. Breathe.*

The best emails are emails that actually look like emails.

You might need to re-read that last sentence.

The best emails are emails that actually look like emails.

So, yeah… they might have pictures every now and again.

But most of the time, they’re going to use copy.

GOOD copy.

Copy that feels like it was written just to you.

Copy that moves you emotionally.

Copy that makes you stop what you’re doing, so you can read that email… because you know you’re going to enjoy the experience.

And when you do this… when you write good email copy… people actually look forward to your emails. And they actually spend MORE money with you. Because you’re not just clusterfucking their inbox into bolivion.

TODAY… we are going to look at a company that seems to get this.

We’re going to look at an email from Underground Cellar, which is a really cool wine company.

Veronika Kabarguina (who is not only a really awesome copywriter in her own right… she’s also one of my Email Copy Academy students) sent me this email to break down.

It’s pretty well done.

And there are a LOT of important persuasion levers they hit in their copy that you could model for your own emails.

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

This is the 22nd 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!

It’s Wine Time

When Veronika sent me this welcome email from Underground Cellar, I was instantly intrigued.

They’re wine company who-

Well… really we could have stopped there.

You know me.

Wine is BAE.

So anytime I get an email from a wine company, there’s a damn good chance I’m going to break it down because it’s fun and I like it.

But Underground Cellar is a wine company who:

  1. Give you big discounts on expensive wines
  2. STORE your wine for you and ship out whenever you like, and…
  3. Randomly upgrade you for no reason… just because they are awesome.

I gotta say… when I first heard about this company, I just kept thinking to myself: “What’s the catch.”

I think a lot of people think that.

It sounds too good to be true.

The people at Underground Cellar are smart tho.

And they know they need to do a solid job of explaining how this thing works so you can be a good customer.

And honestly, after reading their very first welcome email… I’m having a hard time seeing why I would ever buy wine from any other e-commerce store.

Let’s take a look at their incredible welcome email so you can see what I mean…

Subject: Woo hoo, welcome Veronika!

Oh my gawd…

What do we have here?

Personality… check!

NO title casing so it looks like a real person wrote it… check!

First name liquid field to grab attention… check!

Fun… check!

This subject line has it all.

It does a lot with just four words.

And… does the most important job of any subject line: it gets the email opened.

Let’s dive into the body copy…

 

 

Holy shart.

Are you seeing what I’m seeing?

Image result for sunglasses gif

This email was written from one human… to another!

It’s kind of sad how rare this is.

But Jeff does an awesome job of opening the conversation like a friend or colleague would open the conversation. It sounds like he wrote this email personally.

Of course, we know that it’s an autogenerated message.

But it’s not really about what we know in our logical minds.

It’s about what we FEEL in our emotional brains.

Jeff introduces himself and thanks you for creating an account.

In the next line, he sums up the value proposition perfectly. There’s so many good things going on in that second paragraph.

But pay particular attention to the “–POOF!–”

That is a brilliant little piece of copy.

He could have said:

“We ship it to you immediately…”

But that’s bland and boring.

The POOF! is fun. It’s exciting. It’s visual… you can imagine a magician waving a magic wand and POOF!… your wine shows up at your door.

It implies that is is fast and easy.

That word adds so much power to this sentence.

I know there’s a term for this kind of literary device, but my mind is drawing a blank.

If you know what that kind of word is called, leave a comment for me please and thanky.

Ok, moving on…

This email has perfect sequencing.

In the previous paragraph, you learned how they’ll store your wines for free… just in case you’re NOT Mike Yanda and you don’t have a wine bunker in your basement.

But as you read that, you probably start thinking: “There’s gotta be a catch here, I bet there’s some kind of membership fee…”

And no.

There’s not.

In fact, that is the very first objection they overcome in this copy.

They continue to explain how their service works and why it’s awesome by introducing the concept of the CloudCellar.

And look at that last line of copy.

They open loop you into the next paragraph.

Well played, Jeff.

Very good technique.

I love it.

 

So if you were starting to think “Eh… this sounds cool but do I really need this?”

BOOM!

Yeah mofo… how do you say no to THAT?!?

Half your bottles get upgraded.

So you buy wine you’re probably already buying… except they just randomly turn 50% or more of it into something better without you having to spend more or lift a finger.

That sentence kind of gives you a rush, doesn’t it?

You start imagining the thrill of getting a notification that you just scored a bottle that’s 10x more expensive… without having to spend another penny!

It’s almost as good as free money.

 

 

You obviously begin to winder WHY they do this.

So that’s the very next question they address in the copy.

A couple things here:

“they hook up their members!”

Clear. Colloquial. Down-to-Earth language.

Love it.

Check out that bolded line… they use a simile to DEMONSTRATE the benefit of buying from them vs other wine companies.

It’s not only demonstrative… it’s visual.

This email, overall, uses a LOT of visual persuasion in the copy to get you to SEE an awesome result in your mind.

Sure, pictures might do the trick.

But how do you get someone to imagine themselves walking into a store with $50 and walking out with a $500 bottle?

You kind of can’t do that with just a picture. You probably couldn’t do it with a gif.

It’s much easier to do this with words.

And Jeff did an awesome job of getting you to see in your mind what it’s like doing business with his company.

Two more things in this section of copy…

1. They use inception to plant a really powerful idea in your mind. Some people buy ALL their wine from us. You start to think… “Maybe I should, too.”

2. They set expectations about their mailing schedule. They let you know how often they’re going to be emailing you… and what you can expect in these emails.

That is one of the most important things you can do in ANY welcome email no matter what you are selling.

Let people know what they signed up for.

Email is PERMISSION MARKETING.

You want people to know what they’re getting into so they can decide to stay or leave.

You only want to mail to people who actually want to be there.

Underground Cellar gets this.

Damn… this email is good.

Let’s keep going…

Look at the way they worded that sentence before the bullets begin…

“Starting today, you get to enjoy these perks.”

That is a great example of ‘thinking past the sale.’

They didn’t say “If you join, you get these perks.”

They’re future-pacing you with that line of copy.

Your brain is already getting attached to those outcomes… and it’ll be very hard to detach and choose to not buy from them.

Plus… those benefits are just awesome.

They describe them clearly, with pithy language. Not a word wasted.

Again… just really solid technique throughout this entire email.

 

The conversational, one-to-one communication style is present throughout this entire email… right into the sign-off.

“Sit back and relax.”

“Soon you’ll be popping bottles that will make your friends jealous!”

Here we have even more future pacing… and a dimensionalized benefit. Plus… more visual persuasion.

You can visualize yourself popping bottles.

GOD FUCKING DAMNIT THIS EMAIL IS GOOD.

Now, here’s something a tad bit wonky tho….

Jeff just drops in that testimonial.

I don’t think it logically makes any sense.

Of course, it is awesome social proof. It is powerful. And it does provide a demonstration of the benefit. And it lets you know that real people have bought this thing and experienced the upgrade.

The only thing that’s missing is a bridge sentence that provides context for the testimonial.

It’s just dropped there, out of nowhere.

Of course…

With the way our brains process information, it probably doesn’t matter.

Because those lines of copy/code go right into our brains and we probably don’t NEED a bridge sentence to add that context.

But it was an interesting decision.

Whatever, I’m not butthurt about it.

It doesn’t take anything away from this email.

Oh wait…

Before I forget:

There’s one more AWESOME thing they did…

LOOK AT THAT PS!!!!!!

He asks you to reply and tell him your favorite wine.

There’s two reasons why this is so awesome…

First, it begins a dialogue with your consumer from the very first email. It lets people KNOW that you are a real person and that someone will actually read and respond to their reply. And it conditions people to engage in that dialogue going forward.

Second, it improves deliverability. The more times someone replies to your emails, the more often your emails go to people’s primary inbox.

So it’s just good to do.

And, listen…

Don’t complain to me that you got a big list and you can’t take the time to dialogue with your subscribers.

The people on your list are your BEST customers.

They’ve voluntarily agreed to keep getting your emails.

These people are worth their weight in gold… and they’re the most important asset you have in your business.

Big Takeaways from Underground Cellar’s Welcome Email

  1. Write to ONE person, from ONE person.
  2. Be conversational and colloquial.
  3. Use copy, not html.
  4. Make your email actually look like emails.
  5. Always restate your value proposition in your welcome email.
  6. Explain how your business works in a simple way that a child could understand.
  7. Use open loops to keep people moving through your copy.
  8. Overcome objections in the order in which they’re likely to be raised.
  9. Future-pace positive outcomes.
  10. Visual persuasion is KING.
  11. Be strategic with bold text.
  12. Dimensionalize your benefits.
  13. Demonstrate the awesome features of your product.
  14. Provide context when using testimonials.
  15. Train people to engage in a dialogue with you. Let them know it’s good and safe to reply back.

Special Shout Out to Veronika Kabaguina!

Veronika is an awesome copywriter and is quickly making a name for herself in the copywriting world.

Here’s her mini-bio:

Veronika Kabarguina is a copywriter who helps specialty product companies get more profit through email and B2B tech companies get more demos through content. She’s a big fan of sustainability and will never say no to trying new wines.

If you have an e-commerce or SaaS business and need help with your copy and/or emails… I would definitely hit her up.

Here’s a link to her site – you should definitely sign up for her email list: https://www.veronikopy.com/

Veronika had some awesome insights to add to this analysis, as well. Here’ what she said:

I think it’s brilliant. It seems like their homepage has one goal and that’s to get you on their email list. I couldn’t think of any objections about signing up.
I was pretty upset to find out that they don’t deliver to Canada though!
Anyway, here’s what I loved about the email:
– The subject line makes you excited to open right away. I feel like an entire team is cheering me on and making me feel like I just made one hell of a great decision.
– Wow, a person! And he’s thanking me.
– Awesome description of what the company does.
– The next paragraph tackles an objection I’m sure many people have: wine club fees. What if I’m just an average Joe/Jane tryna buy cool, new wines every few months? I don’t want to be tied down to monthly fees like every other subscription service out there. I’m so on board, Underground Cellar!
– Wait, that WASN’T the best part?! Wow, now you’re telling me I get the chance to get upgraded to more prestigious wines? AMAZING!
– You’re right, Jeff. It certainly DOES sound like all I have to do is sit back and relax. Why would I go to the store to get alcohol ever again?
– I love the P.S. It makes the tone of the email even more inviting to people who’ve just started getting to know wines.

I really don’t have anything to add to Veronika’s analysis.

I think she is 100% spot on.

And she brought up something I didn’t think of… that PS at the end of the email is inviting to people who might be a bit newer in their wine journey. It’s letting them know they have a friend… they finally have a “wine guy” in their life who can steer them in the right direction.

Veronika… you are awesome. Thank you so much for sending me this email.

And if you’re looking for an awesome writer who obviously understands what makes a good email, make sure you get in contact with Veronika ASAP.

What You Should Do Now

  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 write an awesome welcome email.

The Email… in all it’s glory.

 

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6 Comments

  1. Brenna McGowan on January 15, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    Holy cow, this was a good email. Personal, concise, intriguing, easy-to-read, social proof, gets you to reply–it has it all. I bookmarked this email to refer back to!

  2. Neil Hohmann on January 17, 2020 at 12:04 pm

    POOF! It’s an onomatopoeia I think. Also, the subject line looks to me like it IS title cased (all words capitalized—even after the comma).

    Excellent breakdown as usual!

    • Chris Orzechowski on January 18, 2020 at 2:15 pm

      thanks Neil.

      The reason it was capitalized in the article was because I had that portion of text as an H2 setting, which automatically capitalizes all words. I went in and fixed this formatting issue.

  3. Courtney Westlake on January 17, 2020 at 3:30 pm

    Onomatopoeia – that’s the POOF word 🙂
    Great post!

  4. Piper Youtzy on January 17, 2020 at 5:51 pm

    The Email of the Week series is fire. This email and last week’s BroBasket breakdowns have been my favorites to date. Thank you for doing this every week!

  5. Jeff from Underground Cellar on February 6, 2020 at 10:44 pm

    Hi Chris and the Email Copywriting community!

    Jeff here, the founder of Underground Cellar. Thanks SO much for this fantastic writeup and review of our welcome email.

    In addition to our welcome email, we also send daily “edu-tainment” (educational and entertaining) content about wine. The idea is to provide value in every email you send the customer as a reward for them taking the time to read it.

    And while I’d love to take credit for it — I was trained by the masterful copywriter Neville Medhora.

    And to address any haters, we’ve been in business over 7 years and have delivered over 480,000 bottles purchased through our UndergroundCellar.com website. We were also voted in the top 3 “Best Wine Clubs in America” last year by USA TODAY (see it here: https://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-wine-club/ ). We are definitely working through some growing pains related to our recent growth, but we have hired rapidly and are happy to have any of you as a part of our community and get you some exciting wine upgrades. We also offer a 100% money-back guarantee that you’ll love every bottle.

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