[Email of the Week #3]: Dollar Shave Club’s Strategy for Launching New Products Without Social Proof
By Chris Orzechowski
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 third 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!
Launching A New Product Is Hard And Scary
It’s hard and scary for a number of reasons.
First… you aren’t totally sure it’s going to work.
Sure, you might have market research and feedback from your current customers.
But whenever you’re launching a new product for the first time, you’re always going to have some anxiety until you see the orders start rolling in.
That has always been my experience in the work I do for myself and for my clients. To tell you the truth, I still get nervous when we re-launch old promotions.
It’s an emotional experience.
You worked really hard creating something. And sometimes you attach your self-worth and self-esteem to how successful your project is.
I’m sure the company Dollar Shave Club is pretty immune to this effect. But I bet the individual creatives, developers, researches, marketing managers and copywriters wait with bated breath until they get the results.
The second reason it’s scary is because, since it’s a brand new product, you have to overcome that whole “I don’t have any social proof yet” thing.
If you’ve ever worried that you don’t have the testimonials or case studies to demonstrate why your new product will work for people… you are going to LOVE this email from Dollar Shave Club.
Let’s take a look…
A Subtle, Yet Brilliant Subject Line You’re Going To Love
I’d like to start this section off by saying: I literally have no idea how this email performed. This email could have bombed for all I know. Sometimes, weird things happen over the course of launches and marketing experiments. And I don’t know anyone at the company… so I don’t have any ‘insider info’ into how well this email actually did.
That being said…
I know good persuasion when I see it.
And I really think this email nailed it on all fronts.
The subject line of this email penetrates your brain in a subtle, yet gripping way. It’s one that’s really hard to ignore… and one that can easily be adapted for a TON of different emails and contexts.
Let’s take a look at this beaut…
I want you to marvel at this subject line for a second.
[First name], do you agree with these reviews?
Now, there is a lot going on within these 7 words.
They use my first name, which is always going to get attention. Sure… a lot of people do this. But they’re not throwing it around as liberally as some other email marketers do. Some people use this strategy every single week and really diminishes its power. But not DSC.
Also, notice how this subject line is worded like a personal, one-to-one question.
Most eCommerce sales emails will just talk about the product… but this email is talking about your favorite subject in the world: YOU.
The next part says: do you agree?
When you ask people questions, even in print, it’s hard for their brain to NOT close that loop and seek an answer.
This is a very strategic use of the word “agree.”
It’s NOT: check out these reviews.
It’s: do you agree?
Wanna know what people love more than anything nowadays?
Fucking arguing on the internet.
There is nothing our culture loves more than arguing over dumb shit, PROVING why we are right, and virtue signaling to our friends.
This is culture in 2019.
So anytime you take a litmus test on whether people agree or disagree on something… people are going to want to throw their two cents in.
Layer in the fact that they’re asking if I, personally, agree with these reviews. That invites me into the conversation. It gives me an opportunity to demonstrate my intelligence. And, if I’m lucky, it might give me a chance to argue.
And we all fucking love to argue nowadays.
Nothing could brighten our day more than refuting all these reviews from all these potential morons we’re about to encounter in the review section.
We might just find some other people who are almost as smart as us… and confirmation bias will kick in and reaffirm the idea that we are smart… because all of these other people share the same viewpoint we have.
Let’s zoom back out from the brain science here.
The subject line was great.
It really got me curious.
But the funny thing is…
I really thought this subject line was going to ask me to leave a review for one of the products I had recently bought.
I clicked on that email with that expectation.
I’ve been a customer of Dollar Shave Club since like 2012. For seven years, I’ve been getting their razors delivered to my doorstep. I love their brand, I love their products and I have tried out a lot of their other product lines.
I’ve always had a great experience with their company.
So I was actually open to the idea of possibly leaving a review.
But, then I clicked the email, and was pleasantly surprised…
Let’s Get Taboo
When I think about all the brands I’ve bought from… I don’t think I’ve ever seen a company that does a more masterful job of discussing taboo topics than Dollar Shave Club.
Their writers are the definition of world-class.
I mean, if you’re on their email list, here are some subject lines you’ll see…
- What happens to a poop when you hold it until it goes away?
- Why Summer = A Sweaty Butt
- Is Sucking In Your Gut Bad For You?
- How to Tame Your Bushy Man Hands
- Should I Be Moisturizing My You-Know-What?
I could go on and on. Their subject lines are a masterclass in short, persuasive writing.
They are masters of selling products for taboo problems.
Case in point:
When I opened up this email (which I totally thought was going to ask me to leave a review) I was surprised with this GIF…
Ok, I see what’s crappenin here…
This email wasn’t asking my opinion about a product. It was introducing a NEW product.
What is that product?
It’s a deodorant wipe for people who suffer from pit sweat. A shockingly common problem.
And with just a two-word GIF, it conveys a powerful benefit statement.
I see the words: Stanky, Swanky.
But my mind interprets these word symbols as: go from Stanky to Swanky.
I see the picture of the wipes. And in a milli-second… I understand why I might need this product I wasn’t even thinking about a few moments ago.
Another key point: notice how in the first stage of the GIF, the wrapper is intact… but in the second stage, it’s open. This visual imagery further cements the idea that using this product will remove your stank and make you one swanky mofo.
Let’s Take A Look At The Copy
It starts off with a dimensionalized benefit statement.
(Wondering wtf a dimensionalized benefit statement is? Well, think of it this way: a man doesn’t want to buy a drill. He wants a hole. And he wants a hole so they can hang a picture of his family on the wall. And he wants to do that so his wife is happy. Now, he can sit on the couch with a beer and get back to watching the game. THAT is what you’re really selling dimensionalization is just ‘drilling down’ – excuse the pun – until you can explain how someone actually benefits in their life from using your product.)
This benefit statement says you can wipe away stress and doubt.
Stress and doubt about what, you ask?
If you have sweaty pits… you’re constantly worried about whether or not you smell… or if people can see your pit stains through your shirt. It’s a bit of a nightmare. Especially the smell part. So if you can solve that problem for someone… they no longer have to worry about whether that cute girl from marketing two cubicles over is gonna smell you coming from down the hall.
The copy continues:
Discreetly carry one anywhere.
What a powerful four words.
If you’ve ever bought wipes before… you know they often come in a big package that most definitely does not fit into your pocket. And if you’re a lady, it’s probably not fitting into your purse.
THESE single-wipe packs DO fit into a purse (murse?) or pocket.
Consider that objection overcome.
The next line suggests where else you can store them, explaining the benefits and functionality a bit more.
And after that, they go into the best part of this email…
The Fake (But Very Funny) Reviews
The next part of this email lists a few made-up reviews. This is where the writers imagined how people MIGHT be enjoying this brand new product… which no one in the public has ever actually used before.
Notice how there’s more dimensionalization in these obviously fake reviews.
And take a look at the names on these “testimonials.”
Beau D. Odor. Harry Pits. I.M. Schvitzing.
Ok… so are these the funniest jokes I’ve ever heard in my life?
Of course not.
But it’s kind of funny.
It made me smile as I read them.
I appreciated the humor.
They got some happy chemicals moving in my brain.
So as far as I’m concerned… mission accomplished.
This is one of the things Dollar Shave Club does SO well.
They have a consistent brand voice across ALL of their ads and customer communications.
When I say the words Dollar Shave Club, you automatically think: funny, silly, laid back, a tad bit immature (but in the best way possible).
That is their brand.
They don’t take themselves too seriously.
They make their marketing FUN.
And being a customer is always an interesting, engaging experience.
Unlike some other dumbfuck razor companies who like to talk shit about their own customers… Dollar Shave Club does an incredible job of having fun with their marketing… and making their customers the hero of their own little daily adventures.
Overall, this was a great email.
It’s one of those emails that, if you blink, you might miss its brilliance.
I’d encourage you to take some time in your inbox and really examine the email you’re getting… you might find some gold in there, like this one.
Great job Dollar Shave Club.
Big Takeaways From Dollar Shave Club’s Antiperspirant Wipes Email
- Invite people into a conversation.
- Don’t be afraid to tackle the taboo.
- Inject humor and personality in every single touchpoint with your customers.
- Use visual persuasion whenever you can to create mental connections in your prospects mind.
- GIFs can speak louder than words.
- Make your customers the hero of their own adventure when they use your product.
- If you don’t have social proof, get creative.
- Don’t just list benefits, dimensionalize them.
- Have fun.
Sneak Peek for Next Week
Next week, we’re going to take a look at how another mega-successful eCommerce brand launches new products with email.
While DSC took a very “branded” approach with excellent short copy… next week’s email is mostly devoid of images and leverages some super-powerful long copy to make the sale.
It’s a bit of a different style, a much different type of product… but it’s one you won’t want to miss.
(Especially since this email is coming from one of the fastest-growing, “democratized-luxury” brands in the world.)
To make sure you get next week’s installment of Email of the Week, make sure you sign up for my email list at the link below!
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 helps them overcome that inertia of launching a new product.
- Sign up for Dollar Shave Club and get a Trial Kit full of awesome products. Yes, obviously I get some DSC credits if you use my link. I’ve been a customer for years and have no plans to ever switch. I think you’ll love their products (and their marketing) as much as I do.
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