Anatomy of a Solid DM E-Mail

Every so often, I receive an email that’s so irresistible, so exemplary, and so well done, I’m compelled to critique it for you. The one at hand is from direct marketer Omaha Steaks. We can all learn from its email messages, especially the one illustrated in this column.

I’ll point out everything it’s done well so you can apply it to your email development. In a previous column I discussed how to make your email viral. This message is an example of a truly viral email campaign. It offers something that’s compelling to consumers: extreme value.

A great, value-laden offer is a start, but designing that message into a powerful direct marketing email that commands response is an art. The following exercise illustrates this point: Look at this message and see if you can find 16 ways Omaha Steaks cooked up a winner. Don’t peek at my list until you think you’ve found as many best practices as you can.

Click here and look at this message. Can find 16 ways Omaha Steaks cooked up a winner? Don’t peek at my list until you think you’ve found as many best practices as you can.

The 16 best practices in this email.

The Subject Line

Though not reproduced here, the subject line was: 3 DAYS ONLY save 64% plus get 3 Free GIFTS.

  • “3 DAYS ONLY” — a short window to order.

  • “Save 64%” — dramatic savings.
  • “3 Free GIFTS” — not just one or two, but three gifts. I, for one, had to find out what they were.

The Graphic

  • Bonus gifts — note how the ad reinforces the three bonus gifts, in both words and images.

  • The main photo includes 23 individual items.
  • “Save 64%” is repeated for additional emphasis.
  • “All-American” is a nice, clean, patriotic phrase that imparts a good feeling on many people.
  • “Combo” is a great word that conveys a good deal and a quantity of items. It’s better than a word such as “package.”
  • The ad mentions “stocking your freezer,” another way of saying the customer gets a lot of food.
  • It lists all the items the customer should expect to receive in complete detail, another demonstration of value.
  • You see the regular price, savings in dollars, and net price. The $127.01 in savings is a believable, big number, and it’s not rounded off.
  • The deadline is clearly stated. Depending on when the email arrives, it creates urgency.
  • The ad details the three bonuses, including numbers such as the six-piece cutlery set and six additional burgers (with the cutting board, that’s 13 additional items). Added to the 36 portions in the combo, you get 49 total items. The only thing I would have added is the grand total of items the buyer receives.
  • It lists a contact number for those customers who prefer to order by phone.

Copy Below the Graphic

  • The ad encourages recipients to pass along the message to people who would appreciate the offer.

  • It gives recipients three ways to unsubscribe: electronic, phone, and postal.

I’ve received many promotional email messages from Omaha Steaks. They all follow the same formula: extraordinary value communicated in a clean, powerful manner.

Omaha gave us permission to critique this email but declined to disclose campaign metrics. I can only assume since Omaha’s been using this format for a very long time, it must outperform other email messages and must be Omaha’s winning control. From a design and content point of view, this email meets all my requirements.

You can read columns, books, and other expert sources about writing great email copy. Yet one of the most instructive ways to learn this craft is by observing what others do. If you’ve come across truly outstanding email messages like this one, send them along. Perhaps I’ll profile them in a future column.

Keep reading…

Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.

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