What email marketers can learn from ‘Friends’

How can quotes from the hit TV sitcom Friends resonate within the context of email marketing?

Friends was a great TV show that ran from 1994 to 2004 and, between it and Seinfeld, every life lesson was basically covered.

What was just as good – if not better – than the creative and hysterical plots and story lines, were that the show had some of the greatest one-liners in TV history that still make me laugh to this day. So as the year winds down and we all start getting serious about breaking in to 2016 with a bang,

I thought I would provide a little levity to the year-end madness by translating some of the best quotes from Friends into email marketing prose that you can take into the New Year.


“Why do you have to break up with her? Be a man. Just stop calling.”
– Joey Tribbiani

Many email subscribers today take this approach, when it comes to quitting the email programs of brands that they no longer wish to engage with.

As email marketers, many of us believe that consumers will simply click the “Unsubscribe” button when they tire of our messages. However, the fact is that many subscribers simply do nothing; they just stop calling or, in the case of email, just stop opening.

This isn’t an ideal state for marketers. Breaking up can be confusing (hence Ross and Rachel’s endless “We were on a break!” debate), and letting go of inactive users can be difficult.

Typically, as email marketers, we want to definitively know that a particular consumer doesn’t want to hear from us anymore, and oftentimes we also want to know why. Therefore, are we the needy girlfriend in this scenario?


With deliverability issues at stake, if our customers stop “calling,” it’s important we take cues from them and segment out our non-responders.

“I need you to be careful and efficient. And remember, if I’m harsh with you, it’s only because you are doing it wrong.”
– Monica Geller

I have to say, there are some emails that I receive and think this very thing. Perhaps I look at things with a more critical eye since I’m in the field, but sometimes marketers seem to really miss the mark when it comes to getting the content and timing of their email communications right.

Look, not every email communication has to talk directly to me as consumer, but it should be talking to someone kind of like me. If not, it is as Joey says, “A moo point. It’s like a cow’s opinion; it doesn’t matter…. It’s moo.”

moo point defined

As email marketers, we all need to take into account the data and information we have at our fingertips to create more relevant communications and engaging experiences for the subscribers we are trying to reach.

“But, they don’t know, that we know they know we know!”
– Phoebe Buffay

This is how consumers feel about the data and information marketers can access and apply to offerings and use for content targeting: they don’t want us (marketers) to know that we know that they (consumers) know that we have this data.

But, we do have it, and everyone knows it. So, we need to start using it to our advantage by integrating and applying this data in ways that help to improve the consumer experience for 2016. If we don’t – it could just be another “moo point.”

“Well the fridge broke, so I had to eat everything.”
– Joey Tribbiani

I bet many of you feel like various business units inside your organization feel this way when it comes to building content for your email communications – everything has to go in it.

Even if the fridge is broken, it is a good idea to categorize the items – or content – to determine its shelf-life outside of the fridge and if it is even worth putting back in. Not every idea you have has to go in to an email communication – sometimes less is more.

“He’s a transponster!”
– Rachel Green

This classic Friends one-liner always makes me laugh, because it is a reminder that none of the show’s characters can ever recall what Chandler Bing’s profession is.

It’s an ongoing joke that is repeatedly touched on throughout the series, until (funnily enough) Chandler changes careers and goes into marketing.

I added this one to my list because, although the responsibilities of a marketer are perhaps easier to explain than analyzing and measuring a “W.E.N.U.S,” I often find people are equally as perplexed when they hear about what I do for a living.

the weenus-screenshot

Explaining what I do as a digital marketer requires a much more complex explanation than what most casual holiday party small-talk allows for – it isn’t as cut and dry as saying I’m a doctor, lawyer, or tennis pro.

Rather, whenever I say I’m in digital marketing, or more specifically, that I’m in email marketing, it often requires a lengthy explanation. If you run into this conundrum while out at a holiday party, just tell them you are a “transponster,” which can be whatever you want it to be.

Happy Holidays! See you in 2016.

Related reading

Vector illustration with a magnifying glass focusing on a pie chart, a graph line trending upwards, and other metrics symbols.
Signpost with two signs pointing in different directions, one labelled B2B and one labelled B2C.