Subject Line: Thursdays are the pancakes of weekdays 🍳 🍴
Preview Text: We spent some time cleaning up the email to make this Thursday extra special
Test & Measurement:
Our email success is based mainly on clicks and actual replies from people. Our content relies heavily on the headlines of others (we use their headlines in our weekly roundup of articles), so the clicks on these vary from week to week. In another section of this email, we also show off some of our favorite emails we've posted over the past week. Clicks to these stay pretty consistent. Was this Thursday extra special? Not really. But we wanted to put more emphasis on our efforts of curating.
Our hypothesis was that the subject line would get people's attention from the usual reporting style we do so that people would read the we-made-this-for-you preheader text. Thus, with that extra feeling of receiving love and hard-work, readers would be more inclined to click on those curated emails or reply with an email.
Clicks increased by 42% from the previous 4-week average for that section of the email. And we got a couple more reply emails than usual. Maybe it was actually the reference to pancakes that did it? Either way, we were super happy with the results. But then, like most things we do, we forgot about those results, until just now as we were looking what we've done in the past. Thanks for conjuring up good memories, Litmus.
I had just switched jobs and had told my new CMO that I was seeing some pretty interesting trends on the website (I was hired to do business analytics, events, and influencer outreach). He asked if I was interested in taking a look at our email metrics from our home-grown email program and make any sense of what was happening there. To say the least, it was a mess and I convinced them to turn it off and use a large ESP that could do a lot more robust actions and tracking.
After getting my hands on the keys to the "new car", I thought I would take it for a spin and do some randomized offer testing. At this point, this was the first email campaign I had ever built. I set up a 10% off, 15% off, and 20% off offer to be randomly sent to our list of 800k subscribers. After the campaign ended, I was going to check to see which offer gave us the best profits. But instantly we started getting flooded with calls: the only thing that was randomized was the subject line. Everyone was receiving the 10% discount. And worse yet, instead of it saying 15% off for a third of the list, I fat-fingered that subject line and it said 45% off.
Our average margins were less than 40% and so there was no way we could offer that to over 250k customers. I thought for sure that I was going to get fired. Both customers and the C-suite were flying off the rails.
Within an hour, our copywriter and designer came up with an email that described the situation and public shamed me at the same time. While we couldn't offer 45% off, we offered some free gifts and gave everyone 20% off. We titled the email "whoops!" And sent it out. I prayed to the Internet gods that they would accept my offering.
They did. the calls almost stopped immediately and the orders started rolling in. It was the best open rate that we had ever received (over 40%) and ended up being more profitable than our record Black Friday the year prior.
Now, I wouldn't say that we invented the fake whoops email campaigns, but from then on (almost 6 years ago) we sent out 2 apology emails a year and it became an integral part of our marketing calendar.