What’s most amazing about email marketing, that I have learned from experience, is that it’s such an effective and truly responsive marketing tactic that even the worst of email marketing campaigns is sure to yield results when deployed to an active list; a theory put to the test daily by careless digital marketers the world over.

As you must be a student of your own profession, I am subjected to these “tests” all too often – but their most common mistake is deceptively simple. The worst email marketing offenders always choose to treat their audience as “other.” They underestimate the everyman consumer’s appetite for colloquial honesty, for transparency, and for self-reflexive humor. The new mantra for brand marketers is “to create emotional connections” through their brand expression, but few have the courage to lay bear their faults and follies the way a true friend tends to endear themselves to another.

This is what the email marketing team at Moosejaw had in mind when they crafted this beauty. Or they didn’t, and perhaps they have simply allowed themselves to talk to their audience as they would anyone: freely and without care. Whether this was honesty or a tactic deployed to reignite the interest of an unresponsive list, this email deserves a place in the email hall of fame, were there (and thank god there actually isn’t) one.

The Anatomy of a Truly Beautiful Email

It’s rare to find such a gem, so I thought I might break down all the brilliant elements that made this email from Moosejaw worth reading a second and third time.

Subject Line: “We Totally messed up. So Dumb

First, the hook. Their subject line, right down to the planned or unplanned inconsistencies in its punctuation, is short and punchy. It is also confessional, automatically provoking my interest into exactly what sin I have suffered to deserve such an apology.

Moosejaw Header

The Header

The email begins with four critical elements, delivering a multitude of clear messages without even wasting a word of copy:

  1. The Logo – I now know exactly who is speaking to me.
  2. Social Sharing – We have fun content, wanna see?
  3. Second Click Opportunity – Maybe I don’t care whey they’re sorry, but I have been looking for new hooded sweatshirt.
  4. A Beautiful Picture – Awww look… pretty pictures. There’s more!

Well designed, beautiful, large, enticing, brand appropriate, etc… The image speaks for itself and sets a rather friendly and light mood for this communication.

Moosejaw Image

This is where this email seals the deal. The copy is funny, honest and without pretense. It is playful and direct, entertaining while it moves the reader ever closer to taking an action – the coveted click! The copy holds true to its voice right down to the salutation – a declaration of love and shared madness!

And then, the Glen Gary Glenn Ross of email closers, “Check us Out. Or Don’t.”, daring you to embrace the liberty of free will. To click, or not to click, with such caprice on the part of the email’s source, how can I not?

Moosejaw Copy&Footer

The most important takeaway from this email is the most complicated challenge today’s marketer faces. How do you create this unique experience for your audience? The primary answer, of course, is that you must know them, but more importantly you must understand the connection between your company, its products or services, and their lives. What kind of friend is your company to this community?

In the end, it is your willingness to speak to your consumers with the kind of honesty and risk that make your daily interactions feel more like notes passed in third period French rather than memos about TPS reports. Our consumerism is a wanton diversion from the general tedium of our professional slavery. We buy things we don’t need to create the tiny conveniences and amusements that fill the void of modern living. As marketers we must be court jesters, storytellers and dream merchants. But most critically, on the social web, we must be colleagues – or dare I say secret friends – to every member of our audience.


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