As consumers, it’s easy to argue that email is a time suck of epic proportions and it’s hard to imagine that anyone needs one more in their inbox. But as marketers we need to view email through a different lens. When done right (and of course, that’s the optimum phrase), email can be one of the most effective marketing tools available. 

Sadly, most don’t do it well or within any best practices, and that spells disaster. Marketing types and business owners flock to email because it’s cheap and easy to generate. Somehow that has come to also mean that you shouldn’t invest a lot of time on your campaigns.

Most email is boring and self-serving. No wonder it doesn’t generate interest, leads or sales. But a well-crafted email is not only a work of art, but a sales machine.  Econsultancy recently said that one surveyed group of companies credited email marketing with 23 percent of their sales. That makes doing it well worth the time and effort.

Recently I received a brilliantly written email after I had ordered some shampoo and conditioner for beards. Here’s how it opened:

“Through fiery deserts, raging seas, and other obvious mail truck routes, your Beard Shampoo and Conditioner Set should have arrived by now. Hopefully, you’re now using my marvelous invention to coax your beard into something so magnificent it would make even Michelangelo feel inspired.

“As a gentleman, I wish to go over some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) with you, so as to better inform you of the glory of the product you now possess as well as to guide you on your journey toward your best facial fur yet.”

The email then goes on to answer four questions, weaving in language like “This varies from man to man. Like snowflakes but hairier, no two beards are alike in this world.”

I can only imagine what kinds of responses (and sales) are generated from this email.  The creators of this email did so many things right. Let’s dissect a few.

Know your audience: Because of the product, it’s a safe bet that they are writing to a man and probably within a certain age range. The product’s pricing and packaging suggest this is a bit of a splurge for the buyer and that they’re serious about their beard.

Leverage your brand’s personality: This email could have communicated the exact same information in a far less interesting way. But this brand has a sense of who they are and how they want to be perceived. The language is effusive, but scattered among the pearly prose are quite a few important facts like the product does not contain sodium laurel sulfate, which apparently strips nutrients from hair follicles and fibers. 

Be useful: The email is actually packed with good information. I probably would have never read the email if it had a boring opening paragraph, but I would have missed several helpful tips on using the product. Those tips furthered my connection to the brand.

Tell me what to do next: In this case, I had clearly just bought the product. So they’re not driving for another sale. Instead, the call to action was asking me to review the product on Amazon. Naturally, they made it easy by including a link.

But they weren’t perfect. One mistake they made was to sign the email from the company, rather than an individual. They had the perfect opportunity to create a human persona or spokesperson. Throughout the email the author refers to himself as “I” so he should have been the one to sign it, closing the loop and beginning to create a relationship with the buyers.