The most effective email campaigns are the ones in which most users actually open and read your emails.
If recipients learn that they can expect something enjoyable from you, the chances of that happening increases. When it comes to marketing, one of the most effective tools you can use is humor. Just consider the ad campaigns that have remained memorable over time. Many of them used humor to connect with audiences. This technique also works for email marketing.
If you can make your subscribers smile, you not only improve the open rate but also build loyalty. The recent MarketingSherpa Customer Satisfaction Research Study found that 17% of customers unsubscribe from the email lists of companies just because the content is boring and not interesting to them.
If you can leverage puns and jokes in the email campaigns, you get an advantage over your competitors. Of course, the challenge is using humor in ways that work. Here are six droll examples of doing just that.
1 Visual Humor
Visuals cause 50% of your brain to become active. In addition to this, 65% of people who were exposed to information with a visual remembered it three days later. Without the visual, that number dropped to 10%.
Clearly, visuals are attention-grabbing and memorable.
In addition to all this, visual humor simply connects with audiences, and it always has. If anything, that has only increased in these digital times. Today, people and brands share funny videos, GIFs, and memes as a way to express and evoke emotions.
A great visual gag can also contribute to the overall look and feel of an email.
One example of this is Poncho.
They sent subscribers customized, weather forecasts via email. Each email was done in infographic form, and full of witty content.
2 Familiar Humor
Sometimes, it’s best to play it a little safe when it comes to humor. Depending on your target audience, you might want to pick gags that go over well with a wide audience. Familiar humor tends to be popular, familiar, and safe. Basically, these are the jokes you would be safe telling at a family dinner or at work. One-liners, dad jokes, and clean gags all apply here.
Familiar humor also evokes feelings of nostalgia. It makes them feel sentimental. There’s value in that because it provides people with an often desired break from adult, topical, or dark humor that often dominates. Sometimes, people enjoy simply laughing at a corny dad joke.
Mack Weldon, a men’s underwear brand, used a well-known concept of “dad jokes”. Their email catches the reader’s attention with a stereotypical joke based on wordplay. But just when you are about to mock this not-so-funny pun, they add a bit of irony in the next sentence.
According to Kathy Brennan, head of marketing for Resumes Centre: “This works well because this message can be understood well by both types of readers – the ones who find the first joke funny and the ones who believe it’s total nonsense. Besides, Mack Weldon’s copywriters managed to make a smooth transition to the call-to-action button. It doesn’t look too sales-y, especially for a person in a good mood (which is achieved with the opening sentence).”
Credit: Mack Weldon via Sleeknote
3 Gallows Humor
Going in the opposite direction is gallows humor. This is a dark, fatalistic humor that skews negative. It doesn’t necessarily appeal to a wide audience, but if it appeals to yours they will appreciate your humor immensely.
If you’re familiar with Rick and Morty, the show is a good source of possible inspiration. It can also give you a good idea of the ideal target audience for this type of humor.
Here’s a great example is an email by Death Wish Coffee. They used the popular main character from the horror series Friday the 13th and managed to identify him with themselves and their reader if they run out of coffee.
Credit: Death Wish Coffee via Sleeknote
4 Puns and Wordplay
Using puns, portmanteaus, and other plays on words in your subject line and email content is a witty way to inject humor. Use it in a way that is relevant to your brand and products to get the best results.
Of course, the key here is making sure your jokes land just the way you want. There’s major potential here to induce eye-rolls where you would rather get laughs. You need smart, well-written email content to pull off this brand of humor. Here are some tools and resources to keep in mind:
- Flash Essay – For copywriting assistance, including email marketing content.
- Grammarly – To keep your spelling and grammar in order so that readers focus on your content, not your mistakes
- Onlinewritersrating – A one-stop resource to help you find professional writing and editing help
- Language Tool – A Chrome plugin and Google Docs add-on for checking your writing that works across multiple languages.
Here’s an example from a rather unique brand Highway Robery that sells colorful kimono-style unisex robes. It has “A bit about kimonos…” as a subject line and explains how the founders of the brand came up with a specific style for their products. To convey this message and entertain their subscribers, the brand used humor. In addition to text, they’ve utilized several images and GIFs visualizing style options that the brand founders considered before creating their final design. The result is an awesome email that represents a great example of how to combine humor and visuals.
Credit: Highway Robery
5 Insult Humor
This technique can work but requires a judicious hand. Done correctly, it can appeal to the target audience’s desire not to be classified in a certain way. For example, a microbrewery might refer to people who drink mass produced beer as boring, corporate-swill drinking shlubs. It can also be used to take light-hearted swipes at readers. Wendy’s does this quite well over Twitter.
If you decide to use this form of humor, take a very considerate approach. If the following applies to your audience, insult humor might work for your brand:
- Social media savvy
- Appreciates spoofs and ‘send-ups’ ala Saturday Night Live
- ‘Gets’ the humor behind roasts and ‘Yo Mama’ jokes
- Uses social media sites that tend to highlight darker or insult based humor like Reddit and Tumblr
I have no idea why I’m laughing at this. If you’ve ever found yourself giggling hysterically at some strange or absurd joke or image, you get absurd humor. You’re not alone. Brands like Old Spice use this humor in their commercials and online because it works so well.
To use absurdity, try peppering your emails with random facts, absurd scenarios, and other silliness. This can take the usual salesy email and inject a welcome sense of humor in it, just like the one Am
Pepper emails with random facts, absurd scenarios, and other silliness. For an example of absurdity used in marketing, see Old Spice. You can also check out this email that Essay Supply sent out during the last Halloween season.
Credit: Essay Supply
“We used a pickle Rick character from a popular sitcom Rick and Morty in our recent email marketing campaign to drive traffic to our website,” says Karolina Coles, a digital marketer from Essaysupply. “It’s a great way of asking the customers to buy a service without being pushy, which is something that a brand has to learn to avoid a negative image.”
There are very few people who don’t appreciate the humor. Jokes can make your marketing emails memorable, and increase open rates and conversions. The key to success is matching the tone of your humor to your target audience. If you do that, your audiences might even begin looking forward to your name showing up in their inboxes.