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In the fast-moving world of digital marketing, it can be easy to see yesterday’s heroes as today’s villains. Email is a prime example: we hear again and again from clients who don’t think email marketing is cutting-edge enough or new enough to make a real splash. But email has one very important thing going for it: it works. In fact, direct marketers earn the highest ROI in the email channel — $38 for every dollar spent.

Huckberry is one of our favorite leaders in this category. In their words, “Huckberry is an online shop and journal that inspires more active, adventurous, and stylish lives through members-only sales, and original storytelling.” Breaking it down, the key elements to their email success are copy, products, audience, and narrative.

Copy should be a no-brainer when talking about a great email campaign, but in an age where everyone thinks they’re a copywriter, a lot of mediocre content gets published. Huckberry uses a clever and conversational tone, and just enough copy to get the point across. This is a difficult balance to strike: your copy should be engaging, explanatory and efficient.

Another thing that should be obvious but is often overlooked is the product offering. Do your products align with your brand? If not, writing great emails likely won’t help you. But Huckberry does a great job of featuring products that speak to their audience, as well as photograph well and have a story to tell. Huckberry does a very brief write up of each of the five or so products featured in a given email; they are brief enough to read quickly and engaging enough to keep you scrolling.


Knowing your audience is another email essential. Huckberry is speaking to a well-defined and well-known audience: young, affluent guys with an interest in the outdoors. Huckberry not only includes products and copy tailored to this audience, but also brings in articles from other publications––such as GQ and The New Yorker––that likely resonate. This also helps create a brand halo for Huckberry: associating their brand with established brands lends them clout and credibility.

The last important element is narrative. Huckberry emails tell a story. Starting with a punchy, descriptive subject line, the emails then highlight a featured product, and a few ancillary ones. The latter parts of these (very long) emails feature links to “The Journal”; i.e. the blog; as well as to a number of “Diversions,” which are essentially links included for entertainment, almost as a reward for getting through the email. These are clever ways to keep the reader’s interest and provide them some ‘value’ in exchange for their time.
screen-shot-2017-05-05-at-1-55-23-pm Key to writing good marketing emails is providing an exchange with your reader; i.e. the brand should provide some value to the reader in exchange for their time. When considering what to include or not, ask yourself, “What value does this give my reader?” If you provide value to your reader, they’re much more likely to value your offering and reward you with a sale.

Take these guidelines to heart when writing your next marketing email, and you’ll be on your way to great open rates and more sales. Write on!

John Franklin

John Franklin

John helps brands to better articulate who they are and their purpose through our customer insights and category design work. Before Room 214, he spent five years running marketing and partnerships for eCommerce businesses. He has an MBA from Georgetown University, loves riding bikes, backcountry skiing and gets fired up about baking bread.