Email of the Month, "iWork for iCloud" – Why I Opened It…

How many times have you sat down and been completely sure of the email you are about to write?

Recently, one of my favorite clients came to me with a new project. She asked me to send out an email to a segment of her company’s database notifying them of a new way to place orders. Sounds straightforward, right? When I think something sounds straightforward, I automatically think it sounds boring, too.

I decided this “notification” email needed some spin. I struggled with ideas – everything I tried was a flop. Even worse, I couldn’t communicate my concepts clearly to my client. We were going in circles.

  • Me: “What about using a fun analogy…?”
  • Her: “That Costco mayonnaise reference is funny, but there’s a negative connotation…”
  • Me: “True.”
  • Me: “What about simplicity… a tagline like ‘less clicks per checkout’?”
  • Her: “It’s too simple; we have features we need to highlight.”


I’m not trying to make her sound like a Debbie Downer – she isn’t! I’ve simplified the above conversation for the sake of this blog.

So, I turned to my email inbox as a last resort and looked through my emails to see which emails I had been compelled to open. This really should have been my first step, which is why I took our winning email example and broke down for you why this email works.

We’re taking a simple notification email to the next level here. And we are inspired by none other than Apple.

  • 1. Apple is known for successfully making its customers feel special, when really, Apple only offers a handful of products and everyone is buying the same thing. I bet my iPhone looks just like yours. Surprise! But really, this subject line caught my attention. “Oh. Hi Apple. You think I’m good enough to play with your latest product? I guess you do. This invitation does make me feel like I’m worthy, and somehow, it implies that there are others who are not.” I bet apple sent this out to the masses. But, I still feel special because I was “invited.”
  • 2. Beta. “Oh, so this isn’t released to everyone? And you care about my feedback, huh?” Sold.
  • 3. Addressing me by name and speaking to me like you’ve written me an old-fashioned snail mail letter – big win. Apple seems sincere; after all, they signed the email, “Sincerely, The iWork Team.”
  • 4. Again, exclusivity is the key here. The marketer in me thinks, “I don’t care if this really is a special beta release, by telling me it is so, I want to get started with iWork today, before the “real” release happens.
  • 5. Simple, clear call-to-action. “Yes, iWork, I’d like to ‘get started’ right now. And I can see exactly where to click in order to do so.”


I gave a copy of this email to my client and asked her if we could use exclusivity to spice up her notification email. She loved it. I was proud of it.

Lesson of the week? Work smarter, not harder. Reference real emails that you respond to and use those to mold and communicate your marketing ideas.

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