“Two vultures board an airplane, each carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at them and says, “I’m sorry gentlemen, only one carrion allowed per passenger.” This joke might have made a few of you giggle, some of you might have burst out laughing and immediately hit share (thanks for that!), and for the category of people who are groaning or scratching their heads in confusion, our sincere apologies. You see, humor is a broadly defined entity, that, when used correctly, can be a strategic email marketing tool. The trick is to know when to use humor in email marketing campaigns.
The Effectiveness of Humor in Email Marketing
Humor can be a very effective email marketing strategy that helps to break the ice, encourage camaraderie, and create bridges between companies and their audiences. In fact, the effectiveness of humor can best be summed up in the following four benefits:
- Sharing — The beautiful thing about humor is that it is often contagious (cue Merry Poppins reference to Uncle Albert and his laughing fits). As humans, when we see something that elicits even the smallest of giggles, one of our first instincts is to share it with someone who will find it equally or even more humorous. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that funny content is often shared more than dry email marketing campaigns. The ability to be shared makes humor practically indispensable in certain types of email campaigns, i.e. those that wish to be shared beyond the recipient list or achieve a viral status.
- Bonding — Forging a bond with your audience can often be a challenging task, especially when a digital screen tends to deplete the human element. Fortunately for brands interested in boosting the number of loyal brand ambassadors, humor can often be a great social bonding tool. Laughter not only diffuses tension, but it is a great way to reassure someone that everything is going to be okay. Humor’s ability to reduce stress can be especially helpful in instances where a company has recently had a poor public relations encounter (we’re looking at you 1-800-Flowers Every. Single. Valentine’s Day.).
- Alignment — More often than not, the best jokes are based on shared experiences. For example, our opening combination joke / pun that played on the woes of a limited number of carry-on items for flights. By identifying a common problem, and then creating a laughable punch-line, companies can show a deeper understanding of and alignment with their intended audience.
- Memorability — Unless you’re Marlin at the beginning of Finding Nemo, jokes are memorable. Often times humor can create that “aha moment” within a customer’s mind. Whether it is through unexpected wordplay or a groan-worthy punch line, humor is a great way to trigger endorphins that subsequently improve the memorability of your brand.
When Should Humor Be Used?
Determining when to use humor in an email marketing campaign can be a tricky process; after all, your emails should be aligned with your brand voice. With this in mind, many companies will create one email marketing campaign that uses humor, while employing different strategies in other efforts. Through this dual approach, you can more easily deliver the right type of content to the right audience.
When it comes to humor, it is all about brand awareness and authenticity. The brands that use humor across the board know what their persona is and they embrace it. The same can be said for companies in highly competitive or overly saturated industries. The latter companies often turn to email marketing humor as a “one-hit-wonder strategy” that will rejuvenate audience engagement levels.
Possible Humorous Angles
We said it once, but we’ll say it again, humor is a broadly defined entity. In other ways, there are several possible angles that you can take when choosing to turn to humor in email marketing communications.
- Conversational — A tongue-in-cheek, conversational style is one way to use humor within email campaigns (or in our case, blog posts). Whether you reference pop culture, leverage ridiculous images, decide to go the route of the cat GIF, or simply use everyday speak, conversational humor should establish a friendly rapport with your recipients. Remember to be authentic in your casual style; you want your recipients to enjoy reading the content.
- Short And Sweet — You might decide that your audience will respond better to short content that delivers the laughs in a simple line or two. The Onion is a great reference point for how to deliver short and sweet humorous content that will elicit the laughs and shares that you desire.
- Shock Value — The shock factor is a risk-heavy humorous choice that can pay off in a big way. One way to achieve the shock factor is to take a page from the snack food industry by doing things that none of your competitors would usually do.
- The All Important Subject Line — One of the final routes that you can take is to use humor as single one-liners. Being humorous within the subject line is a great way to set the tone, increase open rates, and encourage recipients to share your content. The following five companies hit the ball out of the park with their opening lines.
- OpenTable: Licking your phone never tasted so good
- Groupon: Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)
- Eater Boston: Where to Drink Beer Right Now (Sent at 6:45am on a Wednesday)
- Warby Parker: Pairs nicely with spreadsheets
- Baby Bump: Yes, I’m Pregnant. You Can Stop Staring At My Belly Now.
Is Humor Right For You?
You can only answer this question if you know your brand and your audience persona. However, if you do decide that humor is right for you, then be sure to keep the above tips in mind before you click send on your next funny email marketing campaign