The best email marketing I ever got
by Josh Bernoff
I call people out when their marketing is lame. Now I'd like to show you the best pitch I got in the last six months.
Four years ago I rented a villa in Provence for a few weeks for my whole family. If that sounds great, well, it was. I have very fond memories of the time I spent there. I found the property on a site called rentvillas.com and yes, I'd use them again.
Rentvillas' problem is this: their customers may not think of going back to them again, since it's typically years between visits. So they sent me this email.
Now our email expert Shar Van Boskirk could tell you all about what email works -- how frequently you can touch people, what kinds of things to say, what kinds of software to use, all of that. But this email is somehow different.
1. It's completely different from every other sales email I've ever gotten since it doesn't go right at the problem.
2. It taps into the uneasiness every American feels about vacationing in a foreign country, and reminds us that that's part of the adventure.
3. They send me maybe three emails a year, so they don't tax my patience -- they're timed just right for people planning a vacation.
But somehow, this marketing email actually managed to stimulate the nostalgia I had for that trip, and generating an emotion like that from an email is just spectacular.
HootonHootman, who wrote this email, told me, "The interesting thing is that we actually tried a much more
"professional" looking format with a very nice visual element... but we
discovered that people treated it like a mass mailer you might get from
Amazon.com or another huge company. When we just use plain text and a photo or
two, people consider it much more personal."
Marketers, my advice is not to emulate what rentvillas did. My advice is to emulate how they think, tapping into the emotions of your customers with whatever is special about your product. And if nothing is special about your product, quit and find a better place to work.
To: Josh Bernoff
Re: Rentvillas.com -- My lunch hour crisis
As I wander through the picturesque main street of tiny Castellina-in-Chianti, I find myself a bit dismayed. It's 2 PM, and I'm famished. In America this wouldn't be a problem, but here in Italy I'm faced with empty streets and closed doors. That's right: lunch is over, and everyone is fast asleep.
Where was I at noon? I was photographing Podere Cristina, the most family-friendly accommodation I've ever seen. Younger guests are welcome to play with the outdoor toys and splash in the pool, while adults will appreciate the window screens (rare in Italy) and terrace views. Everyone who visits raves, which is why I was assigned to bring back some better shots. Check out Earth, Air, Fire, and Water-- believe it or not, there's still some availability for this year.
Back to Castellina. Eureka! At a corner grocer's, I find an open door. The proprietor, a middle-aged woman with a farmer's rough hands, takes pity and puts together a crude Panini. I point to some olives bigger than my eyeballs and she adds them to my bag. I take my "American" lunch hour on a bench in the sun, grinning as an old Italian gentleman ambles by and, seeing my impromptu picnic, laughs. So what if I'm stuck on American time? I'm still having fun!
After lunch, I realize that the directions to my next destination didn't make it into my bag. So I start driving. Four kilometers out of Castellina, a sign flashes by. Is that what I think it is? I pull over and turn around. Hallelujah! It is! Lago Antico, a brand new addition to our catalogue, is a cluster of medieval-era buildings-- complete with two-foot-thick walls, pigeon-hole windows, quirky corners, and a subterranean barrel-ceiling wine cellar. Here, the view is unique: forested mountains, completely untouched, extend as far as the eye can see.
That evening, I sit in the rustic kitchen of Lago Antico Uno, chatting with the manager as Stefano (a local chef) prepares one of the best meals I'll ever eat, using award-winning organic olive oil made right outside. Turns out he's not just a culinary genius; he's a pacifist too: several wasps have managed to sneak in, and one by one he captures them and frees them outside.
In spite of my lunch-hour crisis, this is one of the most satisfying days of my trip. The icing on the cake comes the next morning, when I wake up and peer outside. Dawn is just breaking, illuminating mountaintops and casting a pink glow on the mist-enshrouded valleys below. The world is silent. Bellissimo.
Until next time,
P.S. Here are a few more properties you might want to check out if you're still looking for availability this year:
- Our favorite apartment in Florence
- A fully equipped villa for family or friends, south of Siena
- An Italian lakes villa with a picturesque terrace
- Lemon-scented sea views at this Amalfi Coast villa
P.P.S. If you'd prefer not to receive any future communications from me, please un-subscribe [link deleted].
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