Humour is a very subjective thing. What one person finds hilarious, another might find offensive or passé. While some people will L-O-L at a video of a guy falling through a chair, others will merely roll their eyes. And more sophisticated humour, such as satire or referential jokes, might go over many people’s heads.
So it’s fair to say – making your email campaigns ‘funny’ isn’t all that safe a road to success. You risk alienating or annoying sections of your subscriber list, because not everyone finds the same things funny.
And that’s not the only reason. Being funny and original – i.e., not just ripping off jokes from a famous comedian or comedy character – is quite difficult! Sure, we can all make a good joke now and again. But we aren’t all blessed with the gift of being able to make people laugh whenever we want.
Why be funny?
So why even try to be funny in your email marketing? If it’s difficult, and it can go wrong, why even bother?
Well, we’re not saying you definitely should. But if you’re confident that…
- You know what kind of humour your subscribers will like
- You can actually be funny
- You’re up for a challenge
… Then using humour in your email marketing campaigns can deliver great results, for several reasons.
Firstly, everyone loves to laugh. When you make a person laugh, they like you more. If you can make your whole email subscriber list laugh (or a good percentage of them), that’s one valuable campaign.
Secondly, humour can give your subscribers an extra reason to open your email. Think about it. Not everyone on your subscriber list is going to be interested in your next campaign offering. But if your subscribers also expect to get a laugh out of reading your email, more of them will open it. That means better open rates. And you’ll stay front-of-mind with more of them.
And thirdly, humour and the Internet go really well together. That’s undeniable. I don’t know about you, but my Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of funny videos, pictures and jokes that people have shared with me and their other friends. Most things that go viral are things that make people laugh. That’s another great reason to create a funny email marketing campaign.
Let’s find some inspiration
If you’ve made it this far, I guess you’re up for the challenge of creating a funny email marketing campaign. But where do you start?
Let’s take a look at some other funny campaigns for a bit of inspiration.
Write humorous copy – but be careful
Our first example is something of a cautionary tale. Take a look at this cheeky campaign first blogged about by Marketo. It illustrates perfectly how an email that one person laughs at can be offensive to others.
The subject line read “So I’ll pick you up at 7?” Here’s the opening of the message that followed:
The copy creates humour through deliberate, exaggerated over-familiarity. It makes a point about how other B2B referral companies ask “too much, too soon” from their customers.
The Marketo blogger describes the campaign as “pretty awesome” and “brilliant”. Yet the very first comment on the post, from a copywriter called Rhonda, says “I found the copy arrogant and I don’t think I would appreciate this kind of message.”
Make sure your funny email copy fits your subscribers’ sensibilities.
Make a funny video
It’s easy to embed video in your email messages nowadays – and a video message can feel a lot more personal than text.
If you’re a naturally funny person, your humour might also come across better on video than in words. Take a look at this example of a video follow-up email from FunnyBizz, a company that helps businesses “tap into humour’s power.”
In the video, the email sender Rachman starts by saying “This is just a follow-up to see if you guys at Close.io still need help making an impact.” Two singers then slide into shot and start singing a song with lyrics full of marketing and social media references. “There’s no need to Pinterest it / Just wanna know if you’re still interested.”
Maybe it’s not the funniest thing ever, but it shows creativity and a sense of fun – and those things go a long way.
Use funny images and cartoons
Many email campaigns include a large main image these days. It’s a good place to use humour, since visual humour is often simple and easy to understand.
You can create your own image, cartoon or photo – although that can be time consuming and costly. The example below, from a campaign that asks users to “come back to Dropbox”, illustrates in a fun way why that’s a good idea.
The Internet is also full of funny pictures, animated GIFs and memes. Many of them are in the public domain, lots of others can be used in your email campaigns with a Creative Commons license, and others still can be licensed by arrangement with the owner. Make sure you don’t use copyrighted images commercially without the proper permission.
Make sure humour is relevant to your campaign
Finally, something important to remember. Even if you set out to create a funny email marketing campaign, making people laugh isn’t your primary goal. Your goal is still to generate responses to whatever your campaign is actually offering. The humour is just there to support that.
That’s why you need to make sure the humour in your campaign is relevant to your brand and the campaign offering. Don’t just tell a joke, paste in a funny picture, or use a silly tone of voice in your email copy.
Make sure your offer and call to action still take centre stage in your campaign – no matter how hilarious you manage to make it.
Good luck with your next campaign.