One of my favorite things about “knowing people” in an industry is this: 

They send you funny shit AND make your life easier when searching for emails to break down. 

The email we’re about to break down today was slacked over to me by a fellow marketing professional. He asked to remain anonymous, so we will respect that. 

Where did he find this email?


Apparently, there is a subreddit that shares funny, quirky, or outrageous marketing messages and copy.

(Still trying to find it). 


Thank you Anonymous Blobfish (my friend’s name moving forward because Google Docs said so) for sending me this funny, yet effective, re-engagement email. 

And since we weren’t able to source the brand for this, there’s no brand introduction. 

(If you know who sends this, let me know! I want to read some other emails from them and give them a shoutout). 

Rules: The Email Muse

Each week, I brave the marketing wilderness to find highly-effective ecommerce sales emails… and I shine a light on what made them work. 

My goal with this weekly tangle with The Email Muse is to teach you strategies and tactics you can use with email.  

Where do I find these magical electronic pieces of mail? My inbox, mostly, since I’m signed up to lists that I want to be on. I also take suggestions from readers who have a stellar email they’d like to share. 

Did you get an email recently that made you smile, your eyes tear up, or flat out gut punched you? I want to see it. 

Forward the email to me at (chris at threebeaconmarketing dot com) with a brief note about what you liked about it. If I choose to break it down, I’ll give you a shoutout and link back to your site. 

Oh, and don’t forward me emails you actually wrote. That’s the only rule.

Let’s get started.

The Subscriber Re-Engagement Email

I found this email hilarious and a great example of “having fun” with what would otherwise be a boring, standard email.

Read the start of this re-engagement email: 

Here’s what I love about this email… 

First, the “human” causes a pattern interrupt. How? Well, most emails like this use “First Name” to start the email. This opening interrupts that expectation and gets people’s attention to at least read the first few lines. 

The opening lines mention WHY this email is in the reader’s inbox. It’s clear. It’s concise. And, it has a little personality to it, as well–even if it does read like it’s from a robot.. 

Finally, this line hooks the reader into finishing the email: 

“you may be dead.” 

What does this do to the reader?

Well, if they’re reading this email, they most likely have a gut reaction like this:

“But I’m not dead.” 

And then they start to worry that they missed something important. Because if presumed dead, then they’ll miss out on whatever the sender of this email has been offering and will offer in the future. 

People have a serious Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO).

If you haven’t noticed, humans hate being “left out” of important things, even if they don’t give a shit about the thing. Don’t ask me why, but it’s real. 

The Body Copy

Now that the reader has been hooked into consuming the rest of this email… 

(if not to proclaim their pulse, then out of sheer curiosity on where this email will go next). 

Here’s the body copy: 

The sender says, “If true, we’d be devastated.” This lets the reader know that the sender is human and cares about them. 

The rest of the body copy goes further into the reason why this email has landed in the reader’s inbox. 

Reason why copy is powerful. You make a statement or claim about a person, place, thing, or idea, and then you say “here’s why” and explain why you made the statement. 

This statement-because back-and-forth is super easy to follow as a reader, which increases message consumption.

And, typically, the more time your reader spends with your message, the more likely they are to buy or respond.  

This body copy also lands a pretty decent joke, too. 

“While there’s nothing we can do to get our money back, we can at least stop the bleeding. Not yours, though. It’s far too late for that.” 

I said, “ha” aloud when I read those lines. Why? Because it’s a good joke. 

Here’s the caveat to jokes in copy: 

You gotta have thick skin to tell jokes in copy. 


Two reasons: 

First, the written word is one of the most difficult modes of communication, so a lot can get lost in translation. 

Second, jokes can be polarizing. You can never know for sure how someone will respond to a joke. Especially when a joke is neither expected or requested. This is why a stand-up comedian can tell the same joke to a group of random strangers on the street and to a sold out crowd in a theater and get two totally different reactions (even if the people in both places are the same people!). 

Expectations and timing are everything in comedy. 

Jokes take a thick skin to pull off because while it may be funny, it can also get you some negative backlash. 

Keep your wits about you. 


And onto the best part of this email. 

Ultimately, the sender wants to find out if the receiver is still “active” as a subscriber. 

It does not matter if the subscriber wants to keep getting emails or not, yet. 

The sender can figure that out later, but… 

For now, he wants the subscriber to prove they have a pulse: 

The sender makes another joke with: 

“Now, the sixteenth-of-a-dollar question…” 

Read: “the million-dollar question.” 

This humor helps keep the email entertaining AND gets the reader to feel good before asking for an action. 

Then, the sender asks for action with this question: “are you dead?” 

I’d imagine this email gets a lot of clicks. 


Because on one hand, you have the people who took this literally and were afraid of missing out. So, they clicked on “No, I am not dead.” 

On the other hand, you’ve got the ornery people who see what the sender is doing and are curious what will happen when they click “Yes, I am dead.” 

In either case, the sender is getting the click, which is the absolute brilliance of this re-engagement approach. It’s a human knee-jerk reaction to say you’re alive or challenge the norm.

When re-engaging your list, get the reaction, whether that be an open, click, or reply. 

All that matters is figuring out which email addresses are real and which ones are not (otherwise known as “dead”). 

This CTA helps make that happen, beautifully.  

What You Learned

Here’s the tl;dr of what you learned today: 

  • Pattern interrupts can get people to stop and read your copy
  • FOMO is a powerful driver to get people to take action
  • “Reason Why” copy is easy to follow and can increase message consumption
  • Jokes in copy are powerful, but come with inherent risk
  • Expectations and timing drive comedy
  • Getting a response, whether open, click, or reply, is powerful
  • Humor before a request creates reciprocity in the relationship

Now what?

Book a call and see if it makes sense to work together.

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