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Uber Emails and how they can improve


Neville

I'm a copywriter and tend to notice when people are screwing up on their email.

This time I've noticed someone who has room to grow: UBER. 

Love the service.

Love the company.

Meh on the emails.  

I pulled a big list of the emails Uber has sent me since I signed up for Uber in July 2013 when I needed a looong ride from the Seattle airport to the suburbs:

Uber email frequency

Of all these emails, the only inherently interesting emails I really get are when they send my receipt.

The receipt email is great because it's all about ME!  I even save them in a special expenses folder.

These receipt emails are inherently helpful to me:

uber-receipt

 

But if you take a look at some of the other Uber email marketing attempts, they're not inherently interesting:

uber-email-5-star

This email I thought was actually on the higher-end of being interesting, but it fell flat.

Problems with this email:

  • Doesn't particularly teach you anything useful.
  • There was a chance to tell a good emotional story, but it seemed like someone at Uber "wanted to keep the email short" and cut it off.  It lost all the emotions because it was so short.  (Guy gives ride to another guy to jump-start his car.  BFD).  If there's a great story to tell, don't worry about the length.  Keep it long if necessary to tell a good story.

 

 

"Ok Neville, how do you KNOW FOR SURE these emails could be better??  You don't know their actual stats....."

 

I started poking around to see if I could find some "pseudo-stats" from the emails.  Time-and-time again I found results such as this:

Checkout this "#WomenMoveUs" campaign email:

uber-women-email

Ok, that's a noble cause.....but the message is all over the place and not correctly explained.

But more troubling was that I checked the "psedudo-stats" from a lot of emails like this, and the numbers were surprisingly low for some of them....like the view count on the YouTube video from the email:

Uber email video count

That video is 4+ months old and barely has any views for a company on the size of Uber.

Even if this video was only sent to Uber subscribers in Seattle, this number still seems jokingly-small for how much effort must've been put into that campaign.

 

So how can we make Uber emails better....and actually get people to use the service more?

Let's play a simple thought-experiment:

Let's pretend you have been named Uber's VP of Email Marketing Growth, and you have to get people ACTUALLY READING the Uber emails or else Travis Kalanick will bitch-slap you.

How would we do this?

I think the key point is to make Uber's emails inherently interesting.  This means writing about topics such as:

  • Showing alternate uses for Uber people may not have thought of.  This helps ME.

  • Stories of people using Uber in unique and useful ways.  This helps ME think of new ways to use Uber.
  • Cool features customers may not know of.  This helps ME understand the product better.
  • How Uber dramatically improved someone's life.  This gets ME emotionally involved.
  • A case study of how much money someone saved because they take Uber instead of owning a car.  This helps ME make decisions about my vehicle situation.

It's very tempting to "brag" about how cool your company is, but it's far more effective to show what the services can do for THEM.

Let's take a couple of examples.

In the blue boxes below I've made a sample email in the same format Uber currently sends it's emails:

[[Headline]]

[[image]]

[[Text]]

This email is meant to show the email subscriber some cool ideas for using an Uber Black (they may have never even THOUGHT of using the service for these):

"Want to roll in style?  Order an Uber Black and get a luxury car picking you up."

Uber Black Car

An Uber Black will only cost you 20% more than an UberX, but you get a Black Car (either Mercedes, Jaguar, BMW, or Audi) picking you up.

An Uber Black car is great for:

  • Date nights.
  • Looking baller at the club.
  • Transporting wedding parties.
  • Picking up VIP guests from the airport in style.

Next time you want to feel like a million bucks, order yourself an Uber Black.

 

This email shows some cool uses about Uber XL.  A lot of people may not even know you could carry this many people in an Uber.  This pops the idea into their brain that for their next group outing, everyone could take a single vehicle:

"Did you know you can take up to 7 people in an Uber XL?"

Uber XL

When you've got a group of people going somewhere and don't want to split up, just select "Uber XL" on your app. We'll send a van or SUV capable of taking 7 adults.

A taxi will normally take only 4 passengers.  But you my friend have FAR more friends than that to shuttle around.

  • Use an Uber XL when going out on the town with a group of friends.
  • Shuttle your big family around on a rainy day.
  • Have tons of bags from shopping?  They'll easily fit in an Uber XL.

Just select "Uber XL" when calling your Uber, and a big SUV or van will come your way with plenty of room!

 

This email shows "unique uses" of the service.  Most people think of Uber as only "a car service kind of like a taxi."  So giving real life examples like this of "alternate uses" expands someone's view of what Uber is:

"Uber helped us move the big stuff!"

uber-moving

"All of our friends live in the city and no one has a truck or car big enough to move stuff.

We only had a couch and a dresser that needed a large van to be moved.  We selected "Uber XL" and got a Honda Odyssey van big enough to fit the couch with no problem!

The cheapest moving service we could find was $300.......but our Uber XL trip only cost $12!  Thanks Uber!"

Sincerely,

Ashlee Tacohm - Happy Uber Rider

 

This is another "alternate use" email which people may not have even realized.  A large number of teenagers are using Uber with their parents permission, this could bolster more of that use by letting parents know some crucial info:

"Jason's new ride home from school is Uber"

uber-bus

Our oldest son is 15 and part of over 6 different after-school activities.

Between 3 different kids, we end up shuttling the kids across the city.....and sometimes literally couldn't make some activities.  Thanks to Uber, we sometimes have our 15 year old grab an Uber to wherever he needs to go.

It's comforting to know that even when swamped with errands for the other kids, he can still safely get where he needs to.

The best part is that Uber tracks the entire trip for us.  We know where his pickup location was, drop-off point, who the driver is, and the route they took.  As parents this is a must-have for our peace of mind.  We'd never let him take a random taxi.

Thanks to Uber Jason can be active as he wants.

 

 

Before these email marketing campaigns, a person signed up to Uber may think of it just in this little circle:

uber-scope

.....but after getting a bunch of USEFUL emails from Uber, someone's scope of what the product will be FAR LARGER like this!

uber-scope-big

 

Now you don't have to be a genius to figure out that the person who is well-informed of all the cool uses of the product will use it more.  

Sincerely,

Neville Medhora

 

P.S. Comment below with some ways YOU think you could improve the Uber newsletter, I would love to help get them more feedback!

 

 

 


User Feedback

Recommended Comments



Guest Toby

Posted

These breakdown email posts are cool. You should start responding to each of the uber emails with your breakdown of how it could be better :-)
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Guest Ruben Greve

Posted

Hi!

Love to learn from this source! I would advice a different layout in your email. Maybe pictures or html? It would look better that way.

If you introduce the topic a bit more, I think the click rate would go up!

Thank you

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Guest Ubiratan

Posted

Great post! When you focus on the benefit for the user, everything get better.
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Guest Mike Smith

Posted

This is a great post. Thanks for sharing. Reinforces the emphasis you consistently place on providing value for the READER not just spewing facts about the sender. I struggle to remember this often when I'm writing my own copy. This is a helpful reminder. I especially love the piece about how I have so many friends I couldn't possible fit into a regular sized Uber
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Guest Wayne Edwards

Posted

couldnt agree more. Have been researching "triggered" / transactional email providers for similar reasons. Make it relevant to me; tell me something I don't know or hadn't thought of.

Wayne

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Guest Howard

Posted

Have you contacted Uber?I'm sure you could make big bucks and improve their sales.
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Guest Sorin

Posted

Cheers for the insights Nev.

Love these, hope to see more teardowns.

All the best!

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Guest Natwar

Posted

I think we (all of us) should tweet this to Uber as well :) They are pretty twitter "savvy"

I already did.. ;)

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Guest Beatrix Willius

Posted

The original Uber mails were totally boring. Personally I would have unsubscribed from those immediately. You improvements are less boring. But then I think I needed a taxi in the last 10 years like once or so.

And of course, Uber is banned here in Germany as far as I remember. So if we ever get Uber it would be like a Taxi anyway.

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Guest Nicole

Posted

We don't have Uber where I live yet, but it's coming soon. Basically the only time I've heard about it is when somebody gets assaulted by an Uber driver. So if I were writing an email to introduce Uber to my local area, I'd highlight the fact that Uber cars are driven by our friends and neighbors. I'd probably tell the story of a super non-threatening male driver. Bonus points if I could get a picture of him with a college girl he drove somewhere who didn't have to call the cops afterwards.
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Guest arumiat

Posted

No, I don't think he needs to worry about fluff like html and pictures. His COPY is the focus and does the job perfectly
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I came here for the Nev Box, and left with some useful ideas I can use in my emails. Thanks.
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Guest Gregory

Posted

Great post!

I guess it would depend on some testing, but telling people new ways to use Uber (like furniture) is a great start to improving their email campaigns. I would also try interesting video content like "How Mothers use Uber" because parents use tech apps in the most hilarious ways (and also gives them data on how to market to the older generation), and also just reminding people why Uber is better than the competition (ie: taxis, Lyft, etc.).

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Guest John

Posted

Great stuff to keep in mind. Keep up the good work!
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Guest Szabolcs Szakacs

Posted

Is it a bad thing if I'm here only for the change to get a free NevBox?
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Guest Samith

Posted

An excellent post. Id improve the uber emails by them including recent reviews of YOU by the driver. So it would make you feel good about being such a good passenger.

Perhaps they can keep stats about how many miles you have done and how much you've saved by using Uber.

After a certain amount they might give them specials or gifts.

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Guest Robin

Posted

That's the stuff Nev!

If businesses would only understand how important and lucrative email-marketing can be if only they had a DS Copywrting mindset...

I had the chance to talk about this with John Carlton (he wrote an amazing post about corporate advertising): It's really frustrating to see big companies make those mistakes without being able to do anything about it. in Europe it's even worse since we have not a very, well, "salesy" culture.

However, I changed the copy of emails from a few startups I work with (french startups) and, surprise surprise, european also respond to DS!

Short: I hope that Uber reads your post, implements all of this, and sends you 7 figures because that's what they could make by implementing this kind of email marketing.

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Guest Uhuru

Posted

Comedy always get through to me. Granted what's funny to one may not be to another but Uber could take a stab at it. Think about the last time you flew Delta Airlines. The folks at Delta have transformed those boring, stale old service announcements (seat-belt fastening, emergency exits and so forth) into comedy gold. Or at least they gave it a go, which makes people pay attention. That's my two bits, intelligent humor. Uber should try that.
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Guest Kimberly

Posted

I think the recommended changes are great. I think the Uber Email Master needs to spend more time in the seat of the consumer for inspiration. What better way to improve than to experience the service? Take a ride and get work done - oh wait there is another benefit to ME! I can work while I ride.
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Guest Nick

Posted

Dude that's an awesome read. I love the uber black example (baller).

Bit surprising those guys don't have better peeps writing stuff for them!

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Guest Tom Brown

Posted

Couldn't agree more.

The most exciting emails I get (and actually bother to read) from Uber are usually the ones about ice cream trucks, bands on the back of a truck, etc - the special stuff!

They definitely need jazzing up and telling their 'story' would help to connect with an awful lot more potential customers. Most people don't know about the Spotify features, the sharing potential (£10 for recommending a friend = winner!), or quite honestly that they've being rated by the drivers too.

Got chatting to a real friendly Uber driver recently who showed me my profile on his end and what might cause it to rise or fall. Useful stuff!

Stories = connections = sales.

Go well, Neville!

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Guest Ayub

Posted

Some ideas to improve their emails:

1. Some emails should ask for engagement. Like hit reply if you have a cool Uber story, they could use this to feed the "interesting uber use cases" email ideas you had.

2. Have call to actions. Sometimes Uber has special events going on that they email a couple days ahead about. But they have no call to action, like put this in your calendar, or go to this page and schedule it. Uber offered to deliver my unwanted clothes to a donation center, but I forgot to do it when the date came around. Would have remembered if Uber asked me to put it in my calendar, or even better schedule a pickup in advance.

3. Send me emails about Uber in other countries. It would be cool if Uber emailed me about a country they're in, with a mini travel guide and the cost of an uber from and to popular places.

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Guest Charles Starks

Posted

The amount of views on that YouTube video in relation to how much that campaign must have cost actually made me feel a little bad inside :-O

Until a couple of articles and starter PDFs, Copy was like understanding Chinese. Maybe it is just "over-thought" too much?

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