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:
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:
But if you take a look at some of the other Uber email marketing attempts, they’re not inherently interesting:
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:
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:
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:
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.”
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?”
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!”
“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!”
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”
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:
…..but after getting a bunch of USEFUL emails from Uber, someone’s scope of what the product will be FAR LARGER like this!
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.
P.S. Comment below with some ways YOU think you could improve the Uber newsletter, I would love to help get them more feedback!