Email Sequence Teardown: Tipsy Elves

Sometimes, you just need a twerking Santa sweater in your life.

Tipsy Elves Twerking Santa Sweater

And when you do, the place you go to find it is Tipsy Elves.

Tipsy Elves was started in 2011 when the founders, “…realized in college that it was impossible to find unique, humorous and one-of-a-kind outfits to wear to the many theme parties we attended.”

Aside from their trademark holiday-themed party clothes, Tipsy Elves is known for doing email marketing very well.

The emails they send are irreverent, quirky, and fun…  just what you’d expect from someone selling Rudolph the Reindeer onesies.

As a Klaviyo user, Tipsy Elves has a number of email automations in place. These include a welcome series, cart abandonment series, and browse abandonment series.

Today I want to focus on their welcome series, and examine it in detail. Let’s dive in, shall we?

The Emails

  • Day 1: Emails 1 & 2
  • Day 2: Email 3
  • Day 4: Email 4

Email 1: Welcome

The first email you get on signing up is a brief, but friendly welcome email.

What I Like

It’s on-brand from the get-go. Right off the bat, Tipsy Elve sets expectations, personality-wise.

They’re saying, if you’re offbeat, if you’re a rule breaker (but in a fun way), then you’re a Tipsy Elves person.

It’s written in a direct 1-to-1 style, meaning, it feels like you’re talking to a real person. To give you an idea of the alternative, imagine if it had been been written like this:

“Dear Reader,

Here at Tipsy Elves, we believe in quirky, lighthearted fun. As you can see, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. If you’re the same way, we think you’ll love being a part of the family.”

That’s the kind of messaging you get from 90% of businesses. Perfectly “normal” sounding, but flat and not very exciting.

It’s the difference between describing and demonstrating. 

Tipsy Elves demonstrate their sense of offbeat fun by listing things like, “type of person who rips the tags off your mattresses, swims only 29 minutes after eating, never properly ejects thumb drives,” etc.

That’s how you stand out and get noticed and build your brand.

They also make it clear they’re easy to reach, by including an email address and phone number for customer support.

Could Be Improved

1-to-1 vs One-to-Many

One of the first things I noticed in this email is the headline: “Welcome to the club. We like your style.”

It’s a perfectly fine headline, except for one important word. Can you guess what it is?

It’s “we.”

I’m a big advocate of having a single “face” of the brand, who all the emails come from. That way, your readers connect with one specific person, instead of a faceless group. 

When the emails come from a single point of contact, you can tell endless stories about your life and weave them into your sales messaging.

Length

It’s a pretty short email. 

I tend to like longer, more detailed emails in general, intro emails included. If the content is good, people will want to read.

To do more brand-building, Tipsy Elves could have gone one step further and fleshed out their “why” a bit more. 

As in, why is it important to make time for care-free fun? You don’t need a three-page manifesto, just 2-3 lines outlining their brand values would be enough to convey it.

Set Expectations

One thing that’s missing from the first email is expectation setting for future messages.

How about some future-pacing? Something like, “Every week, our busy little Elves send out news, updates, and special deals… for your eyes only.” Simple, but fun.

After that, a natural next step would be whitelisting instructions. You made it to the inbox this time… don’t you want to stay there? 

A quick link to a page with whitelisting instructions will increase the odds your emails don’t go to spam.

Email 2: Discount Delivery

This email’s a little weird. 

It’s a discount delivery email (delivering the coupon code the subscriber was promised)…

But because of the subject line and headline, it’s also a “Welcome Email, Part 2.” 

I could see it being a slighty confusing for someone scanning Gmail and thinking, “Wait, I already got this email didn’t I?”

Anyhow, it is what it is. Onward…

What I Like

This email is simple and uncluttered. I like that.

I’m not big on visually-focused emails (I prefer text-based) but this is a pretty good example of a visual email that keeps things clean.

Copy-wise, there’s not much here. But what they do have gets right down to business.

At the top, they’ve highlighted what could pass as their tagline: “Outrageously fun clothing.” And they even embed it in a very (very) brief origin story. “It didn’t exist, so we created it.”

That’s pretty cool. Super brief, and to the point. Punchy. Me like.

From there, they include six ‘anxiety-reducer’ badges to set your mind at ease. Roughly, they translate to:

  1. Tons of people like us (and you will, too)
  2. You’ll get your stuff fast
  3. We’re kinda famous
  4. Our stuff is top-quality
  5. We’ll take care of you
  6. We’re fun (in case you hadn’t already noticed)

These are always good to have. Visual badges like this are easy to scan and get the message across quickly.

Could Be Improved

Soul vs Soulless

If the first email was brief, this one is super brief. There’s barely any copy here.

Overall it feels kind of transactional: “Here’s your discount, here’s why you should buy from us, here’s the link.”

That’s not particularly quirky or fun now, is it?

At this point, Email #2, I feel like I’m missing some context. Who are Tipsy Elves? Why are they all about weird holiday garb? What’s their mission?

They have a nucleus of an origin story, but it’s so brief it’s barely a mention. Why not add some meat, and turn it into a true mini-hero’s journey?

Email 3: Social Proof

What I Like

This is a nice-looking email.

It’s light on copy, but as we’ve seen, that’s Tipsy Elves’ style.

And in the case of a social proof email like this, I don’t think it’s a big deal. The images and the reviews are what’s doing the heavy lifting here.

Every review and picture strikes me as effective. Each one “does its job.”

The first one is a pretty blonde, decked out in her Tipsy Elves finery, having a blast out on the ski slopes. It’s pretty aspirational.

I could see a lot of young women seeing it and thinking, “Yeah, I want to be super hot and dressed in fun, outrageous ski gear, too!”

The review ticks several boxes:

  • Delivery was fast
  • Came with free gifts
  • They’re a repeat customer (trust)
  • The clothes are high quality

The next image shows a more social angle. It’s two friends in matching rainbow suits, looking all fun and sexy. “Our wacky clothes are a chance to bond with you with your bestie,” it seems to say.

The review hits some important notes:

  • Big-time enthusiasm
  • Social approval (compliments from others)
  • They’re a loyal repeat customer

Finally, the third image shows a modern-day joe sixpack (college grad version) sipping drinks on the porch. If the first two images look a little staged, this one feels like actual user generated content… which is almost always the best option.

The review hits the right notes, too:

  • Enthusiasm for the brand
  • Quality clothes
  • Fast shipping

Add the 3 reviews & images together, and you’ve pretty much covered your bases, persuasion-wise. 

So to me, this is the best email of the bunch. 

They layout is nice, the pictures are good, the testimonials tick the right boxes, and the 5-star reviews are prominent.

Could Be Improved

I’m not a big fan of the headline, “What’s the Word.” Seems kind of flat, right?

If you’re going to ask a question in the headline, at least use a question mark to pique curiosity and encourage people to read on.

Email 4: Urgency

What I Like

Hmm, I might need to dig a little for this one.

I like that the email is clear. The subject line is: “Your last chance for 20% off”… which is about as straightforward as you can get. The headline is clear, too: “Don’t miss out!” 

Nobody who reads this email is going to be confused. This is an urgent sales pitch, no dancing around it.

I also like that Tipsy Elves is using unique discount codes, instead of something generic like “Save20.” Custom codes are one-time use, which prevents sharing. So that’s a big benefit.

Could Be Improved

Well, what can I say… there’s not much to this email.

It’s the equivalent of a flyer somebody jammed under your windshield wiper – it’s all sell. Where’s the personality? Where’s the storytelling?

I try to make every email valuable in some way. Sure, the discount itself is valuable. But I’m talking about making the messaging valuable.

What if Tipsy Elves told a story about how the elves are holding onto their discount as long as possible, but time’s running out? 

Little snippets like that add an emotional dimension to your emails. 

You get the sense that, hey this isn’t some faceless company… these are real people, and they care about me. And they really want me to use this coupon!

Brands are able to charge premium prices because people are buying the feeling of their product, as much as the product itself.

The words you use and stories you tell are how you build that emotional connection.

Conclusion

Overall, I’d say there’s room for improvement in Tipsy Elves’ welcome series.  

At only 4 emails long, it’s pretty short. They could easily add in a couple more emails like a product demo and another ‘deadline’ urgency email to flesh things out… 

And if they wanted to get really fancy, they even add in a cross-sell mini-sequence for subscribers who don’t buy.

Still, 4 emails for a welcome series is perfectly fine. But no matter how long the sequence, I’d like to see more soul in these emails.

For a brand like Tipsy Elves, it wouldn’t be hard to do. The product itself is already fun. Just take some of that fun and creatively sprinkle it into the messaging.

Every email is an chance to build your brand. Why not take advantage?

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