Knock It Off With the April Fools’ Emails

Look, I’m normally not this cranky, but as of 11 a.m. on April 1, I’ve already received at least 12 April Fools’ Day emails. And while I enjoy humor as much as any other warm-blooded mammal, what I don’t enjoy is my inbox being clogged up with garbage. That’s right. I said garbage.

Look, I’m normally not this cranky, but as of 11 a.m. on April 1, I’ve already received at least 12 April Fools’ Day emails. And while I enjoy humor as much as any other warm-blooded mammal, what I don’t enjoy is my inbox being clogged up with garbage.

That’s right. I said garbage.

Liz Lemon Nerd RageJust because April 1 is some kind of unofficial-official holiday of pranks, jokes and general ridiculousness does not mean every marketer with access to an email subscriber list should use the day to test out their sad-excuse attempts at humor.

Nine times out of 10 it falls flat, latches onto a cheap joke and is as disastrous as that guy at open mic night with big-time dreams of doing stand-up for Comedy Central. Knock. It. Off.

“Whoa, Melissa,” you’re saying. “That’s some serious vitriol you’re spewing. It can’t be all that bad.”

Well, let’s take a look.

April Fools Day email from Third Love
Just … no. I’m sorry, this email is ridiculous, and honestly kind of gross. I don’t care if it does include a dog, it’s not cute. When you click through on the “Shop Now” button, you’re taken to a landing page for “Pawfect Fitting Dog Bras.”

Here’s the thing: Third Love makes slightly higher-end bras that are made of high-quality materials and designed to fit a variety of shapes and sizes. Nothing about this brand is cheesy, or funny at all. Yet, they decided to spend time and energy not only creating an April Fools’ Day email featuring dog bras, but a landing page and product pages.

I’d love to know what marketing manager signed off on this gem. Because it’s an off-brand, off-putting joke campaign that has actually lowered my interest in trying out Third Love products in the future.

April Fools Day Email from PlatedPlated thought it would be cute to spoof dating apps … but there already are foodie dating apps. So again, it’s a lame idea with a somewhat okay execution. The landing page even includes a video for the dating service. Eye-roll. Again, time could have been better spent elsewhere.

April Fool's Day email from King Arthur FlourAll my crankiness aside, I must tip my hat to King Arthur Flour for the email it sent on this most foolhardy of days. Every year, KAF features its annual baking blunders blog post in an email sent to subscribers. As a baker, it can be nice to see that you’re not the only one who mis-measures the flour or burns the pizza crust from time to time (misery loves company, right?).

So King Arthur Flour stayed on-brand with its email, and offered me relevant content that honestly made me laugh. Nicely done.

But, truly, if we want to talk about the experts at April Fools’ Day emails, you’d be remiss to not mention ThinkGeek.

Direct Mail Marketing With Humor?

Yes, humorous direct mail works. Many marketers shy away from it because they are worried about offending someone. There is no need to use dramatic political cartoons when trying to reach a broad audience. Analyze who is on your list and then you can plan out humor that would suit them. The reason that you should try using humor is it works. It is a great way to engage people and get them to share, when it is done correctly.

Yes, humorous direct mail works. Many marketers shy away from it because they are worried about offending someone. There is no need to use dramatic political cartoons when trying to reach a broad audience. Analyze who is on your list and then you can plan out humor that would suit them. The reason that you should try using humor is it works. It is a great way to engage people and get them to share, when it is done correctly.

5 Suggested Funnies:

  1. Create your own comic strip: Create your own fun comic strip with characters that represent fun things about your company or industry. You can highlight real problems people have in a funny way and resolve them. Get creative! This can be really fun for your team as well as the recipients.
  2. Cartoons: Add cartoons in humorous situations that people could get into in your industry. Make them really over the top to get the laughter. Make the message fun, maybe even a play ob words that ties into the cartoon theme.
  3. Images: Find a funny image that makes you and your team laugh. Create a way to integrate that funny image into a problem/solution you can fix. There are plenty of images that can invoke laughter without being offensive.
  4. Real life examples: In many cases, there are real life examples of funny things that have occurred either in the office or with customers that can be highlighted and incorporated into a funny example of what not to do. These are very popular as they are relatable, it could happen to them too.
  5. Jokes: Now, no dirty ones allowed! Clean fun jokes that show how your brand can relate to people on their level and be fun.

First, when you are creating your direct mail and want to include humor, make sure to test your ideas on several people from different backgrounds who are outside your organization. This will allow you to see first if people get it, second if they think it’s funny and third if anyone is upset by it. After your idea passes the people test your next step will be to find ways for people to share your fun. Try creating a landing page where people can go to share the funny with others on social media, text message or email. Keep in mind that the landing page needs to be created with responsive design so that if accessed by a mobile device or a desktop it will look correctly as well as be functional for all.

I really like to use humor in direct mail. People love to laugh and to share what they think it funny, just look at Facebook, people post funny things all of the time. The last thing you need to make sure your funny direct mail is a success is to have your call to action stand out. Don’t get so caught up in the humor that you ignore what is important. Test your call to action with the same people you showed your funny design to. You will learn a lot from them. Consider testing more than one CTA to see what offer pulls the best when paired with the humorous theme. Now it time to go out there and create some really funny direct mail. Do you have an example that you have created or seen? If so, I would love to hear about it!