DTC 37: 📦 Soda Brands: Email Analysis
May 21, 2023
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Screenshot of 'Heroines – Weight of the World' NFT by José Delbo

I’m sure you’re excited it’s finally Saturday – but nobody feels as great about the weekend as Big Comic Book feels about the NFT space. DC Comics just announced their plans to monetize iconic artwork through the sale of non-fungible, blockchain-based ownership tokens. Sound like a weird move? Well Jose Delbo’s “Heroines - Weight of the World” NFT recently sold for $2,000,000. That’s a lot of zeros for DC to miss out on – we can see why they’re keen to join the fray! Ka-POW!

Watch this space, but let’s keep our focus firmly planted in building and scaling amazing DTC brands. 

That’s right, the star of today’s newsy is part two of our Healthy Sodas DTC Diagnostic – we’re examining the email strategies of Olipop, Ugly, and Poppi.

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Healthy Sodas DTC Diagnostic: Part Two 

Welcome to part two of our four part deep dive into the marketing strategies of DTC soda brands Olipop, Ugly, and Poppi.

If you haven’t read last weekend’s Facebook Ads analysis, you can catch up here

Today we’re focusing on email strategy with the help of Pilothouse’s chief email expert Julien Normand.  

We’ve analyzed each brand’s confirmation, welcome email, purchase confirmation, transactional, and sales emails to provide our readers insight into what these market leaders are doing well, and what they could improve on. 

Let’s jump in: 

🥤 Olipop  

📧 Email subscription confirmation 

The jury is still out on whether brands should use double authentication. Ask one email nerd and they’ll tell you it's a must. Ask another and they’ll say absolutely not. 

There’s a risk with both options. 

According to Campaign Monitor, up to 20% of initial subscribers will not complete the verification step. On the other hand, brands who aren’t running double authentication risk diluting their email list with users who don’t want to receive their emails. 

Like most double-authentications, Olipop’s is short and sweet. 

Our only beef is that there’s no visual element or text quickly explaining who Olipop is, and why they’re in your inbox. If users subscribe and come back in a day or two they could be confused. “Unless the subject line reads ‘Hey, we’re a soda brand’ you might not remember what the brand is” says Julien. 


📧  Welcome email

A majority of Olipop emails include “Enjoy Free Shipping in the contiguous U.S.'' at the top. We assume this is dynamic based on location, which is excellent. 

As you move down the email, the first paragraph of copy reinforces the brand benefits perfectly. Notice the second paragraph states, “Olipop tastes just like the soda you grew up with” The brand uses nostalgia to level set the audience and then introduce how their product is different. 

The focus of a welcome email should be to introduce your brand and build trust with your list. Brands falter when they make the sale/discount code the focal point of their welcome email. Olipop places the 10% off code at the bottom of the email BELOW the “Shop Now” button. Those who are ready to order will click that button before reaching the 10% off and those who aren’t as convinced may need it as a push to purchase. We’re huge fans of this structure. Test it out for yourself. 


📧 Purchase confirmation

As a transactional email, purchase confirmation emails are sent even if a user unsubscribes from all promotional emails. Some brands get lazy with transactional emails, but Olipop’s emails are on-brand and tasteful. Remember, this isn’t an opportunity to upsell. In fact, it’s against email rules to do so and the practice can lead to your brand being banned from all transactional emails. 

📧  Congrats on your first order

Olipop includes instructions, what to expect with their product, and fun copy like “We’re thrilled you took the chance on us and we think your microbiome will be too.” The email is simple and aesthetically appealing. 

Notice that Olipop writes, “Congratulations on your first order” which means they’re segmenting their list based on purchase history. Julien is a big advocate for email segmentation, saying “It’s hugely important to segment your list in order to progress customers to the next level of consumer.” 

While this email is almost perfect, we’d like to see Olipop test product recommendations at the bottom. For example, adding “Other products our customers love” is a great opportunity to upsell and increase your AOV since the product hasn’t been shipped. This isn’t a transactional email so they’re allowed to upsell here.  

📧  Out for delivery + delivered 

Olipop sends two more transactional emails allowing users to track their packages and stay informed throughout the entire process. This consistent and clear communication helps build trust with customers, especially those purchasing for the first time. 

📧  Feature product

One word: cohesive. Every part of this email aligns with orange squeeze. Even the images at the bottom feature Orange Squeeze. 

Instead of placing the product's value propositions such as “Immunity boost” and “Filled with vitamin C” in regular text, they’ve overlaid each to help stand out. It’s a subtle, but important design point. 

Lastly, the size of each social icon is perfect. Brands tend to bury their social icons, but Olipop prominently features both.

 📧  Promotional

For DTC brands, increasing subscriptions is vital to sustainability. Olipop presents the option to subscribe 10 days after a consumer's first order. 

The email introduces each flavor along with fun copy like “ex-party animal,” and “only watches black and white movies.” This is some of Olipop’s best copywriting, according to the company's director of CX and retention Eli Weiss. 

Since subscriptions are so important, one thing we’d suggest is introducing the service farther up in the email. Currently, it’s buried at the bottom and has a greater chance of getting lost when customers are quickly reading.

🥤 Ugly 

📧  Welcome 

Where Olipop is elegant, tasteful, and cute, Ugly is loud, in your face, and direct, which is refreshing (ha!). “Say wut up to your new squad” and “Sup noob” are how Ugly makes itself known. While slightly obnoxious, this type of copy is perfectly on-brand. Consumers either love it or hate it which is a good thing. There’s nothing worse than people being “so-so” about your brand. 

Further down the email, Ugly states each value prop of their product. They end the email with bold copy and a CTA button that we’re huge fans of. 

Unlike typical welcome emails, Ugly’s is very copy heavy. While that’s usually a red flag, Ugly makes the consumer laugh, which we think warrants the amount of text. 

The key = invest in great copywriters.  

📧  Purchase confirmation + out for delivery

Where other brands settle for the ordinary, Ugly took its time and crafted branded copy at every turn. Instead of the typical “expect your order in 3-5 business days,” Ugly took it up a notch with: “so chillax while we get all that goodness ready for shipping. Plan to crush some Ugly in 3-5 business days.” 

Both emails deliver all the necessary information plus an extra smile or two.  


📧  Order delivered 

Notice in the bottom right-hand corner the “visit our shop” button. As mentioned above, it’s against the rules to upsell on transactional emails, but in this case, Ugly flirts with the rule. 

Technically they’re not selling anything but instead encouraging users to check out the website. It’s a sneaky move and one worth testing for your own brand. 😏


📧  Promotion 

These emails are already easy to read, but Ugly went the extra mile to highlight the most critical words: 20% off, 24 hours, code chill, etc. If a customer even glances, they’ll pick up on these. 

Notice that Ugly matches the CTA messaging with the messaging of the entire email. It’s not your typical “Shop Now,” but rather “Shop Amazon” or “Shop Lemon Lime.”

🥤 Poppi

📧  Welcome 

Poppi’s hero image really pops off the screen, but teal and orange aren’t the brand’s main colors. Welcome emails should perfectly align with your flagship colors to build consistent brand recognition. Poppi’s flagship colors are pink and yellow, but they’re nowhere to be found on this email.

Our other concern is that the body copy in “health benefits” has a different font than the body copy in “Meet Poppi.” Remember: color and font consistency is vital across all customer touchpoints. 

📧  Featured product + review

Poppi’s simple and fun hero image aligns with the overall brand aesthetic, including colors. Further down, Poppi makes excellent use of a product shot alongside various value propositions. This format makes it easy and digestible for the customer.  

Since Poppi is only sold through Amazon, it’s crucial they provide context when crafting CTA’s. The typical “Shop Now” button would confuse customers. Instead, they’ve used “Shop on Amazon.” 

Our only issue with this email is the review. “It’s a general review that doesn’t have a place within the hierarchy of the email,” says Julien. If the goal is to provide impactful social proof, we’d suggest moving it farther up and choosing a more specific review. 

📧  Holiday 

While we’re big fans of non-toxic relationships, we’re not a fan of Poppi changing the color of their wordmark to red. Logo/wordmark consistency is crucial, especially for new brands. 

We’d also suggest bolding or changing the color of “20offvday” so it sticks out. We skimmed over this email and missed it the first time. Other customers probably did too.

We’ve been tough on Poppi, but it’s important to note that as a newer brand, they’re still in the process of finding their email rhythm. Aren’t we all?

Poppi is delivering kick-ass emails, but the competition is tough especially when compared to Olipop and Ugly who’ve been in the game for a couple years.  

That’s a wrap on our email analysis. We hope this spotlight helps you fill any gaps you might have in your email marketing strategy.

Our next review will cover each brand's website!

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Peak Design vs. Amazon Basics: A DTC David & Goliath

What would you do if/when Amazon rips off your product design? 🥴

You could take it on the chin, OR you could follow Peak Design’s lead and call Amazon the f*ck out while presenting a case for why consumers should purchase YOUR product. 

It appears that Peak Design’s popular $99.95 “Everyday Sling” has a copycat product in Amazon’s $32.99 AmazonBasics Camera Bag (it was even called “Everyday Sling” until the video hit). 

The two products appear almost identical at face value, but Peak Design went to YouTube to outline what makes their product different (and worth the significantly higher price point). 

Peak Design’s video “A Tale of Two Slings: Peak Design and Amazon Basics” outlines how their high-quality carbon-neutral product took years of research and is made with eco-friendly materials by fairly paid employees (all of which are assuredly not the case with the Amazon knockoff).

Their video ends with, “So if you’re tired of supporting companies who innovate, and just not willing to pay for responsibly made products – DON’T! The “Everyday Sling” by Peak Design and AmazonBasics – whichever one you buy, you’ll get exactly what you paid for.” 

Hell hath no fury like a DTC brand ripped off by a mega-corporation. 🔥

Gotta give the Peak Design team credit for this top-notch strategy. The video currently is sitting at over 4.5 million views and positions the brand as a feel-good alternative to Amazon.

Do you know these guys? If so, let ’em know we’d love to have them on the podcast!

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They specialize in DTC creative that accelerates brand growth through conversion and personalized designs across your website, email marketing, social media, ads, and everything else you need. They’ve designed for category-leading brands. Check out D2C Design here!

Schedule A VIP Session For Your FREE Set Of Ads Here.

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