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May 21, 2023
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Friday, November 4, 2022

This week, we’re continuing the breakdown of Hawaiian-themed footwear brand Olukai with a deep dive into their emails to see what fits and what doesn’t.

In this newsletter, you’ll find: 👇

📦 Tailoring your emails for quality over quantity

📦 Find new ways to identify potential customers and maximize ad spend with Black Crow AI

📦 Using gifs to catch attention and utilize email space

📦 The tools and framework for successful collaborations from Cohley

📦 Cookie dough, low carb chocolate, and CBD olive oil

Read till the end to access exclusive DTC swag. 😎

👉 If a pal forwarded this to you, subscribe, so you never miss out.


These folks take a quality-over-quantity approach. The Pilothouse team only received seven emails in a month! This is a sign that Olukai is concise in their messaging with something meaningful to say in every email.

Nothing makes us want to unsubscribe from an email list faster than having dozens of emails to read in the first two weeks.

👋 Ahola!

👍 The good

We see some powerful brand vibes in the first email we received.

Olukai’s emails are similar to their website design (as they should be!) and feel like an extension of the online experience, with a similar look and feel. If you look at Olukai’s website, the consistency is seamless. 👌

This email covers the most important aspects of their business:

  • Who they are
  • What they offer
  • Merchandising section (tailored for all readers!)
  • Guarantees
  • Shipping Policy
  • Easy Returns
  • Values

You’ll also notice that Olukai sells not only their products but the company. They’ve included enough information for the customer to make an informed purchase decision and feel good about it, too.

👎 Alo-nah

There’s no welcome offer to take advantage of here. These offers are a great way to incentivize a purchase. Olukai offers free shipping for members, but this wasn’t apparent immediately and is included in a smaller section of USPs.

👟 Fresh kicks

👍 The good

We have another beautiful email here that is consistent with their branding and in a full bleed layout. 😍

The first image is actually a gif that rotates between 3 styles of shoes. It saves a ton of space and provides enough variety to keep the reader interested.

The email has more visual elements than copy, which aligns with the best practices of promotional emailing. The product is the focus and can eventually sell itself based on the strength of the design elements. ✅

They have also included their USPs again! It is most likely built into their email templates to add or remove as they see fit.

👎 Alo-nah

They still haven’t clarified the free shipping offer exclusive to members. Olukai should move this offer from the bottom of the email to the top and spotlight it to incentivize that first purchase.


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🚗 Ol’ reliable

👍 The good

We have another gif featuring customer reviews. Remember when we said the product sells itself? This is possible through the effective use of design elements. Gifs will save space and provide more information at the top of the email so readers won’t have to go far to get the information they need.

We’re pretty fast readers (#humblebrag), but we hope the gif is long enough for everyone to read through each slide at a comfortable pace.

👎 Alo-nah

“The Classics Never Fade” as the subject line is a bit too ambiguous. Pilothouse sent some suggestions our way:

  • 1,000+ 5 Stars… Something’s Up
  • Reviews are in. We’ve got a winner.
  • Classic, breezy, and a best seller? Yup.

These hype up the product more and compel the reader to investigate further. 🙌

🛏 Cozy up!

👍 The good

The design is the highlight once again, with each element serving as a compliment to the others. One solid description of the product in the hero image focuses on emotional benefits, while the smaller copy touches on the functional benefits.

👎 Alo-nah

There isn’t much that we want to improve on here. This is a well-designed ad with clear communication about what is being offered to consumers.

🌪 Blow us away!

👍 The good

We have the same positive feedback on the design of this email as well! The smart use of a gif within a full bleed layout does wonders to supplement their strong branding and visual style.

👎 Alo-nah

“I was blown away” should be replaced with a more compelling statement as the subject line. It’s more ambiguous than it needs to be. Check out these examples for stronger alternatives:

  • Our most-loved shoes
  • “I love these shoes 🙏”
  • The reviews are pouring in 🙌


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🤑 Try to sell out every time

👍 The good

The gifs keep on giving! This campaign email shows plenty of variety. The design is very strong as it’s tailored for a campaign, not a repurposed promotional email.

The subject line of “The Restock You've Wanted... #AlohaGolf” is good, but additional testing could produce a stronger result. Overall, it lets the reader know that this product has sold out before, but more urgency could benefit the campaign.

They’ve included a high-level description to introduce the collection meaning there is no need for a product description next to the shoes, saving valuable time and space.

Olukai has included an AfterPay section in this email which can be a key selling point. We’re not sure why it wasn’t included in other emails. 🤔

👎 Alo-nah

Now that we’ve reached the bottom of the email, we’d like to start shopping… but we can’t locate a “Shop Now” button. Having to scroll aaaaaallll the way back to the top of the email is kind of a bummer.

👐Gimme ‘mua’

👍 The good

The strong design elements remain consistent throughout this email as well! Is there nothing this design team can’t do?

👎 Alo-nah

The lure of the product featured here is that it is exclusively available online. Olukai could have included this in the email to provide customers with a VIP offer.

🍁 ‘Tis only one season

👍 The good

That strong design and branding continues here. It’s eye-catching, simple, and the products are the stars of the email.

👎 Alo-nah

This email mentions “boots for every season” but we could only see Fall mentioned in the design language. There was plenty of opportunity to showcase the bestsellers from each season.

On the other hand, if the email was meant to be a fall feature, the copy and color choices aren’t aligned with that goal.

✨ Conclusion

These are some pretty stellar emails coming from Olukai. Needless to say, they know their stuff. 🍾

The brand shows how cohesive visuals enhance the consumer’s experience by providing credibility to new customers and encouraging trust in their existing audience.

Shoutout to the Pilothouse email team for the killer insights! We look forward to continuing our brand breakdown in the coming weeks with more feel-good vibes from Olukai! 🌺


🍪 Deux: Sometimes all you need is a rom-com and a tub of cookie dough – no baking required. Deux’s ready-to-eat cookie dough is vegan, gluten-free, and packed full of vitamins. A healthy snack that hits the spot.

🍫 Funky Fat Foods: No matter your dietary restrictions, everyone deserves to eat chocolate. Funky Fat Foods’ bars come in five flavors and are high-fat and low-carb to fit your macros.

🌿 Sant'Ana: Fancy olive oils are all the hype these days, but Sant'Ana takes it a step further. Their olive oils are infused with whole flower CBD and make the perfect gift for dinner party hosts!

🔊 Have you heard our latest podcasts?

📈 Scaling SPF and Finding Your Most Affluent Customers Ahead of the Recession with Supergoop and Lexer.

🏆 VKTRY Gear, Drew Arciuolo: How to Achieve Saturation With Your Target Market.

💧 Bryan Alston, Greater Than - How Greater Than Became Inc’s #198th Fastest Growing Company In the US.

❌ Attribution is a Dead and What To Do Instead with SegmentStream’s Constantine Yurevich.

🖋 Nathan Thompson & Stu Jolley, Stories and Ink: Growing with SEO and Artist Collab Content.

Don’t forget to rate the DTC Podcast on Apple (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

DTC Newsletter is written by Rebecca Knight and Michael Venditti. Edited by Claire Beveridge and Eric Dyck.

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