Will Critcher

Head of Direct Marketing
​Death Wish Coffee (@DeathWishCoffee)

What makes a really great newsletter? Death Wish Coffee will spill all the email beans. Learn how the brand used its data to realize its newsletter content had become stagnant, and how the team used data to uncover an opportunity to grow customer loyalty and increase campaign revenue—all while flexing their creative muscle.

Will presented a case study on how upgrading newsletter content grew his brand, noting how competitive coffee markets are considering that it is the third most consumed beverage after tea and water, respectively.

Will’s first task was to determine the goal of clickshare, or the estimated share of all achievable clicks that a campaign has received. After a lot of thought and discussion, the brand settled on clickshare as a reliable metric of content utility, moreso than open rate or click rate. The first step was to remove sales pitches from the newsletter, The Scoop into a differentiated Thursday Sales Email (which still gets a 34% open rate).

For The Scoop, Will compared the content goals of his audience (interests and value) with those of Death Wish (products and brand) and tries to balance across both. ​By reducing the number of articles, emphasizing video, personifying the brand, communicating in a natural, casual way and creating a simpler, cleaner brand presentation, Will’s revised email newsletter raised clickshare to 76%. This met the company’s predetermined goal and raised sales significantly.

Death Wish Coffee realized that sticky content needed formal planning. So, to resist the time-constrained temptation to “throw something together,” the company now generates content in regular two-hour “Scoop Sessions” in which the first hour is devoted exclusively to brainstorming and the second hour is used to determine milestones, deadlines and logistics.

One recent session on Best Friend Day developed the idea of coffee being the customer’s best friend. This eventually led to a series of humorous videos with one employee dressed in a “coffee” shirt and accompanying another to get ice cream, play catch, etc.

Will also plants “easter eggs” (usually the word “egg” in white text) that is not promoted on social media or elsewhere. The first five clicks to an exclusive landing page win unadvertised premiums that involve significant value (e.g., $60 cooler). This generates substantial social proof and enables Death Wish to test new products.

The non-promotional nature of the newsletter is underscored by the fact that it contains zero product links. The result of 11 weekly newsletters to date have resulted in a substantial newsletter list increase to 101K with an average open rate of 43% and rising brand popularity. 

Will has been working to send The Scoop out at 8AM to generate office-worker buzz among workers looking for a brief escape from the “daily grind.”

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