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A Spotlight on Drip Email Campaigns: Uber

By Elna Cain on August 9, 2017

Reading Time: 12 minutes

An Introduction to Uber

Uber has become a household name across most of the country and is even being used as a verb these days. “To Uber or not to Uber? That is the question.”

For those who haven’t heard of Uber, it’s a taxi hailing app with a twist. A few taps on your mobile phone will bring a driver right to your doorstep, but not just any taxi driver – and not even a traditional taxi!

Almost anyone can drive for Uber as an independent contractor as long as you have a four-door car in reasonable condition and pass a number of checks. Uber is a product of the digital autonomy age and the increasing number of Americans becoming self-employed and/or side hustling. This combination has created astounding success for the company seeing it reach a net worth of over $60 billion in under six years!

When it comes to marketing, Uber runs pristine drip email campaigns that we found hard to fault at all. Combining simplicity with clean lines, their emails are highly effective.

Let’s take a look.

Defining Moments

Uber has relied heavily on word of mouth for its marketing. “In the beginning, Uber was a lifestyle company,” says CEO Travis Kalanick. “You push a button and a black car comes up, who’s the baller?” But interestingly, it’s been its simplicity of use compared to traditional taxis services that has seen Uber rise to fame with little effort.

Despite this, they still make good use of email campaigns, by themselves and combined with traditional methods such as direct mail.

Their referral program is a big part of their business model, and some of this is delivered through email.

In 2016, Uber redesigned and relaunched their app. Email marketing was a critical part of this from getting the message out to over 100 million global riders, to educating users on the new system, and more.

Drip Campaign Email Examples

Nurture Campaigns

Nurture campaigns are the bread and butter of your email marketing strategy. They are essential for retaining customers and converting new ones. In a case study by Bersin and Associates, it was found that 79% of leads never convert into sales, and lack of lead nurturing was the most common cause of this. Drip nurture campaigns introduce readers to your brand and start to gain their trust through personalized, triggered emails.

Let’s take a look at some nurture campaign emails from Uber:

Welcome Email

The welcome email is the first point of contact you have with potential leads. As the old saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression. So, make it count.”

Uber’s welcome email is a stunning example of how to get it right:

Uber Welcome 1

Uber Welcome 2

Pros

  • Lee Stirk of Enigma Creative says, “Uber’s brand is defined by its simplicity, from its use of color to the core principles that underpin its operation.” It’s this simplicity that is one of the reasons this email is so effective. The message is not overcrowded. It has a single call-to-action; not too many words and three simple steps for using the product with corresponding pictures. The modern (but not over-the-top) design and use of an attractive color palette helps to enhance the message.
  • The headline, “Ready? Let’s Go!” is a rhetorical question that guides the reader to taking action – namely – clicking the call-to-action.
  • As sleek as this email may be, Drip email campaigns are a form of permission-based marketing – an agreement of trust between the sender and recipient. Uber follows all the rules by including a physical address and an easy-to-find unsubscribe link.

Cons

  • I’m being very picky here because this email is almost flawless. But the headline could be seen as a little pushy, although the personal tone of the rest of the email helps to offset this.

Informational Email

If the reader still hasn’t taken their first ride with Uber after the welcome email, they try to gently nudge them in the right direction by giving them some more information about the service:

Uber Information 1

Uber Information 2

Uber Information 3

Pros

  • Uber’s branding is continued, the clean-cut lines and simple color palette make the email easy on the eye – drawing you in.
  • The call-to-action is the centerpiece of most drip campaign emails. It’s the point of the email and even your entire email campaign. For this reason, you want to make it clear and you want to be careful how you word it. Uber’s CTA is clear here, and there is only one. Some businesses make the mistake of adding more than one, often confusing the reader. It’s quality, not quantity here. They use actionable language without being too demanding; an idea explored more by Hubspot.
  • Writing in a conversational tone is the best way to build trust with your readers. And as CopyBlogger suggests, one of the best ways to do this is by writing with empathy. The tone of the email is very caring. A lot of would-be Uber customers have concerns about safety, and Uber addresses this concern right from the start in the second email you get.

Cons

  • The images are a little too abstract to connect them to the titles immediately. But this isn’t essential, and it does support Uber’s modern geometric branding.
  • Adding the recipient’s name to the email could help to make the message more personal and add to the conversational tone.

Referral Campaign

One of the reasons for Uber’s rapid growth is word of mouth. They help to accelerate this with referral offers.

A referral email sent at just the right moment can double your customer base. Below is an example of Uber’s:

Uber Referral

Pros

  • Uber sends referral drips out at certain times of the year, and at timings personal to the recipient. Christmas is the perfect time to try and boost referrals as everyone can use a reward. It’s also the time of year when people are using taxis more – increasing the chances of impressing new customers
  • The text in the message gets the job done. “Get even more this December,” at the very top hints of a reward but doesn’t shove it in your face from the start. “Earn $500,” and the bold $500 in the smaller text cements the amount in the reader’s head.
  • This example email is slightly older than the above ones so the branding is uniform with Uber’s other emails from the time period. The gifts pictured fit perfectly with Uber’s brand. They are wrapped simply yet still look classy.
  • The layout of the email is minimalist and simple, reducing the likelihood that readers will hit delete because they are dazed and confused.

Cons

  • The call-to-action wording “Invite now” – while strong and direct – could be seen as pushy by some. But the fact Uber is offering such a large reward helps us to let this slide. And knowing Uber, the copy has likely been well tested.
  • Again, the recipient’s name isn’t included. With today’s automated marketing delivery technology, this is a simple-to-add a feature that can transform an email from impersonal to personal, in an instant.

Promotional Offers

Promotional offers are a great way to increase your client base or solidify loyalty with existing customers. You can run a drip campaign exclusively with email offers triggered by events and actions personal to the reader. They also are a great addition to nurture-type campaigns.

Below is one of Uber’s offerings:

Uber Offer 1

Uber Offer 2

Uber Offer 3

Pros

  • The attention span of readers – especially online – is short. Mozilla found that 32% of consumers will start abandoning slow loading sites in one to five seconds. Skimmable writing is the way to go when writing these types of upbeat promotional emails. Lots of subtitles, small amounts of texts, and the odd image will hold a reader’s attention, and Uber has done this perfectly here.
  • The repetition of the call-to-action button isn’t normally seen as it can seem pushy, but it can be effective in longer emails such as this one where the message is spread out with lots of whitespace. Also, the white text on a green background helps to make the CTA stand out in the email.
  • The language is conversational. The very first word, “Enjoy,” plays on the reader’s emotions, hooking them in as they may find something that will make them happier if they read on.

Cons

  • If you’re a believer in predominantly text-only marketing emails with little to no color and imagery, then this email isn’t for you. But a plain-text email coming from a big brand like Uber may seem like a phishing email, so in this case, the design solidifies the brand and message.

Compare and Contrast: Lyft

One of Uber’s main competitors is Lyft. Let’s look at how their emails match up to one another:

Welcome Email

Uber - Lyft Welcome 1

Uber - Lyft Welcome 2

Uber Welcome 1

Uber Welcome 2

Pros

 

  • Like the Uber email, the Lyft welcome email is very simplistic and uses branding colors and quality design throughout.
  • The quote at the bottom of the email from Time is a nice touch. Social proof is a big influence on people’s purchasing habits, and endorsement from such a big name is likely to speed up the nurturing process.
  • It may be the branding of Lyft in general, but Lyft’s email appears to be warmer and more welcoming than Uber’s. The tagline, “Real people driving real people,” encourages a sense of community and the tone of the text is warm and caring. The abbreviation, “Wanna chat?” adds to the conversational tone.
  • Too many call-to-actions can be a bad thing, but Lyft gets away with it here by reversing the colors of the buttons – pink text on white background vs. white text on a pink background. Also, it makes sense in this email to drive the point home with a call-to-action straight after the testimonial.

Cons

  • None to speak of. Lyft is a worthy competitor in the email marketing department. They stay true to their brand and tick all the boxes when it comes to making a first impression through email.

Informational Email

Uber - Lyft Info 1

Uber Info 1

Uber Info 2

Pros

 

  • Lyft takes a more fun approach than Uber to get readers to use their service, and it does seem more inviting. The large picture of the smiling woman helping to quash fears of safety before using any words. It also helps to humanize them as a brand.
  • The Lyft email’s main call-to-action is just as strong as Uber’s. A small link at the bottom of the page in a different color helps to reiterate the point without annoying or confusing.
  • The “Pro Tip” feature is a nice touch, and a differentiator from Uber. The benefits of it are twofold. Lyft is getting extra customer service points by giving advice, and making a joke about “ghost riding” keeps the tone light and fun in line with their branding.

Cons

  • Uber’s more serious tone is likely to do them favors here because a lot of the tips are based on safety. Readers are likely to feel more reassured when reading about safety in this tone than the relaxed attitude of Lyft.
  • There isn’t much content in this email. Uber addresses most of the frequently asked questions about their service in one hit. Since the whole concept of Uber/Lyft and accepting a ride from a stranger is new to a lot of people, safety is a valid concern. Lyft doesn’t address this at all. Sending one tip at a time may seem like a good option, but you don’t want to risk scaring off potential leads with too many messages.
  • Neither Uber or Lyft include the reader’s name in their message. As previously stated, it’s one simple change that can make a world of difference.

Drip Email Campaigns and Pagewiz

A great sales tactic is to use drip email campaigns to drive readers towards landing pages. But the time you spend nurturing a lead is wasted if you are sending them to pages that do not convert. Pagewiz provides beautiful landing page templates that are quick and simple to set up. They can be fully optimized for conversion, and they come with unlimited A/B testing so you can keep them that way throughout your drip campaigns.

Conclusion

Uber’s slick and simple-to-use reputation is reflected in their email campaigns, and it appears to work quite well. They don’t overwhelm readers with too much information – giving just enough at the right times – and they do so in company colors supported by trendy conceptual images. They demonstrate that less is definitely more when it comes to drip campaigns.

Over to you – do you stick to short, well-designed emails, or do you find plain-text ones work best for your brand and industry? Either way, are you sending your traffic to optimized landing pages?

Pagewiz

Elna Cain is a professional writer living in Canada. She works closely with B2C and B2B businesses and has a background in marketing and psychology. She’s been featured on OptinMonster, Social Media Today, Blogging Wizard and is a Huffington Post contributor.

Also published on Medium.

  • Awesome analysis, Elna. I’m personally a big fan of minimalist messages and both companies seem to keep things pretty simple. Lyft definitely establishes a friendlier vibe with the cartoons and comics. But yeah, the “less is more” approach works in both cases. Very clean emails for sure.

    Again, great stuff!

    Brent