Our office in San Francisco is well aware of my respect for the film Scarface.
As I’ve told them, I first watched the movie in French. Unlike English dubs of foreign films where the line might be heard long after it’s clear the character has stopped speaking, French-dubbed films feature voice actors who painstakingly create the illusion of being the actor on-screen. Those voice actors see their careers rise and fall along with the actor whose voice they portray, and the actor who does Al Pacino’s French voice—the actor whose voice I heard watching the movie—is superb.
When I came up with the idea for this post, I knew I had a lot to live up to. So, in the interest of being both entertaining and educational, I dug deep into the IMDB Scarface trivia page to bring you email marketing wisdom and some fun trivia for dinner parties. You could even consider these three tips “The Making of Scarface” Guide to Email Marketing.
A truly great product turns an audience into advocates.
What with the violence, the language, and the R rating, Scarface wasn’t exactly made for network television. However, the film so impressed ABC that they committed to airing it, which required extensive investment in editing and re-dubbing the film so that it would meet both ABC’s requirements and the FCC’s rules regarding what can be shown.
Because of the passion inspired by the quality of the film, ABC programming execs became more than just viewers. They believed enough in the commercial viability of the film on network TV that they were willing to devote significant time and resources to make sure the film reached a wider audience.
How you apply it to email: Put in the time it takes to create great emails. Include a great offer or valuable information. Package it with great design, interesting images, and well-written text. If you deliver great emails, your subscribers become your greatest advocates, sharing your email offers and content with a wider audience of their friends and family.
The great thing about the relationship between social media and email is that you can make it easy for those subscribers to share. Where it’s appropriate, include social sharing buttons in the email or on your landing page. You can even offer an incentive to share such as free shipping on their next order or a chance to test new product lines.
Attention to detail is critical.
Guns in the movie were equipped with devices that only allowed them to fire when the camera shutter was open, resulting in muzzle flashes that are much more visible and consistent than in other movies. It may seem like a small thing, but little things can make a big impact on the overall look and feel of a movie.
How you apply it to email: Check all the “little” things before you send a campaign out into the world. Because if a link doesn’t work when your customer is ready to buy, it won’t seem like a little thing anymore. For starters:
Then double-check. Then have someone else check. Then you’re ready to go.
Pure360 put together a great checklist of what to do before sending an email. It’s helpful for beginners and serves as a good reminder for more experienced email marketers.
Do more than create a great call to action: give your subscribers a reason to act on it.
The first cut of Scarface earned an X rating from the MPAA, which would have been disastrous for the film’s box office receipts. Director Brian De Palma made cuts and resubmitted the film twice but was unable to get the lower R rating.
So De Palma took another tack. In a meeting with the MPAA, he brought in a panel of experts who stated that the film was an accurate portrayal of the drug underworld and should be widely seen. That gave the MPAA a reason to give the film an R rating, which they did.
How you apply it to email: Give email recipients a reason to do what you want them to do. This comes back to the old idea of “what’s in it for me?”
You’ll get some takers with a CTA that simply says “Buy now.” But you’ll get more interest in “Use coupon code _____ to get 10% off this item” because you’ve given them a reason to respond.
And, as the MPAA example shows, the incentive doesn’t have to be monetary. Making the benefits of the product for the user clear will help drive action. Alternatively, for a social incentive, encourage subscribers to “Be the first to share the news” on Facebook or Twitter about a great new product or offer.
Now it’s your turn, what email marketing lessons did you learn from Scarface (or just tell us your favorite moment in the film)? Drop us a note in the comments or reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Pinterest.
Kevin Deseuste joined the ividence team at the beginning of 2011 and directs the implementation and evaluation of advertiser campaigns and publisher lists for the U.S. market. He brings to the team an expertise in monitoring and enhancing deliverability and response rates from both the publisher and advertiser perspective. Prior to joining ividence, Kevin worked in Business Development at technology solutions provider SCC.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.