The eMail That Generated Millions

When you make a business, you’re making a little world where you control the laws

derek sivers

I do NOT like commuting. Getting stuck in traffic sucks.

cars passing through north and south

That being said, the one thing that I actually do enjoy about commuting is it gives me time to listen to podcasts. A podcast I listened to recently tells the story of one email that produced MILLIONS of dollars of sales and generated hundreds of thousands of amazing responses online…using a simple marketing tactic that you and I can copy in our businesses.

Here’s the story:

Derek Sivers founded a company called CD Baby which he sold in 2008 for $22 million. In this podcast episode, Sivers talks about the time he rewrote the automatic email that was sent to customers after they purchased a CD.

Initially, the email basically said, “Hey, your CD has been shipped.”

Sivers was looking at that email and thinking that it didn’t really reflect the personality of him or the company, so he rewrote it. It took him 20 minutes or so to rewrite this email.

Because of the personality and the humor he injected into this email, it became an online sensation, producing millions in sales and hundreds of thousands of great responses.

Here’s the email:

Thank you for your order with CD Baby!

Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

A team of 60 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing.

Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved “Bon Voyage!” to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Friday, June 6th.

I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did. Your picture is on our wall as “Customer of the Year”. We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!

Thank you, thank you, Thank you!


That one silly email was sent out with every order and customers LOVED it. And the buzz and goodwill that this email created generated millions of dollars in sales.

Now, you and I can use the exact same strategy. It’s just a simple marketing idea, right? Make your autoresponders engaging and fun!

Here’s the awesome bigger picture that this story represents:

We have a tremendous opportunity to identify these touch points in our business, the mundane, forgettable aspects of the buying experience and instead turn them into an experience that people will never forget.

We have the opportunity to turn these “boring” aspects of our business into an experience that people want to share with their friends, family, coworkers, and the vast digital public, the same way that Sivers’ email offered such a unique experience that it soon became a viral sensation.

The bottom line is that you and I can have a huge impact with our marketing just by challenging ourselves to take the aspects of our business that we take for granted, such as a purchase confirmation and transform them into a reason for customers to tell others about us and and our products.

The amazing part of this strategy is that, besides a few minutes of your time, it’s completely free to implement. It’s not a huge marketing play. It doesn’t require a big, expensive campaign.

These minor details and touch points in your business are already there, waiting to be improved. It’s a cheap, relatively simple improvement, but if can have a profound impact on the success of your business.

Sivers says, “When you make a business, you’re making a little world where you control the laws.” I LOVE that thought process.

When Sivers re-wrote that email, he made his little world a more memorable place. The word got out and suddenly everybody wanted to visit!

That’s the beauty of being entrepreneurs… you and I get to control how we do business. We get to control the experience we provide.

Anyways, I loved this story from Sivers. It inspired me and I hope that it will inspire you, too.

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Armand Morin

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