Email showdown: Uber vs. Lyft

February 29, 2016 McKenzie Gregory


 

This is an email battle we couldn’t help but explore. Uber and Lyft aren’t just the most innovative brands in the ride-sharing space – they’re two of the most innovative brands in marketing, period. And though Uber is currently far in front of Lyft in the race for ride-hailing domination, they’re both elite players in the email marketing game.

But what happens when you put them head to head? Who comes out on top in the inbox? Let’s break it down.

 



Round 1: The Welcome Email

 

 

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Uber starts off strong with an automated welcome email that fires off immediately after you download their mobile app. The design is sleek, they include plenty of helpful links, and it contains all the information you need to get started using their service.

But then Lyft enters the scene with a welcome email of their own. Not only does it contain CTA buttons rather than text links and some good old-fashioned social proof – it’s laid out in a way that’s easier to follow and doesn’t feel as copy-heavy, even though both emails contain about the same amount of copy. So this round goes to Lyft.

Winner: Lyft

Score: Uber 0 – Lyft 1

 


 

Round 2: The First Ride


 

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This round’s a blow out: Though Lyft sends users a monthly recap of their activity (along with some timely content), they fail to fire off any sort of email to people who take their first ride. Uber, on the other hand, quickly follows up with a congratulatory note that contains a promo code and incentivizes new signups and social sharing. This one goes to Uber, easy.

Winner: Uber

Score: Uber 1 - Lyft 1

 


 

Round 3: Special Occasions

 

Uber fireworks.gif

 

UBER-GIF.gif

 

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We’re all about Lyft’s strategy of building up a following of brand advocates (and if those brand advocates are celebrities like Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, even better!), but there’s no beating the flawless design work Uber puts into their special occasion emails. Their New Year’s and July 4th GIFs are some of the best we’ve ever seen – and we see a lot of email. The winner this round? Uber.

Winner: Uber

Score: Uber 2 - Lyft 1

 


 

Round 4: App News

 

 

Lyft App .gif

 

It’s crazy how alike these emails are between the two brands. They’re formatted very similarly, though with a different purpose: The Uber message promotes a discount offer, while the Lyft message simply shows off an app update. But this one goes to Lyft: They include a more engaging GIF that truly mimics the experience of using their app, while Uber’s animated GIF in the header only distracts from the one in the body of the email.

Winner: Lyft

Score: Uber 2 - Lyft 2

 



Round 5: Social Campaigns

 

 

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Social engagement is HUGE for brands like Lyft and Uber, so they both put a lot of effort into building up and maintaining their social presence. But there’s no denying that Uber has a much larger, more engaged group of followers, and their social campaigns – at least the ones they promote using email marketing, like Uber Puppies, Cupcakes, and Christmas Sweaters – have been more successful. To be fair, they’ve had a 3-year head start (Lyft was founded in 2012, versus Uber’s 2009), but just look at these two emails: Which one compels you to actually want to share something?

You can’t even tell what you’re supposed to share in the one from Lyft unless you read it which, let’s be real, most people aren’t going to do. Whereas in the email from Uber, a bold headline and CTA buttons for each social channel make the message abundantly and effortlessly clear. The point goes to Uber.

Winner: Uber

Final: Uber 3 - Lyft 2

 



This battle was much closer than we expected, and we have to give props to Lyft for holding their own against a Goliath of a brand that’s had longer to mature and develop their email strategy. Both brands are doing some seriously inspiring email marketing, but this time, Uber rides off with the crown.

 

About the Author

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory is a content writer on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.

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