Email showdown: Harry's vs. Dollar Shave Club

McKenzie Gregory


For our next email battle, a "Shave Club Face-Off” was just too good to resist.

But bad puns aside, these guys are both huge brands that helped bring subscription-based retail into the mainstream. And with fantastic marketing all around (have you seen that viral Dollar Shave Club video?), this one should be close.

Let’s see the matchup.

Note: Similar to our Netflix and Hulu showdown, the only way you can get emails from these companies is to become a customer. That said, all of these examples were collected from colleagues, Pinterest, or the awesome folks over at Really Good Emails.


The welcome email

As far as simplicity in email design goes, this welcome email pretty much takes the cake. Their team's choice NOT to include a call to action feels a little odd – even knowing that anyone receiving it has already converted – but it’s still a nice way to say “hello” to new customers and point them to a few other places, like their referral page and social channels.



The major milestones

I absolutely love this “your order has arrived” email. Not only does it offer a quick link to customer service if the recipient didn’t get their order as expected, but it also serves up super relevant content in the form of a few quick tips for getting the best shave. With a clean design that perfectly fits the rest of their brand aesthetic, it hits all the right notes.



The “you should buy more stuff” emails

Harry’s isn’t all about razors; they also sell things like shave gel and face wash. So they’ll occasionally try and convince current subscribers to add those extras to their regular subscriptions with sleekly designed mailings like this (though we have to knock off a few points for that tiny text)…



… as well as more content-based ones like this.



I tend to prefer the latter, as it feels much more relevant and engaging. I got more than halfway through the mailing before I even realized they were trying to sell something!

Other “upgrade” messages include this one, which promotes a luxurious, special edition handle…



… as well as these more personal looking sends. This is something I’ve been seeing a lot more retail brands do recently, and here, it definitely works: This email responds to an initial inquiry from the customer, comes from an actual human (Larry), and offers up a targeted deal – free cartridges they already know this subscriber wants.



Overall, this might be my favorite element of their email program, and it proves how savvy Harry's is at guiding subscribers along the customer journey.



Dollar Shave Club

The “finish signing up” email

Not quite a welcome, this is technically the first email new customers could receive from Dollar Shave Club (provided they didn’t actually finish completing the purchase process). It’s well designed and a great way to reel in folks who might have otherwise fallen out of the funnel.



The actual welcome

Dollar Shave Club nestles their welcome message into an order confirmation email – a smart choice since transactional emails have 8x more opens and clicks than any other type of email and can generate 6x more revenue (Experian). I also love the conversational copy, and the referral link at the bottom helps Dollar Shave Club incentivize customers to do the selling for them.



The “you should buy more stuff” emails

Like Harry’s, Dollar Shave Club crafts these messages a few different ways. First, they send content-based emails like this clever quiz (the choices click through to corresponding products)…



… and this timely Father’s Day promo, which allows recipients to save themselves from years of guilt trips with a quick purchase.



They also send a lot of emails like this. Embedded into a shipping notification (note another example of combining marketing + transactional sends), these emails allow subscribers to add more products to their previously scheduled shipment – and they can do it with a single click.





As far as ease-of-order goes, this is one of the most frictionless examples I’ve ever seen in the inbox.

Based on that single move, Dollar Shave Club is already doing e-commerce email better than some of the biggest players in the retail game.



The winner here? Both brands do fantastic email marketing, but I have to give this one to Dollar Shave Club. Those “Add to Cart” emails are next-level stuff, and after seeing this tweet….



… it was a no-brainer. Way to follow up with style, and congrats, guys!

Winner: Dollar Shave Club


About the Author

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory is a senior content manager 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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