Mar 2, 2015

Mouth Foods Finds its Voice Through Email

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You may not have heard of Mouth Foods, the online marketplace for delicious products “made by people, not companies,” but that’s OK. As a young, growing company, they know that email is the one of the first experiences many of their customers have with their brand. And that’s why it’s so important to them to get every element of a campaign right. Just ask them about subject lines.“It’s 8 people in a chat room for a couple hours,” explains Mouth CEO Craig Kanarick.

He’s only half joking.

“We debate endlessly. We go in circles around it—maybe we debate it too much. But we really care about it,” adds CCO Nancy Kruger Cohen. “I feel like the [newsletters] are really the core messaging of the brand and it’s kind of where it all starts for us.”

Since the beginning, Nancy, Craig, and the Mouth team have used email as a venue to develop the brand’s voice, tone, and language. And that focus on messaging has been spread consistently across everything else they put out into the world.

chocolate

Balancing personality and product

Mouth’s voice is a balanced mix of informative, entertaining, humorous, and down to earth—kind of like a funny friend you’d love to have along for a farmer’s market shopping trip.

“We try not to take ourselves too seriously,” Nancy says. “Having not just a sense of humor, but a sense of warmth and intimacy, is important to us. How many emails do you get a day from big, giant companies, and it doesn’t feel like there are people attached to it?”

Of course, Mouth also needs to sell its products—and, in some cases, that’s stuff their customers have never heard of, seen, or tasted before. So it’s important for the company to showcase its products visually, too. At the end of the day, their job is to make you hungry.

“A lot of what we’re trying to do, that you’ll see in our photography, is focus on the product itself,” Craig says. “Open up the jar, stick the camera down into the opening of the jar, and show you what’s inside.”

mosesjesus

Finding unexpected angles

Mouth’s main sales cycle revolves around holidays and popular events (like awards shows and sporting events), and they often involve the entire office in content creation.

“We try and reveal that we are a small company with actual people here, that it’s not just robotic,” Nancy says.

For Halloween, Mouth employees shared their picks for candy and scary-movie pairings. For National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day, they sent a campaign about their PB-obsessed COO, Sam.

They also try to leave room for experimentation. That’s when things can really get fun, and where some of their more successful campaigns are born. Last year, when Easter and Passover rolled around, the Mouth team had both chocolate Jesuses and Moseses in their collection of holiday treats. In an effort to be inclusive, they decided to send both campaigns side by side. Some might see this move as counterintuitive: Isn’t this what segmentation is for? But the emails complemented to each other, and instead of an uptick in unsubscribes, Mouth saw a rise in opens and clicks. Their willingness to take a risk paid off, and they duplicated the approach with Hanukkah and Christmas, New Year’s resolutions and unresolutions, and other select times when contradictory messages are fun when delivered at the same time.

Creativity always wins

Mouth describes their emails as a laboratory—a place for creative opportunities. And with the flexibility that comes with selling such a tasty product, they take those opportunities more often than not. In terms of their email performance, their ability to take a chance and try something a little different has been satisfying and rewarding.

“The [campaigns] that are truly unique, stand out and are unexpected absolutely outperform—in some cases, 2-to-1—the stuff that we just normally send out,” Craig says. “Email has been, and continues to be, our most valuable and crucial platform to communicate with our customers. This is our most loyal audience. It’s our most important marketing channel.”