There’s an old adage, “Strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet.” In a digital world where the word “met” has taken on new meaning, card game company We’re Not Really Strangers is using its social media to show that we’re, well… not really strangers at all.
With over 3.7 million followers on Instagram, the goal-driven card game centered around sleek red and white question cards generates deeper conversations than your regular game. For example, questions range from “Do you think I’ve ever had my heart broken?” to “What do you think I do for a living?” depending on the level (or part of the game) you are on.
But it also takes a different approach to how it markets itself. It really is a cutting-edge strategy, one that relies on both guts and data.
Marketing Brew recently sat down with the company’s VP of Digital + eCommerce, Jessica Potts, to talk about marrying vibes with the numbers that drive the sailboat of a brand’s marketing strategy.
The unplugged version of email marketing, brand emails are a far cry from the typical promotions in your inbox (which are often loud graphics that overtly showcase products) and its more image-based strategy. complex on other channels.
While Potts declined to discuss revenue, ROI and all that jazz in the weeds, she said that on Instagram the brand sees an average engagement rate of 4.87%, more than double. the engagement rate of the average Instagram account. with over a million followers, by phlanx. The game itself is only $25, but the first community brand sells expansion packs and clothing, among other products.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Marketing infusion: You joined We’re Not Really Strangers in February 2020. What was the email marketing strategy at the time?
Jessica Pott: Email marketing strategy back then was something typical that every brand did. I think when I first walked in there was [an email going out] once a month. I think what we’ve really done with email is think about how we want to be emailed. What would we like to see in our inbox? How are we feeling right now? What’s really great is connecting with the team and collectively asking “What are we all vibing right now?”
MB: The We’re Not Really Strangers emails I receive in my inbox are literally just a single main subject line and then a line of plain text without any fancy graphics or anything more. What made you feel comfortable biting the bullet to get rid of the excess?
JP: It was just fine. Sometimes it’s as simple as that. Sometimes we just want to come into our community and say, “You’re doing great; I think we all need those words of affirmation from ourselves and others. We just present ourselves in a unique way. I don’t think there’s a big thought like “Is- will it work/won’t it work?” It comes down to feeling the vibe and connecting with our audience.
MB: Would you say that email is, for We’re Not Really Strangers in particular, an extension of your social strategy? For people to understand these emails, do you think they need to follow you on social media?
JP: No. And that’s the beauty of it all, isn’t it? Some people who use email want nothing to do with social media. So how do you present yourself in such a way that you meet everyone where they are? You don’t need to understand social media to be able to connect via email and understand what we’re talking about. Everyone gets a full picture of every channel without having to interact with everything. We honor [email] as its own channel and honor it with its own unique content.
MB: And it seems like you send them quite frequently, don’t you? Like twice a week?
JP: Yeah. At the beginning we [sent them] maybe once or twice [a week]. But if the mood is right and we have something to say, it’s like, “Hey, there might be four emails this week,” or sometimes there might be two, it really depends.
MB: It looks like you do a lot of really fancy and fancy stuff on other platforms. You have two different Instagram accounts for the brand and you have a TikTok account; you mentioned Pinterest, etc. But then you send these emails with no graphics and just a few words. It’s so bare bones compared to what you do elsewhere, but we still know when we read them that they’re emails from We’re Not Really Strangers. So how do you get that branded feel here with just a few lines of plain text?
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JP: We see [the emails] as completely branded. Our SMS community is very popular and email is sometimes similar to text. So no matter how simplistic or stripped down it is, it’s still branded, because everyone still understands it’s We’re Not Really Strangers. It’s just a different way of doing things, and I think that’s what grabs everyone’s attention.
MB: How do you treat email marketing differently from SMS marketing?
JP: The difference is the content that is served. There may be some overlap, but most of the time it’s different content that we’ll be serving to the text community versus the email community. If you follow us along the journey through each channel, you will see that sometimes we talk about the same subject [on every channel]but the content is unique per channel, which I love, because then you’re going to want to tune in to us on all these different channels.
MB: What do you think most brands are doing wrong in terms of email UX?
JP: I hope they pay attention to their audience data and do something authentic for themselves and their community. Unless I have a specific brand in front of me, I can’t tell what they’re doing right or wrong because ultimately they might have a different type of community and that might be good for them. Every brand is so unique and people should treat them as such. I think one of the challenges people face is that they [have] a very modeled way of doing things. If I go from one brand to another, I’m not going to bring the same strategy to one brand that I would have used on the previous one, because they are two different companies.
MB: With the We’re Not Really Strangers emails, you really took the model and put it in a shredder. How do you manage to think so far from the beaten track?
JP: Try. You have ideas, so why not try them? Where are the limits ? Maybe the limits are the structure [your company] has in place [regarding] manager approvals. And you have someone in the hierarchy, who just says, “Let’s leave it as it is.” But there are also corporate cultures like ours that are very, very open to the team’s opinion. I think it’s also [about] being open to hearing and implementing ideas, not just from one person, but from many.
MB: Say you’re on a team of six people and everyone feels like they have a great idea for messaging strategy, and you think all six of those ideas are good too. Do you think it’s hard to test all six of them and see which works best?
JP: I mean, you have to be strategic, right? You can’t go willy-nilly because you’re testing on your current community. There have been many times when I have tossed around ideas and not all of them were successful. But I want to be heard.
MB: If you had to choose to make a decision based exclusively on metrics, not sentiment, or a decision based exclusively on what suits your audience, which would you choose?
JP: If it’s like a gun to the head issue, Phoebe, I’d probably be dead. There is no one way to answer this. because as VP of Digital, data is there to inform me and guide me and direct me. I don’t believe there is a definitive answer. So sometimes the data makes sense and helps you make a decision. And sometimes it’s like, “But my gut is telling me something else and I really think we should go.” And this is where the magic starts to happen. It is by letting these two worlds marry into each other. One compromises against the other depending on the situation.