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How to Use Humor in Your Email Campaigns: 6 Droll Examples

Amanda Sparks Apr 5, 2019
The most effective email campaigns are the ones in which most users actually open and read your emails. If recipients learn that they can expect something enjoyable from you, the chances of that happening increases. Of course, the challenge is using humor in ways that work. Here are six droll examples of doing just that.

Visual Humor

Visuals cause 50% of your brain to become active. In addition to this, 65% of people who were exposed to information with a visual remembered it three days later. Without the visual, that number dropped to 10%. Clearly, visuals are attention-grabbing and memorable.
A great visual gag can also contribute to the overall look and feel of an email. One example of this is Poncho. They send subscribers customized, weather forecasts via email.

Each email is done in infographic form, and full of witty content.

Familiar Humor

Sometimes, it’s best to play it a little safe when it comes to humor. Depending on your target audience, you might want to pick gags that go over well with a wide audience. Familiar humor tends to be familiar and safe.

Basically, these are the jokes you would be safe telling at a family dinner or at work. One-liners, dad jokes, and clean gags all apply here.

Gallows Humor

Going in the opposite direction is gallows humor. This is a dark, fatalistic humor that skews negative.

If you’re familiar with Rick and Morty, the show is a good source of possible inspiration. It can also give you a good idea of the ideal target audience for this type of humor.

Puns and Wordplay

According to Aria Mckee, a marketing expert at Resumescentre, “Using puns, portmanteaus, and other plays on words in your subject line and email content is a witty way to inject humor. Use it in a way that is relevant to your brand and products to get the best results.”
Of course, the key here is making sure your jokes land just the way you want. There’s major potential here to induce eye-rolls where you would rather get laughs.

You need smart, well-written email content to pull off this brand of humor.
Here are some tools and resources to keep in mind:

Hemingway - An app to help you keep your writing impactful and straight to the point.

Flash Essay - For copywriting assistance, including email marketing content.

Online Writers Rating - A one-stop resource to help you find professional writing and editing help.

Language Tool - A useful Chrome plugin.

Insult Humor

This technique can work but requires a judicious hand. Done correctly, it can appeal to the target audience’s desire not to be classified in a certain way.

For example, a microbrewery might refer to people who drink mass produced beer as boring, corporate-swill drinking shlubs. It can also be used to take light-hearted swipes at readers.
If the following applies to your audience, insult humor might work for your brand:
  • ‘Gets’ the humor behind roasts and ‘Yo Mama’ jokes
  • Social media savvy
  • Appreciates spoofs and ‘send-ups’ ala Saturday Night Live
  • Uses social media sites that tend to highlight darker or insult-based humor like Reddit and Tumblr


If you’ve ever found yourself giggling hysterically at some strange or absurd joke or image, you get absurd humor. You’re not alone.

Brands like Old Spice use this humor in their commercials and online because it works so well. To use absurdity, try peppering your emails with random facts, absurd scenarios, and other silliness.
Pepper emails with random facts, absurd scenarios, and other silliness. For an example of absurdity used in marketing, see Old Spice. You can also check out this email that company Essay Supply sent out during the last Halloween season.

Final Thoughts

There are very few people who don’t appreciate the humor. Jokes can make your marketing emails memorable, and increase open rates and conversions.

The key to success is matching the tone of your humor to your target audience. If you do that, your audiences might even begin looking forward to your name showing up in their inboxes.