Writing Feedback March 23, 2020

Levi's COVID-19 email is a lesson in copywriting

Harry Dry @harrydry
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    My philosophy (in my startup) is to not communicate until we can add something of value for our customers. In our case, we saw how customers were using our HR platform to get information out to their employees so we came up with some other ways that they could use our software to help manage their remote team during the crisis and put it out in an email and a blog post - https://workplace.hrpartner.io/dealing-with-coronavirus-restrictions-in-the-workplace/ (and also as a pop up within our HR app itself).

    As a fully remote startup, things are pretty much 'ops normal' for us, but not for our customer base, so rather than talk about impacts to us, we figured it is better to educate our customers how to navigate the crisis and leverage our system to do so. (NB: The email went out to existing customers only, not prospects on our mailing list).

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      I think your philosophy is spot on. And how you've segmented emails etc .... makes perfect sense.

      Hence, why this communication may not have been necessary ... It was a little self indulgent.

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    Semi-related, I enjoyed this email I got from Creator, a company that uses robots to make burgers in SF. It seems every restaurant I've ever ordered from has sent an email to reassure me that their food is save and that I should still oder delivery. But this one went above and beyond:

    Creator email

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      ^ They have something worth saying

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    In addition to the annotations, what makes this copy stand out is that the tone is perfect.

    How to you get the tone perfect? Well, this comes down to understanding people. For example, having the self awareness to know that people do not care about new jeans right now.

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      "People do not care about new jeans right now" should lead to not sending an email, not sending an email that plugs an e-commerce site but also concedes that it's hugely irrelevant.

      I hate to speak ill of a company out there doing its best, and this is a good teardown of good email execution in general, but it also reeks of the email marketing group being told "you have to do something" because the metrics were down and no one standing up to management.

      The consensus of this community seems, happily, to be that one should contact the email list / run a promo / etc. during this crisis if it offers something of genuine value.

      To put such actions in a hierarchy of goodness:


      • Our product is free forever (or deeply discounted) to those who critically need it (ie the medical community, logistics, food/drink)
      • Our product is available freely/discounted to people who are marginally impacted (ie those working from home now)
      • Our product has nothing to do with the crisis but it's now free/discounted
      • We're still open on our .com
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        I don't disagree with you. And I think your hierarchy is spot on. The vast majority of companies are over-communicating.

        I think this one toes the line. And quite possibly wasn't worth sending. They did get some jokes made at their expense on Twitter ...

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      I completely agree! The composition is great, but the tone is where this message shines.

      And it's so succinct! I've gotten emails from random sites I've signed up on years ago, wanting to give me a "brief" 500 word update on their thoughts about the crisis.

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        Yep, same. And it's clueless. Marketers panicking and overreacting, “we have to say something ...”.

        No you don't. Only email if you've actually got something to say ...