Email Marketing Inspiration – COVID19 Edition

Wondering what to put your in email campaigns?

You’re not alone.

On top of the stress of trying to stay safe, stay healthy, take care of people you love, worrying about an uncertain economic future, and the gamut of other issues this is all bringing up, you ALSO have to navigate how you make your living.

When things get SUPER awkward it’s so easy to become paralyzed with indecision around trying to find the EXACT RIGHT thing to say.

You don’t want to come off as insensitive or opportunistic during this horrific time.

Lucky for you, there are A LOT of really great examples on how not to do email marketing right now.

Ever MORE lucky for you, I’ve been hoarding the COVID-19 emails I’ve been receiving like they’re toilet paper.

I’m sharing three that stood out to me in the inbox recently.

But before I do that, I want to give you a rundown on what’s going on with email messages right now.

Everyone is panicking.

I know. Not super insightful, right?

But seriously. We all have to dramatically rethink we’re marketing right now AND keep money coming in.

The economy is rapidly shrinking and business leadership isn’t listening to their experts. They’re deploying outdated tactics in response to a crisis without considering the current digital marketing landscape.

When you see email after email in your inbox with a subject line like

“A message from…” or “Our COVID19 response…” or “An update on COVID19…”

It’s because those brands are not factoring any social media listening into their email marketing game (and they’re probably not listening to their email marketers who are advising them to consider something else).

What does that mean for you?

Inboxes are getting crowded with a lot of noise right now about COVID19.

You need to take the lead on this and start delivering emails that are offering VALUE first.

What is your audience struggling with right now?

What are they really stressed or nervous about?

How can you provide some relief?

If you’re not sure, go do some social media listening. Find relevant hashtags to your business or Facebook groups and see what people are talking about. You’ll learn really quickly.

So now that you have a game plan on how you can tailor offering value in the inbox to your business right now, let’s get into some exceptional examples of emails done well.


Email 1 – Torrance Learning

Subject Line: Helping You Help Your People

Who is Torrance Learning?

Torrance Learning is a custom learning design and development firm located in Chelsea, Michigan, just a stone’s throw from Ann Arbor.

What does that mean? They design courses and training. A lot of it online.

Who’s trying to get their in-person training and courses online right now? Everyone.

They know they can immediately provide value and so they did.

Here’s what works in this email:

1. That subject line and headline.

They literally say that they can help, and then they go into bullet points on how they do that.

I’ve seen so many emails come through that are just GIANT blocks of endless text.

Split it up with bullet points!


They are offering 2 freebies that directly relate to the current crisis.

This is HUGE and so helpful to their audience.

If you have a resource or any knowledge or expertise for your audience, now’s the time to share it.

Give it freely.

You’ll win over people to your brand IMMEDIATELY and they’ll remember you warmly for your generosity.


Email 2 –

Subject Line: How are you feeling?

Who is is an e-commerce company that’s mission is to spread joy through their products.

They sell clothing and accessories (but my fave products are their stationary).

Here’s what works in this email:

1. The messaging.

They acknowledge the collective uncertainty right now and reaffirm their mission of bringing more joy to people’s lives.

Then, they ask for engagement on their most popular social channel AND provide a list of mental health resources.

They’re staying engaged with their audience in a meaningful, authentic way.


2. What can be improved.

My *only* tweak is that the text is all an image and there is no alt-text in the email which doesn’t make it accessible for those who rely on text-to-speech readers.

Also, when your text is all in an image, it makes it a little harder to be mobile responsive AND it requires all of your subscribers to have their images enabled from your IP in order for them to view the content.


Email 3 – U.P. Supply Co

Subject Line: Part 1: The Elephant in the Room ?

Who is U.P. Supply Co.?

In case you’re not familiar with the great state of Michigan, “U.P.” stands for Upper Penninsula.

U.P. Supply Co. is an e-commerce brand that celebrates the Upper Penninsula with the products they sell.

You can read more about their brand here.

Here’s what works in this email:

1. The voice.

Doesn’t this email read like it’s coming from an actual human? Weird, right?

Many of the COVID-19 emails I’ve been getting read like they’re coming from a playbook on best practices about crisis communication (because they probably are.)

They don’t acknowledge the realities we’re facing during this crisis. They are solely focused on the business impact of COVID-19.

This email reads like someone who has thought deeply about people’s state of mind and what’s really important right now.


2. Plugging products in a non-sleazy way.

And yes, this is a delicate time, and U.P. Supply Co is a small business who is struggle to stay afloat like so many small businesses right now.

And when people are struggling to figure out what to do with their money (save it? support a local small business?), he offers his products in that decision making pool. And he still acknowledges that his products might not be your top priority but he could still use your support.

It’s real. It’s candid. It makes me want to buy a U.P. Supply Co. product. I’m eyeing that Great Lakes hoodie.

(Yes, I am a Michigander but not from the U.P. There is a difference in Upper and Lower Michigan cultures. We like to poke at each other but we’re all still the Great Lakes state!)


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