Read Time: 12 min

Delivering Episode 17: An Average Subscriber’s Reaction to COVID-19 Emails

In this episode of Delivering, host Jason Rodriguez interviews an average subscriber (his wife, Valerie Jackson) about how she’s reacting to the flurry of COVID-19-related emails in her inbox. See how a non-marketer is getting value from companies in a time of crisis.

Episode Transcript

Jason Rodriguez
Day what of quarantine?

Valerie Jackson
I don’t know, like 13 or something. Welcome to delivering a podcast about email design, strategy, copywriting, development, and the email marketing industry. I’m your host’s wife, Valerie Jackson. Delivering is brought to you by Litmus—the only platform trusted by professionals to help you send email with confidence, every time. Over 600,000 marketing professionals use Litmus’ tools to build, test, and analyze better email campaigns faster.

Head over to litmus.com to start your free 7-day trial of Litmus, and start sending better emails today.

Be sure to subscribe to Delivering on iTunes or Spotify to listen to future episodes and join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #DeliveringPodcast.

Jason Rodriguez
Good job.

Valerie Jackson
Thank you. I like how you asked me if I was going to do this, but you’d already written it with my name on it.

Jason Rodriguez
Well, I just copied it from the last time around. OK. So first question, well, first, thank you for joining me.

We’re sequestered in our closet away from the children. How are you holding up?

Valerie Jackson
Well, now that I know about this sequester in closet method, I might just bring some drinks in here tonight. Oh, all right. Things are good.

We’ve fallen into sort of schedule, some sense of structure. I don’t know. The routine? Yeah, a little bit. Trying to keep kids busy. A lot of screens involved, but also some math and reading, playing outside. It’s been nice outside for Michigan. Like in the 50s.

Jason Rodriguez
So COVID-19 is currently locking down like everything, everywhere. And a lot of email marketers are sending COVID-19-related emails.

Valerie Jackson
I hadn’t noticed.

Jason Rodriguez
So that brings up the first question. Have you received any emails about COVID-19 from different companies?

Valerie Jackson
Yes, lots of them. Lots.

Jason Rodriguez
How many would you say on any given day? Like how many do you think there might be in your inbox?

Valerie Jackson
I feel like there were few days last week where there were probably 20 or 30. And now it’s maybe just like a few to a dozen every day. Maybe.

Jason Rodriguez
Would you say that’s more, like you’ve noticed more emails in your inbox, COVID-19 or otherwise, than before all of this?

Valerie Jackson
Yeah, I think so, because I think pretty much anything I’ve ever interacted with online has sent me an email about their response to COVID-19. It seems like last week was really, there were a few days last week when like they all jumped on that same train and sent at least one. And then there’s some companies that maybe are sending more, maybe ones that I interact with more are sending more about how they’re dealing with it, like as it goes on instead of just that initial one.

Jason Rodriguez
Were there any companies that you’re really surprised to see emails from?

Valerie Jackson
No, not that I can think of because… I don’t know. I mean, I wasn’t surprised. I mean, I can’t remember anyone. I think there were probably a few that I was like, oh, I forgot I ever interacted with that company or whatever. But I’m not that surprised because I feel like it makes sense that everybody would be sending something about it.

But I’m sure there are a few I got that I was just like, oh, I totally forgot I ever had anything to do with that company, I can’t think of them right now.

Jason Rodriguez
What’s your initial response when you see a pandemic related email?

Valerie Jackson
It depends on the company. I mean, my initial response is like, oh, this is gonna say the same thing that all the other ones said. I guess that’s my initial response. And then my second response is, wait. What company is this? How do I interact with them? Is this going to be important to me? So for things like Imperfect Foods, which is a food delivery that I get once a week, those ones they have been sending somewhat regularly and those I feel like are important to me. And they pertain to me because it’s about how people that are handling food that’s being delivered to me are handling the situation. And also they’ve been updating like, your box may be late because there’s a higher demand and those just feel like more pertinent to me.

But a lot of them, if it’s a company that I don’t interact with a lot and I expect it to just be a typical one like all the other ones, I’ll delete it. Some of them I open and just kind of scroll through to see if there’s anything different. Yeah.

Jason Rodriguez
So you mentioned like if it’s a typical one, without like obviously having to read from your phone or anything… What kind of language are they using? What’s the message in a typical email that you’ve seen so far?

Valerie Jackson
They’re all just I don’t know, I just scroll through them, I see COVID-19 here. I see, you know, as we’re dealing with the challenge of COVID-19 or steps we’re taking, you know, and it’s usually, it’s all about like sanitizing, hand-washing where, you know, importance of safety of our employees and customers is the most important thing, all those things, I guess.

Jason Rodriguez
Have you seen any of that stuff—without naming names—have you seen any that stood out that were bad responses or like inappropriate or just like clearly no thought was put into that email before it was done?

Valerie Jackson
No, I don’t think so. Not that I can think of.

Valerie Jackson
All right. I guess that’s good. We know marketers aren’t sending just wildly inappropriate emails about COVID-19. As a consumer, even outside of email, what do you expect from companies during this crisis?

That’s a big question. I mean, I appreciate that employees’ and customers’ safety and health would be the most important thing. So I would expect that they would follow the guidelines set forth by the CDC. So like, you know, in Michigan, if they aren’t essential, they would shut down. And I would expect that as long as they are a company that’s able to, they would continue to provide support and resources for their employees. And I would expect that if there’s anything related to COVID-19, that could potentially affect customers, that they would let customers know that.

So, you know, if I’m in like a certain area, like my Imperfect Foods, if somebody at one of the processing plants tested positive, maybe that’s something they should let their customers know. Does make sense?

Jason Rodriguez
Is there any way you can think of that email marketers could make emails more useful during this?

Valerie Jackson
You could have a little thing at the top for like breathe in, breathe out and then you can read about COVID stuff. I don’t know, honestly. I don’t know, that’s a tough one. I don’t know that there’s anything. I feel like the ones that have been best about it kind of, you know, they draw your eyes to the parts that maybe are more specific to their brand or their company instead of just all being in the same text or type or color or something. If that’s more specific to the brand than it’s sort of highlighted in a different way. And I think that’s helpful. That draws your eyes to like, OK, all this is kind of boilerplate COVID-19 response. But like this is what’s important about this company’s response so it makes sense.

Jason Rodriguez
Do you think email is the right channel for messages around COVID-19 from companies at this time?

Valerie Jackson
I think it’s probably one of the best channels because we can all—while those who are lucky enough to have, you know, Wi-Fi Internet access can—access our emails from home while we’re self-isolating because other ways of doing it… I don’t know, television ads, but like that’s not wide reaching really anymore. I mean, phone calls. Nobody wants a phone call. So I feel like email is a pretty, pretty good way to do it.

And I’d imagine maybe if, you know, on their landing pages you have something on it where maybe you can click if you were interested in their response, if you’re visiting their Web site or something. But I think emails. Yeah, probably the best way to handle it and make sure that you’re reaching as many people as you can.

Jason Rodriguez
Have you still been receiving emails with promotions and deals from companies mixed in with the COVID-19 message?

Valerie Jackson
Yes.

Jason Rodriguez
What do you think about that?

Valerie Jackson
I mean, I guess I’m not surprised. Companies still will be companies and, you know, they still need to make money to keep functioning and keep providing for their employees. So I guess it’s kind of tough because part of me is like it’s kind of tone deaf, like none of us need to be spending our money on, you know, random retail goods or whatever right now. But on the other hand, you know, if people that can still afford to do those things, why not? Why shouldn’t people that can afford to still be doing those things and still be contributing to the economy?

So, yeah, I mean, I don’t think there’s anything terribly wrong with it.

Jason Rodriguez
All right. I told you this would be quick and painless, so that’s really all I had prepared. A couple more quick questions, though. Do you think we’re actually going to hold up well with the kids at home for a prolonged period of time?

Valerie Jackson
Yeah. I mean it. Yeah, sure. It’ll be fine. We’re all fine. Everything’s fine.

Jason Rodriguez
And also, what shows on Netflix are you most looking forward to watching during all of this?

Valerie Jackson
Well, I want to watch Tiger King. I need to watch the second season of You. I don’t get to watch TV by myself very much, like, what I want to watch because the kids are always around or I’m with you. Oh I also have heard great things about Love is Blind and I’m very interested to see what that hubbub is all about.

Jason Rodriguez
I mean we’re at a place in the world where I think just mindless trash TV might be a good thing. So I guess I could maybe maybe watch that with you. I refuse to do any Pretty Little Liars or Gossip Girl, though.

Valerie Jackson
Well, I’ve already watched the entirety of those, so it’s fine.

Jason Rodriguez
All right. Perfect. Well, thank you, Valerie, for joining me. You’re my go-to person for average subscriber feedback.

Valerie Jackson
So I’m average now?

Jason Rodriguez
You’re an average subscriber but you’re a far above average mother and wife. But yeah, we’ll definitely chat more about email related things.

Valerie Jackson
We’re going to take a picture of our closet setup this time.

Jason Rodriguez
Oh, we did do that last time. That might be a little weird. All right.

Well, thank you. Stay safe. Wash your hands!


Delivering is brought to you by Litmus—the only platform trusted by professionals to help you send email with confidence, every time. Over 600,000 marketing professionals use Litmus’ tools to build, test, and analyze better email campaigns faster.

Head over to litmus.com to start your free 7-day trial of Litmus, and start sending better emails today.

Be sure to subscribe to Delivering on iTunes or Spotify to listen to future episodes and join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #DeliveringPodcast.

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