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The 2020 Email Spirit Award: An Interview with Kimberly Coburn


This year, we launched the Email First Awards and announced our inaugural winners during Litmus Live Week. In this blog post, we interview Kimberly Coburn, Senior Copywriter at Digital Additive, and take a peek behind their Email Spirit Award winning entry.

Kimberly Coburn holding a small dog named Luna

Kimberly Coburn
Senior Copywriter at Digital Additive
Featuring office mascot Luna

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So, what does email spirit mean to you?

Kimberly: At the very core of email is a promise of one-to-one communication, an avenue for connection that’s meaningful and useful. So, to me, email spirit is an ethos of genuinely getting to know your recipients and connecting with them in ways that improve their days and lives. It’s authentic and joyful, as any meaningful connection should be!

coffee mug with Damn Good Email motto on it

Digital Additive’s email spirit is centered around “Damn Good Email.” What a great motto! Where did it come from?

Kimberly: We took a somewhat circuitous route to get to our unofficial motto. When we grew big enough to move into our first office, coffee was a first priority, and we decked out the kitchen with mugs from Crate & Barrel that said “Damn Good Coffee”—most likely a nod to Dale Cooper’s love of a strong cup in Twin Peaks. Our damn good coffee (which we source from a local roastery with a Do Good Initiative) is our rocket fuel to do what we do best: Damn Good Email.

Lakefront Brewery beer with Damn Good Email beer glass and 100% Open Rate bottle opener

I think the “100% Open Rate” bottle opener is so clever. How do you come up with your swag ideas?

Kimberly: Coming up with fun swag for our parties and gatherings is always a good time. Usually we start with the gift itself to reflect the event and then give it our Digital Additive twist of personality. The bottle opener, for example, was given at a holiday party held at a local brewery, so it only made sense. Getting to highlight our job of boosting open rates on something that literally has a 100% open rate was just too great to pass up. Not gonna lie, I was pretty pleased with myself coming up with that one. 😉

Is there any way email geeks can get their hands on your “Damn Good Email” swag or is the swag exclusive to employees?

Kimberly: We usually share our swag at events and parties—so the best way to get your hands on some is to get to know us for that invite (when parties are a thing again…).

Digital Additive team members showing off their Damn Good Email coffee mugs

How does Digital Additive’s email spirit extend to the broader email community?

Kimberly: Something I love about Digital Additive is that we bring the same spirit to the email community and to every single email send. At the core of our approach, relationships are the key. The same way we endeavor to understand our recipients and their needs to make sure we reach them in the right way at the right time, we also look at the broader email community in a similar way, bringing our team’s unique strengths and abilities to the broader world of email and helping our clients forge those important connections.

Learning a bit about you now… How did you get into copywriting in general and email in particular?

Kimberly: I have always enjoyed writing and double-majored in Communications and Psychology in college. I thought I’d go back to school to get my PhD in Social Psychology, but decided to take a break and join the workforce to save some money first.

I applied for a job as an interactive copywriter—even mocking up some ads, since I didn’t have a portfolio to speak of—and ended up really enjoying the way it blended both of the skills I had honed in school. Over time, I started to focus almost exclusively on the email and mobile experience. They’re super short format media, so every word counts, and I really like that puzzle-like challenge.

What’s your favorite email that you’ve worked on and why?

Kimberly: I always love the fun stuff with a playful tone. I once got to write emails for a gamer audience. Not being much of a video game player myself, I got to pretend to be an entirely different person with the voice. We also have an educational client with a really whimsical tone and brand that’s always a joy to write for.

How do you keep learning about email and growing your skills?

Kimberly: Digital Additive has a really fantastic approach to continued learning and skills development. Every employee has a stipend to use toward developing our talents each year. I’ve been using mine for fantastic writing and content-generation workshops I wouldn’t otherwise have access to. As an agency, it keeps everyone growing and learning in their respective skills while keeping us as a company on the leading edge of industry development and innovation.

What’s your favorite email trend right now?

Kimberly: Personally, I find the increasing focus on accessibility a really heartening movement. If the goal of email is to connect with individuals, ensuring the steps are taken to be able to connect with all individuals regardless of impairment or a difference in ability is essential.

Email accessibility made easy

email accessibility iconConnect with everyone—no matter their ability. It’s much easier than you think! Learn how in our step-by-step Ultimate Guide to Email Accessibility. You’ll get insights and advice on how to write, design, and code emails that can be enjoyed by anyone.

And with Accessibility Testing in Litmus Checklist, test your email against key accessibility best practices, listen to how your email sounds to a screen reader, and get actionable advice to improve your email’s accessibility. Start your free trial today to give this (and more) a spin!