Continuing the series of posts in which we take a close look at one specific email — putting a positive spin on “copy teardowns”.
Copy “tear-downs” are having a bit of moment on the internet. For years, we’ve resisted the urge to take part in this movement — even though we LOVE looking at specific copy examples in detail and suggesting improvement ideas. The thing is, we don’t like criticising brands behind their backs. So we’ve developed Clinics as my own version of these “teardowns”. For a limited time only, members of the #Ethicalhour community had the chance to get an in-depth video assessment of their email copy, free of charge: what it looks like, how it reads, what’s working really well, and what could be improved. This series of articles presents a summary of each assessment, so we can all learn from these emails together. You may also want to sign up to these newsletters just to see what changes were made based on the clinics!
Coromandel Coast is a UK-based specialty coffee brand with a sustainable twist. Named after the region where the coffee is grown, the company specialises in shade-grown Indian coffee that protects wildlife and gives coffee farmers a more sustainable income. This coffee isn’t grown on monoculture plantations but in the forest, surrounded by fruit and spice trees. Veena, the company’s founder, is out to raise awareness for this kind of Indian coffee. One way of doing that is building a list of email subscribers who are keen to learn more about shade-grown coffee, home brewing, special offers and news that she has to share.
Join our communityThanks for stopping by. We love forests, and coffee. Our coffees grow in the forest under the lush canopy of fruit and spice trees. Just like they did centuries ago. We think that’s coo, so do the birds and bees.By joining our community you’ll receive our definitive guide to brewing great coffee at home.
To invite new subscribers, Coromandel Coast uses a so-called Welcome Mat on the homepage. Within a few seconds of the visitor arriving on the page, it moves down and we’ve got a sign-up message covering the entire screen. Veena chose a big, bold design with an evocative background image. At first sight, the text could be more easily readable by adding a semi-transparent overlay to the photo. This would still let us see the picture but the text would pop that little bit more. Overall, the language is beautifully chosen, and you will see this reflected in the welcome email too. Veena has really got a clear view of what the tone of voice should be for her brand. Bonus points for adding this little bit of humour about the birds and bees. That made us smile.
The headline tells us that the main value of signing up is “join our community”. That’s quite interesting because it’s not actually about the newsletter: it’s about joining a group of like-minded people. There’s no further information about what “our community” means. As a reader, I don’t learn how the community works together, or what the benefits are of being part of the group. So, we’ve got a headline that starts a certain thought process, which then switches to tell us who Coromandel Coast are as a brand. We’d recommend thinking about whether this headline is the best way to describe the value that these emails are going to add for people who sign up.
Veena is asking for the email address, but not for people’s first names or any other information about themselves.
If Veena knew that kind of information, would it make it easier for her to send a good email? We think so! Some of that may be easy to get through the signup form. A lot of people say you shouldn’t overload your signup form, because the more fields, the less likely people are to subscribe. We would test having a first name here, though, because using names can really warm up every single email that you send out. Testing will tell you whether adding this one field will reduce the number of signups. If it doesn’t, then you will have gained a piece of information that’s quite awkward to get after people have signed up. Whereas when it comes to how people brew their coffee, that’s something Veena could find out when they’re already subscribed. So if she wants that information, it’s not necessarily something she needs to ask at the point of sign up.
Sabine has been subscribed to this newsletter for a long time, so Veena re-sent the first email to her as a preview email. That’s why you see the word “Test” here.
Subject: Home is a Cup of CoffeeThanks for joining our growing tribe of coffee enthusiasts.What to expect from usSustainability | Heritage | Craftsmanship | MinimalismOur monthly newsletters will align with our brand values. And of course, there’ll be plenty of information on how to appreciate coffee and brew a perfect cup. Also expect the usual product updates, event information and limited period offers.What is shade-grown coffee?Shade-grown coffee is coffee that grows under the lush canopy of forest tress, just as nature intended. It’s coffee that is climate-smart, with a huge positive social and environmental impact. But more importantly, it’s coffee that puts a smile on your face!We are huge advocates of home-brewingIf you’ve chatted to us, you’ll probably know this already!While it’s good to support your local, independent coffee shop every once in a while, starting your day with a morning ritual of brewing coffee at home is something else. It is good for your mind, your soul and the planet. (Saves you a tonne of money too, but that’s besides the point!)So as promised, here’s a guide to get you started. It’s our way of saying thanks for joining our community of conscious coffee lovers. Happy brewing!Download the Guide
This is a beautifully evocative subject line. It ties in with that community feel from the sign-up form, even though it’s not explicitly making that point. Will it make people curious enough to open the email though? Checking this email’s open rates and potentially testing different ways of phrasing this subject line might be a good idea.
Opening the email, we’ve got the logo and this headline matching the signup form, which was all about joining the community. We like the word choice of the “growing” tribe. It tells the reader that this is a successful brand, that they’re part of a growing movement, and makes them feel good about their choice. People don’t want to sign up for a brand in decline. Veena’s wording is just one of those subliminal ways of reinforcing and validating people’s decision to sign up.
The next paragraph explains what to expect from Coromandel Coast. Interestingly, it doesn’t say “what to expect from these emails” (even though that information is included), or “what to expect from this tribe”. It’s “what to expect from us”.
So, what can we expect from Coromandel Coast? According to this email, 4 things:
These are Coromandel Coast’s brand values. And when you look closely at the language, you will see them reflected in the brand voice and tone — including the images and graphic design. What’s intriguing about those values is that they’re not the typical coffee values. And they’re probably not what you would expect from a brand that has such strong ties to India: Indian style is so often portrayed as extremely colourful and quite the opposite of minimalism. As you read on, you’ll find that Veena uses words like “traceable”, “sustainable”, “delectable”. They feel as carefully crafted as the coffee itself, and there’s an air of heritage to them that embodies Veena’s precision and intention in building the Coromandel Coast brand.
The one thing that we find slightly surprising is that so far, this email has been continuing the conversation about the tribe/community. But we’re not actually learning anything about what to expect from it. Instead, we’ve got the same division again that we already saw on the signup page. The reader might be wondering: “Have I actually signed up to a community? Or have I just signed up for a newsletter? Is the word ‘tribe’ just a fancy word to describe ‘email subscribers’? Or is there more to it?” We’d recommend that Veena think about what she really wants to build here. If she does want to build a community, what’s that going to look like? How is Coromandel Coast going to enable and empower people to build relationships with each other?
A list of subscribers is a group of people with one thing in common: their connection with the brand. In contrast, building a tribe or a community (we’re using those terms in Seth Godin’s sense) means enabling a relationship that is more or less horizontal. A community doesn’t need the brand as a go-between. They can be in touch with each other, they communicate with each other. Yes, the brand may provide the framework, the founder may create something like a Facebook group, or a pop-up event, or a Slack channel. But once that infrastructure exists, people experience community with each other and not just with the brand.
If you’ve been toying with the idea of building that kind of community, and you haven’t yet fully decided on how to make it happen, then maybe you just need to be a bit clearer about the fact that you are still in the process of building this. To whet people’s appetites, mention the benefits that you’re planning for — for example, being able to swap ideas and tips on how to brew better coffee at home, or morning routines, or whatever else you want to connect to the theme of coffee and community. On the other hand, if you don’t actually want to put effort into building a new community, then maybe it’s better to pare it back and just talk about the newsletter.
The email goes on to explain what shade-grown coffee is. This has already been partly explained on the signup form. This section seems a bit disconnected from the overall theme of “this is what you can expect to get out of being subscribed”. Perhaps this kind of product education would make a great footer. We could almost see this working as an FAQ in every single email — answering a different coffee-related question each time. Or a coffee glossary explaining one coffee-related piece of terminology in every single email. The way it appears here, it seems to interrupt the flow. The following paragraph switches back to the brand and what it stands for. Cutting this paragraph would make a much more natural follow-on from the previous one.
Veena usually hand-selects every single word on her website and in her emails. This paragraph is slightly less edited to evoke that sense of sustainability, craftsmanship, minimalism and heritage compared to some others. Words like “huge” and “a tonne of money” act as intensifiers. This word choice doesn’t suggest minimalism — it’s bombastic rather than minimalist. Also, the expression “a tonne of money”, even with British spelling, has an American ring to it. It’s a little out of tune with the overall brand feel. The same is true for exclamation marks. There are three exclamation marks in this paragraph. In fact, there’s another exclamation mark in the previous paragraph, making it four in a single email. They’re just a bit of punctuation, but they add a sense of excitement, of shouting and emotional exuberance that just doesn’t sit well with heritage, craftsmanship and minimalism. We’d recommend removing the intensifiers and limiting the number of exclamation marks to one per email. We also noticed a few little bits and bobs that need proofreading: the extra space in front of the full stop and irregular spacing in a few other spots. With craftsmanship being such an important value, attention to detail is one way the reader can experience this without tasting the coffee.
At the very end of the email, there’s a hidden gift: a downloadable guide!
After the Download button, the email ends rather abruptly. A personal sign-off would be a really nice touch, maybe even with a picture — especially since the sender appears as “Veena at Coromandel Coast”. But even just a coffee-related sign-off such as “Happy brewing” would warm things up. It would allow readers to form more of a relationship with Veena, which would also fit perfectly with the idea of building a community. Because it’s very difficult to build a community or a tribe when the individual is hidden behind the brand.
To sum up, Veena uses a beautiful Welcome Mat to invite people to her newsletter. Here, we first come across the “community versus newsletter” conundrum. These two ideas keep getting into each other’s way in the email, too. We’ve got absolutely beautiful language with just a few slips towards the end. Nothing a little bit of editing can’t fix. Finally, we recommend adding that bit of warmth by asking for people’s names at the point of sign up and using a personal sign-off.
Would you like an in-depth assessment of 3, 5 or 7 emails? Check out our Email Conversion Copy Audits. We won’t blog about your emails (the audit is completely private). Plus we’ll write swipe-worthy copy for you and answer all your questions on a 30-minute Q&A call.