And Now, a Word from Zappos


Getting your point across is difficult enough. Getting it across in a memorable, beguiling manner certain to please the recipients of your message is a feat that many of us don’t even attempt, let alone master. Which is why I salute the writers of Zappos.com’s email copy.

Most welcome emails have fairly pedestrian prose: Thanks for opting in to receive emails from us; we look forward to your shopping with us. Simple and serviceable. Indeed, the fact that these companies send any sort of welcome email at all is impressive enough.  

Here’s what Zappos wrote: “Woohoo! We’re so excited you registered with Zappos.com. We look forward to providing you with many amazing shopping experiences!”


“Woohoo!” I warranted a “woohoo!” And Zappos isn’t merely happy that I’ve opted in; the company is downright “excited.”

As is best practice with a welcome email, Zappos proceeded to remind me of the benefits of shopping with the company: “As a Zappos.com customer, you will experience these awesome benefits: a 365-day money-back guarantee; super-easy returns; our fabulous customer service; and our ginormous selection of stuff.”

Granted, not every brand could or should use terms such as “awesome” and “ginormous”  and "selection of stuff" in its email copy. But the choice of such youthful, casual, colloquial words supports Zappos’s image as a fun, rule-breaking brand.

Zappos’s order confirmation email demonstrated the same focus on tone: “We are delighted to inform you that your order with Zappos.com has been received successfully and is in the process of being carefully plucked from our shelves.” What a fabulous visual “carefully plucked” conjures up; I can imagine whistling sprites standing on tiptoe to retrieve the pair of sneakers I ordered from a shelf of impeccably organized boxes.


Perhaps my favorite email was the shipping confirmation: “Your order with Zappos.com has shipped. YAY! We’ve enclosed some tracking information, so you can follow your order to its final destination. It’s almost like being a superspy! Mission Control advises that you take a look at the top-secret information below.”


Okay, your mileage may vary regarding that final sentence. But you can’t deny that the prose builds a greater sense of anticipation regarding the package than the usual “Your order has shipped. Below is your tracking number so that you can check on the status of your shipment.”

Stylish verbiage alone won’t lead a shopper to choose one merchant over another. (Hell, it won’t even lead a consumer to choose a skillful author over a barely literate one, as is clear from the success of Dan Brown and Stephanie Meyer.) But it helps solidify a brand’s image in the customer’s mind and sets that brand apart, even slightly, from its myriad competitors.

Even more subtly, it shows the consumer that this is a brand that pays attention to even the smallest, most mundane details. If Zappos lavishes enough care on its word choice for an automated order confirmation message, I’m going to assume it focuses just as obsessively on providing me with the best product selection and ensuring that I receive my order on time and in pristine condition.

Which, as it happens, I did.

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