In a matter of months, COVID-19 disrupted life as we know it. Health protocols have us pinned down to our homes and limit what can be done outside.
These unprecedented circumstances brought even the most established brands to their knees, forcing marketers to reevaluate how to drive growth or simply stay afloat.
Sailing in uncharted waters means there is no tried and tested formula for success. But as time goes on, plenty of things become clear and effective strategies emerge.
While the perfect email marketing template is beyond us, the following are vital pivots as we live through the new normal.
Provide Valuable Information
At the beginning of the pandemic, brands were quick to send messages to their consumers. News about COVID-19 and generic lines of solidarity flooded everyone’s inbox. Unfortunately, many felt the opposite of what marketers had hoped, and so what followed was a surge in unsubscriptions and backlash on social media.
It’s safe to say that the world — both physical and digital — is oversaturated with everything COVID. People are fatigued from dealing with the pandemic, and seeing it constantly on the four corners of their screens only adds to the exhaustion.
As a brand, the last thing you want to do is to squeeze yourself into conversations where you don’t belong. People are quick to sniff out feigned concern and shameless profiteering. Unless you have valuable information to share, it’s best to take a backseat and focus on alternative ways to keep your brand top of mind.
If you’re keen on rolling out digital mail, note that valuable information doesn’t have to be technical. Instead, you can touch on the following:
If your business operations have changed because of health protocols, let your customers know how it affects them.
What are your new business hours? Can they avail of services through online channels? Are there any special instructions you would like them to know to ensure theirs and your staff’s safety? These are all important questions to answer via a concise email.
Involvement in Proactive Causes
During these times of uncertainty, even the simplest forms of good news go a long way. It will work to your advantage to communicate how you have been helping vulnerable groups or frontline workers.
If you have promos that work as a way of supporting proactive causes, let it be known to your consumers. You can list donation drives or charitable groups your business has been involved with and detail how your subscribers can pitch in.
More importantly, email customers on your initiatives that they can benefit from directly. These can be free products, free trials to services, discounts, and more.
This will let people know that you’re a positive force amid the ongoing chaos. Just remember to construct your messages carefully and scrap anything that sounds self-righteous and condescending.
Again, it’s not your job to provide health advice when you’re not an expert on the field. The COVID-19 pandemic is a medical crisis, but there is much more going on than problems in public health.
Educate your consumers on how to cope with the struggles of isolation, working from home, and anxiety. It would be good if you can tie how your products or services are useful in solving some of the common problems people are currently facing.
Assess what your business can do in this time of crisis and let those points guide you in crafting the body of your email. Think about what your consumers need and allow making sales to come in second for the time being.
Personalizing messages is not new advice to email marketers. In fact, the best email marketing services are defined by their ability to segment subscribers and make highly targeted messages.
Consumers have always disliked generic and self-promoting emails. With the threat of COVID-19 hovering over them, they have grown more intolerant of such tactics than ever.
Refine your customer segmentation by grouping your recipients according to their latest activities and how they may have been affected by the pandemic. You can do this based on their job title, industry, and age group.
Better yet, you can collect relevant information by asking subscribers how they are. Listen to their experiences and get their pulse on what they want to appear on their appeals moving forward.
Cancel Irrelevant Campaigns
It wouldn’t be surprising if you had your email marketing strategy mapped out for the whole year. However, a lot of the campaigns you had designed are probably inappropriate given these unusual circumstances.
Overly upbeat and celebratory messages should be avoided as they can make you appear out-of-touch and insensitive. Review what you have lined up for sending and cancel those that fall oblivious to the current situation.
Don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board and start again from scratch. It’s better to invest in reinventing your whole calendar than getting flack for insensitive content.
Review When to Send Out Emails
Staying at home afforded a lot of people more time on the web. But while email open rates saw a 21.5% increase post-COVID, there are other aspects of consumer behavior that have changed.
Before the pandemic, data suggests that the most strategic play would be to send emails on a Tuesday. Should you choose to send two emails a week, many agreed you should deliver one on a Tuesday and the second on a Thursday.
In contrast, a benchmarking study revealed that the best day to send an email in our current context is Monday. Emails sent on this day enjoy high open and click-through rates at 22% and 3% respectively. They also incur low bounce rates (.72%) and unsubscriptions (.13%).
Of course, it all still depends on your target audience. Test what works for you and see how the trend evolves as new developments come to surface.
Be Sensitive and Empathetic
Perhaps the most important advice not just in email marketing, but in all forms of communication right now, is to practice empathy. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on a turbulent business landscape, leaving many jobless and struggling to get by.
Whatever content you plan on sending, bear in mind that people are going through varying experiences while weathering the storm. Mind your tone and add an extra layer of care as you construct sentences for sales and promotions.
Lastly, do not think of the pandemic as a marketing opportunity. Struggles and hardships are never something to profit off on.
Anchor your email marketing strategy on ways to put consumers in a positive state. From glancing at your subject line to reaching the end of the email’s body, the goal is to elicit a sense of ease. This means steering clear from words like “hurry”, “critical”, “rush”, and others that may evoke panic or anxiety.
Let us help your business navigate its way through the pandemic. Get in touch with DevWerkz to build a resilient email marketing strategy today.