April 23, 2020

Five Effective Email Marketing Tips in the Wake of COVID-19

Effective email marketing campaigns have fundamentally shifted in the wake of COVID-19. Consumers have received a wide variety of emails from brands large and small over the last several weeks. Some convey crucial information such as new hours or closures. Others include less crucial, but still useful information such as how they will be disinfecting surfaces and maintaining cleanliness.

Others are using email to send heartfelt messages from the CEO about the state of the world, thanking nurses and healthcare professionals with very little company-specific messaging at all. All of these different tactics have the same goal: reassuring customers. However, with the flood of emails from brands, consumers might be getting overwhelmed, or worse, anxious.

In this context, businesses need to be extremely careful about how many emails they are sending and what type of information they include. A good marketing strategy at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis could be to over communicate, but that is no longer the case as consumers become fatigued by too many COVID-related emails – especially if the messaging isn’t strategic or helpful.

As we continue in lockdown, Movable Ink have provided some tips that can keep your email marketing fresh:

1. Add value by making the customer first

Customers may be going through stressful and difficult times, but don’t capitalise on that fear. Before sending an email, make sure it is relevant and not tone deaf. Give your customers the most recent updates, but don’t over communicate, which is starting to come across as insensitive. According to research by GfK, 73 per cent of respondents say the way companies act during the crisis will affect future purchase decisions, and giving them space is an important factor.

2. Audit and automate

Check your marketing calendar for issues or challenges, and revisit any campaigns that might be problematic. We’ve seen some organisations simply forget to do this, and the result is that they send content that is irrelevant to the current situation, or worse, insensitive. Create a playbook to more easily reference in the future and identify all automation, efficiency, and personalisation opportunities.

3. Personalise emails with new COVID-19 buying patterns

Personalisation has been one of the biggest trends in email marketing over the last several years, and brands need to keep engaging with customers in the new COVID-19 context. If you’re sending emails that made sense with buying patterns a month ago, they might not be relevant right now. For instance, shift to local promotions now that most people are staying close to home. Target emails by location to send the most relevant promotions in their immediate vicinity.

4. Quickly update emails with real-time data

As situations change rapidly, the ability to quickly amend an email campaign’s language to temper emotion and shift the tone while retaining brand voice has never been more important. In a March 2020 client survey, we found that some of the topics with which respondents most needed support were tactful messaging, last-minute changes, and personalisation based on location. That’s why we are helping clients get important messages to their customers with use of our Critical Messages App at no cost.

5. Be transparent and generous

Transparency is a trend that we’ve seen across email campaigns as brands honestly share their difficulties and new realities. Many have stepped beyond this by offering their services at a discounted rate or, in some cases, for free. For instance, many media and entertainment organisations have removed their paywalls and increased their communication strategies to keep the public informed. The result is that some have seen traffic increases of around 60 per cent amid the crisis. More importantly, these brands are building trust with their customers that will carry through this crisis and beyond.

The next phase of customer communication

These are unprecedented times, but email marketers have the opportunity to truly connect with their customers. Put them and their needs first, and you could build lifelong trust. Over communicate and take advantage of the situation, and you might lose a subscriber. Finally, don’t be scared to get creative. We’ve seen some brands really think outside the box by creating email marketing campaigns that leverage AR to get customers outside of their boring, stuck-at-home realities. Know your customer and know the type of experiences that might connect with them. It might just help them get through this crisis a little more easily.

Written by

Stuart Barker,
Vice President EMEA at Movable Ink