Difficult circumstances can disrupt even the most successful businesses, and a knee-jerk reaction that comes to mind may be to stop utilizing email marketing in order to protect your business from a global crisis. Costs are costs, right? Save them when/where you can. Should your marketing step on the brakes? Heeeeck no! If anything, now is the time to reevaluate, recoup your losses, and gain as much market share as humanly possible.
Focus on your area of expertise and encourage your customers. You don’t want to predict what’s going to happen or act as the expert in a field in which you’re not the expert, right? Instead, direct those people to official advice and stay focused on your business. Respect your audience and build trust. That’s what’s important now more than ever.
Let me ask you this: Is your inbox already loaded with emails about this current COVID-19 situation? Yup, ours, too. With the influx of messages related to this topic, subscribers are growing skeptical of the messages they’re receiving, and I must say – rightfully so. To help you handle your email marketing strategy and avoid having those ‘skeptics’ in your subscriber’s list, an email marketing agency would love to share a few simple and effective tips with you today.
Stand out from the communication clutter
If your team is currently struggling with what to say during this crisis and how to frame it, you’re not alone. The best way to stand out in a crowd today is to provide real value for your subscribers. Oddly, this should be the norm, but it so often isn’t, and that can be considered an advantage for you and your business. You definitely want to avoid being one of those companies that are sending cliche messages that do nothing but signal virtues without providing any real help to readers (at least I hope so). It’s so simple to stand out…just provide REAL value! Sounds so simple, right? Trust me; you’re already one step closer to doing so if you’re still with me. Just keep reading.
It’s crucial to take your time to think through what (and if) your subscribers need to hear from you right now. In case there’s not an urgent need for them to hear from you, silence is what can make you stand out if you’re trying to prevent clutter—just kidding. There’s no such thing as silence today! Can’t believe I almost convinced you. Did you already forget what I said in the previous paragraph – value! Don’t go radio silent. Even though you’ve received at least 100 COVID-19 related emails since March, it doesn’t mean there can’t be value in the 101st. So long as there’s meat on your email marketing bones, you have value, and in turn, you have an audience.
How to handle communicating during the crisis
Okay, so you determined that your subscribers actually need you, great! Congrats – you’re one of the businesses which understand that value comes in so many shapes and forms – customers (obviously), followers, subscribers, the list goes on. But now you’re currently scrambling to decide what to email about and how to frame it during a global crisis? Should you send more? Less? Can you email your entire database? Don’t worry; these are all valid questions that many of us try to answer during these unprecedented times. You’re not the first to ask it and trust me, you won’t be the last.
First off, don’t send emails that try to profit off the crisis or make your readers more anxious than they’re already feeling. Trying to profit off of a pandemic is a serious no-no. Seriously. Acknowledge your subscriber’s anxiety, but make sure to keep your message calm and simple. And yes, can you please do me a favor and avoid ‘Coronavirus sales’ or virus wellness packages emails? Thanks. Let’s move on.
What I realized through the projects we worked on during the pandemic so far is the slew of emails we’re all receiving these days and companies are either trying to shell out as many emails as possible even if they provide little-to-no value, or they’re trying to find a way to profit from hard times… My dear friends, it’s not the quantity, but the quality. Before even sending that email, think for a second (or two) about how you feel or how your average customer persona feels at the moment, today, tonight. Like everybody else, they’re probably also worried, scared, while trying to figure out how much money they need to live. I mean, unless your client is Amazon’s delivery guy, in that case, he won’t be reading your emails ’cause he’s very busy (thank you for the recent toilet paper supply!).
We might seem a lil’ bit different these days, and so might our business, but trust me, we’ll come out the other side, and this too shall pass. Anyway, you need to consider adjusting the tone of your messages to reflect the pandemic. Try to be empathetic and authentic, offer flexibility in order methods, payment, and delivery. And most of all, increase personalization for the needs of each customer. I’ve seen waaaay too many drafts written or emails sent where all the positivity is at the end after the company has laid out their ship and lost the interest of anyone who opened their email. Listen, we’re here for you, we’ll get through this together, here are our contact details – put all that at the top (of your reader’s minds)!
Your email message should have some real meaning of pertinence. I know nobody needs a restaurant to send them a message informing them that they’re keeping their place clean and are asking their workers to wash hands more. More than what exactly? Why wouldn’t this be the case without CoVid-19? Jesus…
Focus on how your business can fulfill different types of needs. And no, I’m not speaking about BBQ must-haves or general ‘spring essentials,’ you need to ask how your product/service will make the purchaser feel. Remember – we’re all feeling a little uneasy right now. How can your product help them feel a little bit better, for even just a moment? Is purchasing your product or service going to brighten your recipient’s day? Will it make them feel beautiful? Will it make their day 10% better and their quarantine 10% easier to bear? Everybody seeks comfort and positivity in these ‘dark times.’ Convey how your business may bring them that little bit of relief they need.
Protect your email deliverability during the global crisis
Your email sender reputation is something that usually takes years to establish, and it’s based on many factors, like bounce rate, engagement, unsubscribes, IP address, content and format, and so much more. As email is one of the top channels that you can leverage for keeping engaged with your customers, email deliverability is at the dead center of your marketing efforts. As a CRM, merchandising, or marketing professional, you need to fight to protect your sender reputation, even in unexpected situations like this one today. It’s honestly incredible how something so unknown can make such a huge impact on your ability to market to or inform your customers than deliverability effectively.
The reason why this is a very important period during which you need to watch deliverability more than usual is that, just like with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, everybody and the next guy is sending emails now. Google and other major ISPs are on the lookout now more than ever for spam and have tightened their restrictions as such. Your customers are more bombarded now than ever and more likely to be in a bad mood seeing their inbox be overwhelmed by brands, especially those that repeat what the rest are saying. Again, be unique! Provide value!
Keep track of your engagement metrics. It’s the most important piece of advice right now. Yup, I mean open rates, click-through rates, bounce rates, and other similar metrics. Here’s another reason why strong communication is important during a global crisis. You need to adjust it quickly in order to maintain a good reputation.
Whether it’s a few weeks or a few months, your business must adapt to the new realities that COVID-19 presents. Only those that go above and beyond with their email marketing strategy will not only lead the companies best suited to survive this global crisis, but will come out stronger for weeks, months, and years to come. Remember, while best practices will remain true, marketing, business, and cultural changes will always have implications for your brand. So, don’t try to wing things and test your insights, measure, adapt, and communicate! Now!
Living to your values instead of declaring them will win you customers, and keep the existing ones more engaged than ever when all this mess ends. And yes, it will end, make no confusion about it.
Andrej Fedek is a digital marketer. He recently started his own blog about digital marketing called InterCool Studio. His passion is to help startups grow and thrive in a competitive environment.