Trick or Treat: Pin Your High Hopes on Email Marketing Strategies during COVID-19 Pandemic

The life of an email marketer has changed enormously during the COVID-19 pandemic. When most parts of the world is either closed for business or slowed down due to the lockdown crisis, we would expect the number of emails sent to customers and prospects to dry up as sales take the hit. However, things are not slowing down for an email marketing team. In fact, there is so much done in the rapidly changing world around growing demands to stay “socially connected” via online conversation and messaging channels, including emails, SMS and video messages.

Personally speaking, my family’s dependence on online mobile apps and mobile payments apps has increased almost 200% during the pandemic lockdown compared to our usage during the pre-COVID-19 days. But surprisingly, back in May 2020, Deloitte and Salesforce have found that mobile wallets are still lagging behind email when it comes to making purchases. 14% of shoppers are purchasing through social media.

One of the most startling revelations from an email marketing report published during the pandemic should pacify every marketing team why they should focus on email marketing campaigns and continue to keep track of their ‘Open Rates’ and Subscribers volume, despite obvious fears of losing revenue.

In this article, we will point out 5 unique email marketing ideas for any unforeseen situation such as the ones arising from pandemics and lockdowns.

Promote what the government is stating

The effectiveness of pandemic control depends on how quickly the government and local healthcare authorities manage to respond to the crisis. From providing COVID-19 population data to effectively managing patients’ queries to making arrangements for essential goods on a daily basis, government across nations have opted for visual and text messaging platforms to respond to the pandemic. Email communication has proved to be one of the most effective media to spread correct information.

According to CampaignMonitor, government sector sent a much higher number of emails (25% in March 2020 compared to the previous year), registering healthy open rates even as subscribers volume didn’t fall due to the spike in emails during the COVID-19.

Message for email marketers:

Subscribers may not always want to know about the product, services and solution during the pandemic. Sometimes, simply sending government-centric information to subscribers can enhance engagement and open rates for your email campaigns.

Email benchmarks during COVID-19 outbreaks: March and April 2020
Email benchmarks during COVID-19 outbreaks: March and April 2020

Tell “how” you’re coping with the new “normal”

Customers want to know more about the brands and the companies they have interacted with in the past. Sending a small note on how you are coping with the COVID-19 crisis and how your business model has switched to accommodate the new normal in operations. You could send a summary of your decision to go “fully digital” with zero dependence on retail or physical storefronts; or, how you decided to start a ‘podcast’  and webinar to enlighten the benefits of staying indoors and practicing ‘isolation’ with social distancing norms.

Recommended: Genesys Announces Partnership with Adobe to Deliver Contextual Customer Experiences

Email marketing strategies that simply go beyond the usual rut of marketing and promotional activities are perceived to be more engaging and ‘humane’ in the modern context. Read more about the role of Account-based marketing for retail.

Serve it Fresh: Leverage Local

Small businesses are leveraging email marketing tools to engage with customers and spend confidently on the email marketing campaigns as part of outreach strategy. If you are servicing an international brand, you could tell about your translation services or voice communication case studies.

Customer behaviors have changed, and convenience over experience has toppled the pre-COVID-19 benchmarks in customer experience management with email marketing.

How did different industries compare?
How did different industries compare? [Source: Mailchimp]
For example, restaurant and food delivery platforms continue to leverage local email marketing tactics to keep their customer engaged, and pivot their online delivery or take-out options with smart email marketing messaging tactics.

You can see how the food services industry registered a spike in their Click Rates as on April 14. Health and Fitness, Healthcare, Automobile and real estates sector also witnessed believable growth in Click Rates during the same period, suggesting greater engagements for those industries than others.

How to Cope with Remote Workplace pressure

It’s time to switch gears and deliver real value on the technology shifts across industries. Some of the hottest “email subject lines” in the last 4 months are as follows:

  • COVID-19 remote workplace management
  • Remote security challenges
  • Word From Home tips and safety concerns
  • Boost your marketing and sales
  • Financial Goals during a pandemic
  • Job, salary and compensation trends and benchmarks
  • Weekly webinar / podcast report

Top 10 Brands during the COVID-19 pandemic, etc.

Don’t get desperate with your email campaigns

Way back in March, while we were still trying to understand the real effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our daily lives, Gartner had warned Marketing and Communications professionals against Virtue Signaling story boards and focus on “WIIFM” tone and context during the pandemic.

FOMO is a real thing, and with tons of emails with similar-sounding subject lines and irrelevant content filling up the inbox, “unsubscribed” metrics could severely dent your hardwork.

We are in the thick of WIIFM (What’s in it for me) analytics. Subscribers continue to opt in for email newsletters and other promotional content based on the kind of value these emails bring to their lives. From loyalty rewards to online shopping discounts, to simply upgrading services, WIIFM email analytics can explain the reasons why brand-oriented emails have been performing miserably compared to customer-centric WIIFM emails.

Virtue Signaling reveals your brand’s desperation to stay ‘sticky’ in your subscriber’s mind. Gartner has pointed out the negative effects of pushing utopian values and pandemic virtues through email marketing campaigns.

As Gartner pointed out, here’s your cue sheet for the COVID-19-themed marketing email campaign.

  • Am I telling customers something different from other brands versus saying the same thing as everyone else?
  • Am I telling customers something they don’t already expect of my company or brand?
  • Is the WIIFM conspicuous in the subject line and opening paragraph?
  • And, most importantly, is the WIIFM attuned to your customers needs right now?

It’s true that customers often find themselves interacting with multiple departments of the same brand, and miss ‘unified’ communications. The COVID-19 pandemic has further widened this gap as customers are accessing multiple touchpoints during their purchase journeys.

Clearly, the trends in marketing automation are shifting like sand grains every month. Email marketing is still the king of marketing campaigns when it comes to validating ROI from your martech stack. It’s time to invest in Customer 360 profile and experience management platforms to improve your email marketing goals and seizing the opportunities during this crisis.

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