Let’s take a look back into the recent past. Yes, literally one or two years ago… Do you remind that anxiety and uncertainty? Each email marketer, each small business owner was scared by ominous forecasts. While a bunch of analysts was literally mocking us. “Email format is anachronistic! Why is this outdated channel still alive at all? It shall die! Tomorrow belongs to new-fashioned messengers!”

A bit later, AMP4Email was born. This innovation was like the sunlight of the new age… But enough. It seems I’ve said too much. And deviating from the actual topic. Though these reminiscences are not occasional here.

Local-Business-scaled

To be honest, I remember that worries now and smiling nostalgically. Because no one could predict the threatening challenge of the nearest future back then…

Coronavirus: a global ordeal

It’s almost unbelievable. But it turned out to be true. Horrid plots of apocalyptic movies like “Contagion” had become an everyday routine. News on TV and internet remind of “Plague Inc” videogame. We’re already accustomed to social distancing, quarantines, WFH, wearing masks, etc.

The recent months showed that the most pessimistic forecasts are far from reality. I’m proud to say that the human race is a strong lifeform. Despite the COVID-19 apocalypse didn’t happen, the global economic system is still functioning… So let’s get optimistic, I think mankind shall survive this plague and recover all the losses.

Right, the coronavirus disaster has changed our life significantly. One of these changes is the global shift of the whole human activity to the online sphere. Many of us are working from home – of course, if our work allows this. We are mostly sitting at homes instead of parties and travels… the obvious solution to replace the familiar offline activities is… Right, we are surfing the internet. 

This is where we come to the topic of our post. How does email marketing cope with the pandemic challenge? And what should we do to keep our marketing strategies healthy?

COVID-19 test for email marketing

A piece of good news. The email marketing potential is strong enough to make our sector of eCommerce generate significant profits even when many business meet the redux of incomes. 

Technically speaking, everything is better than it seemed too. HTML template builders and ESP/CRMs are still providing us with uninterrupted services and new features. 

Our channel is very flexible as well. So email marketers worldwide succeeded to invent the new ways to adjust to force major circumstances. This is exactly what we are going to talk about now.

As we said above, people are engaged online like never before. Yes, email marketing still remains one of the top marketing tools. Yet, each coin has two sides. Had you noticed that Youtube decreased the quality of their videos due to traffic overload? I think you had.

The “overload” term is a pain not only for Youtube today. It’s trouble for the whole online world. Yes, including the inbox folder of our mailboxes…

Rearranging strategy: how to overcome that overload?

Maybe it’s even a topic for medical research… Weird but true: it looks like coronavirus has an indirect mental impact on email marketers’ minds. As a result, skilled and experienced specialists suddenly fall into psychosis. And start sending, sending, sending – emails by emails!

Obviously the effect is reversed. Inboxes are overloaded with incoming messages. Lots of people say that it’s madness… Tons of emails literally from everyone, even from those they had dealt with over the years. This is not even ridiculous. Just irritating. Not even mention the “genuine” content of many emails, it’s a separate weird topic.

So well… What should we do to be outstanding? How to avoid the fate of being buried under the tons of inbox emails? How to be not rejected with indignation?

The key recommendation is: DON’T behave as if nothing has happened. Looking at some emails we can even think that senders just ignore the pandemic. 

Our world has changed. I’m sure scientists will invent the cure one day, and coronavirus will become a dark page of history. But until that… It may sound scary but our email marketing needs mutations to generate the antigen against COVID-19 (though… “brand virality” term is a bit creepy today :)) 

Crisis updates of email marketing strategy

Now we’d like to share the best advice and guidelines to follow. But first of all, the key concept is: find the fine line. As we stated above, businesses and marketers are literally bombing their subscribers with overfrequent mailings, often with irrelevant and even abusing content.

That’s why we need to think over frequency and content. Let’s start with the latter. 

Provide valuable content 

Your emails should be always filled with valuable and helpful content, offers, and information. Especially in times of crisis. 

You’ve probably heard how many businesses and organizations reconstruct the whole mechanism of their activity. For example, outdoor activities are moving online in a format of virtual webcam tours by parks, zoos, art galleries. Cinemas and video services provide users with paid content for free. Fitness businesses launch home classes and Q&A sessions. Not even mentioning the restaurants and cafes which are reloaded as food delivery services…

It will be a long list, so we won’t mention everything. Just a tip: if you’re in – tell and show this. Let people see how you’re making their life easier and more convenient. They will appreciate it. And it helps promote a positive image of your brand that won’t be forgotten in the future. 

There are many ideas about what to send during this time. In particular, we can find heart-touching emails from brands that take special care about those who are fighting at the frontline of biological warfare, i.e. health-workers. Others are making special messages to support people, make their mood better… Not diving deeper into details, everything is good when done properly.

And of course keep your emails responsive, clear, and helpful. This rule is always actual.

Send messages only when necessary

People face a lot of problems during the biohazard disaster. Not only COVID-19 itself, but its breed is also almost not less disgusting. Unemployment, breakdown of life plans, problems with the business, even the traffic disorder… All that is a pain. As well as lack of live communications. 

People are different. Someone may become angry because of irrelevant or unethical email. So ask yourself: should I really send this campaign?

In days of the public health crisis, it’s worth asking yourself if the email is really necessary right now. 

Is this message really important for subscribers or brand? This simple question will protect you from the risk to be annoying and even loud-shouting.

Be careful with the tone 

Choose the right tone of communication. What am I talking about? The matter is that some emails are making the disgusting impression of “dance upon the graves”. Some are oversaturated with coronavirus copy and imagery, others are even making play with COVID-19 topics to sell. Some marketers are even joking at this.

Understand me right, I’m quite cynical too. And I find some COVID-19 memes really amusing. But socials and emails are not the same. So don’t use the epidemic topics for hype, don’t turn it into “brand”. It’s not a brand, it’s a global plague. 

Be polite. Avoid coronavirus memes, better leave them for socials. Just imagine: what if your recipient just lost the relative or friend who died of coronavirus?

Analyze the timing again

I think you’ve already paid attention to this aspect. Especially during the recent year when AI-based automation became a trend, including smart timing.

But today, everything has changed. The matter is that WFH mode, quarantine, and other ways of distancing has a great impact on the human rhythm of life. So we can’t use the same timing anymore. 

Clients have different schedules now. Previously, open rates could rise before lunchtime, and then decrease. Now, CampaignMonitor stats witness the spikes earlier (at 9 AM), and slowly increase over the afternoon. 

So check the timing patterns from the scratch and tweak your sending time for maximum effect. Again, AI is a mighty assistant in this mission.

Keep in mind the things to avoid as…

Okay, I won’t overuse the sick humor (you know what I meant). Let’s end our compilation of crisis tips with some DON’Ts.

Here they are.

  • Don’t send emails just to show your solidarity and support. Right, on the eve of a pandemic it was a trend. No offers, no sales – just bare words “we’re in this together”. It has a positive impact in the beginning… But now it sounds just insincere and boring. Don’t forget that people are already tired of all this. Why remind it once again? Don’t waste readers’ time with totally useless pathetic emails.
  • Don’t send emails to inactive contacts. Do you think it’s the right time to reactivate them when people are staying at home? Is not! Your customers may have trouble now, so your “kind” emails will only irritate them. Much better is to clean up your database.
  • Don’t try to hard-sell through emails. Hard-selling is a dubious practice as is. But during a plague crisis? Even worse. Forget about it.
  • Don’t be over-positive. Some marketers try to be overly positive and vivid in their emails. But life is really hard during a coronavirus time, so clownish behavior may be even more disgusting than ghoulish grimness. Again, we don’t know what happened in the lives of our recipients. Someone is mourning the deceased parents, others are unemployed or got bankrupt… Don’t be a dancer among the ruins.

Final words

COVID-19 is a hard time, right. But there are still solutions and opportunities for business. While this current situation looks like there’s no end in sight, I’m pretty sure: one day we will return to normal life. And continue our business in a regular mode as it was before.

But for this, we have to survive. I mean biologically and business-wise. Take care of yourself, and follow the best recommendations in your business.

The current pandemic has proven the potential of email marketing channel as a flexible, high-profit solution. So I’m sure this experience is the ultimate evidence: email marketing won’t die. Now everything depends on you – use it wisely.

Be healthy and good luck!