A lot of marketing activity has been reactive over previous weeks. But as marketers, it’s important to remember to pause, reflect and observe what is happening in the marketing environment, so we can best navigate the coming weeks and months and ensure we’re working to a wider strategy.
For our clients, we’ve seen a noticeable increase in email open-rates. This could be due to a number of factors. Audiences have more time on their hands, are on their computers more due to home working, and have a desire to consume relevant content to help them through current events. There’s also a sense of community to hear an update from a familiar voice. According to Hubspot’s data “Average marketing email volume increased 29% the week of March 16, while open rates increased by 53% the same week. Across the month, open rate increased by 21% overall.” Since then, Hubspot have updated their report to say “April 6 saw an open rate of 25.5%, the highest single-week average of 2020, and an 8% increase from the prior week.”
April 6 saw an open rate of 25.5%, the highest single-week average of 2020, and an 8% increase from the prior week.
With the boom in email performance, it’s important to remember the fundamental principles of good email marketing. Here are our recommendations for email marketing during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Make the content about your audience and not you - We’ve all had many emails from a brand we bought from once emailing us out of the blue to say “we’re here for you” and “we’ll get through this together”. Make sure that your email provides real value to your audience and use it as a platform to share your expertise that helps them in what is a difficult time for all.
- Understand what your audience wants to hear - It’s always advised to have a clear picture of your audience's goals, needs and challenges. Although conducting large-scale research at the current time might be difficult, take the time to have a deep-think about your audience's current needs during the lockdown. Speak with the rest of your team, especially staff on the front-line fielding questions from your clients, to get some valuable insights.
- Respect privacy - GDPR doesn’t go out of the window because we’re in a global pandemic. Ensure you have permission to be emailing your audience and they have the chance to unsubscribe if they wish.
- Be empathetic - Times are tough for many. Although being positive and having a ‘can-do’ attitude is important to get you through tough times, you also need to be empathetic to the impact the current crisis could be having on your audience.
- Now is not the time for quick wins - Looking for an ‘easy-win’ or quick sale is rarely a sustainable marketing strategy. In current times especially being overly salesly is not going to work and this includes ‘pandemic specials’ or desperate pleas for business. As at all times, you need to consider the long-term impact of your activity on your brand. Although a lot of companies are currently in survival mode, it’s important to consider how to put your business in the best position possible for sustained success once the world returns to ‘normal’.
- Keep your audience updated on important information - Communication is key with your audience - they need to be kept updated with any potential service changes because of current restrictions. What’s more, you need to be present during these times. The temptation for some companies will be to go into hibernation, whereas research proves that there’s plenty of opportunity during uncertain times and the brands who continue to market experience short-term and long-term benefits.
- Be honest and genuine - This is a given at all times for any good business, but if there are going to be delays to your service, be honest about it. The worst thing a brand can do is overpromise and under-deliver. This will have a detrimental effect on your long-term brand perception and success. Also, consumers are very savvy - don’t try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. They’ll see straight through it and it won’t go down well.
- Don’t forget your staff communications - It’s an uncertain time for employees and good communication levels are vital. We’ve seen clients increase the frequency of their internal newsletter and include features such as ‘from the community’ where colleagues share pictures and tips on how they are dealing with current events. This keeps people connected and adds to the sense of community amongst your team.
- Don’t be afraid to mix things up - Although our main focus with clients has been to create helpful content that’s relevant to current events, interestingly an email campaign that achieved the highest average increase in opens was titled ‘a welcome distraction’ and didn’t include COVID-19 specific content. Maybe indicating that a balance in content or a refreshing break from solely Coronavirus news could be welcome.
Email marketing is the most direct way to communicate with your audience at scale. However, many businesses get it wrong and don’t use it as a channel to provide value to their audience. Email open-rates are up - make sure your email marketing efforts put your business in the best position possible to survive current times and thrive once the upturn is upon us.
The above list is by no means exhaustive and there are lots of ways to win in the inbox. What has worked for your brand recently? Join the discussion on Linkedin
Image Credit: Adobe Stock By Sitthipong