COVID-19 has posed challenges for many brands as they scramble to respond internally and externally. Right away, we received emails from brands to keep us informed of changes. In the scramble, all subscribers were contacted, but was this necessary? What is the correct way to leverage email during COVID-19 and how can your brand make sure it is continuing to innovate?

To start, we would like to focus on the compassion vs cringe comparison. We would never advocate for a brand to attempt to profit from a disaster; we expect you to be your authentic selves and so do your customers.

As you may have noticed, there are tiers of messages that have gone out. It started with companies letting us know that their employees are working from home and that shipping times may be delayed. This progressed into how brands are helping and focusing on how they are giving back. The next crucial tier is how the brand fits into your new normal and how they are supporting their customers through COVID-19.

We urge you to consider who is receiving an email, if shipping times are delayed, and does every subscriber need to know things, or maybe just those who have ordered or been on-site in the last month – take this one step further, by asking yourself could some messages be a non-invasive banner on the site?

Don’t forget your Email learnings: segment, be smart with messaging, test, learn, repeat. You can respond quickly while still being tactful and respectful. Email is a channel where you can connect with your customers, inform them of product releases, and be authentic.

For marketing exclusive campaigns:

BMDi clients saw a 15% lift in open rates MoM, but a 22% drop in CTOR and a 3% drop in revenue per email.

How should my brand respond?

Since March 10th, according to the World Data Webinar, 18% of all emails have mentioned Coronavirus/COVID-19 and subscribers are responding by checking their inbox 27% more often than prior to the pandemic. This time is full of uncertainty, anxiety, and fear for everyone. A total departure from the norm is okay right now, so lead with content over promotion. Find ways to delight your subscribers if it makes sense for your company.

We do acknowledge that consumer spending is down, and we’re not saying don’t have a promotion. However, we caution brands to be careful about how to communicate sales right now. Be subtle about urgency even though we know they drive response – your customers can read between the lines. If you send an email with “10 essentials for your WFH space,” they understand what is happening.

What could this look like?

  • Collaborate with other brands by cross-selling or with giveaways
  • Set up a relief fund for those affected by the crisis
  • Discount your product or service or give it away for free to those in need; first responders, essential workers, health care workers, etc.
  • Offer online courses or sessions that align with your brand
  • Create educational content that will help your audience navigate or understand the crisis and the issues surrounding it

Email Marketing During a Pandemic Checklist

  • Look at your content and only communicate if you have something of value to contribute
  • Understand your audience and map communication strategies to them: what is the most important information to communicate to this specific audience? How can you best deliver your message?
  • Audit your site behavior emails for insensitive or untrue information. Whether directly related to the coronavirus or not, make sure it is sensitive to the current environment
  • What worked two months ago will likely have shifted – don’t count on old tactics
  • Audit your transactional campaigns and consider displaying a banner that provides details on delays in orders (rather than a separate email)
  • Before deploying an email to your entire database, remove inactive subscribers
  • If tools are available, monitor subscribers that are more likely to unsubscribe
  • A/B Test content to see what type of information solicits the best response from your consumers
  • Communicate to customer segments differently based on their purchases, inactive status, gender, and/or location
  • Don’t forget about send time optimization – the early morning sends might not be as impactful while customers are working from home

Blue Moon Digital opened its doors 16 years ago and our first department was email; now, we support all things digital. If you have questions about your email program or would like to discuss how your brand can make the most out of these uncertain times, contact our team of specialists for a free consultation, we are here to help.

Contributors: Lindsey Stern, Senior Email Marketer, Jasmine Bienvenue, Email Marketing Strategist, and Scott Salzberg, Director of Strategic Growth