Emailing in the era of COVID-19: Dos and don’ts
It's important to remember that we will get through this; brands do not need to stop all of their marketing efforts — but don't throw email best practices out the window by "panic-sending".
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the uptick in coronavirus-related emails in my personal inbox became noticeable. The first one I opened was from a physical therapist’s office — where I have not been a patient in four years — providing updates about their hours, services and proper handwashing techniques. I initially brushed it off as a nice gesture, forgave them for the poor list management practices and moved on.
As the week continued, nearly every brand I subscribe to sent an email to address their response to coronavirus. People are becoming inundated with messaging about coronavirus from every angle — and email marketers need to consider how to adjust their messaging.
Today, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to participate with email experts from all over the world in a panel discussion experts on Email Marketing in the Era of Corona (video will be available this week).
Moderated by Skip Fidura of the Overmore Group (UK), Elliot Ross of Action Rocket and TaxiForEmail (UK), Emil McGuire of Flourish and Grit (Detroit, USA), Julian Danylak of Storytelling Secrets (AUS) and Hillel Berg of Hillel Berg Email Marketing Consultants (Israel) and I collectively identified four trends happening in email marketing.
Some brands are overreacting — and over-messaging.
While it is great that brands are reaching out to their customers, subscribers and stakeholders via email. An analysis performed by Sparkpost demonstrates the huge spike in coronavirus-related subject lines, as well as an increase in read rates across specific sectors and decreases in other sectors.
The average read rate within these volumes is nearly 24% —a strong indicator of email engagement in any industry. The highest read rates are reflected in three sectors: Transportation-Airlines (35.1%), Transportation-Cruises (34.8%) and Food Delivery and Meal Kits (31.6%).
Brands in other sectors have increased email volume but have not seen an increase in open rates belong to the Credit Cards sector (11.4%), and to the Social Networking sector (15.3%). Surprisingly low read rates are also occurring with Drugs and Vaccines (17.4%) and Health and Wellness Information (17.7%).
Incorporating too much coronavirus-related content in emails that people typically open for retail offers and deals could see a significant impact to their deliverability rates if they continue to over message subscribers about it.
Email marketers are starting to recognize the need to choose their words a bit more carefully when writing emails to customers during this time. Some brands have started to include tips for working remote and even guided meditation exercises to help readers cope with heightened anxiety.
Emily McGuire, owner of Flourish and Grit, works with small brick-and-mortar chain and the adjustments that had to be made to their automated campaigns. In analyzing their automated emails, McGuire and her clients realized they had a big task ahead of them to inform incoming leads and customers appropriately.
Store hours were updated — for every store and in every automated campaign. Language encouraging consumers to visit brick-and-moratar locations was removed and replaced with online options. McGuire reminds email marketers who rely on automated campaigns that doing a double check to make sure your that your messaging is sensitively aligned during the crisis.
It’s no secret that many martech and business technology companies incorporate philanthropy as part of their core values. For example, Nift, a Boston-based network, established to help community residents explore local businesses and restaurants by providing discounted gift cards that can be used at participating locations.
In an effort to encourage — and even assist — city residents to support local small businesses, Nift sent subscribers a free $30 gift card in the hopes of helping to maintain local businesses. This just one example of a brand doing good while doing well by using email to communicate with subscribers tangible ways they can support local businesses.
It’s important to remember that we will get through this; brands do not need to stop all of their marketing efforts — but don’t throw email best practices out the window by “panic-sending”.