While it might be too early for many businesses to say the panic caused by COVID-19 and the ensuing global lockdown is subsiding, an increasing number are now looking at ways they can move forward and operate in what is swiftly becoming a new ‘normal.’
There is, however, still a large number of elements beyond anyone’s control. That’s why focussing on things we can control is becoming increasingly important. As a business, communication is one of the few things you can still control. And email is one of the best ways you can still be there for and help your customers.
Email is immediate, it’s effective, and it reaches people. Used well, it can be one of the most powerful tools at your disposal as we navigate our way through this tricky time. Equally, handled the wrong way, inappropriate or ill-thought out communication during this crisis has the potential to damage your brand.
So what should you be doing? Should you be carrying on with your email marketing strategy as normal? What should you be saying to your customers? Should you be tailoring your messaging around the current situation?
These are the questions everyone has been asking us and below you’ll find our answers. At the end of this article you’ll also find a link to download the free guide we’ve produced on communication in a time of crisis and the best approach to take with your email marketing in the current situation.
What’s the best approach right now?
Continuing to communicate with your audience by sending emails that are less sales focussed and aimed more towards content that will genuinely benefit them. It’s all about brand if the public can’t use the product or service right now. Promotions might be fine for some brands, but showing how you can add value is key e.g. by doing home delivery, or if you are unaffected, by cheering people up and demonstrating the human side of your brand.
What’s everyone else doing?
Many businesses are continuing to send out email marketing campaigns, albeit with some significant changes to their content plans, which got ripped up weeks ago! Across the board these have received incredibly high open rates (with some up over 20% on average) and messages of goodwill from their recipients.
How often should I be sending?
Continuity in times of uncertainty is always something to strive for. This might mean keeping up your normal sending pattern, albeit with different content, or creating a new email schedule.
For example, each Wednesday you could send an email on tips to stay motivated, or perhaps a weekly midweek recipe. Keeping this consistent is key to building a strong relationship with your audience.
What should we be talking about?
There isn’t a silver bullet answer when it comes to this question. Your content will always be unique in normal times and that should be no different now. What you should be talking about will have a different answer for every organisation.
Having said this, there are some guidelines we would advise following: Regular business updates keep customers in the loop and give a sense of belonging that will go a long way. Think about people’s circumstances and how your business can make a positive impact on this updated version of daily life.
You might not be able to sell someone a holiday or a hotel break right now but you can certainly keep people excited for when they can. Whether that’s through a creative activity, a competition or something else entirely.
Should I stop sending?
In some cases it might be out of your control and not feasible for you to carry on sending. However, if you can, we recommend you do keep up email communications, even if it’s in the format of a pared down message once per month.
Should I stop my external marketing spend or not?
As per above – it’s all about balance. There’s not one size fits all for every sector or business as we’re all being affected in different ways. Stopping sending, or pretending that everything is “normal” is not a good approach. Use the tools available, have fun with them and make them count.
What’s the best time to send and has this changed because people aren’t working?
People’s lifestyles have changed dramatically during this time, with a lot of people being furloughed, working from home, or looking after cooped up children. This has affected the times that people are opening emails.
There isn’t enough evidence to support when the “best” times to send during this pandemic are yet, but one thing is certain: more people are opening. Now is a good time to run split tests on the send time and the day of send to see which generates the most engagement. And, with there definitely being more engagement at the moment, it’s even more important to choose your words carefully.
We want to help and support you through this time and lend you our expertise – that’s why we’ve put together a free guide on how to use email marketing in a time of crisis which you can access through the link below.
We hope you find the information useful and if you have any questions please ask us – we’re here to help.