Finding the right way to use email
marketing during the COVID-19 crisis

Emilie Danneels | April 30, 2020

Based on our experience working with leading brands we have these 3 tips for your email marketing:

  1. Understand & monitor the crisis impact
  2. Take priority actions first
  3. Send emails intelligently during the crisis

Containing and Understanding the impact of the Crisis

Although the lockdown measures put in place by governments across the world are only ever for a few weeks at a time, it is clear that the repercussions of COVID-19 are going to be felt for a while. Any email marketing strategy that does not take decisive action to account for this disruption is likely to suffer adverse consequences. So what do you do?

Take stock

Work out exactly what impact the crisis is having on your brand and on the email revenue stream in particular. Whatever your industry or markets, delve into the stats to get a good idea of how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting your business.

Metrics to examine:

A full analysis of the figures will help you to establish whether your industry and your specific brand should be adapting and scaling up email communication during the COVID-19 crisis or whether it should be scaling back and diverting funds to other channels.

Take priority actions

Make Crisis Update Emails a Recurring Part of Your Email Marketing Mix

Whatever the size and nature of your business, it is unlikely that coronavirus will leave your omnichannel customer experience completely unscathed. One of the most important things you will need to do is regularly inform your customers of changes you are making to your channels, products and services. However, these communications may not be relevant to your entire database, so make sure you segment effectively in order to inform only interested parties (for example, online-only customers do not want to hear about the bricks-and-mortar stores you have had to shut, so don’t clog up their inboxes with unnecessary communications).

Checking the Content of Auto-Emails

Another significant task for email marketers is to revisit automated emails. On a normal day, these little superheroes of e-commerce just do their thing in the background, quietly converting cart abandoners and newsletter sign ups to paying customers. However, at a time like this, it is worth double-checking the wording of all your auto-emails to ensure that you aren’t doing something inappropriate, like encouraging people into a physical store that is currently closed or talking about ‘payday’ for people who have recently lost their jobs or taken a pay cut. Pause anything potentially insensitive and replace it with temporary content that is better suited to current conditions. You will also need to decide whether any revenue is good revenue, or whether you would rather pause any discounts that you regularly offer in auto-emails in order to make a bigger margin on any sales that you do make.

Revising Your Email Marketing Calendar

Depending on the nature and location of your business, you will need to either revise your email marketing plan for the next few months or scrap it and start again. Go through the schedule and decide what content - if any - is appropriate for the current climate and which should be postponed until after the crisis or scrapped altogether if delaying it makes it completely irrelevant. In some countries email marketing communications are not appropriate at the moment and no one is sending them. However, it may still be appropriate in other parts of the world, where it is largely business as usual, so if your business exists in multiple locations you will need to tailor your output even more carefully to each region.

Sending Emails Intelligently
During the Crisis

So you have looked at the stats and revised your email output, what else should you do to ensure you continue to observe best practice as you send emails during the crisis?

Competitor Research

In times of unprecedented upheaval, when you have no previous experience to guide you, the smart thing to do is keep an eye on what others are doing. What are your competitors saying in their emails? Which strategies seem to be working well?

Keep A/B Testing

You may not be able to meaningfully compare this year to last year or the year before, but you can meaningfully compare the behaviour of one half of your list to the other, so keep A/B testing and using your findings to inform what you say and when you say it as the COVID-19 crisis continues.

Polish Your Brand Halo

Whether your business is thriving or struggling due to the global impact of the pandemic, now is a great time to bolster brand perception. If you are doing well, maybe you can make a donation to charity. If you are struggling because you have been forced to scale back operations, is there anything you could do for the community with the additional time you have on your hands? Giving something back in this way makes great email and social media content and can encourage positive engagement from your community.