Of all the marketing strategies impacted by COVID-19, email marketing is likely the most overlooked.
Often made up of automated components that we don’t think about regularly, email marketing falls into the out of sight, out of mind category.
As we come across our marketing routines that aren’t automated, we might not know how to handle them during a time of crisis, like the COVID-19 outbreak.
Some react by stopping their email marketing altogether, fearing that any attempt to continue marketing in this environment seems insensitive.
Others make no changes, continuing to send emails that, while normally appropriate, come across as tone-deaf emails.
Still, others, seeing how many “here’s what we’re doing” emails get sent out, feel obligated to send a similar one, which often comes across as virtue signaling instead of authentic communication.
It’s understandable that, in a crisis like COVID-19, email marketing becomes an area of confusion.
We’ve not dealt with anything like this in the modern world before.
Things are a little uncharted.
However, after analyzing several approaches, opinions, and lots of campaign results, I’ve put together a relatively simple way to navigate email marketing during a crisis.
Let’s look at how COVID-19 email marketing – and all future crisis email marketing – should be handled.
During COVID-19, Email Marketing Must Continue
Before we get started, let’s understand something about email marketing during any crisis.
You, as a small business, can’t stop communicating with your audience.
That means that during every crisis, including COVID-19, email marketing has to continue.
There are two very basic reasons for this.
First, your audience needs to hear from you.
Brands that doe a great job communicating with their audience during a crisis help to alleviate anxiety for them.
These are uncertain times that make people anxious about the world around them.
As a brand they connect with, you can do good through your marketing, creating value through more than just your knowledge.
With your emails and other content, you can help ease anxiety and assure that everything will be OK.
I might sound altruistic but remember that brands who do good succeed.
Second, you have to exist after the crisis.
Eventually, we’ll get past the outbreak of COVID-19.
Email marketing helps keep you in front of your audience in the meantime.
Your brand stays top-of-mind, assuring that they’ll be thinking of you when the world returns to normal.
If you took the altruistic route, people would remember the comfort you brought them.
They will repay that with a stronger loyalty than they had before.
During COVID-19, email marketing – along with all your other marketing – matters.
Make sure you handle it well.
Because Of COVID-19 Email Marketing Must Adjust
If you think you’re going to make it through any crisis using the same things as a non-crisis, you may be overconfident.
Everything within your marketing strategy needs to be adjusted during a crisis like COVID-19.
Email marketing, as a critical element, is one of the most important and overlooked.
That’s why you’ve got to step back and examine it.
During a crisis like this, sending the wrong emails for the situation could wind up killing your brand.
In the best case, a poorly timed or worded email could damage the trust your audience has in you.
And that problem is true for all crisis marketing.Marketing during COVID-19 is a delicate balance of empathy and business sense. Click To Tweet
Amid a crisis like COVID-19, email marketing should be reviewed along with the list of other adjustments you’ll have to make to your marketing.
You must come across correctly.
Some of the marketing you’re doing doesn’t have to change.
Other parts need a major change.
Understanding where your marketing lies is critical to avoiding damage to your brand and assuring you have an audience and client base when the world returns to normal.
Consider making the following changes throughout your COVID-19 email marketing.
Check Your Context
Identifying what needs to be changed is the first step to assuring your email marketing doesn’t come across poorly.
You’ve likely got a ton of emails that are set up for automated processes and your newsletter and other emails likely have a set style.
You may have an attitude to your emails unique to your brand.
And, while you don’t want to abandon the way your brand communicates, you need to make sure those styles and pre-written emails have the right context.
That means it’s time for a deep analysis of the COVID-19 email marketing you plan on doing.
Read over your list of automated emails to make sure you’re not sending anything that’s out of context.
Assure you’re not using any phrases, comparisons, or analogies that might come across offensive or out of touch with what’s happening in the world.
Remember that many of the people on your email list are affected by COVID-19 in ways that might impact their finances or health.
Sending emails that are insensitive to these facts won’t do you any favors.
Instead, be aware that your COVID-19 email marketing will hit people facing these situations and empathize with it where it makes sense.
But remember, only the emails that would otherwise lack appropriate context need to change.
If you’re already doing something that’s working and it contains nothing that would come across insensitive, leave it alone.
There’s no need to fix what isn’t broken.
Focus On Real Value
Something you ought to be focused on outside of COVID-19, email marketing needs to contain a real value.
Everything you bring to the people on your email list should be focused on guiding them through the process of becoming a client.
While you need to remain sensitive to what’s going on, there’s no reason you can’t continue to make sales where they’re available.
Continuing to make sure that your email marketing is effective makes sense, even during a crisis.
However, it’s worth your time and effort to increase the value you bring.
Focus on offering as much value to your audience as possible.
Bring them knowledge, entertainment, and tools that help them move closer to becoming your client.
Additionally, give them content that demonstrates how trustworthy your brand is.
In some cases, that might include letting them know what you’re doing to help with the crisis in your company.
Or you might consider bringing them outside resources related to your brand and industry, or the client base you serve, that help them deal with it.
Show them that you’re putting their needs concerning both your industry and the crisis first.
It’s the knowledge you bring to the table that will assure that your audience remembers and values you after the crisis.
Longevity and loyalty are the real benefits of value-filled COVID-19 email marketing.
Adjust Your Tone
Your existing emails have a certain tone to them.
Maybe they’re fun or have a certain level of “rough” attitude.
Perhaps it’s even a little aggressive.
No matter the tone you normally take, there needs to be a slight adjustment.
In some cases, more than slight.
Assess the tone your emails take and make sure it’s one that conveys your understanding of the situation.
COVID-19 email marketing that comes across with the wrong tone will hurt your brand fast.
However, your ability to convey a sensitivity to people’s uncertain situations in any crisis shows the empathy you have for your audience and your clients.
The right tone expresses that you understand how your audience’s life is impacted by the crisis and know the gravity of the situation.
Sensitivity matters in communication, especially with email marketing.
But without the right tone, even the most sensitive approach goes wrong.
When there’s a crisis, overt aggression, roughness, and even overly happy tones don’t communicate the level of understanding you need to have.
Serious situations require a more serious tone to your email marketing.
And, in a crisis like COVID-19, email marketing needs a tone that shows your audience that you have a concern for the ways they might be affected.
Connect with the impact they may be facing.
Let them know that your company is making necessary adjustments to the way you do business to make it easier for them.
Speaking in the right tone is key to assuring you don’t drive your audience away, instead of connecting with them better.
Bring Empathy To The Table
I mentioned empathy before.
People face many different obstacles during a crisis that they often have little control over.
Their ability to purchase, use, or advocate for your brand may become inhibited.
Even their basics and essentials may become difficult to take care of.
It’s important to assure that you don’t step over those lines to keep your business alive.
Yes, you do need to make sure that the crisis at hand doesn’t kill your company.
However, ignoring the impact the crisis has on your audience won’t do you any favors.
Instead, use your COVID-19 email marketing to focus on your long-term plans and growth.
Let your audience know that you feel for them and understand how they’re being impacted.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t still strive to earn clients and make sales.
But it does mean that you focus on the facts and skip sensationalist and fear-based messages.
Holding a sale during a crisis like COVID-19 and using your email marketing to communicate it is perfectly acceptable if you stick to the facts.
Tell your audience about the discounts and how long the sale will run while putting a much larger focus on the message of your team and your attempt to take care of them.
Communicate that you understand the limitations your audience has and reassure them that your brand will still be here when things return to normal.
If you do it right, you will be.
Editorial doesn’t help your COVID-19 email marketing.
I want to say that immediately.
Conjecture from your brand about origins, opinions, and subjective content surrounding a crisis is typically off-brand and unhelpful.
It doesn’t build your brand, develop your client base, or nurture your leads.
Unless you’re a media brand that makes money through the content of that nature.
Avoid going that route, focusing instead on content produced to further your brand.
There are tons of options for content that relate to your audience in a time of crisis.
Write emails that focus on topics of education, especially about your industry.
If the crisis impacts the way you or your industry does business or the ways it can help, communicate that to your audience.
Staying relevant to what’s going on doesn’t require you to offer an opinion.
You need to provide solutions to the things your brand does that plague your audience, only using the connection to the crisis when it has a direct impact.
Any opinions you hold should only be shared if they have a direct impact on the way your clients could be impacted by your industry, product, or company.
Sometimes it will make sense, especially if the crisis changes your opinion about the way your brand can bring value to the table.
However, if it’s not directly tied to the way your audience interacts with your brand, leave your opinion out of your COVID-19 emails.
Notify Your Audience Of Changes
Crisis often has an impact on the way many small businesses conduct business.
Often it will require changes that can potentially be permanent but are often temporary.
When you find that your brand faces that situation, you need to use your emails to let your audience know.
One of the main COVID-19 email marketing facets you should consider is whether the outbreak requires you to handle products, customer service, or the purchase process differently.
Companies that deliver critical goods, for example, found the need to notify their clients that their ability to deliver on time might be negatively impacted.
Others, like those that handle food, needed to notify their customer base about the extra sanitary precautions they are taking.
If a change in the way you do business is required, send an email to your customers and leads letting them know what to expect.
Finding out about major changes to the way things are done should never be a surprise to your market.
They shouldn’t expect one outcome and get another without you informing them first.
Changes like that can be a source of anxiety, and anxiety causes people to hesitate amid a purchase.
Any avoidable loss of revenue isn’t going to help your brand survive the crisis.
However, the simple act of notification can ease that anxiety and retain many more customers.
If You’re Helping, Say Something
Sometimes it makes sense for your brand to assist in a crisis.
Right now, for example, many clothing and apparel brands have decided to make masks to assist critical workers during the outbreak of COVID-19.
Email marketing is the perfect place to let your audience know you’re helping.
There’s no shame in announcing this help, either.
Often the announcement is a necessity, as it can have an impact on your ability to produce your product for your clients.
Send an email that lets your audience know how you’re helping, if it impacts them, how it impacts them, and how they can assist if they can.
Get them involved in backing the idea.
Your choice to have your brand help already speaks volumes in your favor.
Informing your audience and rallying them to the cause will only amplify that.
If there’s no impact on your audience and no way they can help, simply letting them know that you care and are helping in the crisis demonstrates some of the core precepts of brand-building.
It will only generate a positive feeling about your brand and the concern you have for the community.
You may even find that your audience finds ways to support your aid effort that you hadn’t thought of.
When you can help the community and bring it together, you cement a long-term place for your brand.
The Right COVID-19 Email Marketing Can Keep Your Brand Alive
With many small businesses struggling during COVID-19, email marketing can be a part of the solution for your brand.
Provided you show genuine concern for your audience and the community, you can help build loyalty to your brand.
That makes sure your company is still here when the crisis is over.