Although email has withstood the test of time during this pandemic, plenty of brands have had major email faux pas which has had a bad impact on their brand images. Crafting emails for a crisis requires extreme caution and asks for an ‘emotionally intelligent’ approach.
Global search patterns tell us that the digital economy plays a major role in helping businesses survive. Searches using keywords ‘online shopping, doctor, food delivery’ spiked at the onset of COVID-19 and have held at these higher levels.
Caption: Worldwide google searches and COVID-19
When an email has become a major part of communication and interaction, it is very important to avoid blinders as all eyes are on your brand. Sending appropriate emails wouldn’t only reduce the unsubscribe rate, but also tailor the right emails to your consumer’s inbox.
Here are 7 types of eCommerce email marketing campaigns and their approach during COVID-19.
- Promotional email
It isn’t wrong to send emails about your products. What matters is to send it to the right person at the right time. For instance, if you send a promotional email after a visitor checks out some products on your eCommerce store, the subscriber might actually complete a purchase. However, if the subscriber has been inactive for 6 months, promotional emails might not be the right choice.
The Banana Republic has pivoted its marketing strategy to meet changing market demands. This email promoting reusable face masks is one example on how to make your emails more exciting by using GIFs in the hero image followed by a short and simple product description.
- Choice to opt-out email
Letting your consumers know that they can customize their email preferences to avoid receiving irrelevant emails during such times will not only save you from ending up in the spam folder but also retain those customers who would unsubscribe otherwise. Giving them an option to pause the emails for some days will save you from hampering your email reputation while giving the subscriber control over their email inbox.
This email by White Horse Wine is primarily a promotional email with an option to change email preferences and update the profile.
- Empathetic email
Although such emails might not directly solve your subscriber’s problems, it does show that you care a little more about your consumers than your business. It is important to make the subscriber feel important and be considerate toward their needs.
Through this email, the folks at MANGO inform the consumers of how they are dealing with the situation and providing for their community. The design is simple and has used real images of their workflow (as a GIF) in monochrome. The white background reflects sincerity and goes well with the current situation.
- Goodwill email
When you as a brand are doing something for the community, it’s good to show your consumers the human side of your company. The customer experiences now can forever have an impact on future brand preferences.
American Apparel sent this email to their subscribers showcasing how they are dedicating their resources to produce non-medical face masks and isolation gowns in support of the global fight against COVID-19.
- Special Occasion email
Some special days only come once a year — your customer’s birthday or anniversary, or other types of triggering event. Although the current situation doesn’t call for a pop of champagne, it isn’t insensitive to remain positive and try to make the inbox a little less gloomy. Just make sure you check your automated and triggered email campaigns in your tool of choice, so they are still appropriate.
- Retargeting emails
Remind your active customers about the offer they are about to miss. It is a classic follow-up email where you’re promoting your products but also retargeting your prospects and nudging them towards their next purchase.
For example, in this email by Timbuk 2, they have placed the offer in the hero image, with a carousel of images in GIF, and also tailored the image to include a mask to address the current crisis. By showing the products on sale, Timbuk 2 makes it clear that this is only a reminder for the last call of the offer.
- COVID-19 emails emanating positivity
Reminding your subscribers about the light at the end of the tunnel and letting them know that there are better things to look forward to adds an optimistic touch to the message.
For instance, Thumbtack, a company that sells home decor and furniture, instead of emailing a sales promotion it emailed its subscribers a list of activities one can do while stuck at home. The email is loaded with positivity. You can see it in the colours, the copy, and the message.
Here are additional tips for maintaining a healthy email reputation:
- Don’t joke about this situation; you might come across as insensitive.
- Don’t spread unverified news or information about COVID-19, its spread, symptoms, medication, and so on, unless you are from the medical industry.
- Don’t try to capitalize on the situation with discounts or clickbait offers.
- Let your subscribers know that you are there to provide a service, truthfully, not because it’s a trend.
- Ramp up customer support to ensure timely communication.
Email marketing is here to stay. Any brand that didn’t send emails in the past few months is already regretting it. The current scenario calls for consistent and personalized communications. Even though emails have proven to be our heroes, one wrong email can break your reputation.
It is necessary to pay attention to the tone, content and language in your email to ensure that your message is sensitive and relevant. If you have received any shining examples of email during these extraordinary times, do let us know in the comments!
Chris is the Director of InboxArmy, a Professional email marketing firm that specializes in providing email marketing services from production to deployment. He has worked directly with Fortune 500 companies, retail giants, nonprofits, SMBs and government bodies in all facets of their email marketing services and marketing automation programs for almost 2 decades.