Being Effective in the Inbox: Embracing and Enhancing Email During COVID-19

May 28, 2020

As we approach the middle of the year, our country is still dealing with the undeniable impact of coronavirus across nearly every industry, including digital communication. Mass unemployment, working from home, and the 100,000 deaths from coronavirus are all factors that have fundamentally transformed our society.

During this difficult time, people are searching for new ways to find information online about the important work being done by organizations they care about. Email is a key component of this shift, providing longer-form, personalized messages to people craving information.

That’s why it’s critical for everyone running an email marketing program to be sensitive to what people are going through and responsive with messaging that yields results in our new reality. Email marketing deserves a fresh look right now. Here are five tips to get you started.

  1. Show You’re Aware and that You Care

    While you don’t want your mission and message to be continuously associated with coronavirus, ignoring the pandemic isn’t the right tactic either. Your messaging should reflect what’s going on in your community, whether your community is the entire country or the city in which your work is focused.Take the next step and show your subscribers you care by providing free resources, from a demo of services you offer and printable materials related to your work, to information on how they can help their communities during the pandemic.
  2. Be a Problem Solver

    How do I deal with child care during the pandemic? If schools don’t reopen, what options are available for my family? Are there job resources for friends or family out of work? Many people on your email list have questions like these, and you can use email messaging to answer their questions and engage them with your content in a new way.Frame your work in an appropriate manner by offering your knowledge or services as a solution to coronavirus-related problems. For example, you could  provide industry-related job openings, mask patterns related to your work, or guides that embrace community resources.
  3. Spring Cleaning

    Internet browsing habits have changed as people are spending more time indoors and online, making this an ideal moment to refocus your list’s attention on your organization’s work. Now is the perfect time to clean up your email list, engage current and new subscribers, and retarget people on your list who are unengaged back to your work.Use a Facebook ad campaign with a custom audience, place a tracking pixel on your website, or try sending inactive subscribers some of your email “greatest hits” to convert them into the active category.
  4. Testing Isn’t Just for School

    With people spending more time engaging with online content they care about, now is the perfect time to embrace a rigorous testing regime with your email list. Incorporate testing of every facet of your program—subject lines, senders, even button color or font size! Testing gives you an opportunity to see what your email list cares about and responds to and will enable you to optimize your sends for maximum impact. While people are spending more time online, there are more voices vying for their attention than ever before. Using testing protocols to streamline your program will allow your voice to stand out from the crowd and perform well with your target audience.
  5. Get to Know Your List and Get Personal

    Nearly all email platforms offer the ability to personalize content to some degree. Whether it’s presenting a custom block of content or images based on subscribers’ ZIP codes or simply including the subscriber’s first name in the subject line, personalization is a great way to improve email performance and help ensure your key messages are reaching your audience. If your email program is hampered by old or incomplete lists that include potentially incorrect information, consider running an email survey campaign encouraging subscribers to self identify how they would like to be addressed. This increases the overall health of your list and will give you more confidence when offering personalized subject lines or greetings. Personalization can be especially effective in a difficult time like this, as it offers the ability to customize the resources and helpful information you share with your subscribers based on their location. For example, instead of sending a long list of organizations where your subscribers could donate their time or resources, you can use personalization techniques to deliver the closest facility to their ZIP code.

By integrating these five tips into your email marketing practice, you can communicate effectively and ethically in this challenging time. When people feel isolated and turn online for information, your email program can provide helpful and personalized content while sharing the important work your organization continues to do.

by: Sami Ghani, Digital Director