Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak concept

Email in a COVID-19 world and beyond

Back in 2008 when the GFC hit, I was fortunate enough to be working for Epsilon International. Working across clients like Coles, Dell, World Vision and many other similar calibre clients email programs I saw firsthand the massive rise in marketing to owned assets as marketing budgets were slashed. This year, I think we have all seen the same. Brands that we had long forgotten we had signed up too that didn’t have an email program suddenly realised the true value and power of their internal email database.

Remember back in March when every single brand suddenly started sending emails that they were with you during Covid-19 and we will all get through this together. Needing to deliver sales, signups and other measures to managers and boards of directors and with marketing budgets being the first thing to be cut, marketing managers had to adapt. Who better to reach out to achieve targets than loyal consumers who have specifically asked to receive offers from your brand? Seems like common sense now but just twelve months ago these databases were hidden away unused and unloved.

 The question is, does this love affair with email continue once Covid is in the rear-view mirror or will companies continue to adapt their email programs to really nail 1 to 1 communication? After the GFC email fell back into the too hard basket. It wasn’t glamorous enough, it required too much work, coming up with content every week/fortnight was a pain. And let’s not forget, money came sweeping back in for marketing. Forget that email was driving sales and keeping businesses afloat, it wasn’t new and exciting.

This time around though it feels different. The world economies are not predicted to bounce back as hard as they did in the GFC. More businesses that have not been able to adapt to a digital world have gone under. Unemployment has risen at record levels. The recovery WILL TAKE LONGER.

SO how do we all move forward?

  • For one, understand that having a person’s email on your database is a privilege not a right.
  • Next, think of how you’d like to be communicated too. As marketers it is so hard for us all to take that hot off and put on our consumer hats.
  • Don’t try and shove offers down the recipients throat from day one.
  • Start a conversation. Let people know your brand and what it stands for.
  • Even more importantly, let the subscriber know what to expect from your email program.
  • Set expectations and meet them.
  • Ask questions. Gather further information from your subscribers but only if you plan to use it to better deliver your program to that subscriber.

Two classic examples of brands not listening come to mind.

  1. One very high-end fashion brand had all my purchase history. Even though I had only ever purchased men’s clothing they continually sent me women’s clothing creatives. Unsubscribe.
  2. Another brand asked how often I wanted to receive their emails. I selected weekly and they continued emailing me every other day. Unsubscribe.

Again, set expectations and meet them. This is how you grow loyal fans. This is how you get your subscribers to recommend to their friends your program.

Most importantly, keep going with the program. Every time you have someone arrive at your website ask them to join your program. Give them a reason to say yes. It doesn’t have to cost your business anything, a simple “be the first to know” will bring subscribers in. These are all people who want your messaging, look after them and they will look after you.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most email suppliers love to help where they can. The better every marketer does email; the better email is as a medium. Outsource if needed. There’s a lot of companies that can help you manage your email program effectively so you can still concentrate your efforts on other media types that you may feel more passionate about.