The do’s and don’ts of email marketing during uncertainty

With unprecedented times upon us, and the feeling of isolation creeping into every aspect of our lives, communication is the lifeline to any normality. Phone and video conversations, online articles and emails, they all have a part to play. But when it comes to staying in touch with your clients, to maintain and build personal relationships, email is a great platform – as long as it’s done in the right way!

Most of us have at least one email account, either personal or business, which in the current circumstances helps us keep informed and up-to-date with the latest developments, including those of our favourite brands to see what they are doing. But due to the chaos and sensitivity created by and around COVID-19, it’s easy to get your email communication wrong which could lose you valuable subscribers, credibility and respect within the marketplace.

Over the last few weeks alone, think about how communications have changed on a global level. Most brands have taken a step back from the normal run-of-the-mill promotional stuff, embracing an empathetic and caring approach to meet recipients in a space that reflects their current state of mind. To help you achieve this too, we’ve captured some do’s and don’ts to guide best practice in your email marketing efforts over the coming weeks. 

What you should do

Show empathy – mirror how the population is feeling right now

The tone and messaging of your email is crucial, everyone is feeling sensitive and vulnerable at the moment. As highlighted in a recent Litmus webinar, if you think about Maslow’s hierarchy (see image below), we’re all sitting on the love / belonging and the safety tiers, and you never know if the recipient has lost a loved one or is sick themselves, so be compassionate and mindful of this. Show that you care and want to help so they start to relate to you and feel a connection. We’re all in this for the long haul so togetherness is key for building trust and long-term relationships.

Make it of value

Ensure your email is of value to your audience given the current situation. If you’re able to offer free advice or support to help them cope on both a personal and business level, do it. This could help reduce anxiety and stress, it could be in the form of online fitness workouts, chat groups or simple business resources. They’ll appreciate it. 

Review your nurture tracks

They may not be relevant at this current time. They could come across insensitive, irrelevant and even offensive as people struggle to live a normal everyday life. You may need to update them or even pause them for the time being. Alternatively you could create a journey inline with the current situation offering support and relevant information to help your subscribers through this challenging period.

Things to consider or avoid

Inappropriate sales / marketing emails

Don’t send promotional emails unless you’re absolutely certain it’s appropriate and of value to your subscribers! If you do, make sure they are sensitive to the COVID-19 situation as a lot of people are struggling financially at the moment and could find this distasteful and untimely – it could result in increased opt outs, something none of us want. You may need to consider pausing them for the time being, but if you go ahead, it’s advisable to keep sending them at regular intervals as this will help provide some normality. And be careful with promotional wording, don’t use phrases like ‘before it’s too late’, that’s not a message people want to hear right now.

Sending humorous emails

Be careful sending fun emails with edgy humor or irrelevant jokes as people are stressed at the moment so they may appear as thoughtless and inconsiderate. There may however be occasions where it is completely appropriate for some brands to use this approach as it fits with their brand, but ask yourself, would you like to be on the receiving end of this? Put yourself in their shoes before you send anything.

Never capitalise on fear and anxiety

Scaremongering at such a challenging time could ruin your reputation and increase your subscribers’ anxiety in an already highly stressful environment. Nobody wants to feel even more threatened by the current situation or receive even more negativity than is already occurring. Remember you customers may have loved ones who are ill themself.

Don’t send emails just for the sake of it

Only send emails if you have something of value to say. Your subscribers don’t want to receive emails just because. If you have a campaign planned as part of your email marketing strategy, review whether it offers value right now. If it doesn’t, don’t send it. This could be a good opportunity for you to take stock and review, update your current email marketing program.

So we’ve covered an array of tactics to help you keep your email marketing on track, but what about ‘working from home’. The majority of us face this challenge at the moment, with no idea how long it will last. To help you get through, we asked our team for their ‘working from home’ survival tips, here’s what they said.