No Bullsh*t Advice From Email Experts
In these uncertain times, brands are caught between the need to promote their brand, product, or service while also remaining sensitive to social issues that they and their customers care about. It can be tempting for email marketers to look at each email address as a number, but ultimately there is a real person behind each one. So, how do brands find that balance?
We asked email industry leaders Dennis Dayman and our resident email geek Lauren Meyer along with email marketing experts from Campaign Monitor, dotdigital & eFocus Marketing how to market with empathy amid social change and the current pandemic.
Here’s what they had to say…
Brands Step Up To Use Their Platform For Social Change
More than ever before, we’re witnessing brands use their platforms to speak out on what they believe in and support. And while it is important to take a stand, especially during times of critical social advancements, it’s also crucial to deliver those messages with eloquence and a true understanding of the topic at hand.
When those topics are sensitive, email can either serve as your primary platform for promoting change, or it can be your toughest challenge. And it’s not just about the delivery of your message, but the careful research and detailed conversations that go into the development of that message.
In this example from The Momentist, the brand brings in expert photographer Henry Keith to offer tips for photographing peaceful protests. In this way, The Momentist goes well beyond making an overused, often trite statement to voice their support.
Source: Really Good Emails
Instead of focusing the spotlight on their own brand, they give the floor to a professional and a friend. And this expert’s voice is what brings authenticity, intelligence, and a genuine, change-promoting call-to-action to the audience.
Honesty, Integrity & Value Are Key During These Unprecidented Times
Marketers and brands alike have a big responsibility to ensure their email marketing is always fair. But if the last few months have taught us anything, profiteering during times of need will put your brand in a bad light.
The key to email marketing is honesty, integrity, and value. Here are three ways to make your emails strike the right note during unprecedented times:
- Adapt your brand narrative to the change
Make sure your emails relate to what your customers are feeling, through a comforting tone of voice. Be sensitive and they’ll trust you more.
- Be transparent about how you’re dealing with the situation
If you’re doing business a little differently, or opening up your physical stores after months of lockdown, let customers know in your email campaigns. Signpost the measure you’re putting in place to make them feel more at ease.
- Put yourself in your customers’ shoes
Whenever you’re about to hit send, take a step back. How would you feel receiving this email as a customer? If it makes you feel good, then you’re good to go.
Use the Data You Have to Truly Understand Your Customers
The first half of 2020 has seen so many challenges, all requiring marketers to create a more data-driven and thoughtful approach to the emails they send.
Those who show empathy, form a sense of community or provide real value for their recipients are being praised… and they are building loyalty with their audience, which can pay off in the form of retention and a higher lifetime value per customer.
Those brands who are tone-deaf, overly focused on their own profits and clearly not providing real value to their subscribers could see a decrease in business and at worst, might not make it through the rest of the year.
In order to avoid the land mines that have been peppered throughout their campaign calendars and marketing objectives, email marketers must recognize that the recipients on your list have different viewpoints, experiences and life challenges that shape the way they may react to the emails you send.
These viewpoints are not something you can glean from the data points email marketers typically have access to at the point of sign up.
Now is a great time to focus on the other data points available to you. Each recipient’s historical engagement with your emails and brand can help you to truly understand your audience and speak to them with care.
And after you’ve hit send, continue to focus on your metrics, to understand if your recent message has resonated with your audience (leading to high open and click-through rates), or if it triggered a negative reaction (typically ending in elevated unsubscribe and spam complaint rates).
Learn from those reactions, adjust your email strategy and modify future communications accordingly.
Make Sure Your Email Serves a Purpose
Email Thought Leader
Social changes and things like COVID-19 have destroyed lives and livelihoods and continue to do so in many communities around the world.
Although the full implications of the pandemic are far from certain, it is already clear that its economic consequences are dire for many companies and they are doing whatever they can to continue inbound revenues using things like email.
One of the key considerations is knowing IF you have to send an email. Does your email help the person receiving it during this stressful time?
I’ve had companies email me about important business change like hours of operation or curbside pickup that I needed to know about, but then have had others tell me very non-important things like they are with me in this pandemic, but nothing of substance. We know that everyone is trying to work together in this, but that latter email isn’t one I needed now.
Don’t send an email for the sake of sending an email.
Have a TRUE purpose not just for you, but the receiver as well. Use email to tell them of changes to your business, but make sure those changes are to help them continue to receive those services.
You might also want to consider offering discounts or specials since many people are unemployed or have limited resources due to the pandemic. I’ve seen several brands offer special discounts to ensure their services are accessible and to let consumers know they are there for them if they need assistance.
Make sure you are helping and not causing pain or anguish in their time of need.
How People Shop & Do Business Are Changing, So Should Your Marketing
First and foremost, we need to always remember that our subscribers are real people, with real feelings and real things going on in their lives.
You have to understand them and what they will find insensitive vs. helpful and caring. This will help you to manage your tone, the topics you broach and how you do that – this is something that needs to be looked at companywide, not just for your email marketing.
When it comes to email specifically, consider assessing elements you have in place, such as in the case of your automated campaigns; when they are triggering and what the content is for example.
During the recent pandemic, I heard examples of companies still sending review emails at their standard timing post-purchase, even though postage times were facing unusual delays and the product hadn’t actually reached the customer yet, or campaigns triggering with content encouraging subscribers to visit the brand in-store to shop, although no retail stores (in the UK) were open. Elements such as these need to be checked in times of crisis so that they can be adjusted for the current climate and better meet the current needs of your audience.
We’ve also seen loyalty shifting over the last few months as consumers scramble to find brands with products in stock, able to deliver and as an alternative to their usual store that isn’t open or can’t provide what they need. How people shop and do business going forward will continue to change now and the focus on digital communications is at the forefront of most brands minds.
If you want to find out more about shifting loyalty post-Covid-19 and how you can use email marketing to help support this and put your business in a positive position during this change, check out my blog post here.
More No Bullsh*t Advice From Email Experts Coming Soon
And as always, feel free to share your thoughts with us on Twitter.
Keep your list healthy and boost campaign performance by regularly cleaning your email list. We’ll let you know which email addresses are good, bad and risky, before you hit send.
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