Lockdowns around the world are slowly being lifted. Businesses are reopening doors. And people are cautiously (or enthusiastically) coming out of their exiles, having had the time to reflect and develop a fresh perspective on life. It might be awhile before we are able to eradicate the coronavirus definitively. However, life must go on and that means returning to business as usual, albeit with a few changes to your communication strategy.
Deciding when to resume regular communications is the crucial first step. It will depend on where the bulk of your audience is based and how well they are doing in these times. Needless to say, if most of your subscribers or customers are based out of a region where cases are still rising, it is not time to push products yet.
So, without further ado, here are some tweaks you need to make to your email communications as part of the post-pandemic world, or as a lot of people like to call it, the new normal.
First, the housekeeping
When you resume business as usual, it is probably best to start with the most important things first, like which of your stores are opening or how your teams are taking extra precautions. Even better, try to include this and other FAQs in all your emails for the first few weeks after you reopen.
The airline industry has undoubtedly been one of the sectors worst hit by this pandemic. If you operate an airline company, how do you begin to win back your customers’ trust? By telling them about the status of their bookings, and more importantly, reassuring them that it’s safe to fly again, like what American Airlines decided to do. Notice the succinct custom email template design. It gives all the salient bits of information that customers would need, and nothing more.
The Covid-19 edit
By the looks of it, Covid-19 is here to stay for longer than we think. This means till it becomes less of a scare, you need to reassure your followers on a regular basis of what you are doing to stop the spread of the illness. As you gradually fall back to your pre-pandemic cadence and tone of emails, make sure to keep devoting a section of your emails to pandemic-related updates. Better still, link it back to a page on your website where you update all the information periodically. This will help your customers find answers and all the essential information quickly.
Pro tip: If yours is an eCommerce brand, don’t forget to keep them up to speed with the latest delivery timeframes.
This is an email from makeup and skincare brand Annmarie where the Covid-19 section is featured as a highlighted strip, right at the beginning of the email.
Ease in & ease them in
Whenever you decide to resume regular communications, it is a good idea to not go in with all guns blazing. This can mean reducing the frequency of your emails or going easy on the sales-y stuff.
Let’s say you have been used to sending out an email every three days or so. Three months ago, this would have been the perfect thing to do. Your email templates would have been helping you maintain a certain level of engagement and brand recall among your audience. But now, the same thing can seem insensitive, pushy and too much too soon (unless what you are offering is pandemic-specific information in which case you should amp things up).
Similarly, if you reopen your communication channel with a flood of hard sell, you are very likely to turn off a number of customers. Besides, it looks like you just sidestepped the pandemic which can be a dangerous thing to portray considering you may have several customers who were/are greatly affected by Covid-19. Instead, consider turning your product- or discount-heavy emails into more relevant content.
Check out how leather retailer Boconi eases the reader into a Father’s Day special product email by starting off with a donation pledge, moving on to a pandemic-specific use of one of their products and then finally talking about their other products.
To follow up or not to follow up
You may have emails set up to follow up on abandoned carts and prospective customers which you used to send out in the pre-pandemic age. Since these are automated emails, what you need to alter about them with the change in circumstances is their frequency. Email marketing engines give you several delay options for your follow up emails.
This works both ways. Decreasing the frequency is the way to go when your business does not provide products or services that are absolutely essential in these times. Or else you risk looking like a heartless shark. On the other hand, if you are providing invaluable updates crucial to the epidemic or raising money for it, there is no harm in increasing the rate of communication whether it is to request signups for your newsletter, highlight the urgency of raising money or something else that is equally important. Once the public sentiment has improved, you can go back to your original frequency.
Mix it up
The current crisis and the resulting lockdowns have forced businesses to rethink their email strategies. Many of your followers may end up spending more time working and shopping from home. This could translate to greater attention spans and willingness to read and research products thoroughly which ultimately means the need for more content and exposing your customers more than just your products.
If you have so far focused your emails to solely pushing products, now might be the time to put in place a content strategy. This will ensure that, in the future, if you are ever again in a position where you can’t sell your products, you have something to fall back on and keep your brand relevant among your followers.
Err on the side of caution
Covid-19 has been one of the biggest disruptors we have seen in the recent times. Business and email strategies will have to be changed and this means mistakes will be made. Take baby steps and don’t be afraid to make radical changes to your communications. Just keep in mind that you don’t step on the toes of the millions of people around the globe who have been affected, including several of your own followers and customers.
Disasters of a global scale, like the Covid-19 pandemic, will put your resilience as a business to test. We would love to know what changes you are making to your email strategy and which of our tips you liked. Do let us know in the comments below.
Kevin George is Head of Marketing at Email Uplers, one of the fastest growing email design and coding companies, and specializes in crafting professional email templates, PSD to HTML email conversion and custom Mailchimp templates in addition to providing email automation, campaign management, and data integration & migration services. He loves gadgets, bikes, jazz and eats and breathes email marketing. He enjoys sharing his insights and thoughts on email marketing best practices on his blog.