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Post lockdown: email marketing in the new normal

Published on 08 May 2020

Inboxes have been inundated with COVID-19 related communications from companies, covering how they intend to respond, what to expect regarding services and providing advice on staying safe.  While these are necessary positioning statements, at some point, companies need to resume business as usual, albeit within the new normal that the pandemic has created. 

This is tricky. One doesn’t want to be insensitive by starting to market too soon. 

But, at what point can companies revert to sending marketing messages that promote their completely unrelated COVID-19 services? And how do marketers adjust the actual message to hit the right note during this stressful time?  

Our digital marketing guru has some ideas:

In many geographies, strict lockdown conditions are being lifted, some in a phased approach, to kickstart economic activities that have been restricted. With that, comes the understanding that businesses need to be earning revenue in order to pay their staff.

At the very least, companies need to have a communication strategy aimed at retaining their existing customers – this is business survival 101. And because revenue growth is highly dependent on marketing to new customers, or marketing additional products to existing customers, a strategy to reintroduce marketing messages to their communication is vital.

But, that doesn’t mean starting exactly where you may have left off. Communicators can’t ignore the impact of the coronavirus on consumer sentiment and behavior. It follows then, that messages to the market have to change.

Here are my thoughts on how to make your customer communication fit into the new normal:

  1. The content of communication must pivot away from the hard sell (upgrade now, last chance, countdown clock, etc) to a softer sell with a community tone (we, us, a team, together, etc). According to Hubspot, while people are not looking to buy right now, they are looking to learn. 
  2. Regardless of how you define your target market, the reality is that people have changed. To ensure that your message resonates with your audience, you need to define new communication values and communicate these to your copywriters and designers. Think of incorporating values such as kindness, community and empathy in your communications.
  3. If you don’t have a social or community outreach program – you need to get involved in one and share your efforts and achievements. Consumers want to be associated with companies that invest in the health and wellbeing of the broader community.
  4. Within your commercial limitations, find ways to ‘give back’ to your customers. Whether this is extra loyalty points, payment holidays, or any other means of financial support – this is not only the right thing to do, but it also gives your messaging appropriate content in the form of offers that make life easier for your customers.
  5. Don’t be afraid to recognize that your customers are going through a hard time – it’s the new reality. Your communications should use language that reassures them that they are not in this battle alone.

If you’re battling to get your head around the new normal for email marketing – you are not alone. In research done by Litmus in March 2020, only 25% of email marketers surveyed said they feel confident that they have a solid communication plan in place, and 49% said they have a plan but are unsure if it’s the right one.

Dori-Jo Bonner

Dori-Jo Bonner

Account Strategist, Africa

Need help defining your email marketing strategy for the new normal?

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