8 Do’s and Don’ts of Email Marketing During a Crisis

Marketers are currently scrambling to decide how to email during a crisis. Should we send more? Should we send less? Can I email my entire database? These are all valid questions that many of us are trying to answer in these unprecedented times.

Relationship One is here to help. To make it easier for you, we have put together some Do’s and Don’ts and gathered some helpful resources from others in the business to assist you as you navigate these uncharted waters.

DO acknowledge the current situation.

Inbox activity is up 27% according to World Data. People are opening and reading emails that acknowledge the current situation. They are at home checking their inbox and they want to read emails that provide tools, solutions, and value to them.

DON’T send COVID-19 emails to your entire database.

COVID-19 messages are not transactional, so don’t send them to everyone (especially those who have unsubscribed years ago). You risk spam complaints and future deliverability issues. Segmentation is key here; send the emails to only the audience that your message relates to. You should only be sending these emails if you have a legitimate business need to do so (such as providing information about event cancellations or how to access a company’s remote services. This does not include emails about keeping your employees safe and things clean (shouldn’t you always be doing this?).

DO review your automated emails for tone and value.

Be sure to audit all of your email programs, especially the automated ones (welcome, nurture, reminder, time is running out, last chance, etc.). Make sure they still make sense and are empathetic to the state of the world right now. Don’t forget about the tone and content in imagery as well. Crowds of people and people shaking hands may not work in the current COVID-19 context.

DON’T continue with “business as usual.”

Things are not the same as they were last month, last week, or even yesterday. Make sure that you have a plan and that your stakeholders are all on the same page. Re-evaluate your entire marketing program and make sure it still works. Continue to meet with your team on a regular basis to address situation changes and how they may affect your program.

DO look at what others are doing.

If you are worried about your messaging, or if you haven’t sent out an email addressing the current crisis yet, it may be a good idea to learn from what others have already done. Check out some examples from Really Good Emails to see what other brands are saying.

DON’T stop sending communication to your subscribers.

Your subscribers still want to hear from you. Figure out what your audience needs from you, and what unique benefit or service can you offer them. People are looking for value, escapism and the ability to be productive. If you are worried about sending promotional emails, onboarding emails, and monthly newsletters — just make sure they still make sense to send and tweak the copy if needed (remove the sentences about shaking hands and in-person meetings).

DO look at the data.

Look at how your COVID-19 emails performed. If conversions are lower, you may have to adjust your tone, your message, or even re-evaluate what value your email is providing your recipient. Unsympathetic emails that miss the mark could alienate your long-time subscribers. If you don’t feel like your email provides value or it just doesn’t feel right to send, you probably shouldn’t send it.

DON’T capitalize on fear and anxiety.

Don’t send emails that try to profit off of the crisis or make people more anxious than they are already feeling. Acknowledge your recipients anxiety, but try to keep your message simple and calm. Make sure to avoid “Coronavirus Sales” or virus wellness packages.

Email marketing during a crisis is noisy and things are constantly changing. It can be confusing and difficult to keep up. Relationship One can partner with you during these challenging times to audit your marketing programs, assist with COVID-19-related communications, or help you navigate the challenges of a remote workplace and workforce. Contact us if you would like our help during these trying times.

Some more great industry resources for email marketing during a crisis:

  1. Best Practices for Email Marketing During a Crisis: Webinar Recording + Q&A (Blog webinar & Q&A – Litmus)
  2. A Guide to Email Marketing During a Crisis (PDF Presentation – Litmus)
  3. Email Marketing for Sensitive Times (PDF Presentation – World Data)
  4. What We Owe to Each Other: Marketing During the Unthinkable (Blog – Email Snarketing)
  5. Really Good Emails, Emergency Email Collection (Really Good Emails)
  6. Beware of Virtue Signaling or Outright Greed in Brand Communications About COVID-19 (Blog – Gartner)
  7. 6 Tips on Sending Effective Email During a Crisis (Blog – Litmus)
  8. Email Communication During COVID-19: Tips and Examples (Blog – SendGrid)
  9. Email First: The New Normal for Keeping You Connected to Customers in Challenging Times (Blog – Litmus)

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