Best email marketing practices during the Coronavirus crisis

As health officials demand staying indoors amid the COVID-19, businesses need to stay in touch with customers through email marketing now more than ever.

Your company has likely already sent out communication on your plan for the outbreak. But the emails can’t stop there. An ongoing marketing plan is crucial in order to keep yourself in front of customers and stay afloat during this challenging time.

Retain your customers

You need to focus on the customers that you already have, rather than new ones. It’s no secret that it’s easier to sell to an existing customer than a new prospect. In fact, stats show that the probability of selling to an established buyer is 60-70%, while the likelihood of selling to someone new is 5-20%.

That means your messaging needs to include ways that you can reward them for staying loyal and admit that you need their support. If you’re working from home, like much of the world right now, that means email automation is your best friend. Among everything else your company needs to do to plan for this unprecedented situation, having marketing emails taken off of your to-do list can be a relief.

If you’ve been forced to shut your doors to the public, think about ways you can keep your customers spending for when they eventually come back to see you. Ideally, you should be selling gift cards or offering redeemable coupons. Keep the cash flowing and give your patrons a reason to come back soon.

Be transparent in your email marketing

Your email communications shouldn’t be exclusively focused on selling. You need to explain to your audience that you’re concerned about more than just money. The health and wellbeing of your employees and (if you’re open) in-person customers needs to be a priority. 

All of that should go without saying. Your personal inbox has surely been flooded with emails from businesses that you patron, meaning you’ve seen the ways companies are talking to their customers. It’s not a bad idea to refer to those emails to guide your communication plan.

Let’s assume your business is open to the public in some capacity. You’ll need to thoroughly explain the steps you’re taking to sanitize your space and keep employees healthy. Even if you don’t expect these customers to come to your location, it shows them that you’re mindful of the circumstances. 

Show them that they aren’t just getting an email from you in order to keep selling them something. Tread lightly and you’ll avoid looking like you’re exploiting the situation and “profiteering from tragedy.”

Get creative

Now that we’ve addressed keeping customers at ease while tensions are high, let’s talk about smart ways to shift your marketing.

The reality is that a large number of people are out of work and their income might be affected. People aren’t looking at new places to spend money. But if you market your products or services around the situation, new strategies present themselves.

There has never been a better time to sell things focused on the at-home lifestyle. As people settle into their home offices, they’ll come to realize that they really do need that new desk, or those essential oils to keep their productivity up. 

Whatever your product is, find a way to frame it around working from home. You just might find that people are willing to support a local business that enhances their home setup.

Maybe even give your customers a peek at how your operations have changed during this time. Locally, the South Carolina Aquarium is streaming daily looks at the operations behind the scenes, even though they aren’t open to guests. This gave them the opportunity to ask would-be customers for donations. 

If your business has the capacity to set up something similar, then send out a dedicated email that invites people to join, watch and donate. People are eager to show support for local businesses. Don’t be afraid to ask!

Don’t slam on your brakes

While it is most important that you curate emails for your existing customers, you can’t slam the brakes on any new customer generation you normally do.

People are more in tune with the news than normal right now. They want to know what’s going on in their city and with the businesses around them. Newsletters are being cranked out from both the media and businesses, so it’s a great time to sponsor these emails and keep putting yourself in front of new eyes.

So in the end, the most important thing is that you continue as you were. Don’t halt your regular communications, provided your emails are sensitive to the health crisis and don’t appear tone-deaf. The key to thriving as a business right now is not skipping a beat, while also bolstering your communication with content discussing your response to the COVID-19 crisis.