How Should You Use Email Marketing During a Pandemic? Maybe Not at All!

By Karen Nardozza, Moxxy President and CEO

I interrupt my Moxxology social media anthology to provide some thoughts on how to appropriately use email marketing during this pandemic. What I really want to do is vent about the companies inappropriately clogging my inbox, but I’ll take a deep breath, and a sip—make that a gulp—of wine, and turn this into a positive message (excuse me if the rant overpowers the wine).

Email is an essential business communications tool. Most people have one primary email address they use at work, and they can easily receive over 200 emails per day. So, the same address that you send your marketing message to is used by the recipient’s clients and customers wanting to place new orders, for internal team communications, product and production updates, industry news and statistics, HR communications, messages from their bank and the IRS, etc.

And what do you want to say in the midst of that? It better be good!

If you want to break through that clutter—and have your messages received favorably—they must be relevant and concise, along with appropriate and authentic. If you don’t accomplish that, and you’re lucky, your messages will just be deleted. But cross over the line to annoyance, and you’ll be hurting your brand in ways that could last much longer than the pandemic.

I get it—people are spending more time in front of their devices, so it’s tempting to send email. But if my inbox is any indication, the volume of unnecessary and unwelcomed email is off the charts. (Please make it stop.) For the love of good marketing, don’t send mass emails unless your brand has something truly essential to communicate.

Let’s look at the four primary uses for email in marketing: opt-in newsletters, mass communications to customers, mass communications to prospects, and individual emails to customers or prospects.

If you’ve been distributing periodic newsletters to an opt-in list, by all means keep it up. Just make sure the information you’re presenting is insightful and essential in today’s ‘crazier-than-usual’ environment. The same applies to eblasts to customers and prospects with whom you have an ongoing relationship. But if you’re emailing for the sake of emailing, and struggling to come up with compelling messages, hold-off for now.

Individual communications with a specific, actionable message to customers, and in a few cases prospects, always make sense. But if your philosophy is to send massive amounts of unsolicited emails in the hopes that some of it is going to stick, for your own good, knock it off!

What’s essential? Pertinent information about how you are responding to the COVID-19 situation and how that affects your business relationship with customers is a strong place to start. This could include new safety practices or logistic changes, as well as product availability, harvest schedules, products in abundance or short supply, etc.

And… Keep. It. Short. Many people read their emails on their phones, and often they’re not sitting at their desk. How many screen swipes do you think they’ll suffer through? If you give them more than a few, you get put into the “holy mother of emails what were they thinking?” category (and that’s not a good thing). If you have more to say, such as details of your new shipping and logistics policies, link them to your website so people can choose to go read the information—or not.

Don’t use mass email to thank employees, the supply chain and medical personnel—use your blog or social media for that.

Remember, your email is interrupting peoples’ business communication stream. That’s not to say email cannot be an effective prospecting tool—it’s the mass emails with the same message to everybody that I have a problem with. Personalized, individual messages can still be very powerful.

There, I feel better, but where’d I put my wine?