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Email Marketing Best Practices During a Crisis

Fiona Dai

Marketing Operations Analyst, Forum One

Andrew Jurek

Marketing Demand Generation Specialist, Forum One

We are all receiving a lot of emails lately, more so than usual. From crisis-related email updates to regular monthly newsletters, email subscribers are seeing an influx of emails now more than ever. While it’s understandable for organizations to communicate with their audiences during this time, it’s important to keep in mind that sending too many emails may not create the desired experience for recipients and could reflect poorly on an organization’s brand. To help you avoid this pitfall, we’ve put together best practices for email marketing during a crisis.

Prioritize useful, relevant, and meaningful content

Right now, email communications are a vital form of communication. Without access to in-person communications, events, or meetings, nonprofits and government organizations are relying on email to share critical messages. And that is on top of regular program updates and/or event announcements. 

Put yourself into your audience’s shoes and think about what they need to know. Keep in mind that your audience is already receiving a lot of emails—from local businesses, their gym, pharmacy, doctors’ offices, their hairdresser, restaurants, and more. Give priority to communications that are highly relevant and meaningful to your audiences. Using clear, succinct subject lines and keep your messages concise. 

TIP: Collaborate with another staff member to ensure that the same contact is not receiving multiple emails with similar messages. 

Assess the emotional impact of your email messaging

The words we use in marketing messaging can (and should!) have an emotional impact. Organizations should be mindful of what their audiences might feel during a crisis (e.g., anxiety, stress, fear, etc.)  and develop messaging that takes these emotions into account. Connect with audiences by communicating with empathy, and maintain a calm and objective tone throughout the email. 

TIP: Double-check with another staff member to give it an extra set of eyes before sending an email out. This will help ensure that the email does not include any anxiety-provoking messages that could have a negative emotional impact.

Maintain positive relationships with subscribers

With a mass amount of emails going out, communications teams need to seriously consider methods to maintain positive relationships with subscribers. This is a great time to discover and adopt new ways to create opportunities for audiences to increase engagement with your organization. Here are five ways to help maintain positive relationships with your email subscribers:

  1. Develop email marketing segmentation strategies to segment existing subscriber databases and provide personalized content to best resonate with each segment. 
  2. Identify the right staff member to reach out separately with personal email messages. 
  3. Offer valuable, relevant resources to help address the issues your audiences are currently facing. 
  4. Avoid emailing contacts who’ve opted-out from your mailing list. 
  5. Adopt a multi-channel approach to promote non-crisis related information.

Showing your email subscribers that they can trust you to only get in touch when it is important will help retain their readership far beyond a crisis.

Research and analyze results to optimize future strategies 

According to crisis-focused email marketing benchmark data collected and analyzed by HubSpot, marketing outreach, open rates, engagement, and database growth have increased since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. The increase in overall website traffic and marketing email open rates suggest that audiences are still looking to engage with organizations, and educational resources could be the right material for nurturing long-term relationships with email subscribers. Researching email marketing data domestically and globally can help organizations learn and establish comparable standards.

The data organizations gather from sending out emails is an important indicator for composing future strategies. Ensure that you are collecting the right data, review the data on a regular basis, and let the data tell you the story that best explains the future outlook of the sector and vertical you are in. Analyze metrics to derive insights, recommendations, and actionable plans to map them back to your organization’s goals and mission. 

TIP: Comparing email marketing data with a historical period can help provide valuable insights that help develop a solid data-driven email marketing strategy. 

We hope these email marketing tips and best practices help you as you navigate the current situation and beyond!

Written By

Fiona Dai

Marketing Operations Analyst, Forum One

Andrew Jurek

Marketing Demand Generation Specialist, Forum One

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