These are testing times for mankind. What started in the small city of Wuhan has now gripped the entire global population and economy, to an extent that it has been called a global pandemic. This pandemic has forced people to maintain social distancing that restricts the freedom of movement and has severely altered shopping habits. Panic forced people to stockpile causing a huge gap in the supply and demand of commodities. Small scale businesses are facing huge financial losses, and marketers have the responsibility to market while being sensitive to the current state of people.
While you may find umpteen number of articles on the “Dos and Don’ts of marketing during a pandemic”, what people need is, not a corporation that is after their money but, a human who is empathetic to the situation and keeps them engaged. These are the times when communication is more important than conversion. Due to people isolating themselves at their homes, they have a lot of time and energy to spare and spend more time online. This opportunity can be tapped effectively by sending emails that genuinely help them and eventually bring conversions to you. In this article, we shall be focusing on 7 different ways to offer helpful email content during the pandemic.
#1 Establish your expertise with videos and webinars
If you want to drive conversions, the first thing you must do is build your brand authority. People have subscribed to your emails with the hope that your expertise, products, or service is the solution to their pain points. Uphold their trust in you by providing useful content in your area of expertise through email newsletters. This way you not only keep your subscribers engaged but also create an impression about being an expert in your subject. Some of the examples of this would be:
- Gym owners can share different workout routines without any equipment
- Grocery stores and Restaurant owners can share recipes to try at home
- Fashion retailers promote DIY projects to try at home
- Healthcare industry can feature useful health tips to maintain immunity
Imagine your emails as the bridge that connects your subscribers to your content. Segment your email list based on the preference to offer personalized content.
How Peakon did it
People Analytics & Employee Engagement Software, Peakon aimed to address the concerns of their customers about workforce support and safety. So, they utilized their expertise to educate their customers about how to support the workforce during COVID-19. The email invites the recipient to a webinar that will throw light on how to support your workforce during the pandemic. Before ending the email, they referred to a blog post to establish authority over their topic knowledge.
Webinars are a great way to build brand reputation and get people to know you. The webinar attendees can be considered to be hot leads who are most likely to get converted.
Fender Play uses emails to inform customers about Schedule to Interactive Video Session
Fender Play, a video-centric learning platform for music enthusiasts, understood that their customers are mostly stuck at home and identified an opportunity to be grabbed here. They made sure that their members constantly interacted with them. They leveraged the power of emails to send their schedule for April 13 to 19th. Understanding the limitation of information that an email can provide, the call-to-action encouraged them to see their full schedule.
Organizing such virtual events during the times of global crisis will instil a sense of trust in your subscriber’s mind and get them to convert. Even if they do not convert immediately, they will surely remember you and purchase from you at the time of need.
#2 Educate using email newsletter
With people isolating themselves, they are in constant lookout for ways to keep themselves active (physically, mentally, and emotionally). People are more prone to watch videos or pick up (or continue) reading to keep themselves engaged. Websites and landing pages are the best way to provide descriptive content but while you may have a plethora of useful information on your website, you cannot expect everyone to organically reach there. Using email newsletters, you can provide a snippet of information to get your customers engaged and guide them to your website where they can read further. This informative content will help you drive conversions by creating awareness about your brand and its offerings without capitalizing on the customer’s fear and anxiety.
How Motherly crafted email newsletter catered to Moms
Being a mother is a demanding job. Additionally, when kids are stuck at home during the pandemic, time might be a constraint but the need for information still persists. Motherly understood this requirement and are sending custom email templates that categorize their content based on the time needed to read it. They have also included a section for mothers who might be in need of something, which will drive conversions and continue to bring you business even during the pandemic.
#3 Enhance engagement with user-generated content
As people are confined to their homes, they are spending plenty of time on social media. You can share your hashtag and get them to tag you on social media channels. This will not only keep your users engaged, but also increase your visibility across the digital channels.
Charming Charlie invites subscribers to pin, tag, post, and share!
If you are a CRO manager for an ecommerce store, get inspired from Charming Charlie. Create a unique hashtag and invite subscribers to post on their social media. You can incentivize them with an offer to make sure that they take part in it.
#4 Launch an offer (relevant to the trying times)
In light of the current situation, you can introduce special offers that would make things easier for the common man. You can distribute free masks, launch a donation drive, or simply promote free shipping to your customers to relieve them of the financial burden. The key is to adjust your email communication according to the situation so that your emails do not come off as insensitive or salesy.
Pret serves free hot drinks for NHS workers
It is praiseworthy how Pret has offered hot drinks to National Health Service Workers for free and everything else at 50% off as a token of appreciation and gratitude for their efforts. Such endeavors will surely get you more conversions and enhance your brand reputation in the competitive marketplace.
#5 Re-engage with dormant subscribers
With time, a subscriber’s engagement rate reduces gradually and eventually makes them dormant. The dormancy can be identified from the email metrics and nowadays, email service providers are becoming intelligent enough to sift through your customer data to suggest the dormant ones. Re-engaging such subscribers is a good opportunity as they are reminded of why they subscribed to you, they continue getting value addition in the form of informative emails, and they may become paying customers in the long run. Remember, it costs less to retain an old customer than acquiring new leads.
When people are spending more time browsing through emails and being active online, re-engagement emails are a great way to touch base with recently dormant subscribers.
#6 Allow the users to adjust preferences
Of course, conversion is one of the objectives of sending out an email. However, during these tough times, you can send out an email that allows the user to change their preferences and pause the emails if they wish. Such emails let the subscribers know that the brand cares about them, which will go a long way in getting you conversions in the future, if not immediately. 
Campaign Monitor sets the perfect example of an empathetic email
Check out how Campaign Monitor, one of the leading ESPs allows the users to pause the emails for 30 days.
#7 Use Interactivity
Email interactivity using CSS or using AMP in HTML emails has become a trend in recent years. While the time taken is more than the conventional emails, it is fairly outweighed by the increase in user engagement. Yet, interactivity in emails is not something that can be implemented impromptu. You need proper planning to create the email template from scratch and the interactivity should play a role in conveying the message.
BBC One uses Interactivity
While this email by BBC was sent a long time ago to promote their show titled ‘Dynasties’, it is an excellent email template example that showcases how interactivity can be used to share helpful content in emails. As evident from the GIF below, the subscriber can click on certain hotspots on the email to view a video clip and a description of the animal. This not only increases the user interactivity but the progression of email content on user interactions makes subscribers to further engage by clicking the call-to-action.
You can experience this email by yourself by clicking here.(Source)
Such emails will surely inspire the subscriber to consume your content and avail your services.
Social isolation might be challenging quite often and engaging people in such trying times will be further challenging but all hope is not lost. Practice the above-mentioned tips and innovate your email campaigns to better suit the current scenario and you may help your subscribers get through these trying times while boosting conversions.