3 B2B Email Marketing Lessons Learned from COVID-19

Article by | May 8, 2020 Content Marketing

This Article in 60 Seconds

Wisdom grows in adversity.

Every industry is learning daily amid the COVID-19 crisis, including B2B tech marketing. The crisis has highlighted three important lessons about how to send marketing emails now and after the pandemic.

  1. Timing is Everything
  2. Communicate with Purpose
  3. Keep Your List Up to Date

Think about This

  • 71% of marketers have canceled upcoming campaigns to reevaluate their messaging. (MailCharts)
  • Only 15% of consumers said they did not want to hear from brands at this time (American Association of Advertising Agencies)
  • Delete rates have increased from 7.42% to 11.31% with COVID-19 communications deleted at a rate of 12.18% (Yes Marketing)

[Insert Business Name] Is Here for You

If you’re like me, you probably received a couple dozen emails at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak from a wide range of companies and organizations letting you know that they were here for you and were taking COVID-19 seriously. The emails in my inbox ran the gamut from retailers to non-profits to healthcare providers I had somehow been connected with over the last 5+ years.

Email marketing strategyThe most far-fetched one came from a dentist in another state I hadn’t seen since 2013. Rather than making me feel like a valued patient, getting this email just highlighted that the practice likely didn’t communicate with patients often and definitely didn’t update its email list regularly.

What Have We Learned about Email from COVID-19?

COVID-19 email marketing strategyLike everything else in the age of the COVID-19 crisis, email marketing strategies and deployment have changed. The way you communicate with customers and prospects via email must address their current needs and reflect the “new normal” climate.

Additionally, there are several lessons you can take from this time of crisis and apply to your strategy moving forward. Here’s what COVID-19 has shed light on for the future of B2B email marketing.j

1. Timing Is Everything

During COVID-19, your email marketing cadence has become more important than ever before. With consumers receiving a huge influx of marketing emails and getting bombarded with pandemic-related news on every possible communication channel, many marketers have decreased the number of email campaigns they send.

It’s Okay to Press Pause

While HubSpot has seen an increase in marketing email volume for its customers, both Yes Marketing and MessageGears found volume decreased at the beginning of the pandemic. The Yes Marketing analysis, in particular, determined that marketers have only sent a little over half (55.56%) the total number of campaigns this year than they had at this time last year.

The timing just may not be right to send out email campaigns that promote products or services that don’t resonate with your buyers who are focused on the business ramifications of the pandemic. Now, more than ever, you want to follow a “quality over quantity” approach. Less is a whole lot more in the age of COVID-19 communications.

2. Communicate with Purpose

Whether there’s a global pandemic or not, you don’t want to send an email just for the sake of sending an email. Each piece of content you develop should focus on your target buyers’ problems and how you can help solve those problems.

Take the time to put in this messaging work, and don’t send campaigns before you’ve done so.

Pivot, Pivot, Pivot

Even with inboxes overflowing at the beginning the pandemic, the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) Research found that only 15% of consumers did not want to hear from brands at that time (the survey was conducted on March 18). And, overall open rates, on average, are 25% higher than before COVID-19, according to HubSpot.

Your customers want to know you care, but it’s important that you also evaluate the specific impact of the crisis on them and keep a pulse on the conversation as it changes in your industry. You can then craft messaging that speaks to current COVID-19 challenges while tying back to your corporate value propositions.

Take the time to put in this messaging work, and don’t send campaigns before you’ve done so. According to a MailCharts survey distributed at the beginning of the pandemic, 71% of marketers cancelled upcoming campaigns to reevaluate their messaging.

But, Don’t Get Lost in the Shuffle

Keep in mind, you want to strike a balance between addressing the current crisis and not overdoing it and getting lost in the COVID-19 noise. This is particularly important because even with marketing email open rates increasing overall, Yes Marketing found that delete rates have increased from 7.42% to 11.31% this year with COVID-19 communications getting deleted at a rate of 12.18%.

At Golden Spiral, we are remaining sensitive and aware of our audience’s situation while not saying the same thing everyone else in their inbox is saying. For example, with the April 17 edition of our weekly newsletter, The Angle, we chose not to include any COVID-related words in the subject line, but still promoted articles focused on the pandemic from a B2B tech marketing perspective. We provided valuable content while not using a subject line that could get overlooked.

COVID-19 Communications Strategy

3. Keep Your List Up to Date

Think about how many emails you received at the beginning of the pandemic from companies you haven’t interacted with in years. It can be off-putting to realize that an organization doesn’t take time to thoughtfully examine the recipients for specific campaigns or messages.

Get a Process in Place

Make it a habit for your marketing team to regularly scrub your email list and remove email addresses that no longer need to be on it. There are plenty of email verification tools out there to help you get started. Whether you use one of these or scrub your list manually, it’s important to make this a regular habit.

We have developed a number of resources to help you implement or refine B2B email best practices for your company.

If you’re one of the many B2B tech companies on pause right now, use this time and extra capacity to establish the necessary standards and processes for ensuring your list remains up to date over the long run.

The First Thing to Do After Reading This Article

Take a look at your email marketing plan in light of COVID-19. Are you addressing your audience’s needs right now? Do you need to pause some campaigns? How’s your email list looking?

If you put in the work now to sort through these questions, you’ll be better positioned to deliver email communications that resonate now and when we’re on the other side of COVID-19.

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