Den Aviary, headquartered in Chicago, is a leading digital marketing agency with expertise in strategy, data-driven analytics, marketing technology, and a heritage in email marketing and CRM.
Read their guest contribution to the Iterable blog to learn what their experts recommend when you’re ready to restart your email marketing operations.
In some places, especially outside of the United States, we’re starting to see encouraging glimpses of getting back to how things used to be, but are we truly nearing the return of “business as usual” (or at least as usual as it could ever get)?
Only time will tell, and as smart marketers, it’s in our best interest to not only pay attention to the signs, but also start putting in some groundwork now to be ahead of the curve.
So what exactly does that mean for your email marketing operations?
Email Marketing Operations: Ready, Set, Reset
If you haven’t started thinking about how to communicate your brand equity once standard operating procedures resume, start now. Here are some tips we recommend:
- Be thoughtful with your communications and pay attention to what your competitors are doing.
- Don’t make big, broad changes to creative, content, volume, or frequency. Make small changes over time and continue to increment as testing dictates.
- Keep an eye on your signals:
- How is your deliverability and how are ISPs responding?
- How is your messaging resonating with your best customers and your less active customers?
- Who should you ultimately be emailing?
- If your email marketing goals and success metrics are focused on retention, don’t forget to consider acquisition as well.
- As always, measure your results and learn for future communications.
When we all first started to understand what we were truly dealing with during a pandemic, it was an easy call to lay low and not send out messages that could be misconstrued as callous or tasteless.
We made a point to our clients early on that it wasn’t about whether or not they used coronavirus-related language in their messages, it was about whether or not their customers expected them to talk about the pandemic in a way that was relevant.
And that point is still true today as things are starting to shift—your brand should have a point-of-view on how to safely and responsibly resume business functions.
As you’re layering that point-of-view into your email messaging, keep a watchful eye on how users are engaging (or not) and build out your testing accordingly.
Remember that a disciplined, data-driven approach is what got you here, and it’ll help get you through these troubled times as well.
A Quick Note on Deliverability
So, let’s also talk about email deliverability and why you need to think more about it as you ramp your email volume back up.
As a refresher, your deliverability is the measurement of overall program reputation—your ability to maintain high inbox rates and take preventive action based on signals from the ISPs.
Deliverability has always been a major issue for brands, due to a high rate of fraudulent emails, and the ISPs simply are taking precautions to protect their customers.
The onus is squarely on the brands to make certain that their messages deserve to be delivered to the inbox; meaning that if users are engaged, messages will be delivered at higher rates.
We’ve already started to see higher levels of engagement for our clients, particularly from users that were always showing high engagement. Increasing your volume should be done in increments, and always with an eye on engagement, lest you fall into a bad situation with one or more of the ISPs.
Now Back to Marketing
What about the way we speak to our customers? The tone you’re using is absolutely a factor.
Here are marketing tips to keep in mind during these tumultuous times:
- What is relevant this week can change the next, and back again. A willingness to adapt, move quickly and grow will help as our circumstances evolve.
- Sensitivity is paramount. Be thoughtful about your customers’ needs and be comfortable with addressing them in situations where it makes sense to.
- Adopt a “service over sales” approach to avoid sounding insincere or self-centered.
- Provide service with resources, discounts, suspended fees, free shipping or great content. Focus on the things your customers will care about.
- Examine every message—including promotional, automated and recurring campaigns—for relevancy, tone, usefulness and service
In terms of your audience, it’s good to be mindful of how the pandemic has changed the makeup of your best customers. Just about everyone was forced into a different way of engaging content, researching, shopping for goods and, well, existing.
What changes have you seen with your user base? Do you know how to adapt?
- Remember—consumer behavior has changed, but that doesn’t mean you should take drastic action on re-engagement. Don’t mark your “used-to-be-actives” as inactive. Just because they are not interacting with your content today does not mean they are truly detached from your brand.
- The changing social and economic environment requires us to view active and inactive recipients through a different lens, so don’t take a lack of engagement personally. Instead, focus on providing value however possible.
Final Thoughts on Restarting Your Email Marketing Operations
So here we are! Regardless of which signals you’re looking to for guidance on when to evolve your email marketing programs, here’s a summary of what I’m recommending for you once the time is right:
- Be thoughtful about ramping up your send frequency / weekly volume as operations resume.
- Know your specific success measures, whether you’re most concerned about email engagement (open/click), sender reputation, inbox rates, unsubscribe rates, and spam complaints.
- Make small changes at a time, whether volume, frequency, or content.
- Listen to your customers and react based on their engagement. Always be relevant.
- Consider the tone of your emails (and don’t forget to evaluate your automated and triggered messages).
- Be conscious of your most active customers and those that have become less active during this time.
To learn more about how Den Aviary can help with restarting your email marketing operations, send us a note. Happy messaging!