Please, No More “COVID” in Email Subject Lines

This week, we hosted a webinar that expanded upon the findings of our 2020 COVID-19 Email Marketing Benchmark Report. This report analyzed our customers’ use of our email platform between January and May 2020 to see what impact the pandemic had on various email marketing behavior. You can view a recording of the webinar and download the accompanying content from our Acoustic webinar center

We were super excited to see the level of interest from marketers looking for guidance on how to adjust their email marketing strategies at a time when COVID-19 has changed everything. More than 400 marketers registered for the session! Further, our attendees stayed for the duration of the hour-long event—a rarity when it comes to webinars.

Now, amid back-to-school promotions and at a time when retailers especially are gearing up for a holiday season that will be difficult to predict, brands’ direct communications with their customers and target consumers are vitally important. We know email can be a highly effective channel, but our Benchmark Report told us that in the rush to communicate quickly at the height of COVID, some brands damaged their relationships with their contact lists. Why? Brands didn’t have their data in order. This not only impacts reputation management, but also compliance to important regulations like GDPR and CCPA.

Did we mention people have COVID-19 headline fatigue? The following charts are a snapshot of poll results from attendees during our COVID webinar:

Did you hear from brands you forgot you subscribed to?  I did. And so did many others. This betrays authenticity, given how many brands contacted customers who were no longer closely aligned with their products or services, in their rush to communicate their COVID plans and commitments:

Also, you’re not imagining that your inbox is fuller than ever! We saw the vast majority of attendees report the same or higher volumes of emails going out to their customers.

So, the literal “million-dollar question” is…

With email volumes continuing to remain above pre-pandemic averages, what’s the best way to preserve the value of the channel?

Ensure your message has a clear purpose

Brands must remember that outbound messages are a vehicle to conversion—but that conversion should be simple and seamless. Don’t bother sending an email without a clear call-to-action. Make “add to cart” or a commensurate action simple and easy.

Segment, segment, segment—and personalize

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Brands should use all data sources at their disposal (public/civil data, social data, demographic data) to craft targeted and relevant messages so that groups of recipients receive specific, and relevant content. With everything happening at a societal level—a global health crisis, unrest over injustice, uncertainty over in-person vs. remote schooling, national and local elections, and more—brands can’t ignore the external factors that might be influencing their customers and their subsequent purchasing decisions. Be empathetic and not opportunistic.

Integrated platforms ensure a comprehensive journey

We know that integrated platforms deliver exceptional experiences. For example, pairing a marketing automation offering such as Acoustic Campaign with an advanced analytics and personalization tool such as Acoustic Experience Analytics ensures messages aren’t without purpose. Syncing automation and analytics tools with a content management system (e.g. Acoustic Content) then empowers marketers to pursue multi-touch engagement across channels with content, information, and CTAs that are both relevant and valuable.

At Acoustic, we believe that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication in marketing. As our comprehensive platform data showcased in the original Benchmark Report, and was supported with anecdotal evidence from our webinar attendees, brands are sending a lot of emails. Email can be powerful (we’ve built a business around it after all!), but brands can’t allow their email marketing to be in vain: prioritize including clear CTAs and sharing relevant, personalized, data-driven content assets.

I’d love to connect to learn more about how you’re approaching email in our “new normal.” Reach out to me on LinkedIn.