This article was originally published on MarketingTech on February 2, 2021.
By now, you’ve likely heard that people are spending more time online. This isn’t a surprise, considering how quarantine and social distancing restrictions have affected everyone’s lifestyles. However, as a New York Times analysis revealed, people aren’t necessarily visiting the same websites they frequented before COVID-19 swept the globe.
While established media brands and streaming websites saw significant increases in traffic, many other URLs took hits as people’s digital viewing behaviors changed. Email marketers who couldn’t keep up were left wondering why their content wasn’t converting despite the record number of people online.
As consumers’ lives have shifted, so have their priorities and interests. Everyone’s day-to-day looks different now. It only makes sense for your emails to reflect that. As a marketer, you must be relevant, empathetic, and innovative to stand a chance in this new environment, and it’s safe to say that the pandemic’s effects will carry into 2021.
Is it challenging to find the balance between closing sales and navigating customer needs? Of course, but it can be done. No matter what industry you’re in or how much competition you face, you can still find a percentage of customers who are open to making purchases. You just need to implement a few key tactics to grab their attention. Here’s how you should approach email marketing for the rest of 2021:
Use persona-based messaging
It’s time to dust off your target personas, even if it has been a while since you created them. While you may not be able to identify every need of every consumer, utilizing personas can help you to remain relevant while reaching a large audience. You can make assumptions on the basis of your personas in terms of pain points, value propositions, and tone. After all, you’re still trying to reach the same types of people — it’s only the details that changed. Personas give you a foundation that you can rely on and build from throughout 2021.
Follow up with prospects
Contrary to popular belief, email marketing prospects who “ghost” you a few times aren’t necessarily uninterested. They might just be busy navigating the craziness happening in the world. Instead of writing them off, put forth some extra effort and follow up.
Checking in again tells a prospect that you’re not just credible and trustworthy, but also serious about developing a relationship. Be prepared to extend your typical process and provide additional digital touchpoints, such as sending four emails instead of three, before temporarily or permanently giving up on a lead. Many people are distracted right now, so a little extra diligence could pay off as we move into the new year.
Put data in the driver’s seat
As a marketer, data will always be your friend. Use what you know and learn to A/B test all aspects of your email messaging and content. Precision will pay off as you figure out what email engagement looks like during the pandemic and how you can connect with customers in 2021. Everyone is in uncharted territory, so don’t be afraid to carefully evaluate each campaign in search of improvements.
Where should you begin? You might want to start at the top with your email subject lines. Once you figure out which ones perform the best, move on so you can master the preview text, greeting, introductory sentence, call to action, and/or special offer. Your results may even help inform your target persona descriptions by indicating which elements compel different groups.
Lead with empathy
Emotional intelligence is a must-have skill for any email marketer who wants to snag prospect attention and close deals. That’s why pandemic-related email open rates saw a 41% increase in March 2020, according to Worldata, despite overall email open rates plummeting. Consumers felt isolated and uncertain, so they wanted support and direction.
If crafting empathetic emails isn’t your team’s strong suit, then try putting yourself in your prospects’ shoes. What do your readers want to see? What are they going through right now? What support will they need in the new year? Is there a special incentive you could add to entice them? Could you let them buy on a payment plan? Imagine what possibilities will resonate the most with your audience, given their circumstances.
The pandemic has changed everyday life — and everyday email marketing. Though you don’t have to toss out everything you knew pre-COVID-19, you should be ready to reinvent your messaging. Use these four tips to guide your efforts as you reach out to prospects moving forward.