april 3, 2020

Essence of Email Weekly - How to respond to, connect with, and help your eCommerce customers during COVID-19

Justuno, our agency partner at Essence of Email, analyzed over 1000 COVID-19 specific promotions built by their customers. Then, they put together a few findings for inspiration on how to respond, and what your brand can do to connect with and help your customers.

"Yes, we're still shipping!"

For brands that still have inventory and are able to deliver, this operational message is critical and should be displayed to every visitor on the website. Depending on your brand's vertical and location, this may or may not be the norm. So, make sure this information is communicated efficiently to consumers, or they may assume otherwise.

Pro Teeth Guard, Essence of Email's and Justuno's customer, have added an on-site banner that reassures shoppers they are still shipping orders; they have linked the banner to a page where customers can learn more about their current operations. This was combined with an email from their CEO listing informative COVID-19 resources and the answers to common questions. Plus, it offered an opt-out link at the bottom, allowing consumers to choose regular marketing emails only. This is a great example of how brands can help consumers choose their inbox content during this difficult time.

"We're experiencing shipping delays"

Using a website banner to communicate shipping delays informs the customers that their orders may arrive later than usual, but that you're still able to fulfill them.

You can take these banners a step further by using geo-targeting to display specific details based on a visitor's region and provide them with personalized information.

"We're out of stock"

As certain items are currently likely to be sold out, offering alternatives is a great way to continue to serve customers.

Using automated email flows, you can offer substitute products, related products, allow customers to join waitlists, send 'back-in-stock' notifications, and offer gift cards.

How you choose to help the customers will depend on your industry. If you need a hand with your email processes, get advice from one of our Essence of Email experts.

The article is supported with additional examples:

  • "Our store is closed" or "Our hours have changed"
  • "Here's how we're contributing"
  • "Here's what you need to know now"
Check out this article for additional information and inspiration for your messaging.


Email open rates went up, click-through rates went down

Email open rates have increased, but click-through rates have declined since the coronavirus outbreak, according to a recent study by email marketing service company MessageGears.

In addition, spam complaints have increased for emails related to COVID-19. This may mean that people don't want to hear about it, or that they have heard way too much.

Email volumes have risen dramatically among retailers following the travel ban announcement. However, the travel sector, which has been hit hard, saw a more modest increase.

Moreover, unsubscribe rates increased in travel, but declined in the already-low retail field. The study notes that "unsubscribes nearly doubled in the travel industry, but dropped elsewhere."

On the other hand, "Recipients in retail and other industries might be welcoming the new information that marketing messages bring, as weeks of self-quarantine may welcome any distractions."

Mobile devices, which account for the highest number of opens, went up after the ban, while computer open rates declined. However, while "the majority of emails are opened on mobile devices, we've seen a nearly 10% week-over-week jump for desktop computers," as noted in the study.

Email continues to be a critical tool for brands during these unpredictable times. In most industries, consumers are clicking and buying, and even in sectors like travel and hospitality where marketing has essentially been paused, email will remain one of the most important channels in ramping things up again.

The bottom line: email is thriving right now, as it is one of the few ways brands can reach their customers during the crisis.


A complete shift to online shopping due to coronavirus

Yotpo, an eCommerce marketing platform, recently released its Consumers & Commerce 2020 COVID-19 Trends Report. The report showcases findings from a global survey that examined the changing behaviors, priorities, and shopping trends of consumers in the US, UK, and Canada. These changes are taking place as a result of people being encouraged to self-isolate or shelter-in-place.

According to the survey, 65% of shoppers using Amazon said they couldn't get everything (32.75%) or anything (32.25%) they needed from the retailer. Shortly afterwards, Amazon announced that their Prime delays had reached the one-month mark, leaving consumers scrambling to find other online options to get the essentials they needed.

"Amazon's relationship with consumers is just one of speed and convenience and lacks human connection or community. Now only Prime members are being prioritized and, of course, that comes with a fee," said Tomer Tagrin, CEO & Co-founder of Yotpo. "Today's D2C brands are the world's Mom & Pop shops of eCommerce, and they truly care about their customers and their communities. Consumers are rallying to support their local small businesses, and we encourage them to rally their support around D2C brands as well, especially as they could be the most heavily impacted during this pandemic" he added.

Additionally, the survey shows that consumers take extra measures to access the products they need. If an item is out of stock, 40.55% of consumers will turn to a less familiar brand, which means it's critical for D2Cs to double down on their brand and customer retention.

It's no surprise that 43.2% of respondents plan to do more of their shopping online, but 31.7% are shifting to completely buying online rather than shopping in physical stores.

What are they buying?

  • Food (78.8%)
  • Health and wellness products (42.5%)
  • Household cleaning supplies (34.95%)
A number of respondents (46.05%) are purchasing non-perishable items, such as canned goods, and other pantry staples, like beans and rice. If the pandemic continues, half of the consumers (50.95%) say they plan to cook more often.

Health and wellness items are also at the forefront, particularly:

  • Personal sanitizers (40.15%)
  • Medical items such as thermometers (22.75%)
  • Other wellness items like vitamins, superfoods, or CBD products (21.60%)
  • 30.85% of consumers said they were buying more toilet paper, but also noted they were buying water, camping gear, frozen food, beer, and liquor
eCommerce businesses are taking advantage of the demand for the listed goods and they offer to deliver those products fairly quickly, which is deepening the personal communication between customers and eCommerce businesses and ensures trust.

Take a look at the full report for more statistics that could be helpful to your business.


Clairvoyix launches a tool to help hotels with email marketing automation

Clairvoyix, a marketing technology and services company dedicated to hospitality-specific marketing automation, announced their Rapid Recovery Response – R3© Solution. The email marketing tool is designed to be the simplest and least expensive option for hoteliers.

The hotel industry has been hit incredibly hard by the coronavirus pandemic and this tool will help hoteliers conduct rapid email marketing during and after the crisis, according to Clairvoyix. The tool is designed to help hotels "utilize professional direct marketing strategies and tactics at a price-point that makes sense for the current state of the hospitality industry," states Mike Schmitt, Clairvoyix CEO.

"The Clairvoyix Rapid Recovery Response Solution will give our hotels the ability to communicate with our guests and meeting planners during this critical time," states Theodore Holloway, Vice President of Digital Marketing for Remington Hotels.

He adds: "We know the crisis will pass, and we need to be ready when leisure and business travel is once again safe and desirable."


A video email marketing app for small businesses

vidREACH Individual is a recently launched application that focuses on personalized video emails for small businesses. It allows the users to try this exciting kind of marketing through their mobile devices too.

Tools like this help you create videos for email effortlessly and make face-to-face communication easier.

So, why do tools like this one matter to small and medium businesses?

Video email marketing app: They help businesses engage prospects, bring in more leads, and close more deals. The goal is to help small businesses reach their full potential.

Personal message: These tools make it easier to get your message out in a personal way. They have a variety of interesting features, like unlimited video emails and templates available. Small businesses will find it useful to integrate the app with Salesforce, Outlook, and Gmail. There's also useful engagement analytics available on important metrics like clicks and opens. Having metrics at your fingertips is a great way to find out what works and what doesn't.

Not tech-savvy: Usually, you don't need advanced tech knowledge to get these tools up and running. The application is easy to use and can be installed on a number of different devices.

Put a face to your communications: With COVID-19 limiting social interaction, a benefit of these tools is that they put a face to your communications when you can't be there in person. Video allows you to speak face-to-face, boosts engagement, differentiates you from the competition, and personalizes your communication on all levels. It helps you stay relevant and personal, even when you can't be in front of your customers physically.

Take a look at the app and its features here, and check out a variety of similar apps on the market.


COVID-oriented emergency email design

Open, click, and even unsubscribe rates have suffered in the travel industry ever since the travel ban announcement a few weeks ago. It is true that this industry will need some time to get back into shape, but giving up at times like these is unacceptable. Many travel agencies have paused their marketing activities to save money, but sending an email once in a while won't hurt their budget.

Take a look at this email from Contiki where they assure the customers that their deposit is flexible and that, if needed, customers can move the travel dates for free. What is more, they point to a change in their policy, thus implying their customers' money is safe. Isn't that what we all need at this time?

Check out the email here.

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