Best Practices For Email Marketing During the Pandemic

Months on, and we are still in the middle of the ever-evolving COVID-19 pandemic.

As consumers worldwide have been forced to adapt to the “new normal,” brands are realizing the dire need to pivot their marketing strategy.

If you’re still getting used to this significant change, we’re here to support you!

In this post, we’ll help you understand why and how you need to change your email strategy during the pandemic to stay relevant in these strange times.

Let’s get started!

Why You Should Adapt Your Email Marketing Strategy During COVID-19

As a responsible brand, it’s imperative to consider how you approach your customers in times of crisis.

If your emails sound insensitive, you might end up offending or even losing some of your subscribers.

You need to understand that the pandemic has caused most people worldwide to feel high anxiety and grief.

If you want your marketing to be effective and relevant, you need to be in touch with your customers’ emotional needs. It’s the only way to ensure they’re able to connect with your messages and respond positively.

The tone of your emails will also show your customers where your priorities lie. If you're authentic and empathetic in your communication, they’ll be more likely to stay loyal.

For eCommerce businesses, things can get a bit trickier.

Because of the pandemic, you may not be able to meet expectations. For example, you might face issues with delivery times and shipping locations.

In that case, it's better to be upfront with your customers instead of keeping them in the dark.

According to Bonfire Marketing, 91% of customers rate honesty about products and services as an important trait for brands.

If you're transparent with your audience, they’re more likely to understand and remain patient if something goes wrong at your end.

4 Tips For Sending Better Emails During The Pandemic

Now that you know why it’s essential to adjust your email marketing strategy let’s talk about the specific ways to improve your emails during the pandemic.

Here are four things to consider before sending out your next email.

1. Focus on Personalization

We’ve been talking about personalization for a long time.

But never before has it been this relevant.

The pandemic has brought out a desperate side of some businesses, who have thoughtlessly resorted to bombarding their customers with promotional emails.

Personalization can help you stand out from all the canned emails that are regularly flooding your subscribers’ inboxes. Make sure you address them by their name and tailor your content based on their characteristics and behavior.

Your customers will appreciate the personal touch and will be more likely to open and engage with your emails.

Three Tips For Personalizing Your Emails

1. Use subscriber name

One tried-and-true way to personalize your emails is to use subscriber names in the subject line and/or email content.

Addressing contacts by their name in the subject line makes your email immediately stand out from all the other promotional emails in their inboxes.

In Sendlane, you can add the First Name tag with a single click when editing the subject line. 

sendlane_personalization_email_marketing_custom_field

Doing this will automatically replace the tag for each contact who receives your email with their first name.

You can also add this tag anywhere in the body of your email. When inside the Sendlane email builder, you can simply select the text box you want to add the tag to and click on the tag icon.

sendlane_email_builder_email_marketing_personalization

From the drop-down menu, select First Name to add the tag to your content!

2. Use custom fields

Another way you can personalize your emails is by using information about your contacts gathered through custom fields.

Custom fields are additional fields that you can add to your popups and opt-in forms to collect more information about your contacts, such as their favorite color or zodiac sign.

Use this information to create highly personalized emails.

For example, if you’re a jewelry store, you can send subscribers a discount on pendants engraved with their zodiac sign.

In Sendlane, you can add a Custom Field tag into your email content or subject line in the same way as the First Name tag.

3. Send tailored content

The information you collect about your subscribers, such as gender, location, and even age, can help you personalize email content that’s more likely to be engaging.

For example, if you’re a clothing store that sells both male and female products, you can segment your lists by gender and send tailored emails to each gender.

email_marketing_david_jones_welcome

You can also personalize your email content based on your contacts’ past behavior. Plenty of eCommerce brands, for example, add personalized product recommendations into emails that are tailored based on their browsing or purchase history.

2. Offer Value to Your Subscribers

Just because you need to communicate with subscribers doesn’t mean you should start sending them email after email without any purpose.

Sending emails that don’t do anything for your subscribers will just push them to unsubscribe or throw you into spam.

Right now, the focus of your emails should not be to sell but to make a difference.

Don’t send emails for the sake of sending an email. You should have a really good reason for reaching out to your subscribers and demanding their attention.


Make a conscious effort to send emails that add value to your customers’ lives. Educate them on helpful product updates, invite them to free webinars, offer them discounts or limited-access services, show them the kind of content or products they want to see.

Check out how this furniture shop is taking advantage of changing customer needs during the pandemic to provide more value in their emails.

Tips for adding value to your emails

1. Educate them on how your business can help them

The best thing you can do for your customers right now is to show them how they can benefit from associating with or buying from your brand.

In your emails, you can talk about your hygiene standards and what you’re doing to ensure that your products are safe to be delivered and consumed.

Here’s how Rent the Runway keeps their customers in the loop about their cleaning processes and techniques during COVID-19.

rent_the_runway_email_marketing_covid

Customers are also more conscious about associating themselves with businesses that take care of their employees.

Educate your contacts about what measures you’re taking to maintain your staff’s good health and to ensure a safe workplace.

2. Offer discounts or limited-access services

Everyone loves a discount, even during a pandemic!

To make your discounts and offers more relevant, you can apply them to products with higher demand due to COVID-19.

This could be WFH products like home office furniture, or even sanitization kits, masks, and other such items.

Check out how this furniture shop is taking advantage of changing customer needs during the pandemic to provide more value in their emails.

feather_covid_email_marketing_work_from_home


Offering relevant discounts adds value to your email content and shows customers that you genuinely care about their current needs and situation!

3. Avoid Sending Too Many Emails

A good rule of thumb is always quality over quantity. You don’t want to run the risk of fatiguing your audience and causing them to unsubscribe. 

Believe it or not, you’re not the only brand sending out marketing emails during this time. Your subscribers are likely receiving dozens of emails every single day.

Sending too many emails can make you look desperate for their attention, and that’s not going to get you any.

If you want to get their attention, you need to look like you deserve it.

Tips for optimizing your email timings

1. Use Machine Learning Open Predictability

Each contact in your list engages differently with your emails. Sending an email at one specific time to all your subscribers might not get optimal results.

Sendlane’s Machine Learning Open Predictability solves this problem! 

This tool automatically sends your email to each contact at the optimal time based on their unique engagement history.

sendlane_email_marketing_optimal_send_time

All you need to do is check the Machine Learning Open Predictability box right before you send your email campaign!

2. Do a quick email survey

When in doubt, ask!

You can send a quick email survey to your contacts to ask them about their email timing and frequency preferences.

Explain that you care about their time and peace, and ask questions like:

  • At what time during the day would they like to receive your emails?
  • Would they prefer to receive a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly newsletter?

You can also ask contacts about the kind of content they’d like to see in your emails. This can help increase your engagement rates as you’ll be showing them stuff they’re likely to be interested in.

Just make sure you make it easy for your customers to fill the survey. Use a scale, drop-down menu, or a simple text box. Avoid long and time-confusing surveys, as this can backfire badly on your brand.

4. Be Considerate and Relevant

The best thing you can during the pandemic is to sound considerate, authentic, and relevant to your customers.

Your contacts are likely expecting you to make some kind of gesture or change. The last thing you want to do is come across as indifferent.

Tips for sending considerate and relevant emails

1. Keep customers in the loop

We can’t stress enough how crucial effective communication is during the pandemic.

For example, if you’re unable to deliver products on time, make sure you reach out and assure your customers that their product is not “lost”.

Here’s how a clothing brand is handling late deliveries through email.

bonanza_satrangi_email_marketing_covid

Along with giving customers a reason for the late delivery and alleviating their worries, they’ve also given them a discount coupon as a token of apology.

The more honest and transparent you are, the more likely customers will be to trust you with their purchase in the future.


2. Adjust your messaging

If you want to get subscribers to respond to your emails, adjust your email content to be more relevant to their situation and needs.

Here’s an example of how Sephora keeps their email marketing relevant during the pandemic.

sephora_email_marketing_covid

Notice how they’ve changed their messaging (re: Zoom Presentation), so it’s more relevant to their target customers’ current lifestyle.

Doing Pandemic Email Marketing The Right Way

The world is changing, and your email marketing strategy should be too.

Your customers are already going through a tough time with the pandemic. Show them you care by sending valuable emails that are useful, relevant, considerate, and full of value.

Ready to design your next email campaign? Sign up for a 14-day free trial of Sendlane!

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Caitlin Hutchinson
Brand Marketing Manager
Sendlane

A native of San Diego, California, Caitlin has a passion for developing creative and engaging marketing content. Primarily responsible for overseeing the development, execution and delivery of digital content across all of Sendlane’s channels while maintaining an online presence of Sendlane's team culture. Host of The Marketing Automation Hustle Podcast and Sendlane Youtube Training Channel. Works closely with the marketing team to manage creative projects and develop creative assets/solutions to enhance the brand. Collaborates at the intersection of marketing, product, content, and sales to develop powerful and memorable stories and interactive experiences that bring the Sendlane vision to life.

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