Email Marketing

3 steps to long-term audience engagement in uncertain times

The onset of the COVID-19 epidemic in March of 2020 caused most companies to adjust their marketing programs. As the pandemic becomes the new normal, researchers are looking at the consumers’ behavior to learn how companies should adjust both their products and marketing tactics. According to a recent study, email marketing increased by 19% from February 2020 to March 2020. In addition, email open rates went up by 16% over the same time period1, indicating that consumers want to know what brands are doing to navigate the changing landscape. This finding also indicates that email is an effective way to reach consumers.

Over six months into the pandemic, companies and consumers are adjusting to our new way of life. We’ve compiled a list of do’s and don’ts to help your brand grow during a time of global change.

Do: Ensure consistency in communication

Although these may be challenging times, your engaged customers want to hear from you. It’s a mistake to fall off the map and go no-contact with your audience. Customers want to hear how your organization is handling the onset of challenges, if the products they need will be affected by supply chain or manufacturing disruptions and what the plan is going forward.

Don’t: Use this as an opportunity to validate your subscriber list or reach out to long inactive subscribers. At best, it’s a waste of time and resources. At worst, it can damage your brand reputation with consumers who have not engaged with you in years and get you blocklisted with certain ISPs due to high spam complaints or low campaign engagement.


Do: Embrace your customers’ new reality

The pandemic has changed day-to-day life for everyone. Most consumers are still working from home, children are attending school virtually and masks and social distancing are the norm. Stanford economist, Nicholas Bloom, says that 42% of the U.S. economy is now working from home and predicts that the new ‘working from home economy’ will continue long after the pandemic has passed.2

Brands need to not only create messaging that acknowledges the new normal, but they need to tailor their products and offerings to fit those needs.

Brand Example: Under Armour

Sportswear company, Under Armour, knew that their customer base was struggling under the COVID-19 gym closures. Customers turned to outdoor workouts to compensate, however, they struggled with heavy cloth masks that made breathing hard or disposable surgical masks that fell apart from too much moisture. So, they created a safe, breathable mask and promoted it to their subscribers via an email campaign. The mask sold out almost immediately.

Don’t: Market products consumers don’t want or need. COVID-19 has changed the way consumers are spending. Inboxes are full of unopened emails touting travel and apparel deals. While some retail clothing companies have been able to push loungewear that’s comfortable enough to work in, consumer spending on apparel has decreased by 40-50% and the travel industry is facing a possible 81% decline.3

Do: Make your customers’ lives easier

As the crisis continues from spring to fall, everyone is struggling. Parents are stretched thin between jobs and home-schooling children. A survey by motherhood lifestyle brand Motherly found that 74% of U.S. mothers say they feel mentally worse since the pandemic began and 97% of moms between the ages of 24 and 39 say they feel burned out at least some of the time, with the pandemic only making things worse.4 Now is the time to make life as easy and convenient for your customers and your messaging needs to reflect that.

Brand Example: Logitech creates a value-based messaging campaign

As employers and (schools alike) shifted away from in-person contact due to COVID-19, computer hardware and software manufacturer and Data Axle client, Logitech created a work from homes series to connect with consumers sheltering in place during COVID-19.

Knowing many consumers may need an upgrade to enhance their at-home office, Logitech highlighted technology essentials that facilitated a productive, comfortable WFH experience. Each email showcased a specific customer need along with corresponding products to fill that need – from technology that helps users look and sound their best during online meetings, to ergonomic solutions designed for comfort, to tools that make online learning (and gaming!) easier for the kids.

The email series provided subscribers with helpful tips and tricks in the form of sticky content to help users adjust to their new working or learning environment. Ultimately, the campaign was highly successful – exceeding revenue and engagement goals for the brand.

Don’t: Send emails if you have nothing valuable to offer to your customers. Cluttering inboxes can hurt your deliverability and upset your subscribers. Don’t forget to keep a close eye on important email deliverability metrics like inboxing rates, unsubscribes, spam complaints, and blocklists so you can quickly pivot if you experience any trouble reaching the inbox.

Conclusion: The pandemic has altered consumer behaviors, changed the landscape across industries, and created new rules of engagement for marketers. Even with many unknowns, sensitive and relevant messages that highlight products and services that improve quality of life for your customers can lead to a boost in conversions.

Want to learn more about how to strengthen your email campaigns?

Watch our webinar on Email Design Strategies that Boost Conversion Rates, or contact us to learn more.


Bob White
Director, Client Services

As an Account Director at Data Axle, Bob is responsible for owning and cultivating strong relationships. He spends his days helping his clients plan, build and maintain customer experiences. He also collaborates with various teams to foster program growth and strategic thought leadership, overseeing day-to-day processes, issue remediation and resolution as well as program management. He plays an advisory role for his clients and borrows from his many years of experience in digital marketing. Bob spends his nights, and money, traveling whenever possible. He also enjoys consuming as much pop culture as time allows by listening to music, watching TV & movies, going to galleries and attending live performances.