Each week, the experts on our strategic services team summarize articles and trends they’re seeing for our clients. We think they’re fascinating — and bet you will too! Here is a peek into what they’ve been talking about lately.
Cheetah Digital | Want your emails delivered during COVID-19? Stop doing these 5 things
Messaging is one of the best ways for brands to communicate with customers during a time of crisis; that said, you don't want to damage your email deliverability by doing one of these 5 things.
Digital Commerce 360 | Retailers extend return policies and start curbside pickup in wake of the coronavirus
Of the 62 retailers in the Top 100 that operate stores, 71% have closed their stores, which is up 42% from store closures last week. In addition, retailers have implemented new policies for omnichannel operations, and some have donated equipment or money to various charitable causes.
Digital Commerce 360 | Online shoppers in mid-March say habits have not changed because of the coronavirus
Ecommerce habits have been mostly stable during the crisis, with shoppers split on whether or not they'll continue shopping as usual.
Marketing Dive | How brands are taking extra precaution to avoid coronavirus insensitivities
Campaigns are getting dropped for fear of associating with the virus, but an overreaction could also have its downsides.
The New York Times | Coronavirus has opened the corporate email floodgates
The email deluge raises questions about marketing practices as nonessential businesses closed shops and storefronts amid the spread of the new coronavirus.
We continue to monitor a sample of 28 U.S. retail brands that have mailed during the past 7 weeks to provide insights about email activity during the pandemic
- Open rates recover 15% during the week of March 15th. While volume sent dropped -9% the same week. However, this is not a significant decline to correlate with the raise in open rates
- Click rates also increased 20% during the week of March 15th, scoring above the average of the analyzed weeks in 2020, and also above its same-week counterpart in 2019
- Engagement kept stable during the week of March 15th, but continues to rate below all values seen during the analyzed weeks year-over-year.
Currently, 22 U.S. brands are also being monitored to look at the behavior of online sales, this week revealing a small but growing pattern. Here are some highlights to consider:
- Although transaction rates in 2020 fall in average ~20% below the ones seen in 2019, the decline cannot be attributed to the effect of COVID-19. Despite this fact, during the week of March 15th transaction rates grew 14% compared to the previous week; just 9% below the rate seen in 2019
- Revenue per email had recovered at 11% the week of March 8th; and in the week of March 15th it maintains the growing pattern, experiencing another increment of 9%, almost the same rate obtained in 2019
COVID-19 Deliverability Guidance
- Customers want to know about cancellations, back in stock and essential food/medical supply information. Don't clutter inboxes wishing customers the best, use other channels to send these types of messages (social, website, blog)
- If you have something important to say, target carefully (individuals who have not “recently” interacted don’t need to know)
Hygiene is a vital part of sending reputation
- Hand hygiene isn't the only thing of importance right now, now’s a good time to remove people who never engage with your brand
Engagement is key
- The regular behavior of recipients will change now they are home. By monitoring their interactions you can adapt sending practices to be the sender they want to hear from.
- If in doubt, don’t do it!
- Mailbox providers aren’t making special allowances for COVID-19 emails, is it worth risking your brand reputation?
- If you do make the decision to scale back on sending, remember you need to gradually increase sending when you wish to return to normal sending
Avoid bad sending practices
- Consider whether you should send the email. Is this message necessary, new and urgent? (E.g. a store closure isn't new information if the government has already announced unessential businesses are to close. This information can be posted on social media, website or blog)
- Avoid mixed messaging - having a service style message with a discount is marketing
- Only send to the standard, active portion of the list unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise. Do not send to your full database.
Redbubble — Temporary opt-out
Redbubble, an online marketplace for print-on-demand products, gives its subscribers the option to temporarily opt-out of receiving promotional emails, as it acknowledges this is a time to focus on other matters for some. The landing page allows subscribers to select from a set of given options and contains a link to the website for subscribers not willing to make any changes. There is uncertainty as to what is appropriate for brands to be talking about right now, so letting subscribers decide what they want to receive generates a sense of understanding and companionship in favor of the relationship with them.
DICK’S Sporting Goods — Contactless curbside pickup
DICK'S Sporting Goods relies on advertising its contactless curbside pickup service as a tactic to support the sales flow during the confinement, to which customers are more and more committed. The subject line reads: 🚗Free & Fast Contactless Curbside Pickup Is Here! to trigger opens from interested readers, while a dollar discount is shown on the front page to strive driving click-throughs after opening. Services in compliance with the safety recommendations that customers expect.
Forever 21 — Tips from the WFH Team
Forever 21 reinforces how much it cares for its customers by sending a campaign with positive comments and tips to safely and healthily work from home. On a secondary level, the campaign targets blouses which are showcased within a mobile device; reminding subscribers that browsing and shopping can be easily performed by this mean. Although the promotional efforts are a more sensitive topic for brands during the pandemic; considering messages that contribute to strengthen relationships with the customers is a safe bet to build longer-term equity.
Frye — FRYE x Feeding America
FRYE combined efforts with Feeding America to help support the COVID-19 response fund. The email includes a brief explanation of the current situation and the role of Feeding America's in it. Feeding America launched a fund to support food banks during the crisis, while FRYE supports this initiative by donating $10 out of every order sold. To encourage sales, FRYE offers 20% off sitewide with a promo code. Brands can leverage their marketing strategies during COVID-19 era by showing support to different affected parties.
Motorola — Hello?
Motorola executes a retention/reactivation program by utilizing an email with subject line: Hello? (same as the brand’s tagline), to catch the recipient’s attention.
Free shipping and specials are conveniently accessible to engage with enthusiastic subscribers, whereas less reactive readers are asked to confirm their wish to stay connected. The supporting message strongly attempts to spark their curiosity. Upon acceptance, the reader is driven to an opt-in thank-you site that includes social media links to expand connection. And after a few seconds, this site redirects to the main website, displaying products to encourage viewers to browse/shop
Motivational subject lines
We’ve seen an uptick in the number of email subject lines about togetherness and taking care of each other.
As much of the US shelters in place, we find brands have adapted to promote coziness and hygge.
Have fun at home
We appreciate brands shifting their content to having a good time at home, whether it be using their products or using what you already have.
Can puppies make everything better? Maybe not, but we applaud the gesture. We can’t resist a sweet doggo in the inbox and bet you can’t either.
SMS sign-up process
We’ve seen an increase in the number of brands pivoting to SMS campaigns. We’re huge fans of SMS programs and it’s a fantastic way to reach your customers. Home Depot, while largely remaining open, has taken to SMS in a big way recently.
DICK’S Sporting Goods, on the flip side, has encountered store closures and is shifting to curbside delivery and online ordering.
We’re seeing more brands leverage push notifications to drive traffic toward online ordering, updates, and more.
Want to see more? Get in touch with us. We’re happy to help and talk about how we can best work together.
Brittany Luebke is a Content Marketing Strategist at Cheetah Digital. You can find her writing through our corporate social media channels, so follow Cheetah Digital on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. She has worked with email marketing programs since 2007, and her work has won awards from dotComm, Hermes Creative, and MarCom, as well as recognition from Really Good Emails.