I will be the first to confess, the majority of email marketing is, at best, an annoyance. Most are lacking in relevant content, contain no value proposition, and have little or no cause for engagement. If that wasn’t enough, a large percentage don’t include an effective call-to-action. Some are staggeringly inconsistent with delivery scheduling and an even scarier number are blasted out to recipients without an opt-in. That is “technically” against the law. But who’s looking, right? – exasperation sigh.

email marketing

So why, since corporate America has shuttered its doors and sent people packing, do we see the proliferation of email campaigns suddenly waking from their dusty slumber? I mean, c’mon, if they deleted your email when they were at the office, what do you think sending them three tepid promotions over three consecutive days will accomplish while they’re nervously sitting around at home?

I get it. Some marketing teams see a silver lining to this shutdown. I can just hear it echoing down dark, vacant, hallways, “Let’s get ‘em while they’re a captive audience!” – cough – That, or they’re just bored out of their skulls and think blasting emails to the non-engaged masses will bring new work in the door.

Well, I’m here to tell you, if you weren’t already consistently generating leads via email marketing, starting during a crisis is not going to do it.

So, what can email marketing do in a time of crisis?

To put it simply: Offer hope.

What people need in a crisis is hope, understanding, and relief, not a 10% discount on your damn widget.

If you’re not offering a way out, a solution to their immediate problem, a respite to their stressful life, then you’re just being an annoyance (at best). And while some may simply send your offer to the round file, others will remember your insensitivity and callousness. And THAT has lasting brand impact. When they get back to the office and need to buy in a pinch, do you think their first choice will be the company who repeatedly reminded them of their discomfort?

Got a cut? Here, let me put some lemon juice on that. Now, want to buy my widget?

Also – and this should go without saying – if you’re currently running an automated email campaign and haven’t changed your messaging or strategy since before the shutdown, you’re doing it wrong and should be tied naked to a hill of fire ants.

All jest aside, now is not the time to blast people’s inboxes with anything that benefits you and you alone.  In this trying time, you need to be the one giving people hope. You need to be the one giving people understanding. You need to be the one giving people relief. And, God willing, once all this is over, you will be remembered for your soul and your compassion. And who knows, maybe someone will need your widget (at 10% off, of course).

Food for thought.

Until next time,
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef