While the rest of the world was recoiling from the shock and awe of the Covid-19 pandemic, the world of email marketing was enjoying a bit of a boom time.
With offices closed, life transitioned to the digital sphere, completely changing the way we engage with our communities and do business. Email marketing, which represents sending messages to potential or existing customers via email, became a necessity.
The question is: did the end of the world lead to an end of email marketing as we know it? Have the pandemic and the ways we behave and communicate during it altered the landscape of email marketing as a whole?
It’s certainly changed the way we behave and communicate, and it’s forced businesses to adapt and innovate. As a result, we’re now experiencing an evolution of email marketing, as businesses discover new ways to engage with customers and drive sales in new and interesting ways.
A Business-To-Business Market
Traditionally, email marketing has been a business-to-consumer (B2C) affair, with businesses regularly sending messages to potential or existing customers, either to encourage them to buy their products or to update them on the latest news and offerings.
However, as social distancing restrictions have relaxed, businesses are now active in the business-to-business (B2B) market. This represents a shift in mindset and approach, with businesses prioritising cross-selling and upselling instead of just keeping in touch with existing customers.
The result is that businesses, whether online or offline, are now engaging with their customers via email, regularly following up with relevant, personalized messages to drive sales and maintain relationships.
Email as a Customer Engagement Tool
This brings us to the first significant change in the way we use email as a result of the pandemic: we’re now seeing businesses using email as a customer engagement tool.
This is a subtle, but significant difference: historically, businesses have used email to simply promote their products and services, but now they’re using it as a means of directly engaging with customers and getting something back.
An example of this comes from the financial services industry, where firms such as Monzo, N26, and Revolut have all implemented customer engagement platforms built into their email marketing programs.
These platforms, which serve as automated customer care hubs, enable businesses to engage with customers via email in a way that wasn’t previously possible. For instance, Monzo’s email marketing template includes a survey asking customers about their current and past finances. As well as using email to promote their products and services, they can also use it to directly engage with customers and get some valuable feedback.
Similarly, the N26 email marketing template includes a brief survey about the customer’s demographic and financial information, as well as a discount code for Future Family, a parental review platform that N26 owns. The firm uses this platform to get reviews and feedback from parents regarding their children’s education, which they can then use to improve relevant areas of their business.
Revolut, an international payments app that lets users pay, exchange and save money in over 150 countries, adds an extra layer of personalization to its email campaign. As well as using A.I. to choose relevant offers and discounts, they can also include personalized stories and jokes to further engage with their customers.
One area that has seen significant change as a result of the pandemic is mobile first.
Since businesses cannot meet in person, they’re turning to their mobile phones to make or break their interactions with customers. In the past, businesses would design an entire website and post updates via social media. Now, with more people turning to mobile phones to get information, they’re taking this platform into consideration when creating their digital marketing strategy.
This is evidenced by the fact that while websites receive the vast majority of website traffic, mobile sites receive 62% of all visits. Not only are people engaging with businesses via mobile phones, but they’re also visiting brands’ websites on their devices more than once.
According to HubSpot Blogs research, 42% of consumers have visited a business’ website before buying something from that brand, while 16% have used a phone app to make a purchase. This points to the growing importance of mobile phones in our digital lives, and it highlights the fact that businesses need to be present on as many platforms as possible to ensure they reach the greatest audience.
Another change that has stemmed from the pandemic is the increased use of personalized messages.
Brands find that customers are more engaged with content that is personally addressed and, as a result, are twice as likely to purchase a product or service after reading a personalized message.
This is why direct-mail marketing, which typically involves sending individual letters or packages to customers, has seen such a boom in the last year. Companies like Pipedrive, Nordstrom, and J.Crew send luxury brands’ catalogues to selected customers, while businesses like HelloFresh and Blue Apron send targeted emails regarding fresh food and meal delivery respectively.
Businesses can also tailor their emails to individual customers using tools such as A.I. and machine learning, with the result that marketing emails become more personalized, engaging, and valuable.
Another significant difference between pre-pandemic and post-pandemic marketing is in the way content is evolving.
Thanks to the rising popularity of podcasts and other creative content, businesses are taking advantage of the opportunity to educate consumers about their products and services in a new and interesting way.
For example, Skillshare, a platform that connects students with learning opportunities relevant to their careers, recently launched a podcast to educate their audience about the financial services industry and the products and services offered by leading financial services firms. Called The Skillshare Podcast, the series interviews top executives from Fidessa, Monzo, and Schroders, as well as other prominent figures in finance and economics.
This is a great example of how content is evolving to be more engaging and educational, as well as to provide customers with the information they need to make better decisions.
Perhaps the greatest advantage of the internet is that companies and individuals can now communicate with customers in real time, across different platforms.
With websites taking the place of traditional print media, businesses can more effectively engage with customers by responding to their queries and comments directly within the digital sphere.
This brings us to our next significant change: with businesses operating in a more digital sphere, customers have more contact points and can expect more immediate responses.
In the past, companies would design a website and, assuming the website was relevant and informative, would update it every few months.
Since the emergence of email marketing, businesses could send out an email regarding a new product or service, but would only receive customer feedback once the email had been distributed and customers started to comment or express an opinion. Now, with more consumers accessing information via their phones, businesses can integrate with their favorite digital platforms to directly engage with customers.
This more real-time nature of the digital sphere allows businesses to both educate and entertain customers, increasing the likelihood of them making a purchase.
Thanks to modern-day marketing analytics tools, businesses can now track the success of their marketing efforts and adjust their strategy accordingly.
Although business leaders have always had the ability to monitor the performance of their marketing campaigns, the world of digital marketing afforded them the opportunity to do this on a mass scale, presenting both opportunities and challenges.
The opportunity is that campaigns can be adjusted and tweaked, and improvements can be made based on what is working and what is not.
The challenge is that adjusting and improving a marketing campaign can be a long and arduous process that requires much trial and error. Furthermore, since marketing strategies evolve over time, businesses need to be vigilant in preserving the original strategy while also making improvements based on new information and insights gained from actual measurement and analysis.
Covid-19 Changed Everything
The pandemic has undoubtedly altered the world of marketing. Not only are businesses re-evaluating their strategies and approaches, but so are customers.
Customers have become more discerning, requiring businesses to evolve alongside the pandemic. While the rest of the world was focused on staying indoors and physically distancing themselves from others, customers wanted to be able to engage with businesses via the internet and mobile phones.