Has email ever mattered more?

Now is not the time to be shy…

“…and then after 3 years with nothing… they sent me 10 emails over 10 days… I couldn’t believe it”

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The world is a challenging place at the moment

It’s a cold Monday morning here in the UK as I sit and type this blog post.

I’m a bit groggy because the clocks moved forward an hour yesterday and the coffee hasn’t fully kicked in yet.

It’s almost a week since the UK went into ‘semi-shutdown’ and across the world, many of the activities that we previously took for granted are no longer an option.

My wife and I are regular Cinema go-ers, loving the ability to hide away from the world for a few precious hours and inhabit a world of make believe – I fear it may be quite a while until we can do that again.

Businesses across the globe are facing challenges that merely weeks ago would never have crossed their minds – the travel and entertainment business has gone into a coma.

…but if there’s one thing that I’m sure of, it’s that no matter what business you are in, now, more than ever, email matters.

This isn’t the first article you’ve read on coping with the crisis

I’m not naive to the fact that this won’t be the first blog you’ve read talking about the state of the world… and it definitely won’t be the last.

…and I’m not here to offer direction, or provide a panacea to those businesses that have suffered most – there are cleverer people out there already on that train.

I’m merely going to point out that when the world is going a little crazy, clear communication is absolutely essential.

…and unlike most of the other channels out there, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok… an email address is still something that pretty much everyone has got – because as a platform it’s been around for such a long time.

So if you want the best chance to keep in touch with the people that matter most to your business… then email is essential… email matters.

However, the rules of Marketing don’t change… they never change

It’s interesting to see what emails are coming into my inbox since the world has changed…

I still get the spam… (don’t we all) and I still get the direct communication from suppliers and clients…

…but I’ve seen a number of new emails from people that I’ve not heard from for a while… and only one of them has left me feeling positive and engaged.

One that has followed the rules of marketing 

…and they provide a real lesson in how you should be communicating via email (and if you’re not, why not?), proving that when done right… email matters.

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The first type of new email… the “I’ve just discovered a new toy” email

One of the biggest issues I’ve seen recently is businesses who have hardly ever sent an email but are now suddenly embracing it like never before.

I got married 3 years ago and hired a suit from Moss Bros., one of the biggest suit hire businesses in the UK.

I received a receipt and thanks via email… and that was it.

No email for almost 3 years.

Then, on the 17th March I got a standard “you’re safety is of the highest importance” email (more on those in a bit) from the CEO.

…and then on the 19th March I got a sales email… and one on the 20th… and one on the 21st, the 22nd and 23rd.

On the 24th they announce they were closing online shopping… and then I got a “content” email on the 25th, 26th, 27th, etc. (some of them were repetitions).

So over the previous 1096 days, they sent me one email… and over the last 10 I’ve had 10 emails.

It’s like they’re an old relationship where they said they wanted to be married by 40… and suddenly realised they’re 39 and running out of time… and suddenly bombarding me with emails.

No effort to build a relationship – no acknowledgment of where I am on the customer path.

No understanding of me and what I need.

From 0 to 100 in no time at all.

They’ve found a new channel and are working it for all it’s worth…

…and thats not even taking into account the fact that considering it’s 3 years and I’ve not heard a peep… I’d suggest that they’re a bit non-GDPR compliant too.

This is NOT the way to email people, no matter what the situation.

The “we’re alright…” email

Another consequence of the current situation is the “Covid-19” update email.

I’ve had a load come into my inbox, all titled something like “Covid-19 update from XXX”.

…and all the email essentially says is “we’re alright”, or “we’ve moved to remote working to keep our staff safe but we’ll maintain our service levels”.

Don’t get me wrong… I value that businesses are focused 100% on keeping their staff safe at the moment – that’s the right thing to do.

…but do I really need to hear about it in an email?… Many of these businesses are internet businesses, I’d expect them to maintain service levels during this challenging time…

They’ve messed up on one of the cardinal rules of copywriting.

It’s not about them. It’s never about them. It’s about me.

I’m the customer, it’s about all the great things they can do for me.

One of my clients is a Chiropractor who’s unfortunately had to temporarily close during this time.

We drafted an email that acknowledged the pain of closing the clinic for the first time in 10 years, but explained all the good things that they’re going to do for their customers, even though the doors are closed – that’s what people want to hear.

So if you’re going to send a “Covid-19” update, make sure it’s focused on your clients and what they want to hear… not what you want to say.

The “good” email

I mentioned a good example of someone who’s moving to email communication whilst navigating this tough time.

It was a simple email, from a local business I’ve frequented.

It basically asked… times are tough, and we’re moving online. We’d like to email you and keep in touch, but only if you want to.

It didn’t overload me with stuff about them, it pointed out the benefits to me of receiving their email, it set out what I’d get… and it asked me if I was up for it.

Simple, Focused on me and Respecting where I was in the customer path.

Just what the doctor ordered.

Email matters… but it’s still marketing at the end of the day

It doesn’t matter if there’s a global Pandemic or not, if you want your email marketing to work, you need to understand that it’s purely a medium for communication.

…and one of the key tenets of marketing is Market first, then Message, and then media – not the other way around.

If you understand your customers and prospects first… and then think about the message you want to convey… and only then consider how it can be conveyed in email, you’re on the right path.

In these challenging times, email is definitely something you should be looking at to keep in touch with people… it’s one of the few tools that has extremely broad reach – but make sure you do it right.

Don’t desperately cling to it as if it’s the only thing you’ll ever do… and don’t drown prospects who you haven’t emailed in over 3 years.

Respect your customers, think about how you’d react if you were in their position, and you won’t go far wrong.

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Robin Adams

Robin Adams

Robin Adams is a business owner who is passionate about helping businesses build effective marketing systems that work and don't waste money. Having a lifetime of Marketing experience (he's got a degree in Marketing before there were degrees in Marketing!) and having worked for big and small businesses and both client and agency side, he understands not only the theory, but the systems that are required to underpin everything.
51% marketer and 49% Chimp, Robin is the main man behind chimpanswers.com and the Mailchimp Answers Facebook Group - the world's biggest Mailchimp User Group. Connect with him on Linkedin.

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