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Leading Email Marketing Through Change


Like many CMOs, I’ve spent the past few weeks navigating through our new normal and what these changes mean for Litmus, our customers, and the email marketing community. That includes how to strike the right tone with our marketing programs, while also helping out brands when and where we can through education and sharing.

While some changes in our marketing organizations and businesses might be temporary, many are likely to be far more permanent. Marketing budgets are shifting, moving from offline channels—such as in-person events and out-of-home advertising—to digital-led experiences. A recent survey from Advertisers Perceptions found that two-thirds (65%) of advertisers agree that the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic will result in advertisers focusing spend on media that can show direct outcomes. With so much changing so fast, it is not surprising that many brands are pausing some marketing channels and refocusing on their most reliable marketing programs—like email—to create one-to-one connections with their customers and foster those relationships during this difficult time.

As a brand marketer, it is important to remember that while your subscribers and customers might not be buying right now, everyone is listening and learning. This is a time that can make or break your brand, as consumers are viewing communications and actions of brands through a much more critical lens. Retaining subscribers and contacts and fostering those relationships over the next couple of months—even when consumers may not be in a position to buy—will set you up to revive those conversations quickly when the time is right.

By putting email first in your marketing mix, you can bridge social distances, create personalized experiences, and deliver better customer care. As you move forward with an email-first strategy, here are some practical tips to help ensure your program is effective and consistently delivers authentic experiences.

  1. Engage with empathy. Every email—transactional, automated, and nurtures—must have the appropriate tone and content given what is going on in the world.
  2. Don’t skip steps. The content and design of every email should be reviewed, re-reviewed, and approved by important stakeholders throughout your marketing organization.
  3. Make sure every email is perfect. This is simply not the time to send the dreaded “Oops, we made a mistake email.” Your email program is the primary way to maintain and develop customer relationships. So, every email you send must be of the highest quality, reach the inbox, and create a personalized experience. 
  4. Adapt to change and move quickly. Collaborating with remote and distributed marketing teams can be challenging, but it’s paramount to success. Your martech solutions should make it easy to collaborate on emails, automate and streamline robust testing, and integrate with your ESP to reduce manual steps.
  5. Create compelling, relevant, and personalized email experiences. To achieve this, you need to understand your subscribers’ challenges in the context of their new normal. Go beyond basic open and click-through rates to understand the time of day people read your email, how much time they spent reading it, and what they did with it after they read it. Apply these powerful insights to get closer to your customers, increase engagement with your campaigns, and improve performance of your overall marketing mix.

With so much at stake, an effective email program is mission-critical to helping you navigate through change and get the best possible results from all of your marketing channels. By putting email first and executing email marketing in the right way, your brand is better positioned to build lasting relationships, show customers you care, and assure them you are in this with them for the long haul.

Melissa Sargeant

Melissa Sargeant

Melissa Sargeant was the CMO at Litmus