With many people now working remotely and worried about the coronavirus’ impact, it’s time to change up your email marketing formula. Focus on subject lines, word choices, and infusing the present into your campaigns, one expert advises.
The world has changed since the pandemic shut down most of the U.S. economy. That means your marketing needs to change, too, said Jay Schwedelson, CEO of Worldata, at ASAE’s recent virtual Marketing, Membership, and Communications Conference.
“What we knew to be email marketing in January is not email marketing in April,” Schwedelson said. “Forget what you know.”
Schwedelson has studied data on email marketing, including what works best in subject lines, what times of day people open emails, and what gets people to click through in the email body. He shared what’s happening now, with millions of customers working at home.
Shifting timelines. People are starting their days later. “Before March, you saw a peak in the early morning hours for B2B emails, and it dipped down as the day went on,” Schwedelson said. “If you look at [mid-April], we see a shift to a little bit later in the day. Emails are being opened at 10, 11, 12, all the way to 2 o’clock.”
Additionally, he noted that webinars starting after 2 p.m. had an 18 percent higher registration rate. “If you start it early, nobody wants to be a part of that right now,” Schwedelson said.
Subject lines. These are key to getting people to open emails. Nowadays, people want to read about the pandemic and how it is affecting their industry. “Things that are related and are acknowledging the situation are doing phenomenally well,” Schwedelson said. “Nobody on earth wants to open up an email right now that is not in some way talking about something that is going on.”
Subject-line words that correlate with higher open rates include “virtual,” “online,” “home,” “remotely,” “WFH” [work from home], “tips,” “jobs,” ”career,” and “free.” (Schwedelson’s site, subjectline.com offers free assessments of email subject lines.)
However, some popular subject lines have stopped working. “Usually, I would tell you, you have to say, ‘Time’s running out,’ ‘You have to do this,’” Schwedelson said. “You can’t really make things seem urgent. Nothing you are promoting is urgent. You can do things like, ‘Don’t miss out,’ which is a subtle urgency, but you can’t do aggressive urgency.”
Surveys. “What’s doing phenomenal right now are surveys. We all want to know what’s happening in our industry,” Schwedelson said. “As much as you want the information, the people who are filling out [a survey] want the information, too. You need to tell them, ‘We are going to share the results with you.’”
Word choices. Schwedelson said that sometimes words seem interchangeable, but metrics show one is better than the other. “Virtual” gets more opens than “online.” Offer people a “recording” of your presentation, not access to the “archive.” If hosting a virtual event, ask people to reserve. “If you say, ‘Reserve your spot’ instead of ‘Register,’ you see a 14 percent increase in click rate,” Schwedelson said. “When you say, ‘Reserve your spot,’ you are saying subconsciously to the person, there are not spots for everybody.”
Unsubscribes. Because people are working from home and many have nothing to do outside the house, they are spring cleaning their inboxes. When they see emails they no longer want, they are unsubscribing. “Don’t be freaked if your [unsubscribe] numbers spike,” Schwedelson said. “It is important to talk it through internally, so people don’t start pausing campaigns because they think ‘remove’ requests right now have anything to do with the marketing activity they are putting out there.”