[Editor’s note: We’re excited to share some valuable insights from one of our Selligent agency partners, Archer Malmo, one of the oldest independent agencies in the U.S. Blending discipline specialists, strategic orientation, creativity, and culture, Archer Malmo goes beyond conventional thinking, yielding strong relationships and driving real business results for clients. Here, Gokben Yamandag, Chief Digital Officer at Archer Malmo, shares some key considerations for marketers for sending emails during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.]

Email marketing is having a moment. Since the COVID-19 outbreak hit the U.S. several weeks ago, we’ve watched marketers turn to email marketing in droves. Email marketing has come out of its old-school, non-sexy status and become the most sought-after channel for marketers.

Why the boost in popularity? Because email is still the quickest, the most reliable channel for communicating business updates to customers, especially when things are changing as fast as they have been. Uncertain times call for an increase in communication and transparency, and more important than ever before is the need to meet customers where they are.

Here are some of the key benefits to email marketing:

● You likely have an opt-in email address for most of your customers as part of their relationship with you

Deliverability: As long as you have a clean list and a solid sender reputation, as much as 99% of your messages reach your customers’ inboxes

● Email messages aren’t based on algorithms, like organic social, making it a more reliable form of communication

● Email data can be easily segmented, allowing you to send more targeted messages to customers. Furthermore, data on who opened a specific email also enables you to send follow-up emails for critical information.

● Email is in near real-time. While you can’t control when your customers will open and read your email, data from our clients’ email campaigns show that up to 30% of all email opens occur within the first hour after delivery.

3 Relationship Rules for Successful Email Marketing

While email marketing is a powerful tool, we want to caution you to think twice before hitting the send button during this pandemic. Being inundated with emails from brands, schools, gyms, doctors, etc. can be overwhelming for consumers and cause them to feel weary, or worse, not feel the need to open them at all.

Here are 3 relationship rules you can use to decide whether sending an email to your customer list will be perceived as relevant, helpful, and not off-putting.

Be relevant

Is the information in your email helpful and timely for your customers?

It is more important than ever for your customers to have relevant information, such as letting them know about store closures, changes in hours, how you are taking precautions to ensure safety, or about shipment delays and changes in refund policies. In these cases, email is unintrusive. It’s an acceptable way to communicate updates to your customers.

Don’t forget to audit your automated emails to make sure they are still relevant as well. Imagine the frustration of your customer receiving your automated “Happy Birthday” email with her special offer to redeem in-store within the week—when your store is closed!

Don’t forget to update creative that might be off-putting

Are creative elements in your emails appropriate, considering the current climate? Do you need to reevaluate copy and visual assets that don’t mesh with social distancing guidelines? Is the hero photo of a group of shiny, happy people insensitive to the mandate to restrict gatherings to less than 10? We’ve all seen them. Commercials with people packed into closed environments. It was a non-issue three months ago. But now those images just look dangerous and tone-deaf. Get rid of them before you lose the respect of your customer base.

Proactively anticipate your consumers’ needs

In the next day, week or month, run all of your proposed content through the filter of knowing what we know now: That we are living the quarantine life, at least for several more weeks. Even after businesses start opening, our new norm will look a lot different than what it was before. Customers are more likely to be encouraged to put on masks when shopping/browsing in your stores, every business will need to be rigorous, ensuring customers about their cleaning practices. Of course, each industry will have different ramifications. Do you sell coffee that is delivered to homes? We’re guessing your customers may run out more quickly than ever. Do you sell fine, dry-clean-only clothing? Your customers may not need that up-sell campaign for at least another month. Think about it. Then think twice.

The truth is, these relationship rules have always existed. But they’ve never been more crucial than they are now. Tread cautiously, be honest, stay authentic, but don’t be afraid to connect if connection is what you know your customers need.