How Coronavirus has changed email behavior

At the present unprecedented times, everyone is affected. The coronavirus has affected the market of every type every verticle whether they’re offline or online. Email marketing behavior has also been deviated due to this.

The coronavirus has disrupted most people’s lives, changing how they work, socialize, eat, and educate their children. It has also changed email behavior in profound and sometimes surprising ways.

There has been some analysis done by Oracle that is based on 100s of millions of emails sent per week through its own CRM platform. You’ll read the article below about the current trends of email marketing in corona times.

Email open times have shifted.
Due to lockdown in most parts of the world and due to precaution people are at home more than they previously were, their normal daily rhythms have changed. That includes when they check their email. For instance, many people would check their email during their commutes on public transit. That’s no longer happening. In addition to email, the lack of commutes has also negatively affected podcast listening and music streaming services like Spotify.

What a sender should do:
Reconsider the best time to send emails for your brand. Consider running some A/B tests around send times, being sure to avoid these testing pitfalls.

If you’re using send time optimization (STO), understand that it may take a little bit of time for your STO data to capture this sudden shift in subscriber behavior.
Even though it may take several weeks for the model to learn that behavior, tests, and analysis have shown that using any data point we have on open time is better than using a default send time.

A decrease in overall email volume.
After a spike in email volume in mid-March when there was a flood of emails about store closures and other actions taken in response to the pandemic, email volume has started trending slightly downward across all verticals, according to Oracle marketing clouds.

For example, travel and hospitality email frequency is way down, which makes sense given that they’re unable to book travel and stays near-term.

What a sender should do:
I recommend that brands pay close attention to their customers’ natural buying patterns and then use email to amplify that behavior. The times of the year that they buy more, send more emails to reinforce and strengthen that pattern. And send fewer emails when they are less active to avoid annoying them.

This is still good advice, even in these extraordinary times. You always want to be in sync with your customers. So far, brands have done a good job of this, as evidenced by our email engagement data and unsubscribe data.

Email engagement is up, but revenue is down.
Open rates have increased significantly recently, driven in part by all of the coronavirus crisis messaging sent in mid-March. However, because those same messages had few or no calls-to-action, clickthrough rates were depressed during the latter half of March.

During the first half of April, open rates stabilized slightly up year-over-year, but click-through rates and revenue per email fell significantly year-over-year as recessionary pressures mounted.

What a sender should do:
It is understandable that some businesses have been severely disrupted and that their budgets are under heavy pressure, and brands pulling budget from search and media. However, data indicates that email marketing continues to perform at a high level compared to other channels. So, at the risk of sounding self-serving, we urge brands to continue using what is likely their highest ROI and best retention marketing channel to connect with their customers.

Unsubscribe rates are much, much lower.
Despite lots of social media chatter from consumers who were ticked off about brands they hadn’t engaged within years sending them coronavirus crisis messages. Unsubscribe rates have fallen by more than 50% across all verticals – Source Oracle Marketing platform.

This comes as internet traffic is up roughly 25% compared to February, highlighting the expanded mindshare available during this time.
Perhaps because they’re less hurried, spending less time commuting, and generally have more time on their hands, they’re being less critical of the emails they receive from the brands they’ve subscribed to.”

What a sender should do:
Because consumer email behaviors and attitudes are likely to fluctuate in the weeks and months ahead, we recommend that brands continue to closely monitor all KPIs and adjust their strategy accordingly. If negative metrics like unsubscribe rates and spam complaint rates start to increase and your engagement rates start to dip, then that’s a signal to adjust your email frequency and messaging.

Mobile email viewing has morphed—but only slightly.
With more people at home and working from home under shelter-in-place decrees, you’d expect that reading emails on mobile devices would decrease and that desktop and laptop reading would increase. However, that’s not true—at least at the industry level.

While reading emails on smartphones has decreased slightly, the use of tablets for email increased, But for the most part, there is no material shift in device usage patterns, which is surprising.

It appears that some email habits are hard to break, says Lauren Kimball, VP of Agency Services at Oracle Marketing Cloud Consulting. If you’re used to reading emails on your smartphone, you wouldn’t just change because you suddenly have greater access to a laptop.

What a sender should do:
Just because the overall data isn’t showing a big change in device preferences doesn’t mean that’s not the case among your subscribers. To be sure, check which environments your subscribers are opening your emails in. If you’re using Litmus or Email on Acid, this is easy to find in your analytics.

If you do see a shift to desktops, then pay more attention to the desktop rendering of your responsive email design. If you’re using mobile-only email design, consider reverting to a mobile-aware design to improve the desktop experience.

During systemic shocks like we’re experiencing now, it’s more important than ever to keep a close eye on your email marketing metrics, along with the performance of all of your channels. Use your metrics to guide your tactics and strategies. Stay nimble so you’re able to be responsive to your customers’ needs.

For any feedback please comment below or write – blogs@universityofemail.com

About the Author

Pankaj Kumar

Pankaj Kumar is a senior professional with 6+ years of experience in CRM - Email marketing analytics | Email Deliverability | Acquisition | Retention | Strategies | Budgeting | Platform and Campaign management | Customer lifecycle and segmentation | SMS | Push | SAS | Google Analytics. He has worked with a broad range of clients to provide strategic, data-driven guidance to increase email delivery, subscriber engagement and revenue. He also helps marketers through this blogs in preparing strategies, data Analytics, deliverability, and CRM with a passion for helping email marketers exceed subscriber expectations. You may connect with him on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/kumarpankaj793/

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