In March of 2020, when the lockdown started, many businesses scaled back their operations, assuming that it would be over in a few months. We all know what happened next. Now, as businesses are coming out of a year of hibernation and restarting their marketing programs, some are finding that their email deliverability has dropped precipitously. More email is going to the spam folder and more subscribers are choosing to unsubscribe. They ask: “How can this be? We haven’t changed anything.” If you’ve encountered this problem, there are a few things you can do to alleviate the situation.
Remind Them Why
The sad truth is that people have a short memory and email is easily forgotten. If you immediately start sending them mailings the way you used to, they might not even remember who you are. This means there’s a greater chance of them clicking the spam button. See it from their viewpoint. It’s likely they are receiving dozens of emails every day. A year ago, they saw your mailings regularly and were used to it. In the meantime, they’ve been subscribing and unsubscribing from many other mailings. Suddenly, here comes your emails out of nowhere. If they haven’t kept your business in the front of their thoughts, they may assume that your mailings are from an affiliate marketer, or worse, unsolicited. “Who is this company, and why are they suddenly sending me emails?” they ask. If you’re lucky, they will click unsubscribe, but there’s also a chance they will see you as a spammer.
It’s easy enough to avoid this. If you’ve not sent emails during the past year, you’ll need to reintroduce yourself. An email letting them know that you’re coming out of lockdown and reminding them why they chose to subscribe to your mailings is a good idea. You’ll want to get across the point that you’re not sending unsolicited email and that your future mailings will have value to them. Avoid sales pitches for the first few emails. They need to remember why they subscribed to your email list in the first place, so give them something other than a sales pitch.
Few events in history brought the world together like the pandemic. We all went through it so we all have that in common. You’ll want to let them know why you weren’t mailing anything during the lockdown and that you are still in business. If it’s applicable, you can point out that you understood the hardships that the lockdown presented. You might even want to relate how your own staff dealt with the situation. A subject line such as “We’re back in our offices,” or “It’s been a while since we wrote” can help. Anything that will let them know that you’ve sent them email in the past and that you’re not a complete stranger.
One technique that works well for unengaged subscribers of any kind is to offer something at a discount or for free, however, this will only work once you’ve reintroduced yourself. Free offers and coupons from out of the blue are invariably viewed with suspicion and can be counterproductive. First, you’ll need to make sure you’ve established that you’re not sending them these offers unsolicited. Once you’ve done that, special offers are a great way to keep your subscribers engaged and bring them back to your site.
Start With the Best Bets
If you’ve set your subscriber database up for it, segmenting your mailings to distinguish the more engaged subscribers from the rest will help you get things back up and running. It will also clue you in to any changes you’ll need to make to your data. If portions of the group that were engaged before the pandemic and were interacting with your business on a regular basis, but are now ignoring you, you’ll want to find out why before opening up to the rest of the community.
No matter what you do, one inescapable fact is that not everyone came through the pandemic with the same results. Some of your subscribers may no longer be in business. Hundreds of bars and restaurants have had to close their doors permanently. Thousands of people moved on to other fields after losing their jobs. Sadly, for some of your subscribers, your products or services may no longer be relevant to their needs. This isn’t always a bad thing. While others may have moved away from what you have to offer, new people are entering the market all the time. Right now is a good time to put some effort into strengthening your subscriber list, while new people are still learning about the fields they’ve entered. You’ll want to be there to greet them at the door, so to speak.
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