How to think about email marketing during the COVID-19 crisis

No perfect formula exists to navigate these times; the most important thing is to understand your customers, your products, and how to communicate effectively. Unless you are in healthcare, finance, or media, your traffic has likely deteriorated during the crisis, showing the need to be careful around your email strategy.

Here are a few items to think about related to cadence, content, and tone as we’ve studied the email marketing landscape over the last couple of weeks since COVID-19 rapidly hit:

traffic trends


The best thing you can do right now is to continue the cadence you were on before COVID-19. Your customers have grown to expect a certain level of communication from you; to change that now would do them a disservice. Do you send a weekly newsletter? Perfect. Keep sending the newsletter. In fact, we are seeing newsletters with some of the highest open rates of any email right now. People are craving content, even non-COVID-19 content. Keep your list engaged and informed, as Stitch Fix did by alerting customers that they were temporarily closing warehouses to protect their employees, therefore shipments may take longer to deliver.


Your interest is in sustaining and growing your business, but be sure to acknowledge the situation your subscribers are in. Don’t pretend it is simply business as usual, but keep the message focused on the value your subscribers will receive from this communication. In the below example, The Org acknowledged the COVID-19 crisis and provided some information for their email subscribers about companies working from home.


While the world grapples with the seriousness of the situation, we are all still individuals who need small pleasures in our life. Be sure to keep your tone serious, but also optimistic. Use humor as you normally would in your email marketing. If you normally use humor in a heavy way, that’s fine! Keep using humor — your subscribers have grown to love it, and they may need it at a time like this.  In the Chubbies newsletter below, they show a familiar site to those of us working at home: an awkward-looking Zoom call. Chubbies is known for its humor in content; here is another example of sticking to the brand’s core while still acknowledging real life.

Don’t play off the fear and unknown in the world. Don’t try to sell something that will help with COVID-19. Stick to what you do best; maybe it will be that the best and most reliable companies are the ones who come out on the other side.

Author avatar
Will Pearson
Will is the co-founder of Scalero, a lifecycle marketing studio.