Covid-19 is causing a tremendous impact on online marketing. The pandemic has transformed how we interact with one another, make purchasing decisions, and consume advertising. These seismic shifts in consumer behaviour have accelerated trends already on the rise pre-pandemic. 

For the past couple of decades, online marketing became a dominant strategy for modern businesses to reach their audience. It has come a long way since the turn of the millennium when it accounted for less than 2% of ad spending. In fact, 2020 became the inflexion point when online advertising overtook traditional media for the first time.  

However, most companies are feeling the financial cost of the pandemic, especially SMEs. Statistics show that 78% of SMEs in Australia are reporting a decline in revenue, and 72% are concerned about business survival. 

With so much uncertainty, businesses find themselves at a crossroads trying to determine the best approach for post-covid operations.  

Many companies are cutting costs wherever they can, and marketing is no exception. With the rapid shift to online purchasing and eCommerce accelerated by the pandemic, it makes sense for businesses to focus their marketing strategy online. 

One of the best tools available for businesses looking to improve their online marketing is email. 

How Covid Affected Email Marketing

With businesses trying to maintain revenue and continue to engage with customers amid the pandemic, the spike in the number of marketing emails sent is not surprising. What is surprising, though, is that even with the higher volume of marketing emails, engagement metrics also increased. 

According to Acoustic’s Covid-19 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, between February and May 2020, there was an increase of almost 50% in emails sent by consumer product companies.  

Given such a dramatic rise, it is expected that email marketing’s performance will diminish as inboxes become swamped with incoming marketing material. But engagement metrics were up in 2020 compared to previous years. In Australia, open rates were 20.6% in 2020 compared to 18.7% in 2019, and the click rate increased from 2.8% to 3.1%. 

Banner - Email Marketing

Understanding Consumer Behaviour During the Pandemic

Consumer behaviour during the pandemic

The pandemic has produced the most dramatic shift in consumer purchasing habits. With the health risks of in-person activities, consumers chose to buy everything online from the safety of their homes. Many people, particularly older, less tech-savvy demographics, became first time online shoppers during the pandemic. 

Online purchasing and the ecommerce market was already on a high growth curve. The Covid-19 outbreak supercharged this trend. 

In 2020 there was an estimated 13.9% increase in e-commerce payments in Australia, reaching $52.2 billion. The Australian Bureau of Statistics stated online sales registered a 55% rise in December 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. 

And many consider the genie out of the bottle now with regard to online shopping. While in-person purchasing is seeing some bounce back, we will never get back to how things were pre-pandemic. 

Businesses need to double down on their online marketing efforts in this post-pandemic world, and email is standing out as one of the best tools available. 

How Email Marketing Impacts Buying Habits

How email marketing impacts buying habits

Email marketing impacts buying habits in numerous ways, including: 

  • Making customers aware of new products/services. 
  • Showcasing time-sensitive promotions to increase the likelihood of purchases. 
  • Providing helpful information and tips about products or related topics. This can improve your reputation and position your company as an expert in a field. 
  • It can create two-way communication with your customers by asking for feedback in the form of a survey or a simple rating. This continues the interaction and makes customers more likely to purchase again. 
  • You can personalise the content you send to your mailing list with email marketing based on previous interaction and market segmentation. This could be offering specific product recommendations or something as simple as addressing them by their name. 

With email marketing, you’re targeting an audience who have shown an interest in your product and whose purchases are up for grabs. 

Given the struggles that companies are currently facing, it is essential now more than ever to get the most out of your marketing spend. Email marketing offers the highest ROI compared to all other online marketing strategies, with an average ROI of $38 for every $1 spent. 

While this sounds great, it is important to remember that this is an average, and there are large fluctuations in how email marketing campaigns perform. For example, 18% of companies achieve over $70 ROI per $1 spent, while 20% return less than $5 for every $1 invested. 

Email marketing is an excellent tool for reaching customers. Given society’s drive towards online purchasing, successful email marketing campaigns can offer a potential lifeline for a significant number of small and midsize businesses out there. 

READ: 8 Automation Tools to Enhance Your Email Marketing Campaigns

What’s Next for Small and Midsize Businesses?

What’s Next for Small and Midsize Businesses_

So, it is clear the pandemic has made online advertising and email marketing even more important for generating new leads and driving revenue. But what are some actionable steps for your SME to take advantage of this? 

Understand how your audience has changed

Understand how your audience has changed 

It is critical to understand how your audience has changed since the pandemic. Many in your mailing list are more likely to be operating on a tighter budget compared to before. And the online marketplace gives them access to a vast array of options for every purchase.  online 

Online audiences are willing to spend more time searching online to find the best deal. Other priorities for consumers post-Covid include convenience and availability. 

While there is an increase in customers embracing digital trends and spending their money online, many repeatedly switch it up and try new brands. Using email to understand the customer experience is vital to find out why people might choose to switch and get ahead of the game to prevent it from happening. 

Use email marketing to boost customer experience 

Use email marketing to boost customer experience

Following on from this, email marketing is an essential tool for boosting customer experience. As we mentioned, the past months have seen many new online shoppers. For businesses to maintain these new online customers, they must do all they can to produce an enjoyable experience. 

Successful customer experience goes beyond simple online interfaces, speedy deliveries, and low prices. Your tone of voice and email messaging can go a long way to improve a customer’s opinion of your brand. 

Three simple things to keep in mind for a great customer experience are: 

  1. Keep a customer-centric approach
  2. Focus on the benefits
  3. Make your customers feel valued with personalisation 

Personalisation is key

With personalisation and segmentation, you can separate your email marketing from the competition. Many businesses see enough ROI from email marketing but they don’t take the extra step to maximise their return. 

Every customer is different and developing an email marketing strategy catering to your audience’s specific needs will improve your chances of closing a sale. 

You can personalise your emails based on various data, including: 

  • Past interaction with product/services, website, or emails 
  • Location
  • Preferences previously provided
  • Whether they are a prospect, regular customer, or someone with long periods between purchases.
  • Feedback/surveys from past interaction 

Incorporate analytics

Taking advantage of the data your email campaigns produce gives you a better chance to succeed. By collecting valuable data, you gain insights to help produce successful email campaigns in the future. Examples of this data include: 

  • Open rates 
  • Click-throughs 
  • Conversions 
  • Bounce rates 
  • Unsubscribe rates
  • Forwards 

Analytics can drive success in several areas, such as: 

  • Subject line testing 
  • Send time optimisation 
  • Targeting customers who show interest but didn’t purchase 

Get your business ready for the future of email

The pandemic and the surge of online purchases that accompanied it have led many businesses to start and boost their email marketing presence. It is crucial to position your business ahead of the crowd. A great way to do this is to get some help from experts. 

Get in touch today and learn how Crazy Domains Email Marketing can boost your company’s email marketing ROI.