When the business landscape changes, marketing departments are forced to adopt new strategies, concepts, and tactics. And now that we’re in the midst of the COVID pandemic, the business landscape is changing quite dramatically.

On top of all that, marketing spend is predicted to decrease by nearly 30 percent, and even companies like Google, are cutting marketing budgets in half.

It’s safe to say, businesses aren’t proceeding “as usual,” and they shouldn’t, especially when it comes to reaching customers and prospects. 

As a result, there’s been a clear shift in messaging and channel usage. Marketers have been forced to abandon in-person events in favor of virtual touchpoints. In fact, 65 percent of advertisers believe media spend will be put towards channels that can directly show ROI. Simply put, marketers need to make strong connections, despite a dwindling budget, and the best way to do so is to invest in channels that remain consistent. 

(Image credit: Marketing Charts)

Brands depend on the reliability of email marketing

Businesses should not stop selling and marketing, but rather double down on reliability. One channel that’s remained reliable, as well as offers unmatched ROI – organizations gain $42 for every $1 spent (left) – is email. With time spent online increasing, one-to-one brand experiences are becoming increasingly rare. 

(Image credit: Litmus)

Email offers personalization and segmentation giving brands the ability to provide meaningful touchpoints with customers. Why? They actually want the touchpoint. Customers and prospects have opted-in to receive the email. Additionally, brands that apply double opt-in practices generate an ROI of 45:1, compared to an ROI of 40:1 for those who only require single opt-ins.

(Image credit: Litmus)

Messaging during change 

When COVID-19 first hit, brands immediately shifted messaging towards a more empathetic tone, and rightfully so. Everyone, including businesses, should be aware of the potential struggles people are going through as we navigate this unfamiliar territory together. Now, we’ve entered a new phase of messaging during a pandemic: the authenticity phase. 

Companies can’t halt marketing and sales initiatives forever. It’s simply not realistic. While maintaining an empathetic tone, businesses need to be truthful while engaging, or possibly re-engaging, with target audiences. Customers must know you’re prioritizing authenticity and truthfulness over simply making the sale.

Email best practices for marketing teams to implement 

It’s only natural for a brand’s marketing mix to shift during a pandemic. Emphasizing personalized experiences, bridging the social distance, and delivering better customer care can be done with an email first approach. To ensure an email program’s effectiveness and deliver truly authentic experiences, brands should follow these four email marketing best practices: 

Remain versatile

While teams have moved towards a remote working environment, challenges have arisen for those without tools offering proper collaboration capabilities. The same rings true for email optimization solutions. In order to efficiently involve all team members in the decision-making and creative processes, teams require solutions that simplify the entire pre-send process, which includes email testing, email service provider (ESP) integrations, and collaborative email templates. This can save time and marketing spend, while also ensuring email success. 

Strive for perfection

Much easier said than done, but emails should be mistake-free every time, especially now when facing the aforementioned empathetic-authentic line. Email may be the primary channel brands are using to create direct customer experiences and foster relationships. Don’t waste the opportunity by making an error and having to send a daunting, “Our bad” email. After all, it is 16 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than retain a current one. Test, test, and then test again, all while emphasizing the pre-send process. 


Streamline your process by creating one place to build, test, and collaborate on emails. Additionally, putting email first within your marketing mix requires putting all three Ps of email front and center – pre-send, post-send, performance. Before pressing send, testing, analyzing, and allowing company stakeholders to review and approve emails are critical. Make sure to not cut any corners. 

Customization and personalization

Most importantly, make sure all emails are personalized. Through email marketing platforms, content can be easily segmented based on specific demographics or data. While everyone is receiving an unprecedented amount of digital messages, if a touchpoint isn’t specifically targeted, you won’t break through the clutter. Garner insights from performance analytics of previous email campaigns such as the times of day your emails are read or what they do after reading the email. Use this data to inform and optimize future campaigns as well as messaging across all channels.

Email is the most versatile channel for marketers to lean on through change, so optimizing processes and messages is of the utmost importance. Don’t fall behind by completely slashing your marketing budget or not reaching out to key stakeholders. Instead, make sure all touchpoints are empathetic, authentic, and personal. Now is the time to continue building lasting relationships to show customers you care and will be there for them now and through any state of the economy.

About the author: Melissa Sargeant is CMO at Litmus, where she runs worldwide marketing initiatives including corporate and product branding, demand generation, product marketing, public relations, and event management. Prior to Litmus, Melissa was CMO at customer experience leader SugarCRM and at e-commerce innovator ChannelAdvisor (ECOM). With more than 30 years of marketing experience in the tech sector, she has expertise in SaaS go-to-market strategy and execution, customer success, digital demand generation, and branding. Melissa also held senior marketing roles at Avalara, CA Technologies (Computer Associates), Digitalsmiths – A TiVo Company, Bluefire Security Technologies, and Guardent (VeriSign).