The COVID-19 Email Surge: One Out Of Every 15 Emails Now Mentions The Crisis

Is your inbox filled with COVID-19-related emails? You’re not alone.

One in 15 marketing emails now contains COVID-19 content, says Greg Kimball, senior director of product management at Validity, speaking at a webinar titled The State of Email on Wednesday. 

Two weeks ago, the percentage was 2%. Last week, it peaked at 7%, with the rate dipping on weekends, Validity has found in its regular tracking of trillions of emails. 

In addition, COVID-19 messages have placed 2% higher in inbox deliverability than non-COVID-19 content. And they are 11% less likely to be marked as spam. 

However, people were 10% more likely to open COVID-19 emails over other messages on weekdays four weeks ago — now it’s closer to 7%. But they are 30% more prone to do so on weekends.

There has also been a dramatic switch in keywords. The concentration two weeks ago was dominated by standard marketing words such as new and now.

But today, the leading words are COVID and coronavirus, along with words that convey sentiment, like safe, community and together. As Kimball says, “Senders have shifted to more empathetic tones.”

Perhaps predictably, the education, government, manufacturing and distribution sectors are “carrying the weight on the proportion of emails,” Kimball adds. Also, COVID messages now make up 17% of real estate emails. But the travel and gift businesses are far down the list. 

One danger sign is that senders are dipping deeper into their databases and emailing to less engaged people. “That will come back and bite us later,” Kimball says.

They are also greatly increasing their volume. But the Gmails and Yahoos are looking for “consistency in volume and cadence,” says Bonnie Malone, VP of Customer Success.

Malone adds that when when you are changing cadence, “it’s difficult to abide by best practices metrics.” The trick is to go to the best, most engaged subscribers when hiking volume, she adds.

What kind of emails should you send? Emails that have a human side. Don’t put your CEO’s name in the from line — it’s the brand that your customers with whom you have a relationship. 

“Express empathy,” Malone says. “Use your brand voice.” 

One email that does this is from the UK newspaper The Telegraph. It says: “You are not alone,” and offers a newsletter filled with “a daily dose of good news.” 

And Loft shows its human side with an email, saying: “Hi, from us to you.” It features photos of employees.

Yankee Candle uses the term “Scents of Comfort” and offers valuable content while using the salutation “Dear Friend.” 

“Dear Friend,” the most ancient of email greetings, used by frauds and legitimate companies alike, now has a new meaning.

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