The Pandemic Jury: Email Marketers Weigh In On New And Old Tools

COVID-19 has turned email marketing on its head, presenting risks and opportunities alike, according to speakers at Validity’s Online Summit on Wednesday afternoon.

For one, email senders must contend with “a pile of noise within peoples’ inboxes,” said Laura Livingood, senior marketing manager of automation, TCF Bank. “My team has to step back and think in a new way, not so much with new technology, but with what we already have in front of us,” Livingood added. The goal: To send more pertinent email.  

One brand leveraging email basics — and COVID-19 — is IKEA. “IKEA has done a phenomenal job of plotting into your inbox with relevant convent,” Livingood observed. “Is your chair uncomfortable? Or, oh, you’re home now, isn’t it time to remodel?”

That doesn’t mean brands can ignore new technologies like Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for email, which that allows email recipients to take actions within the email without having to transfer to a web page.  



The problem with AMP and other advanced tools is that marketers often “have no idea what you’re talking about,” said Marcel Becker, director of product management, Verizon Media, which now provides AMP.

Yet AMP is an important technology, given that “25% of users use email to shop almost exclusively,” Becker said. AMP helps “keep them in the email environment,” he added. 

Seth Weisfeld, head of growth product, Pinterest, laughed that functions that were done manually not so long ago — like cutting and adding to lists — can now be performed with automation.  

Still, high-tech requires infrastructure, Weisfeld said. How do you integrate new systems? 

The best way to do that is by taking one step at the time, Livingood said.  

TCF National Bank faces several challenges, one being that it is in a heavily regulated industry and must maintain compliance. 

Another is the fact that many people prefer to bank in the branches and have “never touched the website,” Livingood said. “How can we use email to bridge the gap?, she asked. The goal would be to “get them into a more digital world in a kind way.” 

In addition to those challenges, “a lot of email marketers are not treated as equally as some other brand or marketing representatives,” Becker adds.  

How sad. Companies should treat email “as a tool to create beautiful experience for your customers.”

That means giving a seat at the table to the senders. 


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