Wizemail provides email marketing software solutions and e-shot HTML templates to a wide variety of clients - SMEs, Corporate and Digital Advertising Agencies alike – all with one common requirement, a dynamic, professional, digital marketing team on hand when required.

At least weekly, one of the Wizemail team will post a tip, trick or general email marketing advice here.

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  • ICO's Approach To Regulations During Covid-19 May 27, 2020

    The Information Commissioner’s Office has, presumably under instruction, accepted that those companies with personal data are experiencing significant difficulties during the lockdown; and none more so than us in email marketing. It promises to approach the law with all the flexibility allowed, and that it will concentrate on the greatest threats.

    It’s not a carte blanche. It, quite rightly, points out that many businesses are facing acute financial pressures, and goes on to say that the law is not an obstacle to their taking a flexible approach. It then damages the atmosphere it’s created by mentioning serving mankind, but we can forgive one unfortunate slip. Let’s hope they will.

    The ICO has produced a downloadable pdf in which it explains, in the easily understood English we’ve come to expect in their publications, their approach to regulations. It is well worth reading.

    https://ico.org.uk/media/about-the-ico/policies-and-procedures/2617613/ico-regulatory-approach-during-coronavirus.pdf

    There’s a fair bit of ‘we will’, which might, at first reading, appear nothing more than self-aggrandisement, but stick with it. It states, for instance, under the heading of Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations, that the current situation could have an impact on, for example, how quickly we might respond to an FOI request. Given the information we have in our email marketing lists, such requests may become more frequent.

    There’s a recommendation, a requirement in all but name, that appropriate measures will be taken to record any such decisions, and that it be available at the conclusion of the emergency. This is probably the most significant pronouncement in the pdf. It tells us that while it will accept delays, the normal requirement for reasons for a course of action will remain.

    It is saying, and unambiguously, that there’s a limit to the lowering of certain requirements, such as timing, but that you need to be able to justify every such change from normal practice. It concludes with the statement that ‘flexibility will continue to be necessary in some areas for many months to come.’ This isn’t short term.

    As the ICO has stated, a number of times, it will continue to provide advice on compliance with the law. They have a helpful helpline.

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  • Concentrate On Expanding Your Subscribers May 27, 2020

    It is probable that your email marketing list has taken a hit during the current situation. To what extent might not be obvious. For instance, if your open rate is lower than normal, there might be any number of causes, although one might be that you subscribers are furloughed, so why should the bother with a B2B marketing email? They could be working from home and the needs of the family mean the laptop is closed as soon as practicable. Or it could be worse for them.

    If your products are not in high demand, you are probably wondering whether you should downsize or merely limit operations. There is an alternative though; go back to basics. In other words, concentrate on expanding your email marketing list.

    If you can expand your customer base, you might well maintain your level of sales, and maybe even increase them. We are told that many companies have taken a hit and are unlikely to come back any time soon. What will happen to their subscribers? A number will be looking for a new email marketing list to subscribe to.

    Some of the old methods of gaining subscribers will not be available to you, such as the old stalwart of trade fairs. Encouraging staff to engage with counter customers is not the way to go, and sign-up forms around a store are unlikely to be picked up. Face-to-face is a superb way of encouraging signups, but that’s no longer possible.

    There are ways around this. Counter customers will be queuing with lots of distance between individuals, meaning conversations are at an end and there are few distractions. Posters will be read. With a shortened online URL, they might well feel encouraged to follow the link on their phone, especially if you suggested there was a price reduction at the end of it.

    Ensure a similar message is included in counter packaging. It’s easy to forget a URL so remind them as they open their product, and mention that it was offered slightly cheaper, with no need to queue with strangers, in a marketing email last week.

    Get people onto your website, so they see the calls to action. If your product lends itself to Q&A sessions, then that can get people logging on. While they wait for your replies, they will see the benefits of signing up for your email marketing list, perhaps even a special offer for those who ‘join today’. If the answer is complicated, then suggesting you will reply in person later that day gives the benefit of you liaising with them on a one-to-one basis.

    If some of your competitors have ceased trading, or have just downsized, consider what their subscribers might look for, and give it to them. If you’ve been trading since the age of the dinosaurs, then let them know.

    It's accepted that marketing will become less busy for a while. Some firms will go under. To make sure you don’t, go after the subscribers who have lost their normal supplier.

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  • Confused By The Data Returns During Lockdown May 27, 2020

    Many things have changed over the past few weeks. It has caused significant problems across swathes of this country’s business life, so it seems a bit selfish to complain of difficulties with data returns. They require management though.

    Experimenting with sending times has become one of the stalwarts of split testing in an email marketing campaign. You probably varied days at the beginning, then specific times, and might even have moved on to subtler markers, such as weather, movements in the markets, or even birthdays. You, like the rest of us, will have tried most things.

    Now, unfortunately, the effectiveness of the data might have been compromised, as circumstances have changed. The purchasing person you knew would welcome new ideas on Wednesdays, the day before his meeting with his boss, perhaps around 11 am, just after he’d settled all the overnighters. But the meeting doesn’t occur now.

    Working from home changes the clock for us in fundamental ways. No one likes to open a B2B marketing email at 8.30 am, during the rush from the station, or just before the journey home. Many are now already at their place of business at those times. They are at home.

    Many of those who work from home split their day. They might even split working times with their partner, with one getting the kids up first thing, the other feeding them in the morning, and the afternoon generating a volte-face. You don’t need to know their details to be able to discover when they open their emails.

    You should split test now. You might well find the most popular time for marketing email opening is now hours before or after the one proved as best on your data. Don’t just change everything immediately. While the lockdown continues, you should run with the new times but soon, we hope, the situation will change.

    Unfortunately, it is likely that it will not revert, at least immediately. Some will continue to work from home, and possibly for an extended period. How many, and for how long is unknown, at least until you split-test your email marketing lists.

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  • Points To Consider About Coronavirus May 27, 2020

    I read more marketing emails than most people. Research can be fascinating, fun and revealing although every now and again it becomes wearing, irritating and frustrating. I’ve learned that there are a number of lazy norms that many marketing emails conform to. And it is hurting sales.

    Here are my observations from the last three weeks:

    1/ Don’t tell me there’s a pandemic

    How do you think I feel to be told of the existence of the subject matter included in every news broadcast since the first death? I know about Coronavirus. I know about Covid-19. I also know that they are different but linked; there can be few who don’t, and I’m not one of them.

    2/ If you know something, just tell me

    Given that some of the email marketing lists I subscribe to are rather specialist, it is likely that the companies have information that is not covered in the mainstream media. If you know something, tell me of it clearly and briefly. I don’t want to wade through a whole paragraph of preparation for that little nugget of news.

    3/ Don’t act like you know me personally

    I know companies have detailed data on me. After all, I agreed to them collecting it. That doesn’t mean we’re engaged, or even that we are buddies in some strange way, so stop suggesting that you know how I feel and that you sympathise. I know you don’t and you know that as well.

    4/ Be positive

    I’ve been told the times are troubling. I mean, I know. I, like you, have been balancing budgets, trying to cut unnecessary outlays, and ensuring funds go where they are needed, and only for as long as necessary. If I wasn’t doing such essential management, the times would not be troubling. How about being a bit upbeat? Like most things, this will end. I want to think positive and it doesn’t help being told that the world is in the ‘middle of a severe recession’ – that’s from this morning.

    5/ Cut to the sale

    A marketing email is there to sell me something. Don’t dress it up to be something it is not as that’s not what I subscribed for. I want offers. I want a bargain. What I really want is something that will, to an extent, limited or otherwise, limit the damage and get me into a good position for when this ends.

    6/ Do what you’ve always done

    What has given every email marketing company the success it was enjoying before these troubling times is following the evidence in our returns. Now is not the time to wander off into intuitive changes. You might feel that drastic methods are required given the unique situation we’re all in, but that’s all it is; a feeling. If you are wondering whether a change might help, then try it on a split email marketing list.

    Remember that you are dealing with people who don’t really want to be bothered as there’s enough bothering them already. Be positive. Don’t mention Coronavirus.

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  • What Voice To Use For Worried Subscribers May 27, 2020

    What to say on your marketing emails and enewsletters is, as always, down to what your data dictates. How to say it might have changed. The Coronovirus pandemic has, it seems, changed just about everything else. However, there are some dos and don’ts.

    The first thing to do is not mention Coronovirus, and never, ever use pandemic. It frightens people. It frightens me. Don’t empathise, don’t say ‘Oh, I know’, don’t tell them it might get worse. People don’t read your emails to learn about their problems. They want to know how to solve them.

    Don’t be definitive. If you tell someone to follow a course of action, it is likely that by the time they read it, it will be out of date. Nothing makes you look as if you’re out of touch as being late with advice. Tell them what to look out for. Tell them what you can do to help them. Show that you are intent on helping them rather than merely selling your latest product.

    Bear in mind their current needs when considering what to offer as well as the Subject Line. Home delivery might hit the spot for B2C. For B2B, there might well be interest in something that is entitled virtual, and free is always a good ploy. Be honest though; that’s as essential as it has ever been.

    Those of a certain vintage will remember a TV programme with the catch phrase, ‘Don’t panic’. It’s good advice for us. Appear calm, appear in control and show them that you are confident of the outcome. Exude confidence. The best way of reassuring your customers is to let them know subtly that you have got it cracked.

    Don’t give them additional work, such as a form to complete. They’ve enough to do. In the same way, don’t send marketing emails for no purpose, or merely to empathise with your subscribers.

    Your problems are probably similar to those of your customers. What marketing emails might you like to receive and, most importantly, open? These are the ones to send. What better way to generate loyalty than to help your subscribers?

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  • Organise Systems For Easing Restrictions May 27, 2020

    Easter was a time to forget all about Coronavirus, as well as email marketing of course, and reaffirm family bonds. That’s what I normally do. This year has been significantly different, mainly because my family stayed away. We stayed connected though.

    When the lockdown started we all logged onto Zoom, the conferencing software, and enjoyed five-way meetings. Everyone talked at once. It was chaotic, although to be fair, it was similar to the first few minutes of our normal gatherings.

    By the time Easter Sunday arrived, we’d established/ an unwritten system to ensure that everyone got a say when they wanted, and didn’t talk too long. Grandkids were an exception, but no one minded. Zoom, in conference mode, is limited to 40 minutes for non-premium users, and we found that was just about right. It was an enjoyable experience.

    One might assume that many companies with a significant number of staff working from home, for which email marketing lends itself, would have noticed the same streamlining of conferencing as users became more skilled. You might think it more effective than face-to face.

    If you can see the benefits of enforced working practices, then why not continue? Working from home has a lot of positives. Your staff might well prefer it if their systems are up to the demands. The lack of commuting is a significant bonus. Whether or not you stay with the current systems post lockdown, it will take a lot of practical and personnel management. Now is the time to prepare your staff for any new methods you feel might be preferable to the old ways.

    Discover what their views are. Come up with arguments and systems that counter their objections, but get in early. Tell them why you’ve decided that changes are required. Plan well and plan now before expectations have to be overcome.

    You must secure your data management systems. The ICO will not consider the problems caused by lockdown once it ends and the old standards will be the ones you will be judged by. Ensure you systems are as secure as they would be when office-bound.

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  • Post Coronavirus Exit Strategy May 27, 2020

    The government assures us that now is not the time to plan their exit strategy as there are too many variables. Others might think that, for small and medium sized businesses, now is the time to work out what you want to do, and what you need to do.

    Email marketing lends itself to home working as most of the functions required are completed online. However, no one suggested the lockdown would go smoothly. The imposed speed of implementation demanded new systems to be established and training for staff arranged in short time.

    We have specific concerns. The security of data was one of the most important, not only to ensure the trust of subscribers to email marketing lists is not betrayed, but also the worry of financial penalty from the ICO. The reassurance from them that they will take the circumstances of the restrictions placed on us by Coronavirus was reassuring to an extent. However, it only goes so far.

    Sooner or later, let us hope it is the former, the lockdown will be eased. Details are unpredictable, but we can assume that it is unlikely to be done in the form of raising them all at once. It’s likely to be staged. We have to prepare for all eventualities though, but there are ways to make plans that will probably be effective.

    If home working is working for you, then there’s no reason why you should not stick with it regardless of government decisions. If it is not, then find out why. You do not have to order your staff back to their desks as soon as the green light comes on unless there is some fundamental reason for doing so. Even then, it is unlikely that you will need them all to return. Work out who will be essential, inform them well before time, and ensure they are happy to do so.

    You will have been dealing with a public that has been limited in its expectations, and once they are released, their needs and desires will change. What you offer them must take this into account. That said, it is unlikely that everyone will change their methods of working at once as many companies will phase-in their own return to work.

    Whether the public will be sympathetic with poor service once it is announced that restrictions are lifted, even partially, is open to argument. Poor delivery times appear to be the norm. It seems to be accepted by and large, but you might wonder for how long. What is unlikely to be forgiven is poor performance as a result of your lack of planning. There will be companies out there on the hunt for disaffected subscribers. As you will be in all probability.

    Nothing is going to be predictable. Everyone will have to modify working practices in short time, especially for us in email marketing. Feel reassured that if you have a plan flexible enough to deal with most eventualities, you’ll be ahead of the game.

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  • Using A Blog To Support Your Email Campaigns May 26, 2020

    The best way of ensuring success of an email marketing campaign is to provide a solution to a problem that your subscribers have. It’s a basic tenet. You are telling them that you understand their difficulties, and, after some thought, have come up with a solution for them. Not only do they buy from you, but they might also look to you for further help.

    Given the current problems that just about every company is experiencing at the moment, from concerns for the health of staff, to those for the health of the company, many are struggling for answers. You, no doubt, have looked around for answers to your problems. Online searches are all very well, but even with our expertise with SEO, you’ll find an awful lot of waffle. How much better would advice be from those who know you?

    You have all sorts of details on your subscribers. You know their problems. Split them into differing email marketing lists where the variations are slight but vital for targeting.

    The place to fulfil their needs is the marketing email of course. If you can provide software and hardware for those working from home, then a Subject Line, such as Your Working from Home Solutions, is one of your easiest. However, your product might be useful to a wider customer base.

    A way to spread the word is to use a blog. You get more visitors to your website than you have on your email marketing lists. Encourage them to log onto your blog by offering the same as the Subject Line above. We all need help. Give advice on HR, security, GDPR and workflow, especially if bottlenecks are eased by way of your products.

    One thing you must not do is to appear as if you’re profiteering from the crisis. Don’t spread scare stories or suggest your product is the best thing for the straitened times ahead. If you are successful in email marketing, you’re honest. Don’t abandon that. However, it is clear that there will be difficult times for many in the coming months, maybe year or even more.

    The industry that has seen a significant growth in the last couple of weeks is media, and for obvious reasons. People want to know the news. It’s the only way they can know which way to jump. Is there a gap in specific, filtered information supply for your specific sector? If so, then go for it.

    You will know your sector. You should know what information your subscribers to your email marketing list need. Much of it will be available online, but hidden away in the chaff, just asking for someone to dig out the gold. Seek out contacts. Get them to predict, preferably just options, and tell those who find your website what you’ve found.

    Salt the blog with products that will solve some of their problems, and include a clickthrough to where they can sign up to your email marketing list. It’s not exploiting the crisis. Far from it; it’s providing a service to visitors that could generate sales.

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  • Be A Source Of Information On Coronavirus May 26, 2020

    Everyone will be concerned about the effects of Coronavirus on their businesses. There are all sorts of untested changes that they’ll be putting in place and many will be confused as to the effectiveness and legality of them. You could help them.

    They are looking for the most up to date, and dependable information available at the time. If you can supply referenced information on subjects within your expertise, that are important to your customers, they will return time and again. Your email marketing list will allow you to target your information. Do it right, and your subscribers will probably tell others.

    For instance, it is probable that some of your data protection practices will be difficult to maintain with home working and staff being ill. Write a blog covering this point, and show that the ICO has stated, in clear language, that they are aware of the need for companies to prioritise or adapt normal working practices during the crisis. The ICO were at pains to say they cannot extend statutory timescales. However, they will accept that businesses may ‘experience understandable delays when making information requests’.

    Many might be concerned as to whether they can ask colleagues if they are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19. Or how an employee might react to just such a request. The ICO states that it is reasonable on the part of an employer to do so.

    The ICO is not the only dependable source of information on Coronavirus. There’s the NHS of course. Their website is easy to navigate, and their search facility is excellent. However, it all takes time, and companies struggling to come to terms with new demands might want a landing page where information specific to their needs is laid out in an easily accessible format.

    There will be a significant amount of work, albeit short-term one hopes. You will need to ensure that everything is referenced, with a clickthrough to your source. Don’t endorse any particular information and don’t recommend a course of action. You know the needs of subscribers to your email marketing list. Save them time.

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  • Don't Change Procedures During Covid19 May 26, 2020

    Do you remember the pre-Christmas TV advert for the exercise bike? You probably will if you frequently use social media. It was slated as sexist, the assumption being that the man wanted his partner to get fit. My younger daughter-in-law was bemused. She’d have loved to have one, but the family finances enforced other priorities. But then, she’s active, sporting and concerned for her own health. I’m with my daughter-in-law; it was a reasonable advert.

    Now is not the time to panic. The systems that you have proven with the returns from email marketing campaigns are just the thing to help you through the current problems. Thinking that the Coronavirus epidemic means you should modify your working practices might be dangerous. Look at McDonalds.

    I’m all for an adventurous leap in the dark. Split email marketing lists allow experimentation with limited risks as we’ll know whether it’s a good idea in little time. However, McDonalds showed us the danger of a step too far.

    Someone in Brazil decided a clever way of emphasising social distancing was to split the M in their logo into two parts. I thought it was quite clever. It showed that their outlets were aware of the need for social distancing and would have paved the way for any markings on the pavement. The move was slated on social media.

    Some suggest that whether something is seen as reprehensible, or an initiative to be lauded, depends on who posts first on Twitter. It’s a cynical point of view. However, there’s no doubt that public taste can be unpredictable. What seems unarguable is that there would have been a lot more thought about such moves pre Coronavirus. It probably seemed a good idea at the time.

    Your systems, which you’ve tested many times in the past have served you well. They’ve got you to where you are after all. Now is not the time to abandon experience. If you come up with a brilliant idea that you consider unimpeachable, then follow the processes you would have followed in the past. Test, and if the result is obscure, test again.

    There are distinct opportunities available to all online businesses at the moment, and especially for email marketing. To ignore them is not an option. However, they should be viewed in the same way as you’d have done before.

    There seems some irritation with emails being sent from banks to customers using Coronavirus as an excuse. They are inexcusable. The same goes for us; don’t send superfluous marketing emails. They will occupy slots that can be used more effectively.

    Don’t ignore the difficulties that Coronavirus will cause your customers. Now is the time to offer solutions. However, evaluate any initiative with the care you would have used in the past. With many of your subscribers working from home, they could well be looking for something to vent their irritation on. You don’t want it directed your way.

    A marketing email that contains no reference to the epidemic, and no platitudes, might well make a pleasant alternative to scare stories.

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  • Emotion Is Still The Biggest Motivator May 26, 2020

    There’s no argument against the biggest factor in people buying, from marketing emails to visits to superstores, is emotion. All the evidence supports it. If you don’t focus on it as the main motivator of your subscribers, you are missing out financially. It is just as important in the present crisis, if not more so.

    Here are some of the lessons that have become apparent in the in recent email marketing campaigns I’ve received:

    1/ Be positive. Some marketing emails come over as the precursor to the Four Horsemen, despite doom and gloom being negative factors in buying decisions. You should not go too far the other way. Don’t promise things will be better by the end of the week and you do not encourage readers to ignore health advice.

    2/ Don’t try to empathise. A supermarket opened its email message by telling customers that it knew; ‘. . . these are worrying times and . . . you’re probably trying to carry on as normal . . .’ It then went on to mention family and friends. This is a leap too far. Get to the core of the message without preamble and give the message a buzz.

    3/ It is just email marketing. Don’t big yourself up by suggesting you feel you have a major role to play and mention your responsibilities in these stressful times. You are just doing what you always do. If you can solve one of their problems, then tell them so early and strongly. Big that up.

    4/ Keep it brief. One of the prerequisites of copy in a marketing email is that it must be uncluttered, and devoid of information your subscribers probably can’t be bothered with. Put in a link to your website. Have the landing page explain any changes that have been imposed on you by the crisis and date it to show you keep it current. Have an FAQ page. You never know, some might read it.

    5/ Keep Coronavirus out of it. Mention difficulties, problems and situations, and ignore Corvid-19. They’ve had enough of it already. Make your marketing email an oasis of normality where most things are as they were.

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  • What To Say About Coronavirus In Your Emails Apr 27, 2020

    It’s the question that many email marketing companies are pondering; how to respond to the threat of Coronavirus. Ignoring it has a lot of attraction. You won’t be wrong in your conclusions, but then you might give the impression that you don’t care about your subscribers.

    My inbox has been inundated with Subject Lines that include the word Coronavirus. Some weren’t even trying to sell me something. There’s a great risk of getting lost in the crowd, or seeming to follow the herd, but can you afford to be out of step? It is going to be difficult for all of us to find a balance. What about subscriber fatigue?

    You probably think it is a good idea to reassure your customers, the hope being that they will feel more positive and therefore more likely to buy. However, unless you have sources of information denied the rest of us, your message will be little more than guesswork. More importantly, it will show. We are all aware by now that predictions by those in the know are very broad.

    There’s a temptation to take advantage of the situation by upping prices of products in high demand. It’s one you should ignore. If the price from your suppliers has increased, say so and be honest as to how much. It’s a way of empathising with them. If it is their best interests to wait a while, or buy a different product, tell them so. It shows you are aware that they have to cope as well.

    Some of those on your email marketing lists will be especially concerned, so create a split list for an email that is positive. Don’t belittle the crisis by trying to be funny or making an insensitive joke. Be clear as to what you mean.

    What you can do is describe what you are doing, and will do, to deal with their particular problems. It’s only a slight modification of what we do all the time. The difference is that now their problems are modified by their health risks and the financial ones as well.

    I’ve had a rather clever marketing email from my regular garage. It points out that a service is overdue by a matter of weeks and that I have an MoT coming up in a bit over two months. If I book a service in the next ten days, they will pick up the car and deliver it once the service and MoT are completed. They point out, in some detail, that I will ‘lose’ a couple of months on the length of the MoT period. However, they will reduce the price by a similar percentage.

    It is slick, it is clever and it solves my problems, even the ones that were not at the forefront of my things to worry about. It’s specific to me. Not only that, it provides income for their company at a time when many people might put off such things. There’s got to be something similar in your business segment. Find it and answer your customers’ needs.

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  • Coronavirus Mistakes In Email Marketing Apr 27, 2020

    Your inbox is probably full of marketing emails which, like mine, have a Subject Line that includes the word Coronavirus. I’d count mine, but what’s the point? There are so many that it seems pointless to open one, apart from to use as a basis for a blog.

    One of the most irritating mistakes in email marketing is over-familiarity. I don’t like my forename being used when the intent is to sell me something. Mr Smith is fine by me. Imagine my irritation to be confronted by one which, after starting with my forename, continued with: ‘I hope that you and your family are safe and well.’

    This smacks of a copywriter desperate to appear concerned. Just in case I wasn’t convinced, it was followed by: ‘I know that you will be adjusting to a different way of living.’ Oh, dear! Firstly, the company knows nothing about my family and secondly, they know nothing about my adjustments. The only contact I have with the company is to register my domain names.

    A second marketing email explains that there will be no change in ‘our customer service operations’ yet it suggests that there might be a delay in response times. I wondered what the point of the emails were. Neither provided me with useful information.

    It’s a good policy to only send an email for a specific and measurable purpose, although there are no concrete rules in email marketing. What was the point of these two? If it was to prepare me for longer response times, then tell me on the landing page, or at the time of sale. We all know the difficulties.

    If you have problems with regards to telephone calls, then have an automated welcome that points this out to a caller. It won’t come as a surprise. Do something similar for contact by email. Put something reassuring, positive and mildly apologetic on your website as well.

    These companies lost a gap in their sending times for an obscure purpose, and this at a time that may cause them problems. Don’t abandon procedures that have served you well just because of the current situation.

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  • A Coronavirus Article About Email Marketing Apr 27, 2020

    Well, mainly about email marketing actually, but wandering into the effect of the virus on businesses in general. You might think you are immune to the downturn, especially if those 70 and over are going to be confined to their homes, ordering online those items they normally bought in shops. You will still need to modify your processes. The good news is that everyone agrees the current crisis is likely to increase online trade.

    There is significant bad news for us. No one knows the likely progress of the current crisis, let alone the outcome; all you can do is prepare for various scenarios.

    I’m writing this article knowing the current situation will no longer be current when you read it. However, some things are predictable. It seems probable that the travel industry will be hit hard. Airlines will struggle, no matter how well prepared, and there’s the suspicion that it will be last straw time for high streets.

    I expected rationing from supermarkets well before my local ones put processes into action. That they have implemented what is, more or less, rationing for online booking of groceries came as something of a surprise. It seems they haven’t got the necessary staff, vehicles or timeslots to take on more.

    If your products are those likely to feel an increase in online orders, now is the time to brief staff. Ask them their ideas. If they can’t work from home, then some form segregation by distance in the office is a sensible precaution. Mind you, it seems an individual coughing could infect a whole room.

    There’s an apparent consensus that working from home is the most sensible option. There are obvious benefits. Cross infection from staff is unlikely in the extreme, they are not travelling in cramped trains and buses, if indeed they remain crowded, and not grabbing a latte after standing in a queue for ten minutes is a positive.

    On the other hand, you probably haven’t got a plan of action. You need to ensure your staff are fully trained for remote working, and they should be briefed as to what is required of them. Guidelines alone are not enough. Have some form of on-demand FAQ, updated as problems become apparent.

    You probably can predict which staff members might not be able to cope with remote tech support. Expecting them to sort their own problems is unreasonable.

    Most importantly, there’s the welfare aspect. Those with an infected family member should self-isolate for 14 days, according to the present advice. Ensuring they can cope is the way to ensure they are effective workers.

    The main concern will revolve around data security. You need to have sensible, easily understood and resilient systems in place before you opt for home working. Keeping your email marketing lists and the data safe is critical at any time, but with remote supervision of staff, you need to establish rules now, and find ways of ensuring they are complied with.

    Online trade will change significantly. The nature of the change is unknown currently, so flexible planning is essential.

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  • Is Working From Home Feasible? Apr 27, 2020

    You would think that email marketing is custom-made for working from home (WFH), and you’d be right. In fact, it makes perfect sense. The government advice gives you the opportunity to implement it. Not to do so requires well-documented reasons.

    The positives include your staff avoiding the close contact of public transport and lifts. If you don’t run to a canteen, then there’s probably a coffee-making rota, or maybe someone goes out to queue in a crowded Starbucks to buy takeaways. That’s not to mention, well, many things. It’s a way to keep your staff healthy.

    That’s not to suggest you should send them home without instructions. It needs to be carefully planned or, at the very least, discussed with your staff as early as possible. It is so easy to get it wrong.

    One example I’ve heard of is where a company had cloud-based word processing. This meant that almost every keystroke could be monitored in real time. When a member of staff was asked why they hadn’t booked on the system until over 90 minutes after their start time, accusations of Big Brother abounded. The fact that a remote supervisor did the same thing in the real office did not placate the offended staff member.

    It is essential that each member of staff knows what is expected of them and when. If you require notice of flexible hours, then say so. If Kevin was woken at 5.30 am by his baby crying, and decided at 6.30 he might as well start work, if that gives you a problem, best he knows about it before-hand.

    Accept that domestic necessities are just that; necessary. If you want an online conference, then give notice. Have a response to someone in their household going down with Covid-19. Have a plan for yourself as well.

    Government advice changes frequently so your plans should be able to be modified equally frequently. Advice is not binding. If you want to go against it, ensure your staff agree with your logic.

    Have post-virus plans. It is possible that your staff might want the process to continue. If you expect to return to normal immediately, think again.

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