Posted by Elena del Valle on September 18, 2020
By Joy Gendusa
Joy Gendusa, owner, PostcardMania
In this new pandemic age, many businesses felt the impact of COVID-19 in a major way, including my own, PostcardMania. The first wave of mandated closures wreaked havoc on our bottom line, dealing a massive 41 percent hit to weekly revenue earnings. Instead of sitting around waiting for our luck to change, however, we took several pivotal actions that allowed us to rebound to pre-crash numbers and have the best summer in our 22-year history.
The first thing we did was look around at all the coronavirus information overflow and say, “Holy smokes, we need to help our clients filter this and find relevant information.” (Small businesses are our primary clientele.) Small businesses were hugely impacted by the pandemic panic and mandatory shutdowns, and we wanted to help them find information that would help them stay afloat and maybe even thrive during period in history.
So we took it upon ourselves to create a Coronavirus Small Business Guide as a resource to assist loyal subscribers and small business owners all over the country. We updated it daily, filling it with helpful and relevant information and links pertaining to business management, loan assistance, marketing help, and more.
Our goal was to help the small business community, not financial gain, which is why it was even sweeter when we generated a whopping $117,514.21, just from these emails.
The following is what made these emails successful, and what you can do to implement it into your own benevolent email campaign.
Emphasize quality content and actually being helpful
I understand the temptation to try and sell your products or services within these benevolent emails. I know our blog and website is stuffed with promotional copy. However, genuinely altruistic content strikes a chord with people. In this over-saturated world of marketing, it seems that authenticity is what stands out above the rest.
The thing is, quality content is increasingly difficult to come by. Our small business guide is over 15,000 words and practically became a full-time job for the content team. We closely monitor the Small Business Association (SBA), Personal Payroll Protection (PPP) loan, and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) updates. We made sure to update our guide with every kind of free resource available for small businesses. At one point, we were even following the reopening process in every single state.
However, the results speak for themselves. We made over 100 grand without spending a dime. Income is a byproduct of excellent service. Put the service first, and if it really has your customers in mind, a financial outcome will follow.
State the purpose upfront and be direct in your subject line
Even if your content is amazing on all fronts, if the recipient of your emails doesn’t engage with your headlines, it’s all for naught. We made sure people knew we weren’t trying to sell them something by including “COVID-19 Update:” at the start of every subject line. This not only cemented these emails as newsworthy with the recipients but also kept them out of the promotions folder.
The effects were apparent, these emails performed much better than our usual funnel emails, averaging a click through rate (CTR) of 6.6 percent for prospects and 8.4 percent for customers. This is an improvement of 1.2 percent and 2.2 percent (respectively) over all other email types. Open rates were much better, too, jumping 3.1 percent for prospects and 3.2 percent for customers over our usual open rates.
The content itself was likely a significant factor in the open rates as well. Once the recipients started to realize this wasn’t an elaborate marketing campaign, they were probably perfectly content to read each update’s relevant information.
Ensure someone is on the other side of the line for responses
This is a vital step to transform your benevolent content into client conversions. Never use an email like “no-reply@” because you never know what potential sales cycles could come from those replies. Our subscribers often had inquiries about the updates or other general COVID-19 questions. We ensure that every email response goes to the consultant to whom that account is assigned, or even to me directly if that’s where the email comes from. Never be too important for customer service.
Also, try your best to rake through your database and eliminate any dead or general email addresses, info@, noreply@, contact@. All of these will count against your open rate. This is a significant component of open rates, as engagement rates affect the webmail server algorithm that determines if your emails are spam or not. If you send it to nobody, that’s an automatic loss for your rate.
I suspect these kinds of benevolent campaigns will continue to grow in popularity, as the world is becoming more and more desensitized to traditional marketing methods. It seems amongst all the lucrative marketing efforts out there, some of the most effective simply require you to be a good person and make an effort to help the community.
Joy Gendusa is an entrepreneur, business owner, author, keynote speaker and philanthropist. With only a phone, a computer and postcards (no funding of any kind), Joy grew PostcardMania from a small startup into an industry leader that generated $62 million in 2019 and currently employs 285 people in Clearwater, Florida.