Is Email Marketing Having a Moment?

Email marketing open rates spiked in March and April, according to recent data from Campaign Monitor.

There was a big jump in open rates from February to March 2020, according to Campaign Monitor’s new “Email Marketing Benchmarks: COVID-19 Edition.”

And open rates in March and April were up by four percentage points year over year. That’s a 20%+ increase.

This doesn’t surprise us. Both consumers and business owners had more time on their hands as the lockdown unfolded. They also had a greater need to hear how businesses planned to support them through the COVID-19 crisis.

“Open rates are up year over year in general. The 16% change…from February to March indicates audience interest in what businesses have to say,” writes Campaign Monitor in the report’s summary. “They want to know how the brands they follow are changing their business plans or responding to the crisis, and the increase in opens shows that email is still where consumers go to hear from brands.”

Be Authentic and Tangible

We recently chatted with David Mihm, a fixture on the local search thought leadership circuit and founder of the small-business newsletter platform Tidings.

David agreed that email is having a moment during the crisis. Yet he says too many brands waste this newfound attention with endless anodyne “we’re all in this together” communications.

“This is a great time for small businesses to get into email marketing because so many brands are failing miserably at it,” David said.

He cited a better example of how to do email marketing in this environment. A local retailer he knows emailed her list with an explanation of how her business was navigating the crisis. She walked them through how she was handling her various challenges. And she ended with a reminder that she was about to take time off for her first child.

It was the kind of personal, transparent email a brand would never write.

“It was a heartfelt email that solidified in my mind that it was a business that I wanted to support as a consumer,” David said.

Localogy Audio: David Mihm on the State of Email Marketing


While David agrees email has gotten a boost from the current crisis, he doesn’t see any real change in email’s long-term trajectory. For good or ill.

“I don’t think this changes its future. You might get more people to sign up for your newsletter or loyalty program right now. So don’t abuse that privilege,” David said.

“If Facebook or Instagram didn’t kill email marketing, then I don’t think Slack or anything else will kill it either.”

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