We are excited today to share this guest blog from Amanda Hueneke, President of Hello Imprint LLC! From when we first opened her e-mail with suggestions on how to repurpose promotional items (previously destined for tradeshows), to receiving one of the Hello Imprint “Happy Boxes” mentioned below, Amanda has stood out with her creative marketing strategies over during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Below she shares her experience and provides practical and fun suggestions for how to keep your customer engaged through emails, even during a crisis.

Six Tips for Cultivating Client Relationships through Email Marketing

Back in December, right before New Year’s, I started contemplating a word for 2020. I’d never done that before, but my husband and I were coming off a rough year and a half with some financial struggles due to his extended job loss. To be honest, I had a very bad attitude about the whole thing, and I couldn’t seem to shake it. I was trying to be grateful, but really struggling, until one day the word came to me… OPPORTUNITY. I have the opportunity to shape how I view the situation, how I react, how I plan, and how I pivot.

Little did I know how the word OPPORTUNITY would be put to the test. Little did I know how I would have to look for new and different opportunities for my small business to thrive during this COVID-19 crisis, but here I am. Reacting, planning, and pivoting. Marketing during COVID has its unique set of challenges as you can’t pop into a client’s office, and you really you can’t even send them anything if you don’t have their remote addresses. I’ve been asked to share a little of what I’ve been doing to help “pivot” my marketing during this crisis- particularly with email marketing. I

Your email marketing is not meant to be just a tool to “sell” and it definitely shouldn’t be exclusively that at a time like this. Marketing is about forging and maintaining a relationship between the client, you, and your brand. Taking care to thoughtfully check in on clients, address their needs and concerns, and offer them something different is so important right now. Here are a few ideas implemented into my content. Bear in mind that they should be sprinkled throughout several emails, not necessarily all at once.

1.) Create A FAQ email: Consider the frequently asked questions you are getting on a regular basis from clients as how COVID-19 is or is not affecting your business and services.  Compile these into an easy reference FAQ email. In my case, I addressed the “hot products” that are hard to get right now, i.e.- hand sanitizers. I also addressed office hours and status, production times, how long the virus could live on products; and the delivery interruption of some Hello Imprint boxed samples I had built and promised for each customer. It is important to convey your company’s stability and accessibility during these times, and this email is meant to reassure and inform.

2.) Can the canned. Be careful of using language that has been over played- “unprecedented”, “uncertain”, “new normal” are good examples. They lack creativity and I think we’re honestly all starting to cringe at them at this point. Pull out a thesaurus app and replace words and phrases that have been played out. Accounts and clients with whom you have a solid personal relationship do not necessarily call for the more formal boxed responses. If you wouldn’t use language like that in person- consider writing it in the voice that your client would be familiar with. Carry the tone of your brand throughout your emails in all cases.

3.) Practice empathy and compassion. Everyone’s situation looks different right now- be mindful that what might be a booming time for your business might be a crisis for theirs. Families and individuals may also be facing financial and health difficulties. Be sensitive to those. Maybe even share some of your personal vulnerability. This could be particularly important in the case of non-profit sectors.

4.) Weave story telling components into your email. Bonus if they are delightful, humorous, or happy. We are inundated with some heavy information on social media and television right now, and clients are looking for something to lift them up. Be the breath of fresh air. Share pictures of your remote working situation; sneak in a story about the battle for the webcam between all four of your family members who need to e-learn and zoom. Take a picture of your remote “coworkers” ie- pets.

5.) Consider doing a fun survey for your clients. This is an OPPORTUNITY to get to know your clients, gain some fun info graphics for your social media, and in doing so- ask permission to gain access to their remote working address so that you can send them a gift or happy mail. For this, I did a “This or That” survey that had absolutely nothing to do with promotional or marketing items- just purely fun feedback from clients. I asked questions like- coffee or hot tea, favorite happy hour beverages, and how they spend their “down” quarantine time. My subscribed email list got the survey request first- those who replied with to the surveys with their remote addresses will be receiving a HI happy box- and I’m putting in something from their favorites on the survey.  Then I offered the survey up on Facebook- for Hello Imprint fans who may not necessarily be my target market- but they send me referrals. I then placed a call to the survey on LinkedIn with a more business-y feel. I have been able to use the feedback from the survey for fun graphs and charts of my HI fan favorites. I noted that email subscribers received a different offer to encourage new email subscriptions and drive traffic to my website. I had a very high open rate on this email, and received several personal emails thanking me for the survey.  I’m very excited that I now have ways to reach out to clients in new, more personal ways (although not by showing up on their door step unannounced-ha!).

6.) Create a tip sheet email:  Think of each segment/market of your clients- and how this crisis might be creating unique challenges to their industry. How can you help solve their challenge/problem? Create a “tip sheet” email that is specific to each of their businesses- for this you may want to create “subgroup” email lists by industry.

I hope that these ideas give you renewed hope in the opportunities that are there with email marketing. If you find these useful, I’ll be sharing more pivot marketing tips in future blogs on my website, LinkedIn, and email distribution lists, so please feel free to follow and sign up. Also, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]  if you have specific questions  relevant to your marketing or promotional needs. I look forward to helping you find a creative way to say hello!