Developing a COVID-19 Rebound Strategy

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Overview

As restrictions lift and brick-and-mortar stores reopen, brands are starting to transition back to where they were before the coronavirus and quarantine. However, things are unlikely to ever be the same as they were pre-shutdown, so it’s important to consider how your audience is adjusting and tailor your marketing strategy accordingly. You’ll need to create a COVID-19 rebound strategy to help your customers re-acclimate during this transition period. This article will offer tips and considerations for your COVID-19 rebound strategy as well as things to keep in mind for the future.

General Tips for Your COVID-19 Rebound Strategy

When creating your coronavirus rebound strategy, consider who, what, where, when, and why you’re sending a certain message. Below are some tips to implement as you transition to a sense of normalcy:

Use segmentation to target specific groups with relevant information; for example, make your content region-specific, since you may have customers in areas that are in different stages of lifting quarantine
Send content that is creative, informative, and interactive, or that tells the story of your brand
Don’t rush into sending at your normal frequency; start off slow and then ramp up over time
Stay flexible; as countries begin to reopen, there may be setbacks or changes to the original plan that impact your messaging

Sending Frequency

It is never advisable to completely stop emailing your audience because this can negatively impact your deliverability, forcing you to rebuild your sending strategy from scratch. However, if you slowed your sending cadence during this time, do not immediately send to your entire list at your pre-covid sending frequency. Instead, start off slow, perhaps 50–75% of your normal cadence and then increase it based on you engagement levels.

Starting slow is key, as it allows you time to see how your customers respond to your messaging in post-coronavirus times. It’s a best practice to dial back until you know how your audience, many of whom might be new to your brand, engages with you.

You don’t want to permanently limit your frequency, so ramp up as you continue to receive positive feedback in the form of strong deliverability metrics. Consider doing so based on the audience’s engagement tier, increasing the frequency for those in lower tiers more slowly than the ones who are more engaged in general.

Content

Focus on telling a compelling story with your content, either about your brand or to sell a specific product or service. This can take the form of updating your content types, such as by adding podcasts, animations, videos, quizzes, and social media stories.

Give subscribers something to do (like a quiz) or watch (such as a video). Even as restrictions lift, most places aren’t allowing big events, such as concerts, that the summer and fall months are known for, so people are still going to look for ways to entertain themselves.

It is also a good time to refresh your subject lines and messaging. Avoid using phrases such as “the new normal” and “during this time.” Instead, check that you have clear CTAs, subject lines that pique customers’ interest, and well-designed emails. CTAs are particularly important; they give your audience something to do now, and many people are looking for exactly that.

Segments

When launching your COVID-19 rebound strategy, it’s important to have certain segments in place. Examples include:

Location

Different parts of the world are lifting restrictions at various times and rates. Even within the same country, location matters in terms of regional quarantine response. For example, in the US, different states are in different phases of reopening at any given time. Identify where the majority of your customers live and research how that area is currently handling quarantine. If your customers or physical stores are based in several different areas, create a segment for each so your communications can be tailored and targeted.

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For customers who fall outside of the main areas, remove any location-specific information and give details that apply to a broad audience.

In-Person Shoppers

Your in-person shoppers’ segment can stand on its own or be part of your location-based segment via an OR condition. This shoppers are those who signed up for email while visiting your store; e.g., if they filled out a form and you manually uploaded their information, or if they used a QR code.

Target these customers with information about your store’s reopening; any policy changes, such as requiring a mask or different hours; and in-store promotions.

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VIP

If you haven’t already, creating a VIP segment can provide key insight into your audience. Your VIPs are your brand enthusiasts, who are loyal and excited about your products. You can test out your communications on them and see how they respond to your messaging. You can also ask them for feedback on what content they’re most interested in receiving right now, or find what tone they engage best with. It’s also important to send details of any in-store information to your VIPs, as these are your biggest (or most frequent) spenders.

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Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

Klaviyo’s predictive analytics features give you the ability to determine your customers’ lifetime value. Once you have this information, you can choose to reach out to customers with high or low CLVs differently. For instance, you may want to send those with high CLVs more details about your store’s reopening to encourage them to come inside and shop as well as showcase new collections, while you send low-CLV customers online deals and sales. This can help you manage how many people show up when you reopen, reducing the number of people waiting in line. Further, sending store information means that high-CLV customers, who may be more likely to spend more, will show up at your store.

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COVID-19 New Customers

Having a segment of anyone who purchased for the first time during the coronavirus is helpful for a few reasons. For one, you can create a special journey for them, as they purchased under unique circumstances. This journey can help you convert them into permanent customers through targeted content that applies only to these times (for instance, focusing more on staying home or the benefits of shopping online).

You can also see if there are any differences in how these customers engage with your brand compared to customers who signed up before or after this time. COVID-19 dramatically shifted how customers shop, so you may find that your new audience responds better or worse to certain types of content than those who bought previously. Note that the dates shown below might be different depending on your area. 

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Flows

If you’ve added splits to or updated your flows to include coronavirus-related messaging, it is best to save these as templates. Having these messages saved can prove beneficial if there is ever a resurgence or another crisis.

When you begin your COVID-19 rebound strategy, make sure that your subscribers get the appropriate content. Add a random sample conditional split to your flows, copy all your existing emails or texts to the NO path, tweak the messaging to be relevant for this transition time, and then set the sample to 0% so that everyone entering the flow will get the updated emails and texts. Also, change the name of any of the emails to indicate that they are part of your COVID rebound strategy. 

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If you previously used a conditional split for your coronavirus content, do not delete it. Simply change the random sample so that no one will receive COVID-19 emails or SMS messages.

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Campaigns

For your COVID-19 rebound plan, you mainly want to get back to your regular campaigns, advertising holiday gifts, promoting sales, and sending out newsletters. Personalize these messages by location, if applicable, by showing or hiding blocks in the email depending on the segment. However, if you have a physical store, provide subscribers in that area with details pertaining to the reopening as well as general information on how you’ll handle it (e.g., changes to your hours, limitations on the number people allowed in at one time, or mask requirements). Below is an example from Arhaus.

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If you are strictly online, give an update about how COVID-19 is affecting your business, whether that is continued shipping delays or if shipping is back on track.

Iterate, Analyze, and Adapt

The COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving each day. Keeping relevant requires staying on top of any new developments as well as adjusting your tone and content based on local events and circumstances. As areas continue to transition out of quarantine, update your flows, campaigns, etc. accordingly. Stay updated on the places where your customers live so your content is relevant to their lives.

Use A/B testing to determine the best subject lines and types of content for your audience. Ask yourself:

  • Is my audience more or less engaged than before COVID-19? And is this different for COVID-19 new customers versus previous customers?
  • What types of content perform best?
  • What happens when I mention the coronavirus versus not?
  • Are more people shopping online than in-person compared to before?

Once you have answers, continue to adapt to the coronavirus and its effects. Be mindful that you may see new trends and that your audience might behave differently now than they did before due to a shifting way-of-life and the addition of new subscribers.

Future Considerations

If you haven’t already, begin to plan how you want to handle upcoming holidays/events, including:

  • Father’s Day 
  • Fourth of July
  • Prime Day
  • Back-to-school sales
  • Labor Day

Keep in mind that the situation is rapidly changing, and these holidays may look different than in previous years. It is best to focus on offering products that can be used by an individual or small group of people rather than on big-ticket party supplies. Note that back-to-school items in particular might have new requirements. Not every school will host in-person classes in the fall, or they may be greatly limited. In these cases, focus on supplies that are needed for both online and in-person schoolwork.

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