Use these subscriber engagement tips keep customers supported and engaged.

Whether your own company is shut down for now, operating on low speed or beginning to contemplate a cautious return to ‘normal,’ email marketers face a lot of unknowns these days. We’re all hopeful for a quick recovery; but when that will happen, and what it looks like, remains uncertain.

Even with all the ambiguity about the future ahead, we know one thing for sure: Your customers want to hear from you! 

Twilio survey finds consumers are eager to get brand emails that explain what’s changing, what to expect and how the company is faring:

Your marketing plan likely has changed considerably since January. Traditional promotions-heavy campaigns are less viable now, whether due to logistical reasons (stores and locations are closed, supply chains are disrupted) or more due to the sensitivity of the situation (it just doesn’t feel right to Sell Sell Sell!’ right now).

But don’t scrap all your ideas yet. Instead, retool your campaigns with content to keep your customers in the loop on your operations. Show them how much you value them, and remind them about the support you have to offer.

This use of email is becoming extra-important now that some states are beginning to allow certain businesses and public spaces to reopen. You must be able to respond fast to changing situations.

6 ways to stay connected with email  

The Twilio study found customers want to know how your company is taking care of them, your staff and your community. They’re looking for information, for reassurance and even for help and distraction. This six suggestions can help you stay connected until you can open your doors again

1. Keep customers up to date on what’s happening with your company

If you operate physical locations like stores, restaurants, entertainment and fitness centers and other public spaces, keep customers in the loop about openings, hours, special conditions and anything else customers need to know. Customers want to know this crucial information:

If you use dynamic content modules in your email templates, add this content there and update it in real time using moment-of-open technology that refreshes the content each time your customer opens the email.

One last thing: Customers want to know what your company has been doing to support workers and to your local communities. Share what your company has done or what you’re doing now, and be specific about what you’re doing and the organizations your company supports. We love this powerful, authentic message from Everlane featuring a program to support Feeding America.

2. Ask people what’s on their minds

What do they miss most about visiting your locations or shopping in your stores? What’s their favorite stay-at-home activity now? What do they look forward to doing first once you’re back in business?

Add a live polling function to your emails to let people vote in the email and then see immediate results. This lets people express what they’re thinking and also gives you a fresh source of customer feedback. Or send subscribers to an interactive quiz to get in on the fun.

3. Use video to create virtual events

Add video content from influencers or company experts for demonstrations and DIY uses of your products. Fogo de Chao, which is selling home meal kits based on its menu, includes a video of one of its chefs demonstrating how to prepare one of the items on its special menu. It’s a smart move because it will help customers get more satisfaction from preparing the meals.

Or, shoot video footage of daily life while your business doors are closed and cut them into four or five videos. Show what your employees are up to behind the scenes, or what you’re doing to keep everyone safe and healthy. Embed one in each of your next email campaigns. At the end, use a poll to let customers vote for their favorite video. 

Important: Use a video service that operates on moment-of-open technology to determine whether to play the video in the email or serve a screenshot with a link to view it online based on the reader’s browser. 

4. Send personalized content based on loyalty programs and engagement

Recap their past year of activity with your brand with a personalized chart showing visits to your physical locations, purchases, total spent, membership tier in your loyalty program, how close they are to the next tier and the benefits they’ll gain.

Then, send an offer that’s personalized to their engagement levels for something they could buy now and use later, along with a default offer for members for whom you have no purchase or loyalty data.

5. Freshen up emails with social media feeds

Social media is a great way to keep your audience informed with your brand’s latest official updates and up-to-the-minute policy changes It’s also a phenomenal source of fresh content. 

Keep your emails updated with the latest news, as well as new material from your social media team or user-generated content, with a live feed embedded in your campaigns. We love how Drizly uses social content here to build a sense of community and “in-this-togetherness” for customers adapting to the work from home lifestyle:

You can extend that capability to the auditory senses, too. Design a music playlist for your brand (or ask your customers for requests!) and embed it right in your emails so your subscribers can see what tracks you’re recommending.

6. Start the clock ticking

Got a firm reopening date? Or maybe another big event planned; like a huge sale at your ecommerce store, a digital concert, even a cooking class? Send an add-to-calendar invitation that people can use to add your event to their digital calendars.

As you get closer, add a countdown timer to your regular emails showing the time remaining until your doors open again. If appropriate and safe to do so, add a live map showing the nearest open location based on where your subscribers are when they open your emails. This will be essential if you are doing a rolling open, or if you have last-minute changes.

Pivoting is the ‘next normal’

Keep track of all the responses to your new initiatives, from open and click rates to unsubscribes and spam complaints. We’re all learning about what works and what doesn’t. 

Everything you do now to understand and connect with your customers can improve your email marketing down the road when you’re ready to start promoting again. Who knows – your email program could end up stronger than ever!

Use these tips to keep revenue flowing when your venues are closed.

Many entertainment centers have gone dark for now, with many venues canceling everything from individual performance to entire seasons, thanks in large part due to uncertainty about reopening dates.

But even as buildings stay shuttered, enterprising venues can stay connected with fans through regular emails that keep fans in the know about canceled or rescheduled events.

In fact, attendees are looking to email more than ever these days to stay informed, according to a new poll from Twilio. It found 67% of consumers favor email to learn about changes and updates from the brands they value the most, and 52.9% want to get critical updates about closings and how to stay engaged during shutdowns.

For entertainment venues and other companies invested in live entertainment, the challenge is keeping ticket-holders and event attendees virtually close even if they can’t be there physically. It’s important to acknowledge the disappointment of ticket-holders and to keep them informed about reschedulings, refunds and other important issues. 

A venue that’s lucky enough to be able to remain open still has work to do, especially in showing attendees how it’s keeping them safe. Here’s how email can help:

1. Going digital. Highlight events that are being livestreamed, like concerts or stage performances. Embed video in your emails to promote the streams or upcoming performances, and add a countdown timer to build anticipation.

2. Look back and ahead. Use loyalty members’ past purchase or attendance history to populate email content. Add video of performances (if contracts permit) or recap the shows they attended. Then, create offers to bring them back when you reopen, such as first crack at premium tickets, advancement to a higher loyalty tier or discounts on season passes.

3.  Keep emails updated, even after you send. Things can change quickly when your venue runs on live events. The pressure to keep information current is higher than ever. But you’ll gain the gift of the “takeback” when you use dynamic email content capable of being edited even after you hit “send.” As soon as you learn a concert is canceled or rescheduled, or a venue closes or reopens, you can change out the editable content with your new message, which will refresh as soon as your recipients will see as soon as they open your email.

4. Use live polls to keep the audience engaged: Ask your audience a poll question in each email. What was their favorite concert? Which performer would they want to see next, what other kinds of live events would they want to see? Or find out what they’re doing while your venue is closed or how they’re getting by. 

When you use a live poll, voters can see how they compare with everyone else. Bonus: Their answers can also give you great fodder for future events or ways to improve the experience.

5. Add a playlist. The action might have moved off the stage or the arena floor, but you can help recreate the experience with a Spotify playlist that you embed in the email so your subscribers can play it without leaving your message or having to open an app. Pull music, theme songs or podcasts that feature past events or represent events that you had to postpone or cancel.

Nothing can ever replace the magic and intensity of a live performance, in-person event or game, but email messaging that uses advanced personalization and real-time content can keep attendees warmed up and ready to return as soon as your doors are open.

While many consumer sectors have been able to keep some of their business going through ecommerce and delivery services, theme parks and other entertainment venues have to search for other ways to stay top of mind with their customers.

It’s tempting to cut off email communications until you have an opening date to announce, as a number of parks and destinations have done. But, now is a critical time to keep communication flowing! Clever and innovative uses of content that engage and entertain your visitors (many of whom might welcome a distraction right now) helps you build up anticipation for the moment you can reveal your opening day.

Get the guidance you need to survive difficult times and plan for a grand reopening!
Download Advanced Personalization for Theme Parks and Entertainment Destinations Now

The best part of this plan is that you probably have much of the content you already need. You just need to present it again in unexpected and intriguing ways—and preferably in a manner that saves you time and effort. Try these theme park marketing tips for your email campaign:

1. Hit pause briefly to retool. Use the time to think about what you want to say to your visitors, to gather material and think through your strategy for using email to keep connected. This will be helpful if your company needs to wait a bit to see how conditions develop.

2. Check up on your community. Use polls to find out how visitors are doing and encourage them to interact with your email. A couple of ideas: What are they doing now to stay entertained? What park features are they most excited about visiting when they can come back? 

If you use a live poll, your email readers will get instant feedback and see how they compare with your other respondents. Plus, polls give you great data to use in creating an even better experience when the parks open again.

3. Build engagement with content. Your customers might not be in the frame of mind to respond to purchase-based offers right now. So, find content that helps to take them out of the present situation and reminds them of the good times they enjoyed or tells them interesting things about your locations:

Check out this simple but inspiring example from the Oregon Zoo. When their attendees aren’t able to visit the zoo grounds, they’re “bringing the zoo to you!” through the inbox.

4. Give your loyal members the VIP treatment with personalized content. Warm them up with individualized messages that use their membership or rewards data, such as recaps of their past visits. When appropriate, offer special perks, such as advance ticket purchases, discounted season passes, membership tier upgrade and other incentives that would get your best customers excited about coming back.

5. Focus on opening day. Once you know when you’ll be able to reopen, add a countdown timer to your emails and start adding photos, videos and copy that show how the park is being refreshed and readied for visitors. The countdown timer is a graphic element that refreshes every time your recipients open your emails. It adds an element of urgency and excitement and lets customers watch how time is ticking down until they can stream through the turnstiles again. 

Engage now, reap the benefits later

This is a tough time for theme parks and other in-person experience destinations, especially those that are open all year long. Even if you can’t sell tickets now, personalized and engaging content can give your visitors a little break from day-to-day stress and look forward to the day when your park teams can welcome them back.

More actionable email marketing tips for destination brands

With advanced personalization, marketers can offer customers support through difficult times and set themselves up for success as normalcy returns. Get a complete breakdown of messaging priorities and learn how to make advanced personalization accessible and easy in this ebook for theme park marketers! Click here to get it now.