Retail Email Marketing: Harnessing the Engagement of Email in a Post Pandemic Retail Season


Is the future of retail digital, and direct-to-consumer? We don’t predict the end of retail foot traffic, but there absolutely has been a shift post pandemic. There is a massive demographic and workplace shift occurring that will profoundly affect the way retailers interact with customers and prospects, especially in retail email marketing. 

After having successfully performed their jobs from home for a few years now, millions of people are realizing they don’t have to go into an office. Having witnessed their employees perform well at a distance, many employers are realizing they don’t have to pay for nearly as much commercial office space as they did pre-panemic. 

People are abandoning big cities in droves for the suburbs or even for other states. If someone can do their Manhattan-based job from upstate New York, they can surely do it from North Carolina—as long as they have high-speed Internet. 

As people shift their work habits and living arrangements to be more digitally dependent, their shopping habits will evolve as well and retail email marketing will become even more important. This means: 

  • fewer fill-ups at the local gas station, 
  • no more morning coffee and biscuit from your favorite quick-service cafe,
  • an end to casual business lunches at your favorite fast-casual restaurant,
  • no more lunchtime browsing at the drugstore, and 
  • an end to swinging by the grocer or dry cleaners on the way home from the office.

When we work from home, we have the world delivered to our front door.

According to the Deloitte 2021 Global Marketing Trends report, 63 percent of those surveyed believe they will rely on digital technologies more than they did prior to the pandemic even well after it subsides.

Also, more than 70 percent of survey respondents agreed they valued digital solutions that deepened their connection with other people. Fifty-eight percent of respondents could recall at least one brand that quickly pivoted to better respond to their needs, and 82 percent said this led to them doing more business with the brand.

These insights have profound implications for retailers. As consumers rely more heavily on digital communications, retailers will have to respond in kind. They’ll have to leverage the intimacy that email can create when used to its potential.

The answer is data: clean data, good data, more data.



Clean Data & Retail Email Marketing

Retailers will not be able to afford deliverability glitches in their email programs moving forward.

This means getting the gremlins out of their email files. Building a good email file can take years. Destroying it can take about 10 seconds when suspect records are allowed in or allowed to remain in a file.

Retailers must be on constant guard against potential threats to their deliverability. Retail email marketing is no walk in the park with the number of spam traps, addresses with typos, throwaway and garbage addresses supplied by consumers, and abandoned addresses supplied by unknowing (and sometimes knowing) subscribers.

In the coming months, there may be a need to have ongoing communications with customers about package shipping and delivery for the holidays.

During the pandemic , international parcel carriers like FedEx and UPS have already experienced holiday-shopping-like spikes in demand. Now two years in and we are rounding the corner on the third holiday post pandemic, we can only expect to see demand for shipping services spike even further.

Are parcel carriers prepared for the coming spike in package delivery demand from the previous years of experience? It’s impossible to know. All retailers can do is be prepared for shipping delays by being ready to communicate with customers about them quickly and honestly in order to manage expectations.

If there are widespread shipping delays, just add email deliverability issues resulting in an inability to communicate with customers, and we’ve got a recipe for a retail holiday shopping disaster.



Good Data in Retail Email Marketing

In years past, retailers primarily used email to drive foot traffic. Of course, they’ll still use it to drive foot traffic, but it’ll now take more than their traditional retail email marketing strategies.

As people value digital solutions that deepen their connection with other people, they will also value digital solutions that deepen their connection with their preferred retailers. Or rather, retailers that work to deepen their connection with customers digitally will naturally become those customers’ preferred retailers.

In order to do this, retailers will have to know with whom they’re communicating. Who is this person? Is this their primary email address? What else can we know about them besides their email address and purchase history? Who else is in the household? Who do they buy from when they’re not buying from us?

More Data

Retailers understandably tend to focus most of their efforts on their best customers; say, the top 20 percent. They also typically work to move customers up from the lower quintiles of their files into the higher ones—all standard stuff.

Given the tremendous digital shift, we’re seeing, what if a significant percentage of new customers coming into a given retailer’s file don’t look like the ones who are already there? There’s a good chance they don’t.

This isn’t necessarily a difficult challenge; it’s an opportunity—an opportunity to shift messaging to speak more directly to the look a-likes of this new profile and get them coming in faster.

Recognizing if the new customer profile has changed and if retail messaging should change in response requires a lot more than just an email address and purchase history.


Retail is not going back to 2019, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We are witnessing the largest wave of creative evolution in our lifetimes. The Covid pandemic has arguably shot us ahead ten years in terms of our living and working arrangements and our shopping behaviors.

The way retailers can best respond to this lightning-fast change is to adjust their retail email marketing strategies and leave the  idea of “normal” behind. By leveraging clean, good, and more data to harness, they can increase the customer intimacy in their emails and offer better targeted direct-to-consumer communications.

Learn more about how Webbula's Multi-Method Email Hygiene can help you before you send out your holiday campaigns.




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