How to safely send email campaigns during a crisis?

30 April


Everybody knows about the current crisis, and it is forcing us all to adapt our lifestyle and way to work, socialize and communicate. French schools, for instance, very quickly asked teachers and parents who did not have an email address yet to create one at, this webmail being the only French, free and public one. Within a few days, a lot of emails were exchanged on this platform, often with heavy attachments (documents to print, audio files or videos).

Increase in phishing and email scams.

Malicious actors on the Internet of course benefit from the increased use of IT tools, in an environment that is generally less secure than that of the office. Orange estimates that phishing and email scams have increased by 600% over the pre-crisis level against their users. For Gmail, which usually blocks 100 million phishings per day, that's 18 million additional context-related phishings, and 240 million more spam per day. These emails take various forms, although generally taking up already proven mechanisms ("You missed an important call concerning the crisis", or CEO scams "Hello it's the boss, please transfer money immediately for the purchase of hygiene and protective equipment"). And of course spams offering the possibility of purchasing this material, which at best will be of poor quality, but most of the time will never be sent.

At the same time, many brands have deemed it important to send emails to all their contacts, even those who have been inactive for several years, to announce that a store is closing or that everything is normal. Some restaurants wanted to reassure their customers by indicating that they were doing their best to provide a safe and clean environment. We can hope this was already the case before the crisis!

All of this has contributed to causing breakdowns in operators, while these are the same operators on which teachers and parents, but also members of the medical profession or the government rely to communicate and work together to end the crisis.

Avoid certain keywords.

EN_security_emails_during_crisis Most of those new scams and other attacks contains the keywords of the moment, in particular "mask" and "covid". So in order to deal with this massive flow of emails almost entirely malicious, the operators decided to ban these words, temporarily or not, by rejecting emails or placing them in the junk folder. This is not without consequences, since health professionals may have missed emails because of this, but it is the only way to keep operators' infrastructures available. Talking about a subject without naming it is a complicated exercise, but not impossible; you'll notice that none of these words were mentioned in the first part of this article!

Review your schedule.

Volume peaks generally take place in the morning and early afternoon, undermining operators' infrastructure and drowning mailboxes. Carmen Piciorus, anti-abuse manager of's webmail, strongly suggests to avoid sending at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. , both so as not to add to existing or anticipated traffic (in particular during announcements regarding the end of lockdown), and to prevent emails from being rejected due to the lack of availability of the platform.

Here are 6 examples to send less, and send better.

Make sure you have all the relevant information available and easily accessible on your e-commerce website, as this is where your customers will go for the most up-to-date information (not in their emails).

Next, define the main reason for sending the message, and adjust the targeting accordingly.



Also, if the website is up-to-date, then an email may not be necessary to intervene in at least the following cases:

  • Alert that the e-commerce website is closed: users will see it by going on the website.
  • Announce the measures taken to maintain the activity: only the most active customers are concerned, and they should also find this information on the website.
  • Reactivate inactive people: the moment is certainly badly chosen.


It is not however impossible to send email campaigns, if the purpose and the targeting are relevant.

  • Alert that the e-commerce site is reopening: the most active customers (click or opening of less than 3 months, recent visit to the website, etc.) are the first to be targeted, then those slightly less active (3 to 6 months).
  • Maintain the reputation of IPs and sending domains: a limited volume is enough, as long as the sendings' are frequent enough (one per week).
  • Usual newsletter: usual target, or limited to most actives if possible. Full-base targeting is an unnecessary and dangerous bad practice on its own, but also inappropriate in the current context.

In the past, campaigns related to GDPR coming into effect have generated weariness and mockery on the one hand, and deliverability problems following the numerous hard bounces and complaints on the other hand. An experience not to be reproduced, especially since according to our data, inactive people of 6 months or more on the email channel no longer buy following the sending of an email, while the risks of hard bounces, complaints and spamtraps are increased significantly.