Why newsletter marketing is so valuable in times of crisis!

We at Ray Sono have been managing Austrian Airlines’ e-mail marketing for over 18 years – according to Michael Pollaschak (Director Content & Dialogue Marketing at AUA) “a perceived eternity”. High time to give some insights into this extraordinary collaboration. We asked Michael Pollaschak and our colleague Janina Exner, who is responsible for AUA, what challenges they faced during this crisis and why newsletter marketing is such a valuable and powerful tool right now. 

Ray Sono

Reading duration: 8 minutes

Why is newsletter marketing so important, especially in times of crisis?

Michael Pollaschak: For me it offers the opportunity to communicate efficiently, cost-effectively, and directly with relevant target groups, as well as to provide information and enter a dialogue. Especially when the information and truth content of some third-party media can seem dubious, we believe that clear and distinct communication is the key to our premium thinking and service. In addition, we create a higher level of personalisation than in other marketing channels. Especially now, we can strengthen our brand image and build relationships in the long term. In the end, we see excellent and increasing ROI in newsletter marketing.

For me, the crisis shows how resilient and well positioned you are. I am convinced that companies who live their brand promise and positioning with heart and soul will increase their customers’ goodwill – precisely in this phase.

Michael Pollaschak, Director Content & Dialogue Marketing, AUA

Janina Exner: There is hardly any channel that measures content relevance and user reactions so quickly and directly. That’s why bold testing and constant questioning of existing messages are essential. Right now, it is becoming apparent that empathy, service-mindedness, and the person-to-person principle are so important and appreciated in such an “old” digital medium. Automated e-mail marketing promises to be the next step up in relevance and success. 

What do you think makes our newsletter marketing collaboration so successful? 

MP: The feeling that we have worked together for what feels like an eternity probably comes from the fact that we have such a wonderful symbiosis. This makes time fly! The industry is naturally very dynamic, just like technological advancements in the field of newsletter marketing. 

Our philosophy is clearly built on an iterative, proactive approach, similar to the Lean Startup method: Build, Measure, Learn. We anticipate developments, create new ideas, act quickly, and do much testing to constantly gain and optimise knowledge and experience. Despite – or perhaps because of – our long collaboration, we are mutually demanding, persistent, critical, and challenge each other at eye level. 


JE: I can only confirm this. We work together in a spirit of trust and on a human and collegial basis. We are in constant exchange regarding relevant content and how to embed it in cross-channel campaigns, as well as about our mailing and newsletter approaches. Together, we plan KPIs and our strategic activities for the coming months. 

We are responsible for the overall strategy of the Austrian Airlines e-mail channel. We set up the editing, production, and dispatch processes. We also make further technical developments and provide ongoing support. Our aim is always to achieve the greatest possible relevance for users and the greatest possible benefit for AUA – as flexibly and rapidly as possible. 

In particular, it is crises that showcase how resilient a “business relationship” is. Has the cooperation between Austrian Airlines and Ray Sono changed due to the current situation? Is it possibly more intensive? 

MP: For me, this crisis shows how well a partnership is really understood and lived. Our teams are working even more closely together and repositioning our collaboration. We very quickly found a new modus operandi to better respond to dynamic tourism developments outside the company, such as requirements, guidelines, or entry restrictions. However, it is particularly important for us to gradually return to a proactive steering role and take back the helm. 

A newsletter is always in development. How much has the Austrian Newsletter changed in recent years? What were the biggest transformations or most outstanding milestones? 

MP: One of the most recent milestones was the reorientation of content and introduction of a new design. Here we created a qualitative impression with premium character. By establishing a new content philosophy, we manage to provide recipients with a clearer, more relevant, and emotional storyline – which is clearly reflected in the metrics. 

On the other hand, we have pushed technological developments. At the core is a focus on greater personalisation, automated production, and recipient distribution – as well as the integration of AI. In addition, we perform constant, ongoing testing all the way to more dynamic reporting processes. 


JE: By reorienting the content, we have clearly placed content at the centre of newsletter communication. We see that recipients notice this, and this gives us the opportunity to keep tweaking things to make e-mail communication even more interesting, important, and valuable. Of course, none of this would be possible without strong performance measurement and constant optimisation. 

The travel industry finds itself in a paradoxical situation: On the one hand, we want to encourage people to travel and make them want to go on vacation, but on the other hand, due to the current situation, people are being urged to reduce travel to a minimum or stay at home. What communication strategy has been agreed upon here?

MP: For us, it was clear from the start of the crisis that this circumstance would naturally have an impact on our strategy – in particular, on changes in customer behaviour and on the need for reliability, security, and trust. We have seen that our customers like to receive information directly from the company itself. In one of our latest studies, for example, the newsletter was named as the most important channel for information, inspiration, and entertainment – alongside the website and app.

We see that content and information marketing as well as customer dialogue have become particularly important. We focus on authentic, informative, entertaining, interactive, and human content. 

I believe the travel industry will recover only slowly and gradually. It is possible there will be a short-term price war and overcapacity in the industry with the first significant easing of travel restrictions, but in my view, this will regulate itself in the foreseeable future. Personally, I hope that people will start being more critical of airline tickets that cost less than a cab ride to the airport. 

Our conclusion: Newsletter marketing is more relevant than ever

E-mail marketing has proven how relevant and powerful the channel can be, especially during the crisis. It’s worth paying more attention to it again overall. E-mail has been pronounced dead so many times, yet it still has by far the best ROI of all digital channels. 

What’s important for successful newsletter marketing in 2021? Janina’s personal top 3 tips!

  1. Bold testing without fear of user reaction
  2. Question old messages – the user determines what content is relevant
  3. Automation and personalisation – the right message at the right time for each individual recipient (in constant development)

Would you like to know more about working with Ray Sono? Get in touch!

Would you like to know more about working with Ray Sono? Get in touch!

Nancy Forner
Marketing & Communications
Contact us here

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