As the world grapples with the effects of the pandemic COVID-19, marketers all around the world have seen their businesses slow down. The staff has got a work-from-home directive and email calendars have gone to scrap. They are left to think about what should be the Marketing plan going forward.
Primarily the question faced is: What kind of communication should the brand send during a crisis like corona pandemic to their customers?
Email is the most preferred channel by marketers as it is the cheapest on investment to ROI ratio and also as it provides an easy communication channel for brands to engage with their customers. It provides up to $44 in returns on investment of $1.
In my opinion, a marketer should send the communication mails only if there is a legitimate need to send it.
We have come across brands recently who have either continued with their email program as planned before COVID-19 and come across as insensitive to the global scenario. Some brands make common mistakes where they aim to sell a product to their customers, under the disguise of sounding fake empathetic on coronavirus situation. This always sends a bad message to your customers and they could lose the trust and relationship that you might have built with them hitherto.
So, in this post, we are going to give you some tips on how to send emails that are empathetic and provide some value or relief to your customers in these troubling times. We will also go through some examples of brands who are acing it with their emails and have stayed true to their values in their communications.
We shall also be discussing how the COVID-19 crisis provides an opportunity for your brand to make a difference in your own way.
Let’s run through some tips to send your emails which are genuine and bring some respite to your audience :
Keep the Brand Tone Serious
Currently, there is a lot of anxiety around getting infected with the virus as it is a contagion. People are scared to roam outside and hence are cooped up in their places working from home and hoping for the situation to improve.
Hence in such times, it is necessary for your brand to keep your communication to the point and not indulge in any sense of humor. It might come across as insensitive.
So no toilet paper jokes considering toilet paper is a commodity in demand.
The aim should be to convey your message of how you are taking care of your employees and ensuring business continuity during COVID-19 seriously and objectively.
That is all that your customers are looking for when they read your email.
Below is a campaign from Skyscanner, the brand tone is serious considering that most people will not be traveling and staying-at-home. They are offering travel and airline updates on a separate page to keep the users informed as some people are still undertaking emergency travel as airlines slowly shut down.
Provide Positivity in Dark Times
These are bad times for the world. There will be an obvious tendency of the people to focus on the negative of the rising number of infections all over the world.
The biggest relief you can provide now to your audience will be a pinch of positivity. The world needs to know it is going to be okay.
How will your brand ensure doing that?
Here the onus will be on the way you communicate the message to your customers of positivity in your email.
Some of the ways you could do this :
– Ensuring a super optimistic subject line that asks people to stay calm and not panic.
– Solve their questions on the pandemic by offering a FAQ page where a certified panel of doctors have answered common questions on COVID-19 eg: the campaign by medical e-store 1mg below.
– If you are in the travel industry then ensure that customers know what precautions they have to take before they fly and how your brand can help them stay safe.
– Including some good remote work tips and how to stay productive during such times will also be highly effective as not everyone has fun working from home.
Lyft, a ride-sharing app offers extra services for delivering medical supplies or delivery take outs which will be contact-less.
They have also launched a new initiative for providing those sectors with essential transportation needs like doctors, health professionals which is a great way to extend support in such troubled times.
Campaigns like these will turn your regular active users into loyal customers.
Another example is from the carrot fertility clinic in SF, California instructs their users on fertility treatments during COVID-19. Plus as a value add is providing a webinar with specialists to shed more information on the matter.
Rather than just sending any precautionary measures to avoid contracting coronavirus, they took the initiative to host video content so that anxious users could view it from their homes and release their stress.
Since COVID-19 affects those with lower immunity to infections, hence keeping a strong immunity is important during such times.
The campaign below by Fullscript provides valuable information on Vitamins that boost immunity and how can they be consumed in our daily intake.
Optimistic subject lines and content with out of the box ideas will ensure that your email gets responses and customers can identify with your brand even more for all the good help you are offering. So the message is simple, stay positive, stay helpful.
Stay Away From Irrelevant Messaging
Before sending your promotional campaign, it would be prudent for you to think for a minute if the time is right to send this promotion?
People are afflicted with paranoia and stress. Buying your product if it is a non-essential commodity will be the last thing on their mind. Selling your product under the guise of COVID-19 will be a bad idea.
There is a need now to be sensitive to change in the world as the scenario has radically changed over the last few weeks. Thus, this is the time to be extra helpful to your customers.
So don’t send your 50% off offer on flight tickets to your customers. They will not appreciate it. Any attempt made to make any kind of returns from your campaigns will be seen through by your customers.
Also, check back on your automated triggers if they reflect the current situation otherwise stop them for the time being.
Stay relevant to the times in your communication and be extremely empathetic in your tone. It could go a long way in ensuring that you build trust with your customers and don’t push them away with irrelevant content.
Be Extra Helpful With Customer Needs
Your COVID-19 content should be structured in such a way to avoid overwhelming your subscribers, but instead, providing value to them in such a stressful time.
An example could be the Dominos Pizza “zero contact delivery” ad in newspapers as well as Email where they have provided steps their delivery agents will take to ensure they don’t come in any contact with their paying customers. This is one of the major issues being faced by work-from-home people if they can order takeout but get infected somehow if the delivery agents are infected with the virus.
Content such as this could go a long way in ensuring that your business grows as you are directly communicating with your audience and easing the pressure on them.
Getting the context of the place where you are operating from and the kind of audience you are communicating with needs to be thought about before designing any content during a world crisis.
Fig: Dominos Pizza’s zero-contact campaign was assuring for pizza lovers.
Grab This Opportunity to Bond With Your Subscribers
Sure these are testing times for the world at large, and if you follow the above best practices, you will ensure that you will come across as sensitive and caring for the customer needs.
But there is still room for you to stand out from your competition and do something cool with your content to surprise your customers.
Every challenge presents an opportunity to make yourself better, so here stands another great chance.
Don’t copy your competition and send the same CEO message of how you are battling COVID-19 and how other people can contain it. Of course, this communication is important on a basic level for your users. But imagine your subscriber right now, who is working from home and has ample time to check their emails. There will be same kind of messages arriving from all the brands the user is associated with.
How will your message be different to stand out from the crowd?
You have to come up with unique and out of the box ideas to get your intended recipient to respond to your mails.
Here are some strategies to get started:
– Provide some distraction for the audience to engage with your brand while they can get away with the news around the world.
– In case of music apps or any streaming platforms, provide free service for some weeks to your subscribers and present it in a way that you wish to help your users out.
– In case of other e-commerce verticals, offer advice not to stockpile and help out other people if you have any extra resources. The charity should help everyone in your community have enough to last till the pandemic dies down.
An example is this campaign by Tattly to provide stay-at-home kits for kids. If parents are working from home, they will have to supervise their kids and tend to their needs as well. Balancing work and kids could be exhausting for parents during such times. Hence this campaign reduces some burden by suggesting ways to keep their kids entertained while they can focus on work.
Finally, we suggest that if you have no reason to send a communication, then please refrain from doing it. That also pertains to user segments, eg: if you have not connected with a user for the last 1 year, then it makes no sense to send them a communication for the sake of it. Unless you are providing any value to the end-user, don’t send any campaign just because you have a marketing calendar lined up.
Sending mails to inactive users could also impact your email deliverability as spam filters for mailbox providers will continue functioning as normal.
Your COVID-19 campaigns need to be humane and thoughtful. Don’t send email communication just because everyone else is doing some or the other messaging campaign.
But if you have a unique idea on the lines mentioned in the post which will be helpful to your customers and provide some value to them then you should definitely send your emails.
Stay safe! Stay indoors!