Looking at the COVID-19 global cases online dashboard, it seems that the Coronavirus will stalk us for a long time. With more than 3,000,000 confirmed cases worldwide and no vaccine, it’s hard to believe it’s all happening to us. And it became harder than ever to predict the future.
A lot has been recently said in the media about the panic, the quarantine, global economic losses, and social and institutional conflicts in many countries with weak or even close to zero readiness for the pandemic. However, desperate situations often foster growth by studying problems from various perspectives. We are all under pressure, but we need to push forward, looking for creative solutions.
COVID-19 impact on marketers
The global supply chain has been shattered. Hundreds of cities worldwide are in lockdown, goods are stuck at ports for weeks, while public transportation and commercial shipping endure cancellations and delays. Customers review their entire range of values and needs. Companies of all sizes across the planet suffer and, in some cases, even shut down.
In the U.K., marketers are delaying campaigns, reviewing budgets, and pausing product launches, as fears escalate over the global coronavirus outbreak. More than ⅓ of marketers (39%) say their business has already felt a decreased interest in its services. About ⅔ of them (61%) expect to see the decrease in demand continue over the next two quarters, awaiting a drop of more than 16%.
Meanwhile, in the U.S. alone, more than 10 million people filed a jobless claim. As a result, everything from retail sales to organic traffic and conversions has declined drastically. According to the Influencer Marketing Hub, 69% of brands expect they will decrease ad spending, 65% have noticed a decrease in revenue, while 73% of small businesses experience a significant decrease in demand.
Email marketing COVID-19: less panic, more empathy, practicality, and optimism
Apocalyptic global disasters can break even thoroughly elaborated media plans. An instinctive reaction may be to pause marketing and conserve your business. But don’t hurry to put your company on hibernation mode; things might turn out no worse than in peaceful times. Just modify your approaches to establish trustful contact with your audience.
Experts warn to be careful with your company’s tone throughout the crisis. Keep clients informed and up to date. Arrange a method to monitor and react to all kinds of messages, including email replies, direct messages, comments on social media, and feedback on your blog posts.
So, what can you do to ensure effective email communication during COVID-19 crisis and tailor your messaging style to evoke resonance in your readers’ minds?
Revise automated campaigns and pre-scheduled messages
Check all the letters that are queued to be sent. Make sure their content is appropriate during this period. Do they promote things that are not relevant right now? Or maybe they contain sensitive words used in a figurative sense?
In some cases, it’s better to be careful and pause unsuitable triggered email campaigns. In other cases, make small edits before sending them.
Pay attention to the choice of words
Reduce product marketing and replace the “buy now” tone with “think now.” Start a content-inspired or thoughtful leadership strategy. Customers have more time now to read and engage.
Find a balance between empathy and marketing. Don’t confuse your readers, but show compassion, readiness to help, and sincere concern. Still, mind the use of emotional tone in your communication. Always think twice about how people will respond to it.
Avoid words that express panic or frustration. Everybody is going through a tough time. Accept the situation, don’t focus on sales, and provide a practical and positive conversation instead.
Stick to a short, specific, single topic
Keep messages brief and to the point. Every organization has sent COVID-19 letters. Long emails will cause tiredness and boredom.
Focus on content and provide updates
As your company agenda can change with time, provide your customers with updates. These might include information on things like closed offices, changes in working hours, changes in the availability of high-demand products, online orders, delivery options, and refund policies.
Segment your target audience
Decide who should receive the message and segment your database. Put yourself in the shoes of your clients and ask if they anticipate hearing from your company on this or that occasion. If not, it’s better to publish that piece of information on your company website or social media.
If you are an international brand, you should adjust the strategies according to the situation in each country or state you operate in. Pay special attention to the statistics: countries that struggle the most, such as Italy and Spain, are hardly thinking about your product marketing right now. In this case, you might even give your clients a choice of pausing your emails for a short period.
Use appropriate channels
Don’t rely on 1-2 easiest ways to communicate. Instead, analyze what available channels you can use: websites, mobile apps, blogs, social media, webinars, online stores, call centers, and many more.
If you didn’t focus on crowd marketing prior to the pandemic, you might want to start paying attention to it now. You will still be able to share high-quality content across various communication channels, providing practical and useful advice without getting into the inbox.
Choose who should contact your clients
Most significant information comes from the CEO, but this solution is not always the best. In the B2B sphere, the message may need to come from an account or regional manager. In B2C, a customer service representative or a regional executive can share important information.
Listen to and start helping your customers
Many businesses use a “Dontreply@” email account because their customer support teams are busy. But in hard times, hearing your reader is a priority. Assign a separate person to respond to all customers’ issues from all channels, including website, emails, social media, calls, and direct messages.
Represent the best partnership vision and don’t act like you want to benefit from the circumstances. Numerous letters with discounts can look dishonest. But if you can support small businesses with free features (like Zoom did with its free video calls) or delayed payments (like Ahrefs did with its 15 free days of access), it’s high time to do so!
Decide what to share
Use only the information that is 100% trustworthy. Share only the things that people need to know, like delivery details or meeting cancellations. Concentrate on your field of expertise when trying to convince your customers. Don’t prognosticate what will happen or act like a specialist in an area you are not an expert in. Alternatively, give people official guidance and encourage them to follow it. Treat your audience with respect and build trust.
For example, in its email, project-management platform Trello shared different ways it can help businesses to work remotely comfortably. And since it’s a completely remote company with employees from over 15 countries, it’s a credible source whose advice can help those who are newly transitioning to remote work.
Some statistics: how email interactions have changed since the Corona outbreak
Message Gears conducted research to monitor delivery and engagement rates for email marketing campaigns during the COVID-19 crisis. The findings are not as pessimistic as we could expect, and it only proves the statement that hardships can foster marketing creativity:
✔️ Most business niches noticed an increase in open rates. However, retail companies feel some decline, which shows that email marketers in hospitality, travel, and other industries continue to adapt to the situation and do their best to communicate relevant information.
✔️ The rate of unsubscriptions dropped for all market niches. Customers continue to read new messages and updates.
✔️ Click rates increase or remain the same. Brands have adjusted and modified their offers and calls to action, urging readers’ engagement.
✔️ Speaking about devices, email open rates increased on mobile phones. What’s interesting, the email click rate is still higher on computers. Probably, mobile phones are used for a quick check for message relevancy before interacting with it on a computer. The use of tablets for email interactions is rather low.
Say no to panic and roll up your sleeves to work
Many companies react to the Corona crisis in different ways, depending on the level of panic and control over the situation. Some of them shower their audience with tons of emails, targeted ads, and direct messages about the virus news, only provoking more panic and stress. Others try to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the audience in this fight.
Use anti-crisis help from experts
Some companies shared their expert advice on how to rearrange your business to protect it the best way. For example, Deloitte issued a document called COVID-19. Managing cash flow during a period of crisis that gives working strategies for the financial optimization and protection of businesses during the crisis.
Meanwhile, in his interview with CBS, the billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates spoke about the importance of strong isolation measures on a countrywide basis to deal with the coronavirus outbreak. He also shared his view on the global health and economic situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and gave advice to business leaders.
Innovate to give hope and rescue lives
The tech industry is exploding with new ideas in 2020 as new urgent demands appear in society, based on fundamental human needs – safety and health. Inventions are emerging a dime a dozen – from simplistic solutions like hygienic keychains or foot-operated door openers to homemade ventilators, medical drone delivery, robotic nurses, and product delivery robots. So don’t waste your time, brainstorm, and try inventing something that will solve people’s most burning problems. This is the best time for testing innovative ideas.
Boost your brand awareness via social media communication
Gary Vaynerchuk, the Chairman of VaynerX and CEO of VaynerMedia, has been organizing tons of live streams and video hangouts with his audience since the quarantine started. He gives valuable career and business advice for free and shares piles of helpful content for young starting entrepreneurs and small businesses. He also inspires people to believe in themselves and teaches them how to navigate through the pandemic storm safely and with optimism.
In the short interview for Fox News, Gary expressed certainty that the best way to weather the storm for businesses of all sizes during the lockdown is to foster online brand presence, produce helpful content, and enhance communication with the audience. This doesn’t require huge investments and can be done even with a smartphone.
In his step-by-step guide, Gary shares easy ways to produce valuable content in big volumes and tailor it according to different social media platforms, so that the maximum number of people interact with it. He mentions many platforms but specifically focuses on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.
We hope that these recommendations will help you navigate through the storm and build a powerful brand communication strategy during this period of time.
If your business is ready to adapt and evolve, it’s most likely that your company will get through this with minor losses or maybe even stronger than before – depending on your niche and chosen communication strategy. People always remember who gave them support and hope in hard times. They remember those who did something real to fight the global threat together. And this is the best brand promotion your company could ever imagine.
P.S. As with any fast-changing circumstances, today’s adaptations can soon become outdated. Be ready to react to any extra COVID-19 news so you can keep your team and audience healthy and safe. Feel free to check up for the most reliable and fresh information on the spread of COVID-19 at the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVID-19 Dashboard and the Center for Disease Control (CDC).