Communicating with Care: Rethinking Your Email Campaigns for COVID-19

Times of crisis don’t create character. Instead, they reveal it.  Just like you, there are other business owners out there who find themselves in uncharted territory as they...

Fiona Gurtiza
Fiona Gurtiza May 15, 2020

Times of crisis don’t create character. Instead, they reveal it. 

Just like you, there are other business owners out there who find themselves in uncharted territory as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone is being forced to adopt measures we never thought possible because of the current climate.

How you respond to the crisis will ultimately define how customers see your brand.

The way you communicate with your target audience is now more important than ever, especially in the jungle and vines of fake news and social media noise.

Compared to other mediums of communication, email marketing is a direct and measurable medium that sets it apart from other types of content. Used correctly, it’s an invaluable tool in retaining your customers as we stand with solidarity against the coronavirus.

By staying empathetic in our current reality and refining your SEO strategy for success, you can win the hearts and minds of your consumers in the long run. 

The way you communicate with your target audience is now more important than ever, especially in the jungle and vines of fake news and social media noise.

Why Best Email Practices Matter

The fear of what lies ahead has driven customers around the globe to go on panic buying frenzies. Customers are hoarding essential items like toilet paper and medicine so they’re ready for whatever the future holds.

It may sound funny, but the same thing is happening with global email sending practices.

Paralyzed by a similar sense of fear, brands have been haphazardly sending out poorly crafted email messages. Some have resorted to “Send to all” options for their coronavirus-related communications, but this approach won’t work if you want to truly connect with your customers.

Microsoft, Google Mail, and Verizon have been monitoring IPs and domains so you’ll need to tread carefully moving forward. For instance, dramatic spikes in sending volume and a rise in negative deliverability factors (spam complaints, hard bounces, and invalid email addresses) could hurt your brand rep. So you’ll need to make sure your email meets the criteria for a good email open rate.

With a low sender reputation score, you’re missing out on the opportunity to send out revenue-generating messages that resonate.

Moving forward, you’ll need to adapt a smart mindset and follow best practices.

Email Marketing with Empathy

Emails are a crucial marketing channel because it can be personalized to create a one-on-one relationship with your recipient. And that personal touch is exactly what people need right now.

That’s why you’ll need to find unique ways on how to deliver your unique value proposition, especially during this time of crisis. 

It’s simple, really: crafting a successful email marketing campaign boils down to thinking out of the box and adopting a customer-centric mindset.

And that personal touch is exactly what people need right now.

Use Sensitive Language

Ever heard of the saying, “It’s not what you say but how you say it?” These words ring true even more during COVID-19.

Data shows that 90% of customers conduct research on a company before buying from them, so poor messaging could affect your brand rep. So make it a point to check whether your content is sensitive to the current reality.

On that note, avoid creating discount codes or promotional sales related to the crisis. Rather, focus on building your messaging around the role your service or product can fulfill. Let them know how you can provide relief.

Try not to create a fall sense of urgency, though. Using words like “stock up” or “hurry” could incite unnecessary panic and feelings of uncertainty.

This email campaign by Lunya, a woman’s sleepwear brand, strikes the right tone by touching on the “stay in” mentality without being too flippant. Rather than being on the nose with their services, it offers customers value through comfort.

Be Transparent

If you think back to big promotions like in the past like Black Friday, you might recall having to inform your customers of out-of-stock products or delivery delays. During the COVID-19 crisis, you’ll need to plan for these issues in advance so it doesn’t catch your customers by surprise. 

When possible, communicate any known inventory or delivery issues. After all, staying transparent can help build loyalty and trust.

Transparency extends even after your customers have made their purchase. Reiterate possible issues and delays in your confirmation emails and other invoices. 

Regular updates always translate to a positive buying experience.

Rent the Runway, an online fashion service, provides a good example of transparency. The brand sent out an email that talks about its cleaning process. It also added that the virus can’t be transmitted through fabric or clothes.

Promote E-Commerce

Thinking about the coronavirus conjures up images of deserted streets and near-empty grocery stores. This gives you the unique chance to boost your e-commerce sales.

Send your customers an email offering discounts for shopping online. For instance, if you’re a restaurant, consider offering a free delivery option if your customers order through your email or fill out a form.

Here’s a sample email campaign from Resy, a brand that offers a back-end management software for restaurant reservations. Since dine-in options aren’t possible during COVID-19, they sent out a guide that showcases their take-out and delivery options.


You can also assure your customers that there’s a way to safely deliver their items on time. This way, you can continue making revenue even when your doors are closed.

Highlight Relief Efforts

During times of crisis, consumers want to hear about how brands are helping and giving back to their communities. Bring out the best side of your brand by putting a spotlight on your relief efforts. Take it up a notch by letting your customers know how they can contribute to the cause. 

Be extra cautious on how you communicate these causes and what to ask from your customers in return, though. Your campaign could backfire if your customers feel like they’re being taken advantage of.

Think twice before launching a purchase-to-donate campaign, for instance. Some people may see this as a ploy to get them to buy more products.

During times of crisis, consumers want to hear about how brands are helping and giving back to their communities. 

Here’s an example of relief effort marketing done right:

Nuun, a brand that produces plant-based drink tablets, released an email campaign that talks about the benefits of their products. Rather than capitalizing on the situation, they highlighted how they would send free care packages to medical professionals.

Diversify Your Content

Ask yourself: What sort of content should you make so that your customers stay engaged and keep making purchases?

COVID-19 updates are important, but your emails shouldn’t revolve around that topic alone. Your content shouldn’t focus on just one product because you could run out of stock. Keep in mind that replenishing stock will most likely result in delays. That’s why it pays to focus on crafting category-specific CTAs and landing pages.

Keep track of your inventory and check if you have new products coming in. You can create a release schedule to give your followers something to look forward to. 

Bandsintown provides a good example of how to diversify your content while still offering customer value. Bandsintown is a platform that lets artists and bands connect with their fans. With COVID-19 leaving thousands of musicians without income, however, the company responded by launching a Twitch channel to support artists through live streaming platforms. 

Check out their email below:

You may also want to consider tweaking your online messaging to include new customers, as well. A lot of people are still getting used to e-commerce, so conduct surveys to find out how to improve your onboarding experience. Your findings can also help turn your emails into a meaningful touchpoint.

Evaluate Timing

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended everyone’s daily schedules. As a result, people are shopping online and browsing social media for longer. 

You might think that social media should be your primary focus for now, but did you know that email marketing is still the most effective tool for engagement and conversion? In fact, it’s seven times more effective at generating sales than Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn put together.

To make sure your emails don’t pile up in spam folders, conduct tests to find out when your emails should be sent. Consider if your customer will need more or less of your product due to the current lockdown. Then time your follow-ups to maximize impact.

Asana, a brand that helps teams track and manage their work through a web and mobile app, was forced to shift to full-time remote work during the COVID-19 outbreak. Even though it was new to this dynamic, it sent out a well-timed email that includes work-from-home resources.

Spread Joy

A lot of the content we consume these days tend to be heavy and dark. We’re all craving a healthy distraction to get our mind off of the relentless news cycles.

Find little ways to delight your customers and remind them that it isn’t all doom and gloom during COVID-19. 

Take note of how Host balances lightheartedness and compassion in their email campaign. As a business that allows people to hire bartenders for their events, they went out of their way to provide customers with value by sharing how to make your own Baby Yoda-themed alcoholic beverage.

Ask for Suggestions

When in doubt, ask.

No single person has all the answers about how you should be communicating with your customers during times of crisis. Everyone has their own way of coping with things. 

That’s why it won’t hurt to ask your customers for suggestions. 

Check out this email campaign sent out by Reformation, a sustainable women’s clothing and accessories brand. Their email informs customers of how they responded to the coronavirus. But it also added a note at the end asking customers what they want to talk and read about. 

Conducting surveys like this provide valuable insights and make your customers feel like you value their opinion. 

Get Started with Your Email Campaign

The ability of your brand to communicate with customers during the COVID-19 pandemic will play a significant role in retaining your customers as you move forward. Even though the current situation is temporary, the ripples will remain forever.

By staying empathetic when crafting your email campaigns, start building a loyal customer base and reap the benefits in the long run. 

Are you ready to launch an email campaign during this time of crisis? Get in touch with Growth Rocket today.

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