We’ve seen some standout emails from brands who wish to reassure their customers as they negotiate the twists and turns of COVID-19. We’ve also seen a few bad ones. But even these can be used to create a framework. We hope you find this useful...
Set the right tone
A well-intentioned platitude can fall short. Avoid using phrases like “worrying time for all”, “these troubled times” or “a concerning and stressful situation”. I even spotted one with the subject line: “It’s super tough out there”. We all know it is. Your emails need to reassure customers and clients; there's no need to raise anxiety levels any higher.
You can even avoid mentioning the virus by name; the implication is enough. Alternative phrases for your subject field:
A quick update from us
We hope you’re keeping well
We are OPEN for business!
Just a note to say…
The tone needs to be positive, not pleading. Likewise, no one expects a rousing Churchillian piece of prose. Your customers simply want to know whether you’re still operational and, if so, that you’ve got a sensible strategy for ensuring business as usual.
Some companies have messaged their databases using their CEO's name, photo and sign off. This can work well. If you don’t use a named person, then go for the pronouns we, us and you. You want to create the feeling that your clients are an important and valued part of the community you’ve built. There is some comfort in the knowledge that we are all in this together.
Select choice vocabulary
Pick words and phrases that will comfort readers, such as "sensible steps, "reassure", "well-prepared”, “business as usual”, “proactive”. Likewise, try to avoid words like “pandemic”, “outbreak”, “chaos”, "panic" or “catastrophe”.
Keep it human
This is a good opportunity to remind your customers of the brilliant team keeping your company operational. Tell clients what you’re doing to keep your workforce physically and mentally well, and to boost their positivity as they work from home.
This is also a good time to increase staff visibility on social media. Why not encourage your employees to share photos, tips, hacks and comments?
What about humour?
Adam Hunt, founder of White Label Comedy, which helps brands liven up their marketing, says now is officially too soon to make jokes about COVID-19, but we can make light of the relatable scenarios we're all finding ourselves in, like being trapped at home with loved ones who begin to grind our gears.
He explains: “Used right, referring to these things can show your brand is just as human as its audience, and can help build the 'we're all in this together' spirit companies will need to adopt if they want to be a part of the conversation.”
Hunt warns companies against using the chaos as a sales hook, or a pain point. “Just use it to show you understand what we're all going through right now, and you'll be fine,” he says.
But don't do this…
Experts generally agree the worst thing a business can do now is fail to communicate at all, or press on with the same sales strategy regardless. Hunt explains:
“If you watch EastEnders right now you'll notice they don't mention COVID-19. Obviously, they can't, it was shot ages ago. But the absence of it makes the show seem SO out of touch. The same is true for brands. If your own tone doesn't change to acknowledge what's going on right now – even just subtly – people will assume you wrote all those emails six months ago and you've had them queued up to go ever since.”
We've rounded up some of the best email newsletters from brands in another blog post here. We hope you find it useful.