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Email Crisis Communications: How to Adjust Your Marketing Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

Email Crisis Communications: How to Adjust Your Marketing Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

Last week, the COVID-19 virus was declared a pandemic and a national emergency in the U.S. This announcement has impacted individuals and companies alike in myriad ways. Many email marketers have had to do an abrupt about-face, unexpectedly switching from spring sale emails to email crisis communications. People are worried. They aren’t interested in lighthearted sales. And it’s important for brands to be cognizant of what’s going on in the world so you can address how your customers are feeling.

Struggling to get started with email marketing in a crisis? The following tips will help you connect with your customers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic or during any future state of emergency. And here are 3 free templates for your own email crisis communication.

Express empathy

The most important thing to do is connect with your customers. Acknowledge that this is a stressful time, and we’re all scared. A little empathy can go a long way. In your email, aim to strike a tone of solidarity. Don’t be afraid to get personal and share your own story.

That’s what the CEO of Kate Farms did. Kate Farms is a company that makes tube feeding formulas. Many of this brand’s customers are likely immunocompromised or at-risk. CEO Brett sent a personal note to simply let Kate Farms customers know that the company is there for them. Doing this is a great way to humanize your brand.

Subject line: A message from Brett, our CEO

email crisis communications

Be optimistic

It’s important to empathize with your customers’ fears — but don’t increase their panic. Email crisis communications should use a calm tone of voice and provide hope. One example we love is from Lunya. This brand acknowledged the pandemic but then moved on, explaining that it wants to use this time to truly connect with customers (that is, from a safe distance).

Subject line: We’re in this together

email marketing in a crisis

Provide an update

Email crisis communication should provide your customers with useful information about what your company is doing. Business as usual? Different hours? Closing down temporarily? Offering a practical update will give your customers a sense of stability. Continue sending these emails throughout the crisis to keep your customers in the know regarding when you’ll be back open for good (and how they can access your product or service in the meantime). Petco shared this information through a video update from its CEO.

Subject line: COVID-19, a video update from Petco CEO Ron Coughlin 

email crisis communications example

Share safety precautions

If your business will continue operating, share how you’re keeping your customers and employees safe. Steak ‘n Shake emailed its customers with a bulleted list of specific actions and health precautions the company is taking. A similar message can assure your customers that their safety is your top priority.

Subject line: We’re committed to your safety.

crisis email marketing

Educate and inform

Take every opportunity to encourage responsible behavior. You may want to offer educational materials to help people learn more about what they should be doing to stay safe during this time. Direct people to reputable sources, like the World Health Organization (WHO), where they can learn more about the virus and the best precautions to take. Delta cited the CDC and WHO in a recent email to Delta flyers.

Subject line: Our commitment remains: Your update from Ed Bastian

Delta Coronavirus Crisis Communication Email

Don’t capitalize on tragedy

What you don’t say in your email crisis communications is just as important as what you do. This is not the time to focus on making a profit. Instead, look out for your customers — no strings attached. Nataly from Happier sent out a newsletter sharing a free webinar on a relevant topic, plus other free resources to boot.

Subject line: A helpful resource during this tough time 

email crisis communications

Use simple subject lines

When we scroll through our inbox, we’re seeing similar subject lines over and over: “A message from our CEO,” “an update for our customers about covid-19,” or a simple “we’re committed to your safety.” This is not the time to embellish your subject lines with cute emojis or funny puns. Your email crisis communication subject lines should be clear and simple. Make it very clear to your customers what’s inside the email and that you have their backs.

Take peoples’ minds off the stress

Finally, don’t be afraid to put out some lighthearted content such as a quiz, an ebook or a video. Many people feel stressed, worried and afraid right now. Those who are at home self-quarantining or social distancing might also be plain bored — and parents whose kids are out of school are probably in search of activities. Give people something they can use to help pass the time and take their mind off the scary things going on in the world. This colorful email from Tattly Temporary Tattoos shared a list of fun activities for subscribers to enjoy.

Subject line: 14 FUN activities to keep yourself busy

email marketing in a crisis

Wrap-up: Email crisis communications

You may feel unprepared for email marketing in a crisis. We want to help you help your customers by spreading helpful information, so we have three crisis email templates designed by Andrea Dall’Ara. All three of these templates are completely free. You can customize the templates in the BEE editor and download them as a zip file–no credit card or BEE login needed. For more resources, you may also want to check out Email Monday’s collection of articles on the topic.

Use the Emergency Announcement email template to keep customers informed:

Give people a way to take action with this Support Fundraising email template, encouraging your customers to stay home and prevent COVID-19 spread.

Finally, our Stop the Spread email template is perfect for an educational email telling people how to stay safe.

Use your time at home while social distancing or self-quarantining to send emails that connect with your subscribers and that make an impact. We hope you stay healthy and well during this stressful time!

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Hailey Hudson

Hailey Hudson is a full-time freelance writer based out of Atlanta, Georgia.