Mind Your Tone: Email Marketing During COVID-19

“In these unprecedented times….” “The new normal…” “How we’re handling COVID-19…”

If you’re anything like me, you’ve seen all of these and more in your email inbox every day  for the past 3 months, and while it’s easy to say they’re all terrible and no one cares about what any company online has to say anymore, the truth is we’re all still opening them up because it might be something important (not to mention that plenty of us have nothing else to do but shop!). 

As email marketers, sensitivity is paramount at this time, and there are obviously certain things that need to be put on the back burner. Are your summer essentials really that essential? Do people really need your kitchen must-haves if they aren’t anti-bac wipes and hand soap? People don’t want the well-wishes of your company if they aren’t backed up with concrete action, and especially not if you’re trying to sell them something at the same time. It doesn’t just seem ingenuous to your customers, it is. 

However, that’s not to say you should suspend your Mailchimp account for the time being to save some pennies – in fact, email subscription rates and engagement are on the up! That means that we have to be even more mindful of what we send, who we send it to and what we say. In all honestly, most of it is just common sense and a modicum of empathy, but somehow we’ve still managed to see some pretty big blunders.

Email Marketing is still needed, in some cases more than ever.

Email is such a useful channel for reaching all of your subscribers at once with useful info and messages, which almost every company has needed to do at some point in lockdown. Particularly as social distancing measures start to be eased, you might have to make big changes to your current business model at the drop of a hat, and email is one of the most effective ways to reach a big audience quickly. However, there’s a fair bit of fatigue from seeing “COVID-19: A Message From Our CEO” appear in our inboxes again and again, so make it worth your customer’s while to read it, by giving clear, specific and useful information from your company. No-one, particularly now, wants to open what they think is an important service announcement just to hear that another corporation hopes they are “staying safe and well”. 

Instead, make sure you actually have something to say when you send. Be specific: 

  • What, if anything, has changed for your company? 
  • What have you done about it? 
  • How are you keeping your staff safe? 
  • What do customers need to consider or do when interacting with your business? 
  • Is there a page or helpline offering more information?
  • Do you have an online service or alternative available?

Make this kind of messaging clear, simple, uncluttered and easy to read, perhaps in a lovely bulleted list like that one.

Finally, tailor your language to the situation (an obvious one, I know), but don’t be afraid to be positive! Depending on your business and audience, it might be okay to make a joke or two, but tread lightly and remember that people are going to be anxious and on edge. Now is not the time for that slightly more risque joke – you don’t want to be going viral for all the wrong reasons. However, positivity and solidarity are still welcome, and you can still sell, just with a bit of thought behind it. Products that cheer people up, alleviate boredom, encourage self-care or can be sent as gifts to loved ones are all good examples, so don’t lose heart. 

As marketers, we are always working consciously and positively impact our clients, and this is no different. With a dash of positivity, a splash of empathy and a big dollop of kindness, you can use your email marketing, not for heartless promotion, but as a channel for good, something we all need a bit of these days. ????


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