As you might expect, anyone in marketing and advertising at the moment must be careful about the language, tone, and timing of engagement with clients and potential customers. The unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 outbreak means that the standard procedures no longer apply, and it ensures that there could be lasting damage to a relationship or your product.
Sending out marketing emails can be tricky at this time. Indeed, the first question you should be asking is whether you should be sending one at all. If you do, however, it’s always best to ask for a second (and third and fourth) opinion from colleagues. Like playing a Who Wants to Be a Millionaire game, you need to ‘ask the audience’ for consensus before you decide. Below we are going to look at five types of email we have seen lately. Some are well-intentioned, but get the tone wrong, whereas others are simply terrible.
The “We’ve got your back” email
This one often depends on the sender and how they intend to support the receiver. If the messaging is something informative and beneficial to the recipient, “we are waiving delivering fees for our products”, or “our stores have special opening hours for seniors only”, that’s fine. However, emailing someone to tell them you have 5% of all hair care products for the month of May to help with the pandemic can often sound predatory. If you have an offer for something unrelated to the virus, there is nothing wrong with proceeding as usual without mentioning the pandemic.
The “We haven’t seen you in a while” email
You’d be surprised just how many companies are using COVID-19 as an excuse to reconnect with customers. Again, it’s fine if you have something informative to say to the customer, such as providing details of closed premises, major upheaval to the business, etc. But if it’s simply a hollow email ‘checking in’ with your long lost customers; they will see right through it, and it could do some lasting damage to your product.
The “We know times are tough” email
Nope. Because you don’t know how the person on the other end of the mail is coping with things. Like the “We’ve got your back” emails, you must have something important to say backed up with an actionable request. A good example is British sports broadcaster Sky Sports, which contacted customers to say they could pause payments on their subscription, at least until major sports events had been rescheduled. A discount relevant to the coronavirus impact, yes. But remember that everyone is experiencing this differently.
The “Look on the bright side” email
You will see on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and other social media that people are making light of the situation. It’s what humans do in the face of adversity, and it’s a reason for hope in dark times. However, it’s not the place of the marketing email to indulge in this area. Keep the mails serious and to the point, and do not make jokes about the impact of coronavirus. Moreover, be aware of using language, such as the “positives of coronavirus”, “benefits of COVID-19” or “reasons to be cheerful”.
The “Here’s what you should do” email
A tricky one, here. Many companies are sending out emails with auxiliary information provided by health authorities. That’s fine, but you should not give out unsolicited advice on anything medical. You must bear in mind that the spread of Coivd-19 is completely unprecedented, and that means the advice given today might not be relevant – and could even be dangerous – tomorrow. So, unless your marketing emails happen to be sent by epidemiologists, refrain from giving medical information.