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4 empathetic coronavirus marketing tactics that put the customer first

Jun 09, 2020 Elle Kross 3 min read

This article was created in cooperation with our partner, Movable Ink.

As the novel coronavirus continues to spread globally, companies and customers alike are trying to adjust and respond to new and far-reaching changes. We’re living in an unprecedented time when people across the globe are all being impacted by the same thing. Marketers across industries have a first-hand understanding of the experiences that customers are collectively living through. With that in mind, it’s more important than ever for marketers to ensure their communications are relevant, helpful, and most importantly, empathetic.

Here are 4 marketing tactics that your team can use to cut through the noise with relevant and helpful campaigns:

1. Share real-time shipping updates

Logistics have been significantly impacted by the coronavirus. Whether that’s because of supply-chain issues, inaccessible warehouses, or limitations on travel, shipments are inevitably being delayed.

While consumers are likely to initially understand delays, they will expect brands to be transparent about when they can expect their products, especially when they’re ordering items that will help them while social distancing. To help with this, retailers can consider incorporating real-time shipping trackers into their campaigns that provide the customer with the most recent information about their package’s location. These shipping trackers have the added benefit of also reducing call volume when wait times are long and can add to consumer frustration.

2. Be transparent about operations

With the quick impact we’ve seen on customer behavior and lifestyle changes, many organizations are rethinking their communication strategies. Brands across all industries should reassure customers and educate them on normal safety protocols that are always in place, as well as any additional features that have been developed in response to COVID-19.

Organizations are leveraging messages from leadership to share information about resources and steps being taken to protect employees and customers – while this is now table stakes and necessary, many brands, like Travelocity, are creating web pages with more detailed and up to date information as a resource for customers.

3. Offer flexible options

Travel has been one of the most immediately impacted industries, but these companies have also pivoted quickly and put their flexible cancellation policies front and center. For customers who have to cancel trips, social distancing can be especially disappointing. Brands can consider instating flexible offers to ensure customers know that they are valued and supported. Showcase policies that give your customers control over their current and future bookings.

Focusing on flexible booking opportunities allows for dreamers to book for the future without the fear of losing their money. United Airlines quickly deployed an email that emphasized their flexible policy that allows customers who book travel by April 30th to change their flights for free over the course of the next 12 months.

4. Update your campaigns in real-time

This is a stressful time for customers, so brands should aim to minimize confusion by communicating any changes as quickly and effectively as possible. Brands should communicate which sources customers should refer to for the most up-to-date information. We’re also seeing more brands develop creative that features real-time updates on store hours changes or coronavirus-related policies, and some creative ad campaigns like this one from OluKai.

Source: olukai.com

Movable Ink announced that our Critical Messaging App would be available at no cost to all of our clients to use for the rest of the year for COVID-19 service messaging. With the Critical Messages App, marketers can quickly and easily add a banner with real-time information to any existing email campaign. The app is powered by a blank pixel placed in the template and is then activated as needed by the marketer to display the relevant message – even after the email has been deployed and is in the consumers’ inbox.

Customer communications in the age of coronavirus should put the customer first

When it comes to communicating with customers in the age of coronavirus, relevancy and empathy should be top-of-mind. Make sure that every marketing effort your team starts is relevant to the individual and never tone-deaf to the crisis. 

Use this as an opportunity to audit all your messages for relevancy. Reassess your existing promotions and triggers for tone, then create a playbook for future reference that identifies automation, efficiency, and personalization opportunities. As you develop this playbook, be sure to collaborate with your martech partners on the strategy to ensure that you’re delivering the most value to your customers.

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meet the author
Elle Kross
Associate Director of Client Strategy at Movable Ink
Prior to joining Movable Ink, Elle Kross worked at TravelClick, a SaaS-based travel technology company. She later moved into Financial Services where she worked in ECM marketing, B2B marketing, and communication strategy. She joins Movable Ink from Citi, where she led the overhaul of the Credit Card businesses servicing communications. Most recently, Elle ran a team focusing on Citi’s ongoing initiative to drive digital as SVP of Drive-to-Paperless Strategy.

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