Though the initial rush of COVID-19 emails may have subsided, the need for email marketing to be empathetic and helpful during these times hasn’t (and never should). Much like you, here at Litmus we’ve been getting plenty of emails in our inboxes about what companies are doing to support their employees, their subscribers, and the community as a whole, and we’ve been taking a close look at how those companies stay connected to their subscribers using the most powerful channel they’ve got: email.
What we found is there are so many brands out there pivoting their messaging to solely focus on helping subscribers, keep everyone up to date on what they’re doing to ensure the safety of their customers and employees, and remain as helpful as possible, no matter what that might look like. What works for one brand might not work for another but it’s always helpful to learn, so we pulled together some examples from brands across different industries—empathetic emails that were just right for their products and audiences.
Asana provides resources for working remotely, from a team brand new to remote work
Like many teams across the globe, Asana’s employees have shifted to full-time remote work for the very first time and are learning how to navigate this new dynamic—and they know their customers are, too.
Asana sent out a few different emails to customers about their response to COVID-19, but this email is solely focused on remote work resources, including how Asana can help you work remotely.
Chock-full of resources of all kinds—articles to read, guides to peruse, webinars to watch—Asana’s email is an excellent example of providing relevant, engaging content that’s helpful for everyone, whether you’re a customer of theirs or not, and ties in the Asana product in a way that’s powerful without being pushy. Plus, at the bottom of the email, Asana highlights how they’re supporting their nonprofit customers (and potential customers) during this time of need by providing free accounts for eligible groups; this is just another wonderful way that Asana is focusing on customers and the community.
What you can learn from this email: Are you and your customers in the same boat? That’s an opportunity to pull back the curtain, show how your team has been handling the challenges—and build a human, personal connection along the way.
McDonald’s convinces with transparency, sharing every step they’re taking to keep customers and employees safe
Normally, restaurants provide a sense of community—they’re a place to meet and hang out after school or work, a much-needed treat after a soccer game, or simply a weekly routine. So during times of crisis, it’s easy to see why restaurants are considered an essential service. Though the basic elements of creating community might be lost when in-person dining closes, restaurants everywhere can still provide a feeling of normalcy, and this isn’t lost on McDonald’s.
Rather than sending out an email with condolences or well wishes to subscribers, McDonald’s takes this email to create transparency and lay out a concrete plan for next steps, including the increased sanitation of all locations, closing children’s playgrounds in restaurants, encouraging the community to move to the Drive-Thru, and encouraging employees to wash their hands more regularly and be as cautious as possible. With a letter-style, simple design that doesn’t utilize any imagery, McDonald’s makes sure the focus is on the copy.
Though it may be a bit long, McDonald’s wastes none of their words and says, without a doubt, that the community and employees around the world are their “number one priority.”
What you can learn from this email: What are the questions that your subscribers might have right now? Put those at the center of your messaging and don’t be afraid of using simple, no-fuss designs to frame copy that has the answers. If the focus of your campaign is on transparent copy that provides guidance, a simple, letter-style design might just be the best fit.
Tattly shares fun activities to do at home with family
In our webinar on best practices for email marketing during a crisis, one of the best practices we mention is “The world is chaotic. Don’t add to that chaos.” Tattly, a company that provides temporary tattoos by real artists, practices this idea perfectly.
Nearly everyone is feeling elevated levels of anxiety, and many of us have divided attention with children at home, too. So with this email, Tattly’s goal was to provide joy to subscribers by providing “tried-and-true DIY activities that we know both kids and kids-at-heart will love doing at home.”
These activities are not tied to their product in any way—and in fact, when they do mention their product, it’s framed in a way to send some light and joy to someone else instead of yourself. Plus, it’s hard to not feel cheery with Tattly’s fun, colorful email design. (Shout out to the pun at the end of their email that these uncertain times are only temporary, just like their tattoos.)
What you can learn from this email: When it seems like everyone is sending out their own version of a crisis email for COVID-19, it can feel really hard to stand out and provide true value to your subscribers. It’s important to think about what your subscribers and customers truly need at this time—and that might not be your product, but something you can offer, like Tattly’s curated list of DIY activities. Take a moment to ask yourself if you provide something your subscribers truly need, and if the answer is no, think of other ways you can provide value and avoid adding to the chaos.
Everlane supports national nonprofits
One of the biggest groups hit by this crisis—and the suspension of in-person events—is nonprofits. Plus, they can’t necessarily pivot their messaging away from donation and business as usual, either, since they depend on those donations to stay afloat already.
One way that some companies in other industries have decided to pivot their messaging is by supporting nonprofits local to them, whether donating all or a percentage of profits, volunteering, or by other means. Everlane is partnering with Feeding America by donating 100% of their profits of a new, specific collection during this time, and they use this email to announce their partnership.
Everlane knows that clothes—especially nonessentials—aren’t necessarily what you’re interested in spending money on right now. But a new product line that entirely benefits a nonprofit might resonate with your audience and build relationships in the long-term.
What you can learn from this email: Everlane says it best in their email: “We’re in this together.” If your brand is in a position where you can support nonprofits and organizations on the front lines during a crisis, consider that approach for a percentage of your overall profits, 100% of the profits of a new product line, or some other form of support—and share the news with your email subscribers and customers. Nearly everyone is looking for a way to help others right now, and providing a way to do that for your customers like Everlane has done is top-notch.
MADE asks their subscribers what they need
Some companies are in a position where they offer products that are in high demand right now—we’re thinking home workout apps, puzzle makers, grocery stores, productivity tools for remote work—but others aren’t, and are finding themselves in need of a messaging switch.
When many customers are cutting down on expenses (and your products might not be on the top of the priority list), what should your brand do? Can you continue to market without coming across as tone-deaf?
If you’re one of the brands struggling to figure out what to say and how to say it, check out this powerful example from designer furniture company MADE.
They’re still open and delivering to customers, but they want to make sure to provide relevant, helpful information to email subscribers instead of acting like business as usual. But they also realize that everyone’s spending a bit more time at home than normal, and that makes you think differently about how your home office is arranged and what makes you comfortable. With that in mind, MADE decided to directly ask subscribers what would be helpful for them and their families.
What you can learn from this email: Listening to your audience and understanding what content resonates with them is one of the most crucial aspects of marketing—and that’s especially true in times of a crisis when a well-intended campaign might come across as tone-deaf. Don’t be afraid to ask your subscribers for feedback on what they’d like to hear from you, either by replying to your emails, filling out a survey, sharing their thoughts on social, or whatever other feedback channels you might find appropriate.
Did another brand stand out to you in your inbox? Share them in the comments!