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With the changes that come during a global pandemic like COVID-19, for many companies and marketers, it’s really difficult to know what business as usual should look like.

COVID-19 has caused organizations globally to reexamine and refocus everything—especially marketing strategy. Yet, as we begin to settle into a new normal, we must continue running our businesses—and that includes releasing new products and services.

So the question we ask is: How do you approach new product announcements in a time of crisis?

Having come across plenty of recent product launch announcements in our own inboxes, we rounded up the shining examples to give you some ideas, inspiration, and insight as you reconsider your approach to launching products during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s worth noting that not all launches will make sense at this time. While some companies have positioned their launches in a way that works well during this pandemic, it won’t make sense for all companies or products. It’s important to assess with your team whether a product launch will be received well during this time before moving forward.

VSCO launches new storytelling features to encourage connection.

Film and photo pundits around the world look to VSCO (Visual Supply Company) as one of the leading experts in composing, capturing, editing, and displaying visual imagery. It’s arguably most well known for the VSCO app, which has become a household name due to popular Instagram hashtags like #vscogirl.

In its product announcement on March 22, 2020, VSCO introduced its audience to a brand new feature, “Montage,” highlighting video composition and storytelling.

The unique aspect of the announcement: VSCO directly addressed the current environment, the challenges we’re facing as humans, and how its tools can help us overcome and connect. Here’s the email announcement:

newsletter from VSCO announcing their new Montage feature

While not appearing overly promotional of its platform’s ability to connect during a time of disconnection, VSCO brings users a light, hopeful message during a stressful and isolating experience. This empathetic message allows VSCO to announce its new product very subtly, as a visual tool which can be used to virtually overcome the challenge of connecting with others in an era of physical social distancing.

Finally, even though the announcement is primarily about the current state of the world, the email message provides readers with a call to action to try the new product, and see how they can connect with others.

Digiday broadcasts its values, challenges, and changes in the midst of COVID-19.

As a publisher in the advertising, retail, and fashion industries, Digiday puts forth its best foot with the use of a single word: “Adapt.” While the word reflects internal efforts at the company, it’s a sentiment that can be shared by everyone, across industries. It’s probably safe to say that Digiday’s entire audience has had to shift, alter, and adapt their respective business plans and strategies in the last 2-3 months.

The theme of adaptation influences the entire message, including the announcement of Digiday’s new website and membership services:

Digiday newsletter exploring the coronavirus landscape while announcing new site

What we loved about this email is the willingness of Digiday to share its own personal coronavirus journey to allow readers to feel connected by their own experiences. One could assume that this site launch was likely in development ahead of the pandemic, and despite current hardship, Digiday chose to move forward to better support its audience in a time of uncertainty.

The message is framed beautifully, showing Digiday’s care for its audience, acknowledging current challenges, and talking about how: 1) Digiday also has not been immune to these challenges, and 2) the new site is perfectly poised to equip its audience in these uncertain times.

Hardgraft respects its audience with the chance to pause.

While not exactly a product announcement, Hardgraft takes a moment to engage with its subscribe and give them the option to pause emails about upcoming products.

This is consistent with the other examples from an anthropological perspective—empathetic messages that take time to acknowledge how subscribers are feeling will serve your brand in the long run.

Though some might fear the business impact of extending an offer to pause emails, it’s a very simple way to show that a brand is thinking about its customers in a time where empathy is of the essence.

newsletter from hardgraft giving the option to pause emails

Nisolo supports its audience, gives free resources, and gently announces its newest arrival.

As an ecommerce brand focused on fair trade and living wages for all in its supply chain, Nisolo has always had a caring nature that shines through every message.

The standout aspect of this product announcement email is that it first focuses on the company’s subscribers and their emotional wellbeing. It’s not until later in the email that Nisolo announces its new slippers.

newsletter from nisolo that explores coronavirus landscape while launching their new slipper

Because a wall of text at the beginning might be a bit overwhelming to some, Nisolo nicely summarizes the sentiment and resulting resources into three quickly digestible graphics and links.

And one of the best parts of this email is at the bottom: This section is consistently reserved to focus on Nisolo’s mission, which is to create incredible products sustainably. The company altered this section to highlight how “No matter what is going on in the world, every Nisolo purchase guarantees living wages…” (emphasis added).

Even though this product has likely been in the works for a while, there is nothing canned or business as usual about this product launch. Nisolo approaches every sentence with care and consideration for its audience and the time we find ourselves in.

Wrap up

In the current coronavirus environment, it’s hard to see how launching a product can make sense for many brands. Given these great examples above, here are some key points to take away from the post:

  • Always think about your audience and customer first—what they’re going through, what their life is like, and how they’ll read your message.
  • Consider the level of focus put on your new product—is your message too self-serving? Is it inauthentic and not in alignment with the current environment? If yes to either or both, how can you pause or adjust?
  • Adapt your product offering, marketing language, and availability—think about how the product may be perceived in a vacuum, and ask your team if there are ways to pivot the launch.

See other timely marketing and email resources in our COVID-19 collection.

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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