You’ve likely been inundated with news, updates, and alerts for the past few months as the world tracks 2020’s events and changes.
As a marketer, though, you’re probably not interested in hearing more of the same news from sites like ours. Rather, you want to know how to navigate your communications, especially as you’re transitioning with subscribers in uncertain times. And when it comes to subscribers and customers, you’re likely hoping to maintain the positive relationships you already have.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of ways you can continue communicating with your audience thoughtfully.
Read on to learn how you can both connect with your audience and organically ask them for feedback, ensuring relevant communications in a time of uncertainty.
Maintaining positive relationships with subscribers is more important than ever.
You may feel unsure of what kinds of email communications to send, though it’s best not to send messages just because it feels like the right thing to do. Instead, this is a time—perhaps more than ever—to send thoughtful, planned communications to your subscribers that provide them with needed information.
So, how can you continue to best communicate with followers? And how can you maintain the positive relationships you already have with the members of your email list?
Find new ways to appeal to subscribers during COVID-19.
While your subscribers are probably looking for a little normalcy, that doesn’t necessarily mean they want run-of-the-mill emails. Tone-deaf messaging and sales pitches could be off-putting if not done correctly.
1. Consider the emotional impact of your messaging.
Marketers are acutely aware of the emotional impact messaging can have, but emotions are running higher than ever right now. Marketers need to take the current environment into account when developing communications about products or services—especially communications that encourage going out or spending money in the current climate. The wrong message could have a strongly negative response.
Try meeting your subscribers where they are by giving them helpful, relevant content they can use. For instance, this newsletter from Bobby Berk provides content subscribers can use while social distancing:
This content shows awareness of people and their emotions. Instead of offering recipes that are complicated and unrealistic for the time, the newsletter provides recipes people can easily, readily make—without taking a trip to the grocery store.
2. Provide a chance for people to interact.
As in-person interactions decrease, companies and organizations have realized their digital resources are even more useful to subscribers. Clubs, classes, and apps have become readily available to interested users, as most in-person events have been postponed or canceled.
For instance, the Sundance organization made its Co//ab opportunities available online for free. Consider what your organization could offer as subscribers’ experiences change in their day-to-day lives.
And in the spirit of interaction, consider how you might create an opportunity for subscribers to interact with your brand (and potentially other subscribers).
By doing so, you provide an opportunity to benefit your subscribers with some of the social interaction they’re craving, as well as encourage brand recognition in the long term.
3. Lend a helping hand.
Not only should you provide benefits to the subscribers who make your brand possible, but if you are able (and not everyone is), it’s also great to show your subscribers that you’re taking initiative and doing something positive for the community.
Many consumers—Gen Z especially—are more likely to take a brand’s values into consideration and focus their attention on socially-conscious brands.
This example from Twitch illustrates how companies can use their platforms to give back. In this case, Twitch has coordinated influencers and celebrities to host a 12-hour charity stream.
Of course, it’s not enough to talk to your subscribers: You should also be listening to their feedback, which is always valuable.
Ask subscribers how they’re doing during uncertainty and crisis.
Instead of passively receiving information, many subscribers may actually want to provide feedback at this time. And while not all of it may be positive, your organization can benefit from showing them you’re listening.
How? Maybe you point subscribers toward your preference center, a survey, or maybe you offer subscribers an option to pause their subscription for 30 days.
Let’s cover a few of these.
Give overwhelmed subscribers the chance to pause your emails.
A few weeks ago, some of our team members discussed how best to handle the increase of COVID-19 news, updates, and emails. As people, we recognized how overwhelmed we were feeling, and we realized our audience probably felt the same. So, we decided to offer our subscribers the option to pause content emails from our brand.
Even though our newsletter is only sent once a week, we thought some people would rather have one less thing to think about. We sent out an email with that express message, and we received positive feedback about it.
Since then, we’ve noticed other brands doing the same. Like ecommerce lifestyle brand HardGraft, who gives their audience a chance to pause emails in this message:
Being empathetic with your audience is always best practice. Think about what they need now, and meet them where they are.
And if you’re not sure how to do that, ask.
Get a feel for your audience using a survey.
Surveys are a positive way to open a channel of communication between your brand and audience. And just as your communications must be well-constructed, your survey should be carefully planned.
Ask yourself a few questions:
- What do we hope to learn from this survey?
- How long should it be?
- Who will receive it?
Knowing what you want to learn from the survey will help you develop the proper questions (and fields) to send. Once you know how many questions the survey will include, you can begin to decipher how long it will be. For best results, surveys should be short and embedded directly within the email.
Once you’ve completed your survey, you should decide who will receive it. Do you have certain segments that might be more eager to provide feedback? Or do you have a list of your most engaged subscribers? No matter which lists you decide to survey, remember to test and see what methods work best.
The messaging around your survey should also be clear. Let subscribers know why they’re providing their valuable feedback and what you plan to do with it.
Here’s an example from Nashville restaurant Stay Golden. During COVID-19 and shelter-in-place mandates, restaurants have had to pivot. Stay Golden recognizes they may not have all the answers, so they’ve invited their audience to provide valuable feedback through a survey.
As you send your survey out, be sure to prepare your team for the results you might receive. Passionate subscribers will often have quite a bit of feedback, so consider how you can use their thoughts to improve your marketing efforts.
You may even show results to participants. Notice how Hers goes a step further and shows exact data from its survey results:
Whatever the results are, you should be asking yourself certain questions: Can products be streamlined to meet feedback? Can the customer experience be better? Whatever action you decide to take, you should plan to communicate results and upcoming changes with subscribers directly.
Notice how nonprofit-focused tech company Kindful went above and beyond. First, they sent out a survey to understand the challenges of their audience (nonprofit employees) during the coronavirus outbreak:
Then, they followed up with commentary from thought leaders in the space, hosting a webinar to talk through the findings, as well as discuss how nonprofits can face specific challenges.
As our way of life continues to evolve, consider how you can offer your subscribers consistent, relevant content they can trust.
Consider your audience’s feelings and how your communications can both affect them and meet them where they are. Provide tailored services your subscribers may need (perhaps now more than ever), and give them a chance to interact with your brand in the meantime.
Finally, show subscribers what you’re doing to help out. This may take form in anything from a benefit or charitable offering, to supporting subscribers by acknowledging their feedback and taking action.
By illustrating that your company is there and can show up when necessary, you can continue to build trust and maintain positive relationships with your email subscribers. And you might even improve your marketing along the way.