What do you say when it doesn’t feel like there’s anything you can say?
In the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak, multiple nations have declared states of emergency, travel is shutting down, and the World Health Organization has declared coronavirus a global pandemic.
The effects on the global economy are still unclear, but small businesses are bracing for impact as people practice social distancing and avoid public places, and the next few months are critical.
It’s hard to communicate with your customers at a time like this, because right now:
- You are probably worried about your own health and the health of your loved ones
- There are other areas of your business that need immediate attention
- People are focused on their health and following updates on the situation
- You aren’t sure what to say
Still, your customers need to hear from you. Everyone is wondering what happens next, and you can help by letting them know what’s next for you and your business. Now isn’t the time to stop talking to your customers.
How can you talk to your customers about COVID-19?
A lot of businesses are sending emails about COVID-19. It makes sense — the global situation is changing quickly and the economy is changing with it. If you run a business, now is exactly the time you want to be staying in touch with your customers (the people who are most likely to give you more of their business).
In some cases, those communications have useful information about the state of the business (whether it will stay open, or precautionary measures the business is taking).
At the same time, any message you send is likely to be one of many — and customers are starting to get overwhelmed.
Comments like this are becoming more common as the situation continues (Source, Twitter)
How can you avoid adding to inbox clutter?
- Share specific updates related to the status of your business (and measures you’re taking)
- Use automation and segmentation to make sure your messages go to relevant contacts
- Look for ways to offer your support (however you’re able)
1. Share the business updates that affect your customers
How does the situation affect the way customers interact with your business?
Existing customers might have questions about how they can contact you, or whether you’ll be available in the places they expect.
In your brief communication, quickly share:
- What has changed because of the situation (closures, delays in service, communications)
- What steps you’re taking in response to the problem
In the early days, we’ve seen a number of businesses start offering virtual options — even if they haven’t traditionally been online businesses.
Voice lessons are usually in person, but — in an email to current students — this voice teacher has started to offer an online option.
This is not an ideal situation. Still, we’ve seen many businesses work to adapt:
- Yoga teachers and personal trainers are offering remote sessions
- Universities have switched over to online learning
- Physical businesses redouble their efforts on ecommerce
If you have any measures you can take, it’s worth sharing that information with your customers. If there’s any version of your business that you can take online, this is the time to do it.
2. Make sure the right people get your messages
Inbox clutter is the result of too many businesses sending messages to too many people.
Businesses who send blasts to all of their contacts risk reaching people who have been inactive for a long time — and who aren’t likely to want updates.
Segmentation can help you reach only the people who are likely to be interested in what you have to say. Here are a few examples of steps you can take to improve the targeting of your coronavirus-related update:
- Limit your send to current customers (as tracked by customer tagging, customer lists, or custom fields)
- Check your engagement tagging or last engaged date automations to find people who have interacted with you recently
- Create a custom segment to limit your send based on who’s opened recent messages, who’s recently visited your website, or any other information you have stored in your customer experience automation platform
If you include a call-to-action in your email, automation can help cut down on the manual follow-up you need to do. You can trigger automated follow-up based on when people submit a form or click a link in an email — which frees you up to focus on other areas.
As you send these communications and shift business to happen online, you’ll also start to gather information you can use to send more precise messages. Having info about what your customers are interested in, who’s the most interested, and who’s most engaged can help you show people exactly what they want to see.
3. Look for ways to offer your support
We are in an unprecedented moment, facing an unpredictable future. As we practice social distancing and follow updates on an alarming situation, we have also noticed an incredible outpouring of people lending their support.
How can you give back? Not everyone is in a position that lets them — but also don’t underestimate the value in what you have to offer. Amid large-scale global relief efforts and aid for hourly workers, individuals have risen up to offer their time and expertise. Some examples we’ve seen include:
- Communities crowdsourcing lists of affected businesses, and how to support them
- Experts giving away their expertise for free — through webinars or one-on-one coaching
- Online education centers giving away free courses or offering curricula to parents suddenly forced to home-school their children
If you’re looking for ways to bring your expertise online with webinars, we put together a pack of resources to help you out. It includes everything you need — a webinar checklist of what to pay attention to, email templates, advice on content — to get started.
As always, ActiveCampaign customers can book a one-on-one strategy session with an ActiveCampaign expert to discuss changes you can make in your business.