In early November, I received an interesting and unsolicited email from a national grocery chain:
“At Name of Store, we are already looking ahead to how we can better serve you in 2021. Please take a couple minutes to complete this survey regarding Valentine’s Day. The information you provide in this short survey will help us assist you in creating a memorable Valentine’s meal occasion at home.”
Valentine’s Day?? I’d just thrown out the jack-o-lantern and only recently started to think about Thanksgiving side dishes and – bam! – they want to know my thoughts about Valentine’s Day, a holiday that was more than three months away.
I found the email to be tone deaf. Now, I know I’m hyper-critical of corporate messages because of my profession, but during the early holiday season, in the midst of a pandemic, this message was a waste of time and effort – on the grocery marketer’s part and mine for clicking on it. It was also a reminder that it’s important to be sensitive to what is happening for your customer at the time they receive your email.
That said, here’s the one thing your company’s emails should address with clients, prospects and stakeholders right now: How can we help make things better for you today?
Your attention and sensitivity to the needs of your customer is always important, of course, but even more so now when everything is complicated by the coronavirus.
In March 2020, PR powerhouse, Edelman, released a special COVID-19 edition of their Trust Barometer. Their research revealed that successful brands “should find solutions instead of selling passion or image” and need to be “tangible and fast, not impressionistic and conceptual.”
71 percent of the 12,000 survey respondents agree that putting profit over people these days is a no-no – customers will “lose trust in that brand forever.” This is in line with previous Edelman research that showed that brand trust is equally as important as value, quality and convenience in purchasing decisions. The key takeaway here is that people DO care about what you say, how, and even when, you say it.
Before you send an email, ask yourself: why are you sending it? Regardless of pandemics, marketing should be about addressing a need. Why do you want to send that email? Is it because you have something to offer? What value does the message have for the recipient? Is it relevant in terms of timing and content?
Tone, language and timing are critical. Edelman recommends that “brands should communicate with emotion, compassion, and facts.” Don’t worry about selling. Emails should express how you are trying to make things better for the recipient. Now.
If you aren’t able to be helpful, consider not saying anything. Asking people to think about Valentine’s Day in early November with COVID cases surging and two other holidays more imminent falls into the category of “emails that shouldn’t have been sent.”
This post courtesy of MMC Account Manager Jennifer Kardian.