Our country and the world are facing a difficult time right now – emotionally, physically and financially. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, businesses are being forced to close their doors, putting them in a hard position. What they do now will have a large impact on the future of their companies.
So what are some things that may help you through this difficult transition? First and foremost, be transparent with your customers. Let them know what plan you have in place whether it be closing/opening dates, steps you’re taking to make your retail space safe, or if your products are still available online. I received dozens of emails (in paragraph format) to this effect. That’s a great start, but what’s the next step? Rather than continuing on with emails as usual, here are some things you can do.
Add a Header or Footer
Due to the overwhelming amount of those text-heavy emails coming in, sorry to say it, but a lot of people might not have read it or it became a blur with all others they received. It’s a great idea to include a header or footer to your future emails with a link to that information. It’ll be especially helpful as this information might change day-to-day. This way your customers stay informed and you won’t need to send another lengthy communication.
No one anticipated this pandemic happening when emails were planned and designed months ago. I was surprised to still be receiving an email about “Easter Entertaining.” Not a lot of people are thinking about entertaining right now on account of social distancing. Don’t fret, making emails relevant doesn’t mean you need to start from scratch. You may be able to work an angle with a simple change of subject line and headline.
From: Sur La Table
Subject Line: Cooking at home? We’ve got your back.
Sur La Table starts off right with the subject line, “Cooking at home? We’ve got your back.” The email offers many cooking essentials including cooks’ tools, sheet pan seasoning mixes, food for the pantry, and more. They also suggest cooking activities for the whole family, provide a link to instructional videos, and recipes. My favorite is this sentiment that they saved for last: “Let’s cook together (apart). Creating happiness through cooking and sharing good food is what we strive to do every day. And these days it’s more important than ever.” I love the variety of content and warm feeling this email gives. The design is stacked (without flow), but it’s easy to scan with large titles, minimal text, and large call-to-actions.
Subject Line: Boredom busters are here! Look inside for creative projects to make with your kids.
Michaels sends an email packed with screen-free “Boredom Busters” for the kids stuck at home. It includes a project of the day, links to multiple crafts, a video on making slime, toys, and art supplies to purchase online. Basically, loads of options to keep the kids entertained. True to Michaels style, the email is insanely long; I would prefer if the sections were condensed, perhaps using a grid layout instead of stacking. However, it’s very scannable with large images and minimal text.
Subject Line: Class is cancelled? Get a kit.
So far we’ve seen an email targeting adults, and one for kids. UncommonGoods bridges the two with DIY projects for the whole family. It begins with an animated gif full of “DIY Kits” including: beer brewing, herb cooking, truffle making, rocket-ship cake building, and more. It’s then broken down into categories like puzzles, kids’ crafts, self-care, mixology, etc. There’s even a section for teens. I’m a little confused by the call-to-action “Send them some birthday love” at the bottom. I feel like it would make more sense as it’s own section. Overall, the design is fine — simple and straight forward. I like the gif, but not the lack of flow. I also feel the headline could have been reworked to fit the situation better.
We’re In This Together
Remind customers they’re not alone. Here are some emails that conveyed this sentiment by including photos of their staff from home.
Subject Line: Something to brighten your day
I love this message from LOFT. The copy is heartfelt, conveying this is new for all of us, but we’re in it together. They include pictures of their staff (at home) with their fur-babies. They say, “We hope it brings you a little lightness today.”
Subject Line: Love & comfy thoughts from our homes to yours!
Aerie sends their customer base “feel good vibes” with pictures of their employees wearing comfy store-favorite outfits. They also ask subscribers to share their comfiest pics on the Aerie Instagram page. I like the animated background, image flow, and varied text placement.
Subject Line: TREAT YOURSELF ✨ 40% off EVERYTHING
Express staff members sport their mood-boosting, confident-building, work-from-home outfits-of-the-day. They also allow you to shop for some of the looks. Each ensemble includes a quote that tells you why it makes a good WFH outfit. The quotes are the perfect amount of personal and I LOVE it. “We’re a week into WFH & I’m already over sweats…I definitely felt more confident in my video meeting.” The email finishes off with pictures of employees’ pets at their home computers. I appreciate the addition of the animals, but how they incorporated them is a little strange. They say the pets have “top product picks” which aren’t in the photographs, you only see the products with a flip of an animated gif.
Send Warm Wishes
Many people are feeling a combination of depression, restlessness, anxiety, and grief. It’s a great time to let them know you care for their well-being. Here are a few retailers that promoted self-care or a simple check-in.
Subject Line: We’re thinking of you, Amy
LOFT is filling my heart with warm fuzzies. They sent this email saying they want to check in to see how I’m holding up. <3 “We’re thinking of you, and hoping for sunnier days ahead.” They also include ways to make life easier for their customers — free shipping, live chat, a lounge shop for comfy stay-home style, and positive vibes on their LOFTimist Instagram page. Not to mention the subject line which includes my name: “We’re thinking of you, Amy.” Thanks for the love, LOFT!
Subject Line: It’s golden hour ✨
Anthropologie is attaching a “work-from-home edit” header that includes online exclusive deals. This email also brings a little self-care zen during a time of chaos. They ask customers to find a moment of calm, take a relaxing nap, and have a cocktail. The warm sunny photos bring a feeling of tranquility.
From: Neiman Marcus
Subject Line: Spa-worthy trending beauty
Neiman Marcus sends Wellness Vibes to their subscribers. “Create your own at-home beauty retreat with skin treatments & luxe goodies to help you reach nirvana.” Just because we’re stuck at home doesn’t mean we can’t have a spa day, right? They go on to list trending beauty products that can be purchased online.
Make a Difference
Someone told me, “Look at how businesses are taking care of each other during this time to know who to support when it’s over.” That could mean caring for your staff or the many people in need worldwide. When Disneyland closed their doors, they donated the food from the park. Medical TV shows donated masks from their sets. There may be similar ways to help out that won’t cripple your financial situation. If you’re able to donate during this hardship, good on you and let it be known to your customers.
Think Outside the Box
Some businesses are going the extra mile to offer new services or leniency on their regular policy to help people out. For example, Home Goods & Aéropostale announced that they’re extending their product return policy. DICK’S Sporting Goods and Michaels are offering curbside pickup. What new ways can you think of to improve your customers lives or at least make it a little more convenient?
Our hearts go out to all the people of the world. Stay positive, remember that we’re all in this together, and stay safe!