Standing Together, 6 Feet Apart.

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.

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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.

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NORDSTROM | 3/20/20 | A day at home done right
NORDSTROM is my favorite example of this. The header stands out, sits above the fold, and is short & concise. The color matches the email, so it doesn’t look tacked on. I personally prefer a header instead of a footer, because not everyone will scroll to the bottom of the email.

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Maurices | 3/21/20 | Final day: $10 off jackets, kimonos & cardis
I like Maurices wording, telling customers that “we’re in this together.” However, the header is fairly tall due to the headline. I might put that sentiment in the body instead.

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Williams-Sonoma | 3/22/20 | For your at-home coffee station: up to 50% off
I like the subtle textured behind Williams-Sonoma’s footer.

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LOFT | 2/23/20 | So pretty and so easy. (+ they’re $25!)
LOFT’s header is also nice, but I might prefer some breathing room below it.

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DICK’S Sporting Goods | 03/24/20 |
🚗Free & Fast Contactless Curbside Pickup Is Here!
DICK’S Sporting Goods skips the link and provides all the information in their footer. Some people might appreciate forgoing the link, as long as the text isn’t too long.

Stay Relevant

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
Date: 3/22/20
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.

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From: Aerie
Date: 3/25/20
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.

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From: Express
Date: 3/24/20

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.

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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.

From: LOFT
Date: 3/21/20
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!

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From: Anthropologie
Date: 3/24/20
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.

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From: Neiman Marcus
Date: 3/23/20
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.

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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.

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Forever 21 | 3/21/20 | ⏰ 50% OFF SATURDAY STEALS!
This message from Forever 21 is placed in the header. They point out that they are supporting the charity and urge their customers to do the same.

Casetify | 3/23/20 | Kill germs AND support coronavirus relief 💪
Casetify made their cause the primary message of the email. They are giving 100% of the proceeds of their UV phone sanitizer purchases to GlobalGiving. This way, the customer not only can help a good cause, but get something in return.

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Rejuvenation | 3/24/20 | Key pieces for your outdoor area
Rejuvenation says they’re teamed up with No Kid Hungry and ask for customers help to donate. Their message was placed in the footer of the email.

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?

Michaels | 3/23/20 |Stock up on boredom busters
for kids at our Lowest Prices of the Season!
So many people are feeling isolated, missing human contact. What better way to keep connected and raise spirits than to host a live video! That’s what Michaels is doing, weekly, with fun activities for the kids.

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IPSY | 3/24/20
IPSY is reaching out to their customer base via social media. They’re spreading encouragement and a “cure to boredom” with tips for self-care. This could easily be an email as well, but now might be a good time to put some positivity into a feed that’s currently overwhelmed with scary articles and arguments.

Pottery Barn | 3/25/20 | New ways to get FREE design help
Pottery Barn is offering free virtual design assistance. It’s a great way to give customers the personal care they’d normally receive in-store, now from the comfort of their home. I love the relatable copy: “The comforts of home are now more important than ever. While our stores are temporarily closed, here’s how we’re staying connected to help…” Their designers are available via video chat, phone or email.

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Osmo | 3/21/20 | New! Broadcast your desk with Osmo!
Some companies are going as far as to release free products and/or services! In this email, Osmo states, “With school closures in effect all over the country, we’re offering a free resource to facilitate remote learning.” Their free app allows sharing your note-taking (using your iPad and Osmo mirror) and can also be used for a face-to-face chat.

Our hearts go out to all the people of the world. Stay positive, remember that we’re all in this together, and stay safe!

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