How to Utilize Email Marketing During a Crisis

Building email into your crisis communication program can help get the message out to your customers.

When crisis strikes, businesses need to be ready to address the issue and communicate with their customers. A quick response can help reassure the public that you are taking the necessary steps to resolve the problem with their needs in mind.

Does your company have a plan in place in the event of a crisis?

If your answer was no, you’re not alone. In fact, only 54% of companies have a developed crisis plan in place. But when you consider that 79% of decision-makers believe they’re only 12 months away from a potential crisis, that’s a big problem.

This means that many companies will find themselves unprepared when an unexpected event occurs.

Most companies believe that it’s not if a crisis will happen, it’s when. Business leaders should always be thinking of what potential crisis could occur and how the company will need to respond. Image courtesy of Management Help.

Here’s the good news, this doesn’t have to happen. You can develop a crisis communication plan that outlines how your company plans to react, communicate, and resolve a situation when it occurs.

And building in the use of email to reach your customers should be one of your top communication methods. There are a number of reasons why email is a great solution for crisis communication, but it needs to be done right.

In this article, we’ll take a look at why email is a great way to communicate with your customers during a crisis and a few tips to use it to its fullest potential.

Here’s a quick look at what we’ll cover:

  • Providing a quick response and addressing the issue head-on
  • Updating your customers on what actions you plan to take to address the crisis
  • Reviewing other marketing communication and determining what should be halted
  • Letting your customers know you care

4 Tips for Positive Crisis Email Response

Planning out your crisis response methods ahead of time will save you time and headache when an event occurs. Knowing exactly what steps to take and when will help provide a smooth process and keep everyone updated on the important details.

Using email to reach your customers during this crazy time is a great option. It is a quick and easy communication method that will allow you to reach all of your customers in one click. But if it’s done wrong, it could make the situation worse.

Let’s look at a few tips to help you plan for the best email experience during a crisis.

1. Respond Quickly and Address the Issue Head-On

When a crisis happens, you need to respond quickly and address the issue head-on. Waiting too long to address the issue can have a negative impact on your brand. You risk damaging your reputation and losing control of the information that is shared.

There are a number of things a crisis can affect your business, but for many, the company’s reputation is most impacted. Planning ahead and having a communication plan in place can help you respond quickly. Image courtesy of Deloitte.

A quick response will allow you to get ahead of any news or media that may be reporting on the situation. By doing this, you can share the correct information from the start and provide your customers with the details straight from the source.

Email is a great way to quickly generate emergency communication to your customers. Let them know about the situation right away by sending it directly to their inbox. Some situations may warrant more than just an email, but it should be one of the primary communication methods to address your audiences.

Here are a few reasons why you should respond quickly and be straight forward with your customers:

  • Not discussing the crisis could cause confusion or stress for your customers and employees
  • Other outlets such as the media could misinterpret the situation
  • You risk affecting your brand reputation by staying silent for too long

Having a plan in place and quickly responding to a crisis can make all the difference. If your company is going to recover from the situation, you need to have open communication from the start.

2. Tell Your Customers What Actions You’re Taking

The next thing you should be addressing is what actions you are taking to resolve the issue. While this may not be figured out during the first communication, you need to let your customers know you are working on a solution.

You need to be transparent about what steps are happening to mitigate or resolve the situation. Send emails that tell your customers, employees, and other interested parties exactly what steps you will be taking and how they will help resolve the issue.

Being unprepared for a crisis can be a costly mistake. Even just a minor IT security event can cost your business upwards of a million dollars. That’s why having an email communication plan with steps in place is so important.

Even just a minor event can cost your company a substantial amount of money. Plan ahead and act quickly to help recover some of those funds. Image courtesy of Bernstein Crisis Management.

While it can be difficult to predict when and what type of crisis may occur, having a step-by-step plan for many of the common types of crisis can help you prepare for an event.

Here are a few scenarios to consider having a crisis plan in place for your business:

  • Natural disaster
  • Environmental issues
  • Cybersecurity
  • Product recalls
  • Employee misconduct

Once the crisis has been resolved your communication should not stop. Continue using your email platform to share the next steps and company updates with your customers. It will let them know you have a continued commitment to their needs.

3. Consider Halting Any Other Automated Email Campaigns

It’s a good practice to take a look at your current email marketing campaigns and pause anything that is scheduled to go out in the near future. Without a documented process in place, many companies may overlook this and it could hurt their crisis response efforts.

Think about what content was scheduled to send. Does this information still make sense to send to your customers? Does it now contradict the message you’re trying to promote? Making sure you are aware of what emails are scheduled will save you from potentially having to clean up another mess.

Looking at other customer communication expected to launch in the near future should be part of your crisis plan. Companies that don’t consider this may be sending messages out that conflict with their current needs. Image courtesy of Reputation Management.

Some emails will be fine to continue sending, in fact, some should continue to send. For example, you don’t want to stop transactional emails. If a customer makes a purchase, they may be confused or frustrated if they don’t receive a confirmation email.

Here are a few things to consider when determining what emails should be paused:

  • How will customers react to this email being sent now?
  • Are there subject lines or content that are insensitive to the current issue?
  • Will this email benefit customers?
  • Does my customer need this information right away?

Automated email campaigns are easy to forget about, but are important to visit in a time of crisis. You need to have full control of what is being sent to your customers and forgetting about an email that could fuel the fire could put a big dent in your response plan.

4. Let Your Customers Know You Care

Last but not least, make sure to let your customers know you care about their wellbeing and needs.

Your customers and employees may be stressed out or confused about the situation happening. Reassuring them that you care about them and are taking every action to make things better can help ease their fears. The more trust they have in your company, the more likely they are to stick with you through this tough patch.

Email is a great way to communicate with all of your customers on a more personal level, use that to your advantage. Make sure they know that your company cares about their needs and that you’re working to improve their experience.

Be Prepared With an Email Response Plan

Having a crisis response plan is extremely important for any company. When you consider the plethora of scenarios that could affect your business, it’s important to be prepared. Emails should be a big part of your response plan to get the information out to your customers as soon as possible.

With email, you can quickly address the issue, outline your next steps, and reassure customers that you have their best interest in mind. Don’t let a crisis take down your company, be prepared and have a communication plan in place.

Image courtesy of Crisis Management