7 Guiding Principles for Ongoing COVID-19 Crisis Communication Success
The unprecedented worldwide COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic crisis has introduced countless changes and new complexities into our daily lives, but also driven the use of new technologies and demand for increased digital communication. That said, SocketLabs encourages our customers to follow some simple advice to “remain calm and keep communicating effectively” during an ongoing crisis. This means treating your coronavirus outreach efforts with the same guiding principles and diligence you would typically leverage. SocketLabs offers 7 basic principles you can refer to as your guide for doing this. Companies following these principles are the ones creating the most positive outcomes for their audiences, their email sending reputation, and their business.
What we’ve learned from countless customer situations over the last 12 years is the path to communications success is being proactive, while taking a steady, logical and measured approach. This combination consistently allows businesses to create a positive, engaging experience with their audience to form long-lasting relationships. While these 7 principles are time-tested, they are also supported by the ongoing observations of our in-depth analysis of the millions of messages we monitor and successfully delivery via our high-volume platform every day.
Principle #1: Make Your Content Relevant
Think about your own experience and your own inbox. What are the messages you really appreciate seeing? If you’re like most people, it’s the messages with the most relevance and acknowledge the current situation we’re experiencing globally. But this is nothing new. Delivering a message with meaning will always be valuable. The key difference today versus a few months ago is the tone, urgency and empathy of the communication. We see two general categories of highly engaging content emerging during this time of crisis:
- Alert Business Communications: there are a wide variety of alert communications for traditional business cases. These cover everything from public health announcements, offers of extended payment terms, and notices concerning service changes, to event cancellations and postponements.
- New Products, Services & Relevant Offers: we see transactional and marketing traffic from emerging, event-driven use cases. These range from new online learning messages for our university clients, and expanded promotional outreach from online retailers, to new service offerings such as curbside pickup or delivery for restaurants.
For the immediate future, it’s a great idea to model your message content to follow one of these two themes to maximize engagement with your audience. The content examples below are of an event rescheduling announcement and a business closure notice.
If you are unfamiliar with crisis communications best practices, SocketLabs can help with guidance on the proper design, formatting, and authentication. We have assisted many organizations with alert communication throughout the years, including with templates to get you started. You can access these design templates or build your own from the ground up using our Marketing Center.
Principle #2: “Zero in” on Your Target Audience
Businesses that rely on high-volume email communications know the importance of targeting. It takes interested and engaged audiences to produce the activity and/or response that, in turn, will build your brand and your sender reputation. That said, it may be tempting in light of the current pandemic to wonder if the rules are now different. Simply put…they’re not. The rules of reputation management are every bit as valid now as they were before the coronavirus started making headlines.
Engagement levels are very important factors in the formation of your sending reputation. Therefore, you should avoid sending messages blindly to your entire customers database from the last 10 years (you probably don’t enjoy receiving those emails either, do you?). Instead, choose audiences for your COVID-19 responses that have recently engaged with your brand are appropriate for the communications you’re sending. That means targeting groups of recently active folks who are most likely to appreciate your messages.
Principle #3: Protect Your Emailing Reputation with Best Practices
The critical importance of smart sending practices is hard to overstate. However, the email behavior we have observed in past couple of months is mixed. While most customers embrace and follow best practices with their COVID-19 customer announcements and service alerts (some examples are mentioned above), other well-intentioned organizations are less than perfect. Observance of accepted sending practices is the key to a strong sender reputation that will continue to improve your deliverability rates far beyond COVID-19 and into all future email communications.
Principle #4: Be Prepared for Rapid Scale & Response
SocketLabs is observing a tremendous spike in activity for many organizations as they send out one or more COVID-19 coronavirus notices on our high-volume, on-demand email platform. With business-critical crisis communications, it’s important to maintain a delicate balance between under communicating and over communicating. As SocketLabs continues to see record email volume, we are proud to offer an on-demand solution which can scale to support the largest email senders globally.
Further, we’re proud to be handling this growth while at the same time forging ahead as a fully remote workforce. Our CEO Keith Hontz was recently featured in an article by Workpuls discussing how we effectively and proactively prepared for working outside the office. We’ve made this transition smoothly and are able to fully support our customers’ growth without any service disruption.
Since email continues to be a top channel for business–critical communications (especially crisis communications) it’s important that we can scale. But it’s also important that your organization is prepared for these types of volume surges. In fact, it’s more important than ever before. Having a properly warmed email sending infrastructure and easily accessible, pre-defined recipient lists are important prerequisites to being able to get your messages sent and delivered in a timely fashion.
Principle #5: Send Your Message at the Right Time
Great content isn’t the only driver of relevance. The timing of that message should be both appropriate and optimized. Regardless of the message type, there’s always a right time and a wrong time. And the “right time” can change quickly to a “poor time”, especially under conditions such as these. So it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse of social, political and other environmental conditions.
Regarding timing optimization. Consider A/B testing to find the best time of day to send your content. The ideal time is different for different audiences. Since your audiences’ receptivity levels are always changing, frequent testing and recalibration should play a significant role in your planning process. Remember, the best performing messages make an impact because they find an audience who is ready to engage.
Principle #6: Practice Good Hygiene (You and Your Lists!)
The discussions of wellbeing, healthy habits, and diligent personal hygiene practices have taken off in the recent weeks. These concerns are high on everyone’s list of priorities and they are the driving force behind a large percentage of the communications growth we’ve seen.
Less important on a human level, but very relevant for email success, is data hygiene and list accuracy. Strong data quality is a key contributor to email delivery success and is consequently essential to your sender reputation health. Validating data upon entry and conducting regular data cleansing or updating should be standard operating procedure.
Principle #7: Be Well Working Remotely & Celebrate Virtually!
This final principle applies to email communications and every facet of your business. Remember that we’re all in this together. SocketLabs invites you to make the best of the new business world that we’re operating in. We have established a working culture that frequently celebrates our individual achievement, our collective achievements, and the achievements of our customers (see our webinar on remote workplace success). Don’t forget to take time to recognize your team’s contributions. It’s what makes you special!
We also appreciate the opportunity to work together and serve our clients together – and we will not be deterred from celebrating because we’re now a fully remote work force! As evidence of our commitment to celebrate, see photo below which was taken late Friday afternoon during our first “Virtual Happy Hour”. We look forward to the time when we’re back together, but in the meantime, we’ll celebrate being well! We’re in this together and will get through this together.
Need Help With Your Email Communications During This Crisis?
For more details on how SocketLabs can help support your crisis communication strategy as it relates to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, please contact us at [email protected]. Our SocketLabs ABC (Alert Business Communications) program provides a turnkey solution for our customers to leverage email as a key communication channel with pre-delivered email design templates to support your crisis communication strategic and outreach efforts.