Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re seeing key themes emerge in customer communications. Brands are striving to be more human and empathetic, finding ways to support communities under economic duress. While “here to help” may be the most overused subject line in 2020, there are also opportunities for brands to help crisis-fatigued consumers by fostering community via virtual engagements.
Given the limitations to come up with new creatives at this time of social distancing, communications across industries are starting to look similar and tired. Brands looking to lead the narrative need fresh messaging across channels; bold and early differentiators will stand out in the current sea of repurposed communication materials.
For inspiration, let’s review best-in-class examples across five different industries: banking, credit cards, travel and leisure, retail, and telecommunications.
As the country enters another economic crisis, it is important for banks to provide as much support as they can for their customers. Whether that be through forbearance programs or payment extensions, customers and business owners must be made aware of the resources available to them during critical financial times. TD Bank sent informational emails to existing customers, encouraging them to request financial help through its TD Cares program.
While in-person contact is still limited, banks also must do their best to bring the human element into their products and services. Those brands that take a more human and empathetic approach will stand out from the rest. For example, Ally emailed customers a list of fun social distancing activities to make light of uncertain times.
Credit card issuers should be cognizant of shifts in consumer behavior and provide incentives for customers who choose to give back to local businesses and communities impacted most by COVID-19. Some travel cards are shifting their miles and points structures to be redeemable for staying at home and spending money on groceries, due to limited travel and restrictions on leisure activities. Chase notified Sapphire Reserve members of their new rewards structure, offering 5x points on grocery store purchases and eligible grocery delivery services like Instacart.
Citibank encouraged its card members to donate to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief fund, incentivizing them with redeemable ThankYou points. It is important for brands to highlight their continuous efforts to give back to communities during these uncertain times, and especially if customers will be rewarded for their good work.
Travel and Leisure
This summer, consumers’ preferences for road trips and private homestays could become the main draw for the rest of the year, and hotel properties are finding alternative ways to keep customers engaged on brand. Travel brands are also looking at new ways to provide value through existing and new partners, such as through shopping and dining portals.
Best Western responded to customer psyche and shifted its travel deals to car rentals and gas in June 2020, which were not prominently promoted pre-COVID 19. The brand communicated ways to earn and use rewards and touted its cleaning standards to cautious travelers.
Marriott promoted destinations that are suitable to altered customer preferences, such as private homes instead of popular hotel properties.
Understanding that now, and in the near future, purchases will be related to staying safe, stress-free, and entertained while social distancing, retail brands pivoted customer engagement to highlight items that enhance the stay-at-home experience.
Walmart, in particular, positioned itself as a one-stop solution for at-home entertainment by hosting themed family movie nights – accompanied by activities and products relevant to the screening. In doing so, it created a community feeling where many households could do the same thing virtually together.
Telecoms prioritized self-installation and remote repairs. To aid customers in the DIY space, communications have been proactive, kept simple, and provided instructions in multiple formats. Comcast integrated offers of free self-install kits into direct mail and email communications throughout the pandemic, sending more self-installation kit emails in March-April 2020 than ever before.
Spectrum Business’ recent communications prompted confidence as businesses start their uphill battle to reopening. It also offered fiscal support, promoting one month of free service to aid financial burden of returning to business.
Get more insights into messaging and creative use cases of direct mail during the pandemic from Comperemedia’s Mishu Rahman Din at our virtual BRAND United University on Sept. 29! In her presentation during Track 1: Print Marketing for Maximum Optichannel Performance, she will also highlight upcoming opportunities for direct mail both as a stand-alone channel, as well as part of the larger marketing mix. Learn more about the University and register here.