Online, All the Time

Laura Boggs

Last week, we shared some of the ways Saltwater expects online behaviors to change as responsible social distancing and life under stay-at-home orders continues. 

We know people are online more and more as they work from home, utilizing social media and technology to stay connected with friends, family, and colleagues, and perhaps engaging in a little (online) retail therapy. 

While marketing may not be an essential function during these unprecedented times, we do know that businesses who market through economic downturns see increased market share and ROI on the other side. So, it’s critical that businesses are in the same online channels where their customers are spending increased amounts of time. Here are a few tips any brand can implement in their social and email marketing. 

Social Media Marketing:

Social media has long been a powerful, if ever-changing marketing channel. With customers turning in large numbers to platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay updated and engaged, social can now be an even more influential communication channel for brands.

But, with increased eyeballs, now more than ever it is critical businesses are thoughtful and deliberate about their social messaging. Not all content has to be rooted in COVID-19 and the new realities we’re facing, but it must be respectful and appropriate for the current climate. 

Everyone’s messaging barometer may be slightly different, but brands should err on the side of caution and be careful even with common phrases like “last chance” or “time is running out.” Traditionally used to create a sense of urgency and motivate desired consumer behavior, in these challenging times these casual phrases may come off as tone-deaf or insensitive. Try also to avoid visuals of large crowds, or other elements that have become taboo for health and safety reasons—see KFC’s pausing of their “Finger Licking Good” campaign

Because of the interactive capabilities, social is a great place to allow your customers to ask questions and show them you’re listening. Go live on Facebook and answer community questions. Utilize polls to understand what content customers would most appreciate. Start posts with mirroring messaging, such as “We heard customers wondering about…” and be clear about intentions, saying things like, “we thought this might help with…”. 

Now is the time to lead with empathy and be sure that every message you’re sending is serving your customers. If possible, utilize video on social, and, as we suggested last week, have leadership step out from behind the brand. Instead of a photo and caption, why not share a video with one of your leaders sharing information more directly? Everyone is learning how to adapt to the current situation and videos from your phone, yes, even without professional lighting, are more acceptable than ever. 

Email Marketing/CRM:

Your inbox is probably exploding with COVID-19 messaging from your bank, favorite retailer, streaming services, and every credit card in your wallet. While it’s an increasingly crowded space, email engagement is up and it can be an incredibly valuable channel when used correctly. 

If you’re not currently segmenting or personalizing emails, those are critical first steps. Even the most basic CRM tools provide ways to create unique audiences to ensure you’re providing the best, relevant information. Most also allow for some level of personalization, such as the customer’s name in the opening greeting. 

During times of crisis, regular communication is key, especially if your business is continuing to evolve with the situation. Letting customers know they can expect a weekly email on a certain day of the week can help keep those lines of communication open. A regular cadence of emails, without spamming or over sending, is always important, but even more so during times of uncertainty and change. 

As with social, not all content has to be virus or quarantine related, but it needs to be appropriate given the circumstances. And again, video is a powerful medium that can be utilized to make email communication more human, especially if there is a difficult message to be shared. 

Like you, the Saltwater team is continuing to adapt and find creative solutions to best support our clients and our team. We’re leaning into technology and sending production packages to our clients to facilitate at-home video production using individual smartphones. We’ve found this particularly successful for internal videos addressing operational or process changes. We’re also utilizing audiograms when video isn’t preferred or available. Internally, we’re sharing photos of our work-from-home setups, complete with babies and pets, across our Slack channels, and enjoying a good laugh as we experiment with Zoom backgrounds during team calls. We hope you, too, are finding the good in these challenging times and continue to stay safe and healthy. 


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