EXPERT GUIDE

Copywriting and COVID-19: How to talk to your customers appropriately

Marketing during the coronavirus pandemic has been a challenge for many businesses, especially when it comes to choosing the right messaging.

Publishing overly promotional content like it’s business as usual can make you look disconnected from reality, while a poor choice of words has seen brands shamed on social media for a perceived lack of sensitivity.

No one wants businesses to stand still during the COVID-19 crisis, but you should think about your customers’ changing needs and what they’re dealing with to make sure you’re writing content that’s appropriate in tone and message.

To achieve those ends, coronavirus copywriting should be…

Relevant

If Covid-19 has impacted on your business and how you serve your customers, this should be communicated clearly and visibly on your website and social accounts and in newsletters.

If you’re in an industry that’s been hit hard by lockdowns (such as travel or events), you may have to adjust your content strategy from urgent promotions to a longer-term view.

Even if your business has been up and running throughout the pandemic, your customers might not respond well to urgent offers in their feeds that don’t seem all that important right now.

If you’ve scheduled content or marketing messages in advance, these should be checked regularly to make sure they don’t include anything irrelevant or insensitive in light of current events.

Think about how you can make a contribution, not a conversion.

YouTube is now the second most popular website in the world (after Google), according to Alexa rankings, and videos are becoming ever more prominent in Google search results too. The leading social networks Facebook and Instagram have also become major video platforms in their own right.

Sensitive

From unemployment to bereavement, the Covid-19 crisis has caused severe hardship for many people who will be viewing your marketing messages, so you need to avoid causing unintended offence or hurt.

While laughter can be a great medicine, being too upbeat or making light of the situation can make businesses look insensitive and should be avoided for the time being.

Stay vigilant for certain innocent words and phrases in your marketing messages that have now taken on a different meaning – such as viral, killer and health-related metaphors.

Consider modifying your offers and easing up on urgency. “Call now” or “book now” buttons are fine; but excitement or scarcity driven copy like “Grab your spot before it’s too late!” may not resonate with customers or businesses right now.

Positive

However bleak things may look behind the scenes, remaining cautiously optimistic could help to comfort your audience.

 Avoid making predictions about the future. Focus instead on how you’re supporting your customers right now.

While positive messages can inspire hope, telling customers how they can “take advantage of” or “capitalise on the opportunity” will make you look more than a little callous. If you can help people to find a positive in the situation, say it with more neutral phrasing.

Trustworthy

If you’re keeping your followers updated on how Covid-19 is affecting your business, make sure your sources are reliable. Including a link to a credible source will help to reassure readers.

Make sure your information is accurate for where you and your customers are based. Even within Australia, lockdown laws and other recommendations vary from state to state.

Publish time-sensitive content in a timely manner. Your information might have gone out of date if you leave your update until after the weekend.

If you’re covering news that doesn’t directly relate to your business, consider whether people should really be getting their coronavirus news from your brand.

Flexible

With the situation and recommendations changing fast, you should avoid mentioning specifics in copy unless they’re relevant, or they could quickly go out of date.

Linking to a dedicated coronavirus information page on your website means you’ll only have one page to keep updated and won’t have to change your evergreen homepage and service pages (unless some of the content is inappropriate).

If you do edit older content, keep a document with changes tracked so it’s easier to restore the original version in the future.

Keep hold of cancelled content and marketing plans for a time when they may be relevant again or easily modified.

For more advice about digital marketing during Covid-19 and beyond, contact our team to organise a free strategy session.

Think about how you can make a contribution, not a conversion.

If you could benefit from expert help for marketing, contact our team to organise your free strategy session.

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