The last thing any online retailer wants to do is to look like they are taking advantage of unfortunate situations like natural disasters and unforeseen tragedies. During times of national or even global crisis, online marketers need to be hyper-ware of the messages they are sending. They also need a solid plan to deal with a crisis.
Even a small, unintentional misstep is likely to yield negative perception that can be magnified via social media. It’s best to take a step back and be vigilant about all of your marketing efforts. That means reviewing all your current and near-term marketing efforts. Change anything that could be deemed in any way inappropriate, insensitive or downright offensive in the current climate.
Put People First
If your business is not in the affected area, check on all remote employees and your partners to make sure they are safe. Offering resources or any help you provide is best. Then assess whether their work for you will be impacted. If so, you’ll have to take it off their plate, postpone the activity, or make alternative plans to get the tasks done.
See What’s in the Pipeline
Review any online activity, such as automated email promotions, tweets, facebook posts, blog updates, etc. Make sure all email subject lines and copy are appropriate. Having a “blowout sale” right after a hurricane, isn’t a wise choice. And it’s just insensitive. Avoid “loaded” words. For example, if you sell organizational and storage products, ad copy that touts how someone can transform their space from a “disaster area” to a neat, organized space, could be taken the wrong way.
Check in with all partners and affiliates. Communicate your need to be sensitive to those impacted by the crisis and ask that they do the same. After all, your affiliates promote your products and if their messaging strikes the wrong cord, your brand will be negatively impacted.
Use Social Media Wisely
Social Media is an effective platform for communication. When you engage on social media during times of crisis, offer your condolences, support or whatever is appropriate. You can also put up links for relief efforts and groups helping those impacted.
Help and Let Other Join in
If you are planning to donate to help those affected, you could promote a matching effort on your site. Or allow people to shop through your site and have a portion of each sale donated to a specific relief organization. This gives your customers a way to feel good about doing business with your company, and contribute to relief and rebuilding efforts.
Being sensitive and not capitalizing on the misfortune of others is just basic decency. In times of crisis it’s best to put compassion and caring ahead of profits.