Is COVID-19 messaging fatigue real?

Melissa Sargeant is chief marketing officer at Litmus, a marketing company that helps businesses create emails that convert.

Q: It’s been about three months since the start of the pandemic. How have you seen marketers shift messaging in that time?

At the beginning of the pandemic, marketers didn’t want to push sales because of the sensitivity of the time, both socially and economically. Companies were – and still are – actively looking for ways to help ease burdens on their customers.

Now that the virus has been around for about four months, I think we’re on to phase two, which I’d call authenticity. Marketers should be creating authentic messages for their audiences that resonate with the brand and get right to the point. As for phase three, it’s extremely hard to forecast because things are changing so rapidly. If I had to guess, I’d venture to say personalization. The companies that are successful will be the companies that get personalization right. And, once they do this, they will need to gain meaningful insights from their programs and leverage that to drive greater personalization and overall effectiveness of their programs.

Q: You’ve used the term “COVID-19 message fatigue.” Can you explain the term? Do you have any data to reinforce your findings?

People have been inundated by nearly every brand they’ve ever interacted with, with messages of how the brand is acknowledging the pandemic and what its plans are for continuing or halting service. When those messages continue to pour in, people may gloss over anything related to coronavirus because they’ve seen so much of it out there.

Q: How can marketers combat COVID-19 message fatigue?

Marketers first need to analyze how much of their messaging really needs to center around the coronavirus. At this point, because we’re in a “new normal” it goes without saying that coronavirus is happening and impacting people again and again. Marketers should collaborate with their teams to ensure messaging for email and other channels hits the right cadence, depending on the industry they’re in. For example, retail marketers have to keep sending information out related to COVID-19 because there’s logistical information they need to share like business hours or personal protective equipment requirements. Ultimately all messages sent should be truly helpful information that’s authentic to the brand.

Q: How important is email for brands right now?

Email is vital for marketers to stay in touch with customers and subscribers, a meaningful way to deliver personalization and create one-on-one connections. After all, people have opted into their messaging and those that tailor and personalize those messages in an authentic way are best positioned to deliver on this.

Q: As the national landscape continues to change, what would you encourage marketers to implement in their workflows to ensure they’re delivering the right message at the right time?

An email marketer’s job isn’t done once they press send. They need to understand what happened after the email was opened, because there’s so much more to email than clicks, opens and subscriber rates. For example, was it forwarded? To whom? What did they do with it? By garnering these insights, email marketers create a continuous cycle of improvement and make their email program more effective over time.

Click on any of the articles below to read more from our special report. Pricing challenges posed by a pandemic Is COVID-19 messaging fatigue real? COVID-19 accelerates expected B2B sales trends Pandemic selling by the numbers Managers in the recovery can focus on change 4 tips for more engaging remote sales presentations


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