How SMS Marketing Can Support Your Company's Crisis Communication

04/03/2020 3 min read Written by Corie Stark

The COVID-19 outbreak has influenced the country’s daily lives in one way or another. When a crisis such as this emerges, updating your internal and external network with relevant information can help keep your business moving forward – and ease the minds of your employees and customers.

There are several tools you can use to reach your contacts, but when it comes to crisis communication, the sooner, the better. With SMS marketing, you can instantly engage with your users in the quickest way possible. Here’s how you can use SMS for immediate internal and external communication.

Using SMS for Internal Crisis Communication

Local and state governments ordering “stay-at-home” policies is one of the most widespread impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. These orders constitute the closure of nonessential businesses and can come when owners are focused on work and not press conferences. Generally, once mandated, companies have 24 hours to comply. In this case, an email notification to your staff may not cut it. With SMS, you can send a mass text to your entire workforce to alert them of next steps, whether it means switching to a remote work environment, shortened operating hours, or closing down.

If your business has anticipated a stay-at-home order for weeks, you can provide continuous updates on what to expect as you await the announcement. Similarly, during natural disasters, brick and mortar buildings can be damaged, and urgent notices can be sent to your team.

If COVID-19 or another emergency impacts your business’s finances, you may have to make adjustments, and your employees need to know. For example, you may need to cancel events or conferences last minute or freeze hiring. With over 98% of texts being open within three minutes, your best bet on getting the word out and not surprising your employees is through SMS.

Companies experiencing drawbacks to COVID-19, like shutting down or sending employees to work remotely, can use SMS to maintain morale. Many workers aren’t used to shifting from the office to their home and can use words of encouragement, tips, or guidance. You can also send ideas for creating a work-life balance. It’s important to remember that during tough times, crisis communication doesn’t solely have to focus on the negative.

Using SMS for External Communication

Crises affect B2B and B2C companies differently, but both verticals need to inform their contacts of their availability. For instance, industries like retail, food service, and hospitality are facing the brunt of COVID-19 more than any others. Some states have deemed them nonessential, forcing their closures, while others have limited their services to delivery or take-out. SMS marketing can be used to reach mass audiences across city, state, and country lines. If your hours are affected, you can text thousands of people at once. If you’re doing everything in your power to keep your stores clean during COVID-19, SMS can express this quickly and efficiently.

Universities are another example of institutions needing to alert their audiences of dramatic changes. Large state schools have contacts that stretch from students, faculty, and employees – and they all need to know if the campus has gone to virtual classes or quarantined lockdown. School employees, like other workers, can also be sent to work from home, potentially muddying how people reach them. Text your network about how working remotely may alter any communication.

Health pandemics are, unfortunately, not the only example of when using SMS for crisis communication is valuable. Other uses include:

  • Alerting of data breaches or hacks 
  • Notifying about service issues or outages
  • Informing of event cancelations or changes
  • Warning of community danger (weather events, active shooters, forest fires)
  • Issuing product safety issues or recalls
  • Updating on the supply-chain
  • Advocating alternatives (i.e., if your shop is closed, suggest online delivery)

Tips to Increase SMS Engagement

Before sending your SMS campaigns, take into account some useful tips:  

  • Be clear and concise, but don’t use language that could panic your readers.
  • Don’t send the same message over and over again, as it could intensify fear or anxiety.
  • Send your texts during regular business hours.
  • Remember to always keep your unsubscribe option available.
  • Let your users text you back if they have questions or concerns.
  • Offer them resources, like a link to a blog about your company’s response to the crisis.

Get Help with SMS 

No matter your business type, using SMS marketing can help support your crisis communication plan. Timely notifications can give your contacts the confidence they need in your business as they navigate through uncertainty. 

By: Corie Stark

After spending many years as a sports journalist, Corie switched to marketing in 2013. Her love of writing, talking to people, and keeping up with the industry enables her to use her skills for anything from social media to long-form blogging. Outside of work, she enjoys hiking with her dogs and making her cats chase the ever elusive red dot.

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