Marketing automation in crisis communications
POSTED : May 11, 2020
BY : Stephanie Gaughen

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, marketers all over the world were suddenly thrust into the crazy and fast-changing world of crisis management as businesses in virtually every industry were impacted in some way. Whether you’ve had formal training in crisis communications or not, it’s stressful to suddenly scrap your existing projects to focus on effectively communicating changes to company policies, company news, and more. Like so many other areas of our lives as marketers, it can be very helpful to leverage marketing automation in crisis communications. Spoiler alert, as a certified Salesforce shop, Pardot is among our top recommendations.

Every organization should have a formal communications strategy that incorporates basic plans for crisis communications. These plans should address how communication strategy will take shape among potential stakeholders such as employees, customers, vendors, suppliers, and community members. You can’t plan for the unexpected but considering scenarios that could arise, especially in your industry, can help you stay calm and present a clear messaging strategy when the time comes.

So where does Pardot fit in?

Pardot is an excellent tool to help you deliver an effective communications strategy to your various stakeholders. When using Pardot integrated to Salesforce, it can help you easily pull segmentation lists of customers, prospects, channel partners, and other accounts in your database. It can also be used to deliver batch or automated emails to keep these stakeholders informed. Keep these tips in mind as you use Pardot for crisis communications.

1. Understand Database Health

Never is there a more important time than during times of crisis to ensure you have the data you need at your fingertips, and that you can rely on that data to be accurate. As a marketer using a system integrated to Salesforce, you should be participating in regular oversight meetings with other users in Salesforce to ensure the system is being properly maintained and optimized. These will help ensure you keep a pulse on database hygiene, particularly for those data points that relate to basic segmentation lists.

2. Automate List Management

If you’re using Pardot integrated to Salesforce, you’re in great shape to automate your lists via the Dynamic List functionality. Having key segmentation lists ready to go using the Dynamic Lists tool will help you deploy your communications strategy faster and easier. Dynamic Lists are just one more reason you want to work with your Salesforce administration team to ensure your database is squeaky clean and your Salesforce integration is configured appropriately.

3. Practice Basic Email Best Practices

Keep in mind that your communications may get more scrutiny during a crisis than on a normal business day. Branding consistency, concise copy, and email design responsiveness go a long way in ensuring your communication is effectively received. Use the “Rendering Test” to preview your email on multiple devices and browsers. Having responsive templates built and tested ahead of time will help you craft an email without the need for emergency coding assistance.

Also, keep in mind the length of your copy and subheads or calls-to-action where relevant. Breaking up your copy into multiple sections or directing readers to relevant, more comprehensive posts on your website can help readers understand the different facets of your messaging.

Finally, depending on the content of your message, explore whether the Operational email functionality in Pardot may apply in your situation. This feature enables you to send critical non-marketing emails to your audience, regardless of whether or not they have unsubscribed. Operational emails can be enabled in your Account Settings. They follow strict protocols since they bypass unsubscribe preferences from your customers and prospects.

4. Customize Your Email Sender

The email sender can have a strong bearing on whether your audience opens the email. Crisis communications might come from a high-level executive or from a unique crisis-related email address like [email protected]

In Pardot, emails can be sent from a General User, Specific User, Assigned User, or Account Owner. The General User option allows you to type-in a display name and email address. Before pursuing this, ensure that the email has been set up within your corporate email system.  By setting a custom reply-to address, you can direct auto-response messages to a different inbox.

5. Consider Automation

If you’re well versed in Pardot automation functionality such as Engagement Studio, consider if it makes sense to drop emails into an Engagement Studio canvas. You might, for example, want to send a variation of the same email to the same list based on if those recipients have opened any of the proceeding emails to ensure maximum visibility to the audience. Or, you may want to trickle out various tips and policies for recipients over a short period of time so they can focus on one messaging point at a time.

6. Gauge Effectiveness with Analytics

As with any Pardot asset, always start your campaign with a Salesforce Campaign and Salesforce Campaign hierarchy. Ensure you have Connected Campaigns configured in advance to bring campaign stats straight into Salesforce.

And, consider that your communications strategy may involve other channels other than Pardot emails, such as social media. Using the Pardot social connectors and connecting your posts to Campaigns will also help you track awareness and reach your audience.

Adding the Account Engagement History component to your Account layout in Salesforce will additionally help your sales team measure engagement at the Account level.

Open, consistent communication is essential in a time of crisis. This can be made easier through planning and through the use of marketing automation tools like Pardot.

Learn how to transform your customer experience with Pardot marketing automation.

About the author

Stephanie GuaghenStephanie Gaughen is a Senior Pardot Consultant at Concentrix Catalyst. She holds a master’s degree in media and communications. She has a passion for entrepreneurship, technology innovation and next-generation marketing.

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