Taking care of customers in a weather emergency (real or otherwise)

February 3, 2019 | 5 minute read
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You heard about Juno, right? The blizzard that was set to bury Manhattan beneath seven feet of snow?

Well, those of us in the Big Apple ended up only receiving about seven inches. But our subways had been shut down, parks were closed and there was a citywide traffic ban put into effect just in case the storm turned out to be as epic as predicted.

And you know who else was on high alert? Retailers and service providers.

While a majority of retailers hoped that snowed-in customers would be in the mood to “Shop The Sale!”, I received several great marketing emails filled with relevant, timely and informative content.

And now that Punxsutawney Phil has predicted six more weeks of winter, I thought I'd share some blizzard-related emails. They might help you serve up great content to your customers the next time they’re forced to hunker down at home.

From Your Friendly Service Providers

In these examples, companies from Time Warner Cable to Uber anticipated any questions or concerns their customers might have during the storm, and provided useful tools and information they might need.


From Con Edison
SL: Blizzard 2015: Stay Safe and Report Power Problems Right Away

Email Marketing Con Ed

This email includes a short video on how extreme weather can cause power outages, plus how to report one. And in case people didn’t have time for a video, a lot of the same information is below in a clean bulleted list. There’s even a link to an interactive map that will tell you if an outage has already been reported in your area. This makes the customer feel like they’re in control. Plus, it no doubt limits the amount of phone calls Con Edison might receive otherwise.

From Time Warner Cable
SL: Storm Juno – Time Warner Cable Preparations

The second largest cable company in the U.S. sent a similar email on the day of the storm:

Email Marketing Time Warner

Sure, the email isn’t fancy looking, but the copy is clear and confident. They cover all the ways Time Warner has prepared for this storm, what to do if you experience any service disruptions, and three ways to stay on top of their latest updates.

From Instacart
SL: Prepare for Winter Storm Juno

Instacart, a popular grocery delivery service, let its readers know that it was staffing up to get all of their orders out the door before the storm. But they also warned customers that some basic items might be out of stock, and that ice and snow would probably delay their deliveries.

Email Marketing Instacart

Once the storm had passed, they even sent a follow-up email letting hungry customers know that they would resume grocery deliveries at 2pm.

From Uber
SL: Stay Safe and Read Before You Ride

On the afternoon of the storm, Uber let its customers know that they’d still be offering rides that evening and that rates would not exceed 2.8x the normal fare. Even better? All Uber proceeds from that evening would be donated to the American Red Cross.

Email Marketing Uber

From Some Popular Retailers

On the other side of the spectrum were your traditional marketing emails. But these few really stood out to me.

From Free People
SL: In Case of Emergency…

Email Marketing Free People

Sure they asked me to shop their 300 new styles, but at the bottom they included timely content from their blog on their favorite “steamy drink” made with “superfood ingredients”. I’m not a huge foodie, but it definitely made me curious enough to click.

From Jack Threads
SL: Make Blizzards Fear You

Email marketing Jack Threads

First of all, what a short and impactful subject line. Second of all, what a short and impactful headline.

From Nick Jr.
Email Marketing Nick Jr.

Nick Jr. offered printable winter-themed coloring pages to keep kids entertained, whether they got to enjoy the snow day from home on the East Coast, or just needed something fun to do after school in the rest of the country.

From Stonewall Kitchen
SL: Cold Weather Comfort
Email Marketing Stonewall Kitchen

The folks at Stonewall Kitchen featured a large, beautiful image of soup (perfect timing!) with a link to all of their soups and mixes. And when you scroll down, you'll find all the tools and bowls you’ll need to make your own or serve up one of their favorites.

Before the Next Storm
Whether it’s a snowstorm or a hurricane, these kinds of events are great opportunities to show your customers that you’re thinking about them and that you have their best interests in mind.
Not sure what to say or what to share?

Just think about the questions or concerns you might have in an emergency, weather or otherwise. These could include how you feel when you’re stuck at home, and what you might need to know before, during and after the event.

Answering these small questions with helpful tools, tips and information can help companies take big steps toward growing their customers’ trust and loyalty.

Lizette Resendez

Since 2004, she's produced creative concepts and written copy for a diverse range of clients including Pottery Barn Teen, ANN Taylor, Victoria's Secret PINK, The Ritz-Carlton, MetLife, Gerber Life and La-Z-Boy. You can follow her on Twitter @lizettegrrr.

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