This is part 2 of a blog series that take a look at how email marketers have scrambled to adjust their email programs in the wake of the recent Hurricane Harvey catastrophe. You can view part one here. 

We expect more companies, especially those based in Texas and Houston, will add hurricane- or relief-related messaging once they have time to come up with plans and email content. Here  are some notable examples of hurricane-related emails sent since Hurricane Harvey blew ashore:

1. Hurricane Harvey: First responders

The first major brands posting about Hurricane Harvey were from nonprofit agencies like Save the Children. We also noticed several local businesses, such as Fishing Tackle Unlimited of Houston, used email to update customers about store openings and share support messages.

In early messages, many brands sacrificed appearance for expediency, sending text-based or stripped-down messages that didn’t match their more manicured commercial templates. Or, they shoehorned a Harvey-related message into the regular template. But the donation buttons worked, which was the main objective.

By Tuesday, however, the messages looked were more polished, in the brand-standard email template or reflecting custom artwork like the Wisteria email.

Sender: Save the Children

Subject line: Hurricane Harvey puts U.S. kids at risk

Preheader: Hurricane Harvey continues to intensify.

Save the Children - Hurricane Harvey Email

2. Brand supporters

By Monday, Aug. 28, brands were beginning to add Harvey-related messaging to their email copy, either as the centerpiece of the message or as add-on copy (subject line, copy headline, preheader or copy block).

Most brands linked their donation messages to established charities (mainly the American Red Cross, complete with direct link to a Red Cross donation page), although several solicited donations for their own programs.

Support also came in from locations far from Houston, include Swanson Health Products (Fargo, ND), Oakwood Veneers (Troy, Mich.,) and fashion label Trina Turk (Alhambra, Calif.).

Staples added a donation-support email to its daily email frequency. The company sent a branded but stripped-down email announcing its donations for school supplies and projects and soliciting donations for a program it set up with Save the Children.

Sender: Staples

Subject line: Join Staples in supporting Harvey relief efforts.

Preheader: Help children and families in need.

Staples - Hurricane Harvey Email

Sender: Wisteria (Dallas)

Subject line: Help us aid our Houston family

Preheader: Lend a helping hand to victims of Hurricane Harvey

Wisteria - Hurricane Harvey Email

Donation Variations

Brands responded to Harvey with several approaches. Most included text links or call-to-action buttons that linked directly to specific charities. Others either created their own donation programs. Several reported on their own giving and challenged customers to meet or beat their gifts.

Sender: Vineyard Vines (Stamford, CT)

Subject line: We’re thinking of you, Texas…

Preheader: Free Ground Shipping on All Orders Over $125!

Vineyard Vines - Hurricane Harvey Email

Sender: Keen Footwear (Portland, Ore.)

Subject line: Help hurricane victims and we’ll match your donation

This was Keen’s first email:

Keen - Hurricane Harvey Email #1

The brand sent a follow-up message later the same day with the subject line “We met our goal for hurricane relief! Now we’re doubling our match” and adding a call for volunteers:

Keen - Hurricane Harvey Email #2

Sender: Johnny Cupcakes (Weymouth, MA)

Subject line: 100% proceeds to Texas – 24 hrs only!

Preheader: Available for just 24 hours. 100% of proceeds of this special pre-order t-shirt will go toward the relief efforts in Texas for those affected by the hurricane. Tap the image below to secure yours today! We ship world-wide!

Johnny Cupcakes - Hurricane Harvey Email

Charity for critters, too

One lesson learned from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was the need to rescue animals as well as people. Pet-focused brands include Petco’s foundation and the ASPCA.

Sender: Petco Foundation

Subject line: Help for Harvey

Preheader: Pet Parent, your donation supports South Texas and Louisiana.

Petco Foundation - Hurricane Harvey Email

Sender: ASPCA

Subject line: Update: ASPCA Responds to Harvey

ASPCA - Hurricane Harvey Email

10 subject lines we liked:

  • We are so grateful for all the support (American Red Cross)
  • Help us donate to Harvey relief Aug. 31 – Sept. 4. (Houlihan’s Restaurants)
  • #HoustonStrong Donation + Labor Day 10% OFF Sale (1 World Sarongs)
  • Mark, Help Victims of Hurricane Harvey: Donations Matched (AARP)
  • Hurricane Harvey Appeal | Peruvian Artisans Want to Help (Novica Inc.)
  • Texas Strong and Hurricane Harvey (FoodShed Exchange)
  • Texas Forever (Draper James)
  • Donate your points to support Hurricane Harvey disaster relief efforts. (Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards)
  • Let’s help together. (Magnolia Market)
  • Help those affected by Hurricane Harvey on Sept. 5 (Chili’s)

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