How Financial Services Messaging Adapted to Coronavirus

As COVID-19 continues to change people’s everyday reality, it’s more important than ever for brands to take an honest look at their marketing campaigns and ask themselves, “Are we really helping?”

At a time when customers are experiencing high levels of uncertainty and anxiety, the last thing you want is to be remembered as another stressor in their lives during a crisis. However, through thoughtful messaging that prioritizes customers’ needs, it’s possible to become a source of trust during this challenging moment.

In that spirit, Movable Ink is sharing industry-specific insight for financial services brands to offer value and support to customers. Below, we’ve outlined the progression of trends and communications we’ve observed over recent weeks.

Later this week, Jackie Mattia, Director of Client Strategy and Elle Kross, Associate Director of Client Strategy, will be discussing the latest trends on the Ink Tank vodcast, so we hope you’ll join us there too.

Click here to subscribe to Ink Tank.

Weeks 1–2: Messages of Support From Leadership 

In the earliest days of the pandemic, we saw most organizations send letter-style emails from their C-level team outlining the initial ways that they were supporting customers, including call center hours and numbers, updates on branch procedures, and enhancements to digital self-service tools such as the app and online banking.


In this email from TD Bank, Group Head, Business Banking Paul Douglas informed customers of the safety precautions being taken at physical locations. He also assured business owners of TD’s dedication to supporting them as they adjusted to these difficult circumstances.

Investment and trading companies also sent messages of support addressing recent market volatility and offering information on how customers could manage their portfolios in the face of uncertainty.


E*Trade notified customers of market fluctuations and provided resources, including their latest market commentary and online FAQs. They also featured an in-depth perspective from Mike Loewengart, VP of Investment Strategy on the causes of market changes and helpful points for investors to bear in mind.

Weeks 2–3: Driving Use of Digital and Mobile Tools

As social distancing became an increasingly larger part of everyday life, companies encouraged customers to use digital and mobile tools for self-service account management. They highlighted these channels not only as a way to help with social distancing, but also as a solution to avoid lengthy wait times at call centers. Best practices included use of video tutorials and detailed lists of actions that customers could complete using the app and their online accounts.

Citi sent a highly visual email outlining all of the various services available in their app and online, including on-demand access to representatives, the ability to make payments, and security features. 

In addition to emails and web-based landing pages, companies used in-app messaging to offer support to customers. 


E*Trade created this in-app modal to notify customers of longer wait times to speak with a representative, and pointed them to their FAQs as a faster alternative.

Weeks 3–4: Policy and Fee Changes

As the situation progressed, we saw additional rounds of messages updating customers on special offerings to lessen financial burden. Many brands offered flexible terms on payments, fees, and offers, providing relief to individuals and organizations during a turbulent time.

In this email, American Express notified customers who had recently opened or upgraded their credit cards that the period to earn their welcome bonus was being extended for an additional three months.

Weeks 5 and Beyond

COVID-19 has proven to be a rapidly changing situation, and companies have continued to shift their messaging to align with their customers’ evolving circumstances. For insight into the latest wave of financial services communications, we invite you to listen to our upcoming episode of the Movable Ink vodcast, Ink Tank. In this episode, our financial services strategists will share their observations and provide advice and tips on communications strategy for the industry.

About the author

Jackie Mattia

Jackie is a marketing veteran with deep experience in email marketing, ESP technology, and developing enterprise CRM strategies built on personalization through intelligent use of customer data.

As Director of Strategy, Jackie is a lead strategist supporting the company’s financial service clients. She was previously an SVP in the digital marketing organization at Citi’s Global Consumer Bank, where she led a team that oversaw Citi’s customer data platforms.

Prior to Citi, Jackie was an Account Director with Cheetah Digital and Experian Marketing Services, where she partnered with financial institutions to develop their omnichannel marketing programs.