With 56% of adults in the UK reporting their mental health has deteriorated during lockdown, how should businesses communicate during this sensitive time? When is it appropriate to start marketing again? This article will look at some important points to consider when creating your customer communication strategy after COVID-19.
Ask and listen for customer feedback
The pandemic has caused both health and financial anxiety. Even as governments continues to ease restrictions, individuals may still feel uncomfortable returning to business premises.
In order to understand what may make individuals feel more comfortable, it makes sense to simply ask them. By engaging with customers and asking “What are your main concerns about returning to shop in our store?” or “Is there anything we can do to make you feel more comfortable when we reopen?” you can start a dialogue and gain valuable feedback. Responding to individuals and addressing their concerns could go a long way. Afterall, recovery is not going to happen overnight and it’s essential your brand remains top of mind for the right reasons over the coming months.
Create a community feeling
Communications which center around creating brand ambassadors and increasing brand sentiment could prove valuable during this time. Even relatively simple messages, thanking customers for their patience and support while a business remains closed, and encouraging customers and members to talk to one another, as well as your brand, could go a long way to creating a community feeling.
Furthermore, this also ties in nicely with the emerging retail trend to shop more locally and support independent business. This is especially true for SME businesses and presents a great opportunity to communicate a positive message, encouraging customers to support a local business and be a part of the community.
Focus on providing solutions, not sales pitches
Customer demands and needs have and continue to evolve. Ultimately, businesses need to ensure their offerings evolve with them. By simply steering communications to focus on what problems customers are currently facing, businesses can respond with flexible offerings and provide real solutions.
Hubspot reported that early on during the pandemic, despite website traffic increasing, sales leads actually decreased. When they analyzed which web pages were attracting the most traffic, they found it was their educational resources. Customers still wanted to engage, but they were more concerned with learning and education. By assessing what customers needed in that moment, they were able to pivot their communications strategy to serve customer demand.
Choosing the right communication channel is key
An effective communication strategy will be aligned with both the overall business strategy and target audience preferences. These preferences will include the choice of communication channel and as target audiences are often diverse, we would always recommend utilizing more than one.
While email and social media can be great channels for customer engagement, as communication is likely to be a priority for many businesses right now, it’s also likely that messages may get lost among the noise. Since consumers are 35 times more likely to see a brand’s SMS than their email, utilizing text messaging could really help businesses with their back-to-business campaigns.
What’s more, as SMS boasts an unrivalled 95% open rate, and clickthrough rates often reach 32%, businesses can be confident communications are not only received, but also actively engaged with when utilizing SMS.
Introduce and enhance digital opportunities
During the pandemic, many companies have had to quickly pivot in order to respond digitally. Great creativity was shown across industries, with businesses introducing online fitness classes and shifting planned conference events to be completely online. Though these responses are largely dependent on the business and industry, businesses need to effectively communicate details of their new offerings to customers for them to be successful.
Additionally, for businesses who may have already introduced online services or perhaps an ecommerce platform to sell their products and are wishing to extend their offering, these messages are a great way to engage with customers. As businesses are able to ask customers which services or products they might like to see added, thus enabling a softer introduction to marketing.
The ability to adapt to changes in the environment and consumer behavior is key for any successful business. And ultimately, ensuring businesses effectively communicate with customers during this time, places brands in the best possible position for success as trade settles after COVID-19.