As the UK continues to ease lockdown restrictions, top of mind for many businesses, is how to return to “business as usual” during this continually uncertain time. Business owners need to determine how they will adapt so that they can move forward safely. The pandemic has impacted all industries differently, which means there won’t be a one size fits all approach. However, as there can be no business without customers, the one factor universally essential to all companies post-Covid19 is effective communication.
However, YouGov recently reported that 51% of consumers feel that brands are overcommunicating with them, and 43% agree brands’ current messages and advertising are inauthentic, it’s fair to say that some businesses are missing the mark with their communications. So how should businesses communicate with consumers after Covid-19? To help, we’ve highlighted some important considerations for businesses drafting their communication strategy.
1. Reassure customers that it is safe to return to your premises
The pandemic has caused a lot of health anxiety and as such, simply announcing when your business is going to reopen and assuming customers will be happy to return, is unlikely to be an effective strategy. If your business has a physical location, for example a store, you need to ensure that customers feel comfortable enough to return. Research reveals that while 54% of men said they wouldfeel comfortable returning to shops on the highstreet, only 42% of women felt the same. With this in mind, communicating the measures your business has implemented to ensure customer and staff safety could be really valuable.
Moreover, in order to adhere to the various government guidelines, some businesses may need to communicate new protocols to customers. For example, businesses may have introduced a one way system around the store to maintain social distancing. By confirming these instructions to customers prior to their visit, individuals understand what is required of them and it’ll help staff in-store preserve a safe environment.
2. Know your target audience
Knowing your audience allows you to tailor messages appropriately and segmenting ensures that individuals only receive communications which either add value or are of interest to the recipient. However, recent research by EYsuggests that consumer segments have changed as a result of the pandemic. The newly proposed categories are as follows: save and stockpile, cut deep, keep calm and carry on and hibernate and spend. Each category represents how individual spending habits have changed as a result of the coronavirus. With this in mind, it’s worth evaluating how these categories may have impacted your own customer segments and amend your communications as appropriate.
3. Check and re-check your messaging tone
The coronavirus has caused a lot of uncertainty, leaving many feeling both financially and health anxious. According to a new poll conducted by LinkedIn in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation, 56% of surveyed adults reported that their mental health had deteriorated since lockdown began. Although this is understandable in the current climate, it does highlight the importance of sensitivity. Generally content may be proofed by one or two others in a business before publishing. However, for now, we’d recommend increasing that number. Everyone has reacted to the pandemic slightly differently and this also includes those drafting the message. By collating as many different points of view on proposed comms as possible, you can ensure your messages are received as intended.
4. Review your businesses communication channels
Communications should support a business’ strategy and consider the basics of the right message, right time, right channel. In our experience, the correct channel is often overlooked. Though these factors are dependent on your target audience, preferences can change and you may find certain channels aren’t as effective at the moment. For instance, email sends have increased by a reported 44%during lockdown. This is where SMS could help. With SMS, your messages benefit from an unrivalled open rate of 95%and conversion rate of 32%. This is even more impressive when you consider that for email (under normal circumstances) these statistics are 20.9% and 3.2% respectively. So particularly if your business has identified a number of key campaigns, it could be worthwhile utilising SMS for these to ensure your message is received.
5. Continue with online services
In a bid to respond to the pandemic digitally, many businesses have had to get resourceful during lockdown. Although these efforts are largely unique to each industry, some examples include – the introduction or extension of ecommerce sites, online consultations and zoom exercise classes. By making services and products available online, many businesses were able to create an additional revenue stream. Given that many businesses will be reopening with various capacity restrictions in place and some consumers may not feel comfortable visiting a brick-and-mortar premise just yet, it makes sense to keep these services and products available online.
Furthermore, as many businesses introduced these services with a limited number of products or services, for those wishing to extend their online offerings, it presents a great opportunity to ask for feedback from customers. By asking customers which services or products they’d like to see added, businesses can create a more strategic recovery plan. What’s more, these communications also enable a way to softly restart marketing efforts.
Finally, as customer retention is key to business success, keeping your business front of mind while trade settles post-Covid19 is vital. Effective communication can help your business achieve this, so be sure to prioritise your communication strategy in the coming months.