16 March 2021|Business Growth, Latest Posts, Marketing, PR, Promotion
By Amy Robinson. There’s no denying that the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the way we do business here in the UK. Many companies were forced to close their doors and either shut up shop entirely for the duration of lockdown or try to move their operations online. A subset of businesses witnessed unprecedented demand during this period, however, as lockdown measures begin to ease, they are now having to fight to maintain momentum.
It comes as no surprise then that as lockdown restrictions are starting to be lifted, these businesses experiencing two very different situations are now faced with the same challenge: how to engage their customer base in a post-Covid-19 world. In fact, Esendex’s latest research states that 1 in 3 businesses now consider customer engagement to be their biggest challenge.
Consequently, we’ve taken some time to highlight the top five ways companies can boost their customer engagement.
It is now more important than ever to ensure that you’re communicating with your customer using the most appropriate and effective channel. Take some time to review how your customers’ preferred communication channel may have changed during lockdown and ensure that you adapt your strategy accordingly. It’s estimated that there are 44% more emails being sent to customers now than before the pandemic started, so if email was always your go-to channel for customer communication you might want to consider an alternative digital medium. SMS is quickly becoming a strong contender to replace or supplement email marketing; with a 95% open rate, it’s easy to understand why.
When communicating in the post-Covid-19 world, time needs to be invested into refining your message. Your goal of acquiring new business and up-selling to existing customers is probably the same as before the Coronavirus arrived. However, the mindset and priorities of customers has drastically changed and your communication needs to reflect this. Consider including information around safety measures, contact-free delivery methods or payment plans. To succeed and improve the perception of your brand in this new climate, you need to focus on empathy and reassurance.
Many firms will be full steam ahead trying to recover and adapt their business to the new behaviours of their customers and market as a whole. With so much to do, there is a tendency to start sending customer communications out straightaway. However, take a moment to consider the most effective time to contact your customers. Review your communications throughout the pandemic and work out which messages received the best open rates, which content was interacted with the most and which led to the highest number of sales. Consider each customer communication as an opportunity to build or reduce your customers’ goodwill towards your brand. Over-communicate and you will risk damaging your long-term relationship; under-communicate and you could miss key sales opportunities.
The timing of your message could be the difference between a steady recovery with growing sales and your brand being forgotten by your customers. A great example of this would be a food delivery business sending a discount code to customers mid-afternoon on a Friday just as they start to think about their evening takeaway.
Gather feedback from your customers
A key principle of marketing is customer experience. No matter how hard you try to ensure your customers are receiving the correct support and guidance, without getting direct feedback, you’ll never truly understand your strengths and weaknesses.
If you’ve been running your business for a while, you’ll perhaps think you understand the types of messages that your customers need. However, with a disruption as large as Covid-19, now would be a great time to revisit this and try to gather some feedback.
Key changes in consumer behaviour seem to revolve around a more eco-conscious shopper with a tendency to prefer to continue to shop online or use Online to Offline approaches such as Click & Collect. By surveying your customers you can dig into these themes a little more and understand whether your customer base has perhaps swapped from a preference for fast fashion to more expensive longer-lasting items for example. Surveys can be run in many different formats from a pop-up poll on your website, SMS survey, email survey or even a focus group.
We mentioned earlier the role of empathy in your customer communications, but to be truly effective this theme needs to run throughout your entire marketing strategy. Once you have gathered feedback from your customers and you begin to understand and adapt to new trends in the market, you need to ensure that your marketing strategy is wrapped around these new patterns.
Think about what content you could create that supports the concerns and priorities of your customer base, what environmental or financial themes do you need to highlight within your business, how can you ensure that what matters to your customers is authentically reflected within your own brand? The ability to empathise and connect with your customers post Covid-19 could be the difference between merely surviving or thriving.
For many businesses, Covid-19 will be the biggest customer engagement challenge they have ever faced. While it might feel daunting, it could truly be the making of your company. If dealt with correctly and effectively, the perception of your brand in the eyes of your customers, and the market as a whole, could vastly improve.
This challenging period we’re facing could enable you to carve out a place in the market with true customer-centric values, to create a name for yourself which goes above and beyond price and product. In a world where the consumer is king, those brands that fully incorporate this into their business will be the ones that survive the test of time.
About the Author
Amy Robinson is a senior brand development manager at telecommunications provider Esendex, which supports businesses with mobile messaging solutions.
Twitter :Esendex (@esendex)