Engaging With Customers During the COVID-19 Global Crisis
Published by Spinutech on April 3, 2020
There’s no formula. No handbook. No top ten listicle outlining individual steps for coping during a crisis, let alone thriving. Uncertainty is unnerving, even overwhelming. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be debilitating.
Businesses continue to face extraordinary challenges during the COVID-19 outbreak. Many organizations have already made difficult decisions to lay off employees or close altogether.
And businesses continuing to operate during these unprecedented times have an entirely different set of marketing questions to contend with: How do we engage with new and existing customers during this time? What do new government regulations mean for my business and customers? Why would someone care about our brand right now? Should we even bother with marketing efforts during a crisis?
We’re not claiming to have all the answers. But we do have some suggestions that will benefit your organization in both the short- and long-term. Now is the time to bring people together (virtually, of course).
The Marketing Landscape Is Changing. And That’s Okay.
In the long-term, the way we communicate and feel comfortable connecting will inevitably change. But we can find comfort in our shared experiences: From the rooftops of Rome to the suburbs of Des Moines, we are experiencing this together.
Beyond risk management, content marketing has always been about connection. Whether it be to answer a question or tell a brand’s story, at its best, content empathizes.
After sitting down (over many Zoom conferences) and talking it through, the Spinutech team collected a few thoughts on marketing during a pandemic. Every brand is different, every piece of content unique, but these can be helpful themes to keep in mind.
- Adapting your marketing strategy makes sense. But content remains a vital part of any effective digital mix. As web traffic increases, audiences seek content that facilitates connection, community, and a sense of honesty.
- Relevancy dictates impact. Over the past few weeks, you’ve likely been flooded with emails and clickbait from brands speaking out simply to be heard. You don’t need to have a take on everything. Instead, focus on what makes sense for you and your audience. Avoid exploitation and favor sincerity.
- Creativity can be a force for good and inspiration. MillerCoors, for example, started a virtual tip jar for members of the service industry facing lost wages and economic hardships. Remember what makes your product or service exceptional and use it to help those who need it most — people will remember.
Nothing about what’s happening right now is easy. Without the opportunity for face-to-face conversations, businesses have the chance to reevaluate their purchase funnels. In a short amount of time, many businesses have reimagined their marketing strategies to focus on being helpful, compassionate, and relevant while remaining top-of-mind for their customers.
7 Meaningful Ways to Engage With Customers during the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic
There are a few steps you can take now to help your business have a solid footing in the future. Since consumers are heavily focused on online searches, you have the opportunity to shift your marketing budget and strategy priorities to work better for you in the present. Here are some ideas on how to connect with customers without coming off as insensitive.
- How-to Articles: Right now people are facing a lot of uncertainty. Non-essential services remain closed, like bookstores, floral shops, and even dentists’ offices. Some people are tackling home projects and doing more cooking at home. And when they have questions, they turn to search engines.
How-to articles can be a great way for your brand to connect with new and existing customers by providing answers to relevant search queries. Our SEO team has been preaching this for years. But now is the perfect time to double down on this strategy and actually make a difference.
- Email Marketing: People are spending more time online, which naturally means more time using email to communicate. This requires a solid email marketing strategy if you’re going to break through the clutter. Consider offering email-only discounts on products, distributing newly created how-to articles, or even updating subscribers on the status of your business.
- Social Media: Revisit what social media platforms your business is using and how you are using them. If you haven’t done much social media posting, now is the time to start. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media channels provide a way to spread positivity and connect with your audience.
If your company is providing relief or donations to workers or others impacted by coronavirus, this is a great outlet to showcase what your company is doing to make a difference. You can also share important updates related to your business hours and the ways you’re doing business (porch-side deliveries, online orders, virtual consultations, etc.).
- Webinars & Podcasts: Even though people are stuck at home, they are still looking to learn. The appetite for online educational resources is stronger than ever. Webinars and podcasts provide a cost-effective way for you to showcase the expertise of your business and interact with customers.
- FAQ Schema Markup: During this time of quarantine, users likely have more time to research purchases using online resources. How many of us have been staring at a blank wall in their living room and are now considering redecorating? Being the brand to answer those frequently asked questions and show up prominently in search rich results for knowledge graph answers will be more important than ever. Take this time to create content structured and marked up for FAQs.
- Google My Business Profiles: Keeping your SEO and Google My Business profiles up-to-date is a great way to provide customers with real-time data and important updates week over week.
- Consider a Paid Media Strategy: If your business offers a service that can be helpful for consumers during this time, implementing a paid media strategy will help encourage visitors to your website, while capturing data for remarketing efforts, too.
What Should I Consider for My Marketing Strategy After COVID-19?
While we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, it is important to look over what marketing strategies you have created as part of your crisis plan and to help manage some risk in your line of business. Has your team developed a way to integrate video marketing when you can’t meet in person? Or maybe you’ve worked to piece together a quick e-commerce option where there wasn’t one before.
Strategies being developed now — and that will still be relevant post-pandemic — focus on the user journey. When you’re optimizing your online presence, including online stores or ordering methods, it’s important that your user journey is simplified. Thorough design research and web development is a great way to invest now in future strategies that will grow your business model for years to come.
When the marketing world returns to its new normal, there will be a need for you to continue to communicate with your customers. Set your company up for success by putting a researched-based content strategy in place for the next few months to a year to grow even closer to your customers. This will create an outline for your content marketing, while always providing a framework for last-minute messaging that may become necessary. You should also consider the ways that you can use your brand to unite instead of divide.
Taking the time now to evaluate what your business was able to do in a short amount of time is helpful in creating marketing tactics for the future. Using this time to refine your goals and processes will help your business remain strong and competitive during social distancing recommendations and shelter-in-place orders.
Remember: Now Is the Time for Compassion and Authenticity
You hear it all the time: Great marketing campaigns are authentic. But few brands understand what that means. Instead of making your marketing strategy about yourself, make it about your customers. A good place to start? Consider how you can make their lives a little less hectic, right now.
Need help developing a plan of action for now and the future? Let’s work together.