Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, brands and businesses have been compelled to re-evaluate their marketing strategies and business landscapes.
While the world is propelled into a state of isolation, people are also prodded to adapt to a new normal. It’s already challenging enough for businesses to keep afloat when consumers are predictable—and it’s even considerably more cumbersome to do so when the pandemic is changing the way people shop, dine, and live.
As the global lockdown brought uncertainty to a great extent, businesses are faced with the struggle of choosing between generating profits in the middle of uttermost economic hardship or taking into consideration the threats to the life and livelihood of their consumers. With the pandemic remaining widespread, business owners are now asking the question—how to maintain strong customer engagement during COVID-19?
1. Reinventing Customer Engagement
Customer engagement is the process of strengthening your emotional connection with your customers. A simple interaction with customers using any of their preferred channels is already building a relationship with them. At the time of this pandemic where physical interactions are eliminated or social distancing is introduced, how will you be able to engage with customers and continue to connect with them on a deeper level?
It’s time that you reevaluate your bond with your customers. Reinventing customer engagement is the key so your business can weather the onslaught of economic uncertainty. Here are some steps that you can take to maintain strong customer engagement during COVID-19.
2. Keep Your Lines Open
With most consumers staying at home almost all the time, they’re likely to spend hours on their phones. It’s necessary that you keep your lines open—and this doesn’t apply to business phones alone. You need to always monitor your emails, voice mails, social media accounts, and even fax messages.
Your customers need to know and feel that you’re still here for them. They need to feel that sense of familiarity each time they try to reach out to you. Whether it’s a simple greeting or an inquiry about your products, you have to be reachable as often as possible.
You can try setting up a hotline and schedule a block of time any day of the week where your customers can talk to you via phone or direct message. There are also several apps and software that you can trust, such as Drop Cowboy, a unique platform that allows you to send out marketing alerts, announcements, coupon codes, and other similar marketing content via text message. If your customers regularly receive alerts from your brand, they’ll surely remember it and you get to keep the customer engagement alive.
3. Improve Your Loyalty Program
If you have loyal customers, do everything you can to keep them at all costs. Maybe it’s time you reinvent your loyalty program so you can reward your customers more. Come up with exciting and rewarding offers that your customers can’t easily resist.
Here are some of the reward offers idea you can try:
- Free shipping on all orders, no minimum purchase required.
- Early access to sales and promotions
- Exclusive access to new products
- Point-based rewards programs
You can also offer discounts whenever they hit a specific amount of purchase. Entice your customers to sign up for membership so they can receive exclusive emails whenever you have an upcoming promotion or sale event.
4. Keep Your Website Updated
As mentioned, people are spending most of their time at home, browsing through the internet. You have to make sure that your company’s website is updated and always loaded with fresh content. Your business contact details should also be updated, including your mailing address, email address, and social media accounts.
Write and post engaging content on your website, too. Timely and relevant articles will help assure customers that you’re not leaving them behind amid the pandemic. Furthermore, educational content will be useful to them and in return, they’ll know that you care. When your customers see that you’re always updating your website, it gives them an impression that your business remains and that you’re somehow reaching out to them in a way.
5. Improve Your Payment Options
With E-commerce ramping up its game, you’ve got to stay in the loop, as well. As you offer free shipping and returns, there should also be more flexible payment options for your customers. Offer an extensive range of payment methods because each customer will have their preferred payment option and when you don’t have what they want, they might think twice about purchasing your product or service.
Especially when you’re running an online store, you’ll come across customers with a varying range of preferences. You have to be able to offer your customers flexibility when it comes to payment methods, including bank transfer, online payment, debit card, and credit card. If what they prefer isn’t available on the options, you can’t expect them to go out and process the payment physically. Your customers need to be in control, particularly when paying and having the items shipped to them.
Making Digital Engagement More Human
It seems that the only possible way to interact with customers is through digital engagement—at least until things go back to the old normal. Digital engagement is superb; it makes everything almost perfect, convenient, easily accessible, and fast. However, at some point, it might make customer engagement less personal and more automated.
In the time of COVID-19, customers are no longer easily satisfied with simplicity and efficiency. They recognize brands and companies that can make customer engagement more human and personalized. The key is to humanize your brand while staying relevant on all digital platforms. How do you that?
Say, for example, you’re using Text Blast Software to send out marketing alerts and promotions. Although they know that what you’re sending out are automated messages, you can add a personal touch to it by inserting their first names right at the start of the message. It’s a simple addition but can help customers in developing trust since they know that the message wasn’t sent out randomly.
The Power Of Social Media
You can’t possibly talk about customer engagement and miss out on the power that social media holds over it. On a business level, social media platforms are enormously popular as they make it easier to market and promote your brand. A strong social media presence is already scaling your customer engagement effortlessly.
These tips should help you adapt your social media marketing strategy to the new normal consumers, helping you maintain strong customer engagement:
- Get To Know Your Audience: Knowing your audience is already one step towards maintaining strong customer engagement. When you know your target audience enough, you can then create customized marketing campaigns that’ll greatly help in boosting customer engagement.
- Find Out Where Your Audience Are Most Active On: Before focusing on specific marketing campaigns, you have to know first where your target audience is usually talking about you. You might be on Twitter most of the time and yet your audience is more active on Instagram or Facebook. Knowing where they are most active will give you an edge so you can engage with your customers at the right platform, at the right time, and of course, using the right content.
- Be Fast And Consistent: Once you know where to be more active, you have to engage and respond to customers swiftly and consistently. Customers appreciate it when they’re answered immediately, it makes them feel valued and that you care about their concerns. Aside from being fast, you should also be consistent in engaging with customers so they’ll know that you’re easy to reach and always there to respond.
- Go Live: There’s nothing more engaging than going live on social media. You can choose either Facebook or Instagram to go live and take the opportunity to engage with your customers in real-time. They’ll appreciate you taking the time to connect with them. You can showcase some of your products or talk about an ongoing social issue. Customers like to support brands that take a stand on an issue that’s relevant to them.
- Don’t Forget To Add Hashtags: Hashtags make it effortless to find information and posts that contain a specific theme or content. They’re widely used in social media and you can easily create it by adding the hashtag (#) sign or symbol before the word or words that you like to promote. No spaces between the words, though, or else the hashtag won’t work. Social media users like using hashtags when trying to find a specific post or a particular product. As long as your posts are public, anyone who clicks on the hashtag will come across your post and your product, of course.
It can be challenging to engage customers on social media with so many issues and uncertainties going around. However, with the right tactics, you can surely overcome the challenges.
Engaging New Customers
Maintaining strong customer engagement isn’t only about keeping your existing customers. Seeing almost everyone is active online since the pandemic started, might as well take the opportunity to introduce your brand and make your presence known. With effective marketing strategies, you can exponentially grow your audience. Here are some techniques to do just that:
- Start A Referral Program: Your existing customers are your biggest asset and at this point, how they love and support your brand greatly matters. You can attract new customers and at the same time maintain strong engagement with existing customers by starting a referral program. Design a new promo where customers who refer you to their friends and family can get discounts, at the same time their referral can also earn rewards and loyalty points.
- Offer Sample Products Or Trial Purchase: Limited-time trial purchases never fail to attract new customers. Although it may seem like an expensive approach, there’s definitely something to look forward to in the end. You can give sample products in smaller sizes or quantities so potential customers can test them. Everybody loves free items and they won’t easily forget a company that’s generous enough to hand them out.
- Get In Touch With Old Customers: Customers tend to drift away for unknown reasons despite your continued efforts to keep them. It won’t hurt to re-contact them again and offer discount codes or coupons to captivate their attention again. You might be surprised that they’ll actually be pleased to know that you remembered them and that you wish to win them back.
- Highlight Your Product Reviews: Most shoppers rely on online reviews first before purchasing any product or service. If your business generates enough reviews from customers, make the most of them. You can post content on your social media account linking to website reviews. Another approach that you can do is to post screenshots of messages from satisfied customers.
- Build An Online Community: Facebook groups are gaining so much popularity right now and you can use that to your advantage. Just remember to keep the community educational and not too promotional so that potential customers will stick around. As they spend time in your community, they’ll be enticed to try your products one way or another.
Another strategy that you can utilize to attract new customers is by investing in email marketing. Email campaigns still remain as one of the most effective marketing strategies today and if you can use them accordingly, you can be successful in inviting more prospective customers, thus growing your business in the long run.
It’s not easy maintaining strong customer engagement during COVID-19 because it can mean having to reinvent and reassess your marketing strategies. What worked before the pandemic might no longer be effective at this time and you have to keep with the changes if you want to remain visible in the industry.
Customer engagement is of high importance especially now that a lot of industries have been put on an indefinite pause. Customers need to be assured that your brand is still standing and that you plan on continuing where you left off.
When all of this is over, a stronger customer relationship along with newly built communities could be the secret weapon that you could use to get back on track. Right now, your priority is to keep your customers engaged so they won’t go somewhere else while the pandemic is running its course.