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Pivoting Online Customer Engagement in COVID-19 Times

Pivoting Online Customer Engagement in COVID-19 Times

The world is a place of uncertainty at the moment. With most countries experiencing lockdown or some kind of restrictions in movement, daily life for people has been greatly altered. Your customer’s priorities have most likely shifted over the last few months, and with that comes the need for your company to shift its own, too.

The fact is, you are no longer speaking to the same customer that you were pre-COVID-19. This is what you need to keep in mind when communicating with them during this time:

  • Be prepared to communicate differently to your customers. Due to heightened anxiety, fear, and uncertainty, they will be responding emotionally and reactively. Companies have changed their messaging to “We are here for you, how can we help”, or “You are not alone in this time”;
  • Avoid any humorous content about COVID-19. Your customers may have been directly affected by it and a lighter take on the situation will not do justice to your brand;
  • The spending power of your customer has changed drastically in the last few weeks and will continue to be significantly altered in the upcoming months. You will need to alter your demand planning, supply chain, last-mile delivery as well as your entire marketing strategy.

Keeping all of this in mind, you as a brand will need to be incredibly sensitive to what your customers are going through now. This is the time for you to connect with your customer base and reach out with support and comfort. We took a look at the way brands are successfully altering their strategies and engaging with their customers during the times of Coronavirus.

Relook at the User Journey on Your Site

Relook at the User Journey on Your Site

Image Source: Willem Iven

Many companies are prioritizing the optimization of the user experience on their site. Although research is showing that people are spending over 20% more time with apps during lockdown than before, they don’t want to spend the time wading through sites that are not user friendly. You need to go through the customer journey on your site as your customer would. Enter via the same entry points they would and pinpoint where you can optimize the site.

Heightening the user experience of the site doesn’t need to be an extensive exercise. In fact, there could be a few simple tweaks that you can make.

  • Adjust the navigability of your site. A customer may have opened an article on your site for a very specific reason, and will want to get to a particular section as quickly as possible. Making that journey as streamlined as possible is a guaranteed way to heighten your conversion rate. Drop off rates soar when the customer has to spend more than 15 seconds looking for a product. Look at adding a table of contents for your articles, documents and posts. Adding this is fairly simple, especially if you are working off a WordPress site. Getting the right Table of Contents plugin for WordPress to integrate into your articles, will drastically improve your content navigability. This simple adjustment could do wonders for your user experience;
  • Eliminate any unnecessary elements on a page. If an image is slowing down the loading of a page, replace it, or just get rid of it. Visitors don’t want to wait more than four seconds for a page to load. Once again here, this will impact your bounce rate;
  • Change up the hierarchy of elements on your page. What are your customers currently gravitating toward? We can guarantee that during this time, their needs have changed. So, evolve with them. Track what they are clicking on and shift that to the top of the page.

Most brands globally have included a banner on their landing page with a link to more information about COVID-19 for their customers. If you are going to add the messaging onto your site, make sure it takes up less than a quarter of the screen, is aligned to your companies’ brand, and links through to one of the official sites with information about the pandemic. Keep the messaging simple and to the point in the banner, while letting your customer know that you are compliant with the current restrictions and how you are ensuring their safety, as well as the safety of your staff and employees.

Rethink Your Messaging

If you currently have campaigns that are running as they were before COVID-19 hit, seriously consider halting them. Brands that continue with their normal campaigns and adverts as if nothing has been happening are simply tone-deaf during this time. Customers want to know that their favorite brands are aware and empathetic to what they are currently going through.

What you do during this time will be remembered by your customer in the future. You don’t want to be the car brand that was encouraging people to go on an adventure during lockdown or the clothing outlet advertising the perfect dress to paint the town red in.

Most brands have altered their advertising to show unity with their customers in these trying times.

  • KFC, for example, ditched their “Finger-licking good” phrase for messaging that touted their contactless delivery.
  • Nike has encouraged people to play inside with the well-crafted messaging: “If you ever dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now is your chance.
  • Coca-Cola created a simple, yet highly impactful message, as seen in the image.
Coca Cola'</a>s new message: "Staying apart is the best way to stay united".

Coca Cola’s new message: “Staying apart is the best way to stay united”.

This can all be achieved with a simple reworking of your content. Move away from the sales-driven messaging in your ads and focus more on empathetic, purpose-driven content. Your blog is another example. Pivot your regular articles to topics that will help customers during this time. Say for example you sell pet products. Articles along the lines of, “How to exercise your dog during lockdown”, and “5 signs to take your cat to the vet” will educate and empower your customer. Your email open rates will increase and so should your click-through rates.

Reconsider Your Outreach Methods

Remember, it is all about personalization and adding the human element into your marketing during this time. Say, for example, your weekly or bi-weekly emails are not converting like they used to pre-COVID-19. Perhaps it is time to personalize those emails and categorize your customers according to their behaviors and interests for customized content. Look at the wording of your subject lines, for example: “Janet, 5 exercises to keep you fit and active during lockdown”. Whether you find it easier to categorize your customers on a sheet and mail merge that from Excel, or if you can automate the process directly from your email platform, personalization could sky-rocket your conversion rates.

Researching current trends is going to be your saving grace right now in this uncharted territory. Using tools like Google Trends allows you to see what your customers are Googling and what keywords you can use in your content. Other sources like Twitter and Reddit are great to see real-life discussions and conversations to curate content from. Now is a great time to start engaging with your customers on social media platforms. Remain positive, hopeful, and reassuring in your communication though.

Creative Ways to Use Social Media for Business [Expert Roundup]

The best way to know what is working and what is not is basically by tracking and measuring metrics on your site. Track every single metric once you put messaging out. From the data on your outreach tools to social media tracking as well as Google Analytics on your site. What prompts did your audience respond to? What subject lines worked in the emails? Which Facebook ads got the highest clicks?

Reconsider Your Outreach Methods

Image Source: Nick Morrison

Move a Service Online

If you are a brand that offers non-essential products or even services that can only be provided face-to-face, now is the time to think creatively, and out of the box. If you provide fitness classes or yoga sessions, learn how to take your classes online. Create a platform where your regular clients can pay to sign in and go through the classes virtually with you. If you are a musician and rely on your regular gigs to keep the lights on, advertise live online sessions. Not only can you reach a new audience that you may have not been able to capture before, but a small donation from each viewer can make a huge difference after a few live sessions.

Transforming Your Business to Digital – What Do You Need to Know?

If your services or products can absolutely not be recreated online, consider off-shooting one of your offerings into something that can be taken online. Providing online consultations, instructional videos, or live how-to webinars on your products could be the answer to continuing your marketing throughout this, and reaching new audiences. Teaching your customer is engaging your customer. If you make yourself available for questions and discussions, you could put yourself in a position to learn about your customers’ behaviors and needs to better tailor your offerings in the future.

Move a Service Online

Image Source: Carlos Muza

Wrapping Up

Make sure you do your research thoroughly on the content and message that your company is going to be sharing during this time. If you are not a news site, stay away from sharing facts and figures around COVID-19. There is already a lot of misinformation and fake news flooding the internet. Don’t be the brand that adds to the problem. It is advisable to also stay away from any lighter jokes or humorous content about COVID-19. There is a very fine line with this topic, and if you cross it, you can do irreparable damage to your brand. Don’t isolate your customers during this time and recognize that each customer is going through a very different experience than the rest. Lastly, make yourself and your team as available for support, troubleshooting, and communication as possible. These are the brands that will stick out in the customers’ minds.


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