The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on all of us. Especially those who have comr into contact, or lost loved ones to, the virus itself. The death and suffering caused by the virus have been catastrophic, and in order to protect ourselves and those we love we’ve had to spend months in a state of isolation. It’s not been easy, and for some, isolation has come at the cost of their mental health and wellbeing. Nonetheless, we’ve endured months of self-isolation and can expect many more of social distancing. We as a society have been rattled. But those of us who run businesses have been through a particularly harsh ordeal. We’ve had to adapt our operations quickly and completely to allow for remote working and social distancing. Many of us have seen sales and meaningful brand interactions plummet. We’ve seen circumstances drive a wedge between us and the customers who are our livelihood.
The good news, however, is that they can be won back.
In recent weeks, the wheels of commerce have started to creak back into motion. Businesses all over the world are making plans to reopen their doors. There’s a sense of hope in the air, however tentative it may be. However, there are also many consumers who are extremely reluctant to resume their pre-coronavirus spending habits. And with good reason. The pandemic is still a huge risk to public health. The question remains, then, how can your business engage customers and prospects who are still nervous at the prospect of putting their heads up over the parapet? While the minutiae will be different for every business, here are a few ways in which you might be able to coax your customers back out of hiding…
It starts with empathy
Empathy is the key to great marketing. Empathy allows brands to create marketing materials which resonate with their audience and enjoy genuine engagement. In these uncertain and frankly terrifying times, a little bit of empathy goes a long, long way.
Not that you should extend your empathy to just your marketing. It should be at the heart of every aspect of your operations. While it’s all too tempting to think in terms of your needs and those of your employees, try to approach everything from your customers’ point of view.
Many will be scared, many will be slow to trust, most will need a lot of reassurances before they realise that they can trust you again. The better you understand their worries, fears and concerns, the better able you’ll be to approach them.
Invest in visibility
While some outlets are opening their doors already, it’s not as if the majority of consumers are strolling up and down the highstreet, looking to see what’s available. Many are still living an insular lifestyle, so it’s up to you to invest in online visibility.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is always a worthy investment, especially if you run a local business, you’ll likely be largely reliant on business generated by local searches. Every time someone performs a “near me” Google search, you have the ability to position yourself in front of your competitors and get the attention of prospective customers.
There are lots of technical and on-page ways in which you can improve your SEO organically, from judicious use of keywords to building inbound links from trusted sources. However, doing it all by yourself can be an exhaustive and time consuming process. An SEO agency, however, can help you by delivering strategic solutions to make your business more visible to the right people at the right time. Click here to see a good example of what you should look for in an agency. They can carry out an audit of your website and check for any red flags that might alert search engine crawlers. They can help you to build links from trusted local sources. They can help to improve the Domain Authority of your website to make it more trustworthy to search engines, allowing you to climb over your competitors in Search Engine Results pages. They can help you to achieve results in line with your goals faster and more effectively than going it alone.
Make them an offer they can’t refuse
Many of your customers will have lost some of their income in the wake of the pandemic. Some may even have lost their jobs. As such, consumer confidence is still very low. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean that customers can’t be coaxed out of hiding for the right offers.
Promotional codes have always been a great way to bring your customers exclusive offers and tempt them back to your brand. However, conventional promo codes can be spammed and misused. Invest in the software to make unique, single-use promo codes, however, and you’ll be able to make your customers offers that they can’t refuse. You can bring them tailored promotions based on past interactions with your brand. That doesn’t just mean products that they’ve bought previously, but products that they may have added to a shopping cart that they since abandoned or spent a significant amount of time on the product page. The more relevant offers are, the more likely they are to be embraced by your customers and prospects.
Demonstrate your commitment to their safety
Don’t assume that just because your business doesn’t use ecommerce that your customers will keep their distance. If you operate from a physical premises, you can still coax your customers back if you can show them that you are committed to their safety. You may want to send an email to all in your mailing list outlining all the precautionary steps that you will take to keep them safe on your premises. Tell them what you’ll be doing to encourage social distancing, how you’ll be keeping things like door handles and elevator call buttons clean and what you expect from all who enter (e.g. masks, use of hand sanitizer etc.).
This will help customers to feel safe and remind them that you’re on their side.
This is a time of great adversity for businesses. But adversity can be good for us. It can show us who we really are and drive us to accomplish great things. It’s time to show the world how your business will rise to the challenges of the current climate.