With social distancing a vital and non-negotiable measure to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, digital is the only way to stay connected with your audience. While the way we live and work may have changed forever, the impact of COVID-19 on businesses is likely to continue even after the pandemic is contained.
With many consumers turning their attention online, brands are struggling to keep their social media and digital channels engaging and relevant even as their employees work from home. Here are four steps to build and maintain customer loyalty.
Keep Engagement Levels High on Your Social Channels
Digitally and socially connected consumers have the power to decide which brands survive and even thrive during these strange times. A brand’s new approach should be geared toward engaging your audience. It is more important than ever before for brands to remain connected with their audiences, and treat them with awareness, intelligence and empathy.
When we find ourselves amid a pandemic, it is easy to think that the rules of customer engagement have changed. However, social media has proven to be a useful channel to maintain customer loyalty. Companies are rebranding content to reflect the current landscape and provide information, resources, and support. Brands that tackle the issue head-on have garnered positive responses, establishing credibility among customers. It is essential to keep in mind that customers are just as uneasy and uncertain about the future as companies are.
Offer Real Value as Compared to a ‘Promotion’
Demand and supply taking a hit need not mean reduced service levels. Efforts and resources can be reassigned to customer engagement. When planning strategies for the duration of the pandemic, prioritise customers in every aspect of your business strategy. While it’s easy to slash prices and offer one for one product, price promotion will take a company only to a certain distance before consumers are tired of it or flock to the competitor who slashed prices even more.
Hyundai recently tied up with Genesis to cover up to six months worth of car payments for new owners who find themselves unexpectedly unemployed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s not the first time that the South Korean car manufacturer pulled off a gamble like this. During the 2009 crisis, Hyundai allowed customers to return vehicles for up to a year from the date of purchase if they lost their jobs.
Find Creative Ways to Use Your Marketing Budget
Customers are more likely to develop faith that sees brands that engage with the crisis proactively rather than brands that don’t consider the current situation in their marketing strategy. In a time of crisis, especially one like COVID-19, digital marketing comes to the forefront. Of course, one can be like Coca-Cola, which halted all its brand advertising efforts in the Philippines and redirected the funds to relief efforts. Almost P150 million was re-channelled into providing protective equipment and gear for front line healthcare workers, supporting small distribution partners, and delivering food and supplies to vulnerable communities.
However, not all brands have pockets that deep, and there are several ways to keep the marketing juggernaut rolling while remaining relevant and winning loyal customers. For instance, at PRecious Communications, we advise our clients that there is no change in tried and tested formats such as press releases, email interviews, newsjacking, targeted pitching. However, we will need to get creative and adjust some of our PR activities such as organising launch activities, press briefings and interviews remotely or on virtual platforms.
Get Out There and Make a Difference
The adage what companies do today will make a difference tomorrow has never been more appropriate. With quarantine orders issued everywhere, product supply chains have taken a hit even as companies are racing to cut down on non-essential aspects of their business. However, there are other companies which are pivoting to stay relevant to not only to help the world with the pandemic but also to keep their factories open and ensure their employees have jobs. For instance, alcohol brewing company AB InBev is working with its partners to transform alcohol into hand sanitizer and has donated over 1 million bottles to healthcare workers in over 20 countries. AB InBev has, by reinventing its product in the time of crisis, become an essential part of the fight against COVID.
Similarly, General Motors and Ford Motors (among several others) are manufacturing ventilators, Fitness apps from Adidas and Nike have offered several months of free premium membership, and cosmetic companies such as Avon donated $2 million worth of personal care products such as soap, body wash and skincare products to Feed the Children.
Overall, brands that are driven by customers’ unique needs at this time will be safer with regards to customer retention post quarantine. This provides a cushion for the company during the recovery and regrowth period. Granted these are tough times. On the other hand, almost all technology (and non-tech) companies are offering discounts or freebies to make it easier to connect with your customers and users.