MAY 19, 2020
Everyone, both buyers and sellers, is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies across various industries are experiencing one of the most unprecedented situations while economies are being impacted worldwide.
In light of all this, how can you maintain your client base? By acting on the right strategies, your business can experience some level of success. You can get through this challenging time while retaining your customers. Before delving into the plan of action, you need to re-evaluate the current market.
Business Unusual: The Economic Landscape During COVID-19
Since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, not only have people’s lifestyles changed, but markets and businesses have seen a turn of events. While some are going through a slump, other enterprises are dealing with a significant rise in demand. For example, more consumers are turning to online shops to get their supplies in a bid to minimize movement. As a result, online retailers are experiencing a rise in traffic. On the flip side, industries like travel and tourism have noted a marked drop in online visits.
However, not all online retailers have increased sales. As expected in a crisis, most purchases are for essentials, such as groceries and household supplies. Supermarkets are even stocking up on such staples in order to meet increasing demand. A different picture is noted among retailers in the clothing industry and outdoor entertainment as they report a fall in demand.
All in all, it’s safe to say that online businesses have more potential during this pandemic. Especially with lockdowns, restricted movements, and caution against close contacts, brick-and-mortar stores are more likely to suffer.
Check out some of the recent statistics on consumer behavior in the US:
- 74.6% of consumers are avoiding shopping in malls and shopping centers.
- 22% of consumers are likely to avoid supermarket visits.
- 55% of consumers are likely to avoid shopping mall trips.
You may be wondering, what’s the fate of your business in terms of customer retention? The good news is you can still take action to reduce the negative impact of this pandemic while keeping your customers.
How to Keep Your Online Customers During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Maintaining your customers now can help save your bottom line and set you up for success after things return to normal. Although the rules and strategies during a crisis may change a bit, one thing remains true: A happy customer is a loyal customer. You must keep this in mind as you reach out to your existing audience.
How can you ensure your customers are happy or at least less anxious during a global pandemic? Here are a few tips to start you off on the right foot.
1. Communicate with Customers
The COVID-19 outbreak has brought uncertainty and unrest. Many are anxious about their health, safety, or job stability. One of the things you can do is frequently communicate the measures your company has put in place to mitigate the impact of the virus. For example, inform customers that you are disinfecting packages for deliveries or offering no-contact drop-offs to ensure their safety. A professor at Harvard Business School explains that the more customers know what’s happening at the back end of your company, the more satisfied they’ll be with your product or services. This is one of the ways to build customers’ trust and loyalty.
Even when business is slow, remain in touch with your customers. Send shout-outs on social media; pass your greetings via email; or use direct messaging to express well wishes for those directly or indirectly impacted by the virus. It’s all about maintaining the relationship.
Apart from empathizing with your clients, your business can serve as a channel through which people get pertinent information. According to a study by communications firm Edelman, businesses are more trusted than governments or the media. Take advantage of this trust by sending your customers updates on current issues the world is facing. There’s a feeling of empowerment that comes with being informed. Your customers will be grateful when you keep them updated.
2. Always Sell Quality
Your situation may vary depending on various factors, such as your niche. Either way, if you are going to sell anything at all, do your best to always sell quality. Most consumers sympathize with brands going through a rough time during this crisis, but that is no excuse to slack off. You cannot be less concerned about the quality of your product or service while still expecting to retain customers. Every buyer still desires to get value for their money.
So what can your business do when faced with challenges like unstable or disrupted supply chains? This is the time to have operations aggressively look for and identify alternative suppliers. If you can do this early enough and avoid being caught off guard, the better for you. Such measures can enable you to deliver the same high-quality products you have always provided for your customers. More to that, you can even end up attracting new customers who may be looking for quality when it becomes harder to find.
Another area to ensure excellence is customer service. Granted, the crisis may result in disruptions even in the productivity and efficiency of your staff, but as soon as you get some form of stability, pursue quality. Exemplary customer care will mean, for example, following up on customers’ requests, responding to queries on time, or enabling smooth cancelations. Whenever the situation allows, meeting deadlines should be prioritized. These are some of the seemingly small things that can set you apart from your competition and help retain customers.
3. Create Attractive Offers
Keep your customers during the pandemic by creating offers. You can win the hearts of your customers, build brand awareness, and promote your products or services by offering something of value at a discounted price or even free of charge. Free trials, online courses, bonuses on purchasing a product, and free subscriptions are some common examples.
This strategy may call for innovation because some offers are not necessarily related to your regular product. For example, companies can give tips and strategies for customers to cope with the challenges brought by COVID-19. You can send emails or post on your social media pages some tips for working at home so your customers can adjust better during lockdown.
4. Invest in Marketing
Marketing your product or service at this time needs to be very strategic. First, focus on existing customers. It’s not only easier but also cheaper. Second, since movement is restricted, use digital platforms like social media. Because consumers will most likely be on social media platforms more often as they pass their days indoors, seize the opportunity to promote your product or service online.
When advertising on social media platforms, make sure to use creatives that grab the attention of your target audience as they browse. Be deliberate in coming up with ad copy that’s ideal for this season. Be compassionate. Avoid exaggerated focus on scarcity, which may add to the stress levels people are already experiencing. We are, after all, in this together.
To come up with brilliant ideas, use BigSpy to find ad creatives for your marketing campaigns. This tool is an advanced search system that allows you to look for ads according to specific keywords, language, country, and several other filters. For example, by searching for ads under the keyword “COVID-19,” you can get relevant creatives that are great for marketing campaigns at this time.
In the example above, Kristine Herman Photography has created a catchy Pinterest ad to promote her website. The ad copy is very relevant. She also uses a title that captures the current situation of photographers in the face of the health crisis and offers a solution in the form of 20 tips.
When you take prompt action on the right strategies, your business can still retain customers during COVID-19. In summary, these are the tips you can begin implementing:
- Communicate with your existing clients.
- Aim for quality at all costs.
- Surprise your customers with offers and discounts.
- Don’t hesitate to market your business.
There you have it, actionable points for retaining online customers during the COVID-19 crisis. Stay safe.