With social quarantine and isolation, many of have felt an extreme lack of connection like we’ve never experienced before. The Covid-19 pandemic is forcing marketers to reevaluate what it means to really connect with their customers. Building relationships is no longer just a good marketing strategy… it’s a necessary one. Surface-level advertising simply doesn’t cut it anymore. We must be more deliberate and conscientious.
Quarantine also means that shopping in-store is becoming a second choice to shopping online. We can get pretty much anything online nowadays, even our groceries. Over the past few years, marketers had to adapt and learn how to build connections using mostly digital experiences rather than focusing solely on in-store or in-person experiences. Things will certainly shift back to being in-person, but the lingering effects of the pandemic will stick around.
Let’s explore more about how the pandemic has affected the way companies are changing their marketing. Though it has been a devastating time, the impact on marketing has been surprisingly positive.
Caring About Your Customers
Because of social isolation, consumers are craving connection now more than ever. We aren’t going out shopping as often, and we’re with friends and family less. Creating a more meaningful connection with customers is helping companies counteract feelings of isolation.
How can companies work towards this? With billions of consumers worldwide, learning about each individual separately often just isn’t feasible. How can we build rapport in a way that feels individualized and special to each person? Use segmentation.
Segmenting your customers, i.e. grouping them based on their preferences and demographics, is paramount when you have a large target market. You need to be able to send an email campaign to groups of similar people with a message you know they’ll like, rather than blindly promoting tons of products to everyone and hoping they’ll scroll far enough to find the one that’s best for them. This sort of marketing makes each person feel important. It’s one way to show them you care, even if they’re getting the same message as thousands of others
There are many other ways to show you care, including:
- Saying ‘thank you’
- Offering excellent support (NO chatbots!)
- Frequent communication with customers
- Listening to their feedback to innovate your product/services
- Effortless returns and exchanges
- Giving advice and value
- Being genuine
Since consumers are making fewer visits to fewer stores, they’re being more choosy about where they go. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown companies globally if their customers are loyal or not. The most successful companies have been loyalty-building from their beginning, but it’s never too late to start focusing on it .
Knowing and caring about your customers, which we already discussed above, is an excellent way to generate loyalty. You can also set up VIP programs, communicate frequently in a personalized way, and create a community around your product.
Take Starbucks, for example. They’ve done an excellent job crafting their image and brand community. Their rewards program is the pinnacle of their efforts. In a sleek app, customers can earn stars, claim rewards like drinks or products, order ahead of time, get a birthday gift, and even play games. Offering personalized rewards and special benefits help people feel more connected to your brand.
Starbucks Loyalty Program
They’ve also mastered the art of creating a social media community. From their famous #redcupcontest to #psl (pumpkin spice latte) or simply #starbucks, there are year-round hashtags people can use. This user-generated content gives them endless amounts of social proof, which helps them gain even more loyalty.
Uplifting & Purpose-Driven Advertising
Companies can use their advertising to provide a little bit of escape from the dismal news we’re all dealing with at this time. Consumers are seeking brands that have a purpose and are trying to make the world a little brighter.
CSR, or corporate social responsibility, refers to practices and policies undertaken by corporations intended to have a positive influence on the world (Investopedia). Companies that are taking a stand on important issues like employee welfare, the environment, and various social issues are finding more success.
Young people especially are loyal to companies that work towards more than just making money. According to the 2020 Consumer Culture Report by 5WPR, when asking consumers age 18-34, 83% agree that the brands they buy from should align with their values, and 76% like to see CEOs actively using their platform to address important social issues. Now more than ever, the actions, values, and beliefs of companies and their CEOs are being observed.
The concept of CSR isn’t a new one, but its certainly on the rise. Think about what values your company can stand behind and promote.
Relationships Based on Trust
Not only are consumers inclined towards brands that have great values and care about their customers. They want a brand they trust. So when you’re creating your customer journey, focus on including communication that builds trust.
Building trust takes time. Established companies that have been offering great products and services for a long time have a leg up in that regard. But if you’re just starting to work on this, there are many things you can do.
Principles 1 and 4 of the 8 Psychological Principles (#1 Reciprocity and #4 Social Proof) are excellent for building trust early on. Reciprocating and being generous with your customers will build trust and also encourage them to give back to you—by making a purchase. Social proof, i.e. using testimonials in your marketing, also helps build trust in the beginning stages of the customer journey.
To build trust on an ongoing basis, there are many other things you can work on and hold yourself accountable for:
- Always offer excellent customer service
- Be honest with your customers and leads
- Ask for their feedback and act on it
- Be responsive
- Always listen to them during interactions
- Show appreciation
- Be inclusive
Use CRM to Provide Individualized Experiences
Using CRM software (such as Zoho, Hubspot, or others) will help you better manage your client interactions, making it easier to build trust and show you care. There are many free or low-cost solutions out there or more expensive options like Salesforce that have a plethora of wonderful features.
CRM software will enable you group clients by segment, keep track of where they are on the customer journey, and set reminders when it’s time to reach out. It’s all about staying organized and giving each person an individualized experience.
Most CRMs will have a spot to write notes about each call as well. You can keep track of their preferences, questions they’ve asked, and other details you need to remember. If you have multiple team members talking to a lead/customer, they’ll be able to go in and learn about past conversations. Your conversations will seem that much more personalized when you remember something they said in a call 6 months ago, because you wrote it down.
How We Can Help
Our team will work with you on each stage of the customer journey and hone in on a system that works for you. The way this is achieved is different for every company, but the principles stay the same. We help you cultivate a web presence to gain awareness and set up nurturing campaigns that over time will build the trust and connection that’s becoming especially important post-pandemic.