Coronavirus is not only an immense health crisis, it’s also changing the way we work, think and communicate. No wonder the world is focussed on little else.
In response to movement restrictions, many people have turned to digital tools to keep a semblance of normality. Social media use has rocketed, online shopping has soared and digital forms of communication are now more important than ever. COVID-19 has caused digital transformation to accelerate.
But will worries over crowded locations persist? Will digital communications continue to hold the same importance? And will previously offline-only consumers adapt to new ways of shopping?
Whilst the UK is now ‘past the peak’ and has a staged exit strategy, it is clear the crisis is not going to blow over any time soon. As customers get used to a new normal, we know the world – and the way businesses interact with their customers – will not look the same on the other side.
Now and in the future, we may be looking at a more digitally-focussed society. Here’s how to get ahead.
Social Media Marketing
Social distancing should not mean social media distancing, in fact it should mean the opposite. As customers look for ways to keep in touch, social media use has soared. In order to connect with your customers, this form of direct communication is more important than ever.
With the current situation affecting lives across the globe, make empathy and helpfulness key features of your brand. Make sure you create the right content, using the right tone of voice, as customer needs evolve.
1. Be educational
Many people are using this time to put things in order and audit what they have and what needs to be improved to help them hit the ground running after the pandemic. Think of what you could do to help. Could you give business insights and advice, share experiences and offer support?
Or could you create content for home-schooling or home learning? With millions confined to their home, a surge of people are using their time to learn new things such as new recipes or skills.
2. Be genuine
With health becoming a main concern, many customers’ priorities have changed. No one wants to be on the receiving end of hardcore sales messages. Instead align your brand with similar values such as family or your local area, or consider whether you can support local causes. Create connections and forge communities during this difficult time.
3. Continue to reassure customers
If your business is operating in a slightly different way, keep updating your customers with detailed, current information and notify customers of what they can expect.
4. Be aware of current and changing behaviours
Not only are customer’s needs changing, but so are their habits. Keep an eye out for changing behaviours. For example, COVID-19 lockdowns have not only led to massive increases in social platform usage, they have also seen significant shifts in when people are active. New data suggests the best times to post on social media have changed.
Make sure you are flexible to new trends and news and adapt your message accordingly.
5. If you haven’t already, get started on social media
Even if increased social media activity does not continue at the current rate in the distant future, its uses and popularity cannot be ignored.
Social media provides an unrivalled opportunity to connect with your customers and increase the accessibility, visibility and popularity of your company.
Twitter alone sees 145 million active users daily. Social media is not a fleeting trend – make sure you utilise it accordingly.
1. Keep customers reassured with a message and banner
As well as reassuring customers on social media that you are open for business, you also need to make sure this is clearly communicated on your website.
Keep updating your website with short and friendly announcements explaining that you’re still operating, highlighting any precautions you are currently taking to reduce risks and telling customers which services are available.
You can then summarise your message in a few reassuring words and place a banner on each page, linking to the full announcement for those wishing to know more.
2. Ensure usability
As people rely more on the web to fulfil basic needs, you may want to audit your site and make sure it’s accessible, secure, discoverable, fast and easy to use – especially for those who are not used to using the web frequently.
Mobile is now the most popular way to search online, meaning if you give users a disappointing mobile experience, you could be losing valuable customers. Making your website mobile-user friendly ensures mobile visitors get the same information and value from your site as those on desktop.
Users expect a website to load in less than two seconds and even leave sites that take over three seconds to load – the need for speed is greater than ever. If your site is becoming overloaded with traffic, you may want to optimise your images, remove unnecessary items and ensure each page focuses on delivering functionality.
3. Review design and content
Websites are often the first port of call for many customers – and first impressions really do count. As customer behaviour continues to grow on digital platforms, a strong, modern website can increase a brand’s reputation, whilst an old, outdated one can lose a business potential clients, customers and leads.
Visitors tend to judge a website based on the first 90 seconds of exposure, so successful sites need to look good and instantly engage.
Think about your content in the eyes of your audience. Is it engaging? Does it tell them what they want to know? Does it make you stand out above your competitors? Consider creating case studies to show off your results and persuade potential customers to work with you, or integrating a blog into your website to demonstrate your expertise and open another channel of communication.
You could also capture a reader’s attention with integrated video, using it as an introduction, ‘how-to explainer’ or including animated characters. Video keeps users on your page for a longer period of time, in turn increasing your site’s SEO.
What could you do to ensure you make the most of the growing online market?
As the world goes digital, online communications become densely populated and it is harder than ever to stand out from the crowd. That’s where digital visualisation comes in.
Video is one of the most engaging forms of content – it drives engagement like no other form of media. Video animation can capture attention on social media, help your brand ‘sell itself’ in a more subtle way and, as mentioned above, be used on a website to increase the time spent on a page – in turn boosting SEO.
Both animations and CGIs also provide a socially distant option for content and imagery creation. With possible movement restrictions (or at least precautions) for some time, photography and filmmaking may be unsuitable or simply impossible. Instead, CGI imagery can provide eye-catching content for a variety of applications and bring concepts like new homes or products, for example, to life.
Helping to keep networking events on schedule, businesses functioning as planned, and employees working effectively from home, immersive technologies such as virtual reality are offering a solution – enabling business resilience as the world has never felt more physically isolated. And as we expect home working to continue in popularity as the pandemic passes, these digital technologies hold a definite place in our future.
With new challenges come new opportunities
As we all try to adapt to the constantly changing and unpredictable circumstances, getting digital with your marketing may not be a top priority. But with an uncertain economy and closed businesses, you may need to plan to drive demand like never before.
Think about how your business can prepare for the new – more digital – normal.