Businesses around the world are operating in an unprecedented time due to the global coronavirus health crisis. Retail and public locations are being shut down and face-to-face services are suspended. In some industries, sales are sharply declining as people stay at home and cut spending due to caution or necessity.
But the reality is that your business must go on: you need to keep bringing in leads and making sales. And your customers will still need your product and service – if not now, then eventually. To navigate through this new reality of conducting business, you must adapt your marketing strategy to this new normal. There is no more store front or show room. Salespeople can no longer make in-person contacts or welcome walk-in customers. But there are key ways you can continue to generate leads, nurture your contacts and create connections (and sales) with your customers. Virtual contact marketing will be the new normal.
There are 4 key tenants of this new marketing strategy, each with a few main tactics within them.
- Your Website
- Consistent Email Communication
- Community Engagement (B2C) or Integrated Sales Campaigns (B2B)
- Enhanced Digital Customer Journey
Now more than ever, your website is your new storefront or showroom. It will be the main way you communicate with customers and present your product offering or services. Your website will be your #1 owned asset. These are the important areas to focus on right now:
- Make sure your products are up to date: and product pages are filled with rich content like photos, videos, infographics, white papers, etc.
- Make SEO a priority: from a technical standpoint, but also make sure you’re adding new content constantly (product descriptions, blogs, videos, new inventory listings etc.).
- Be mobile first: it’s no surprise mobile searches have increased significantly during this crisis, make sure your website is optimized for mobile.
- Open up your remarketing window: customers visiting your website right now may not be in a position to buy, but in a few months they might be. Make sure you’re capturing these visitors now to put them in a remarketing campaign with Facebook and other digital platforms when the time is right in a few weeks or months.
- Capture Leads: Make sure you have various ways to capture leads on your website, like web forms, texting and live chat.
Consistent Email Communication
People are craving intimacy right now as they deal with self isolation and lack of social interactions. Now is the time to make that emotional connection with your leads and customers and focus on 1:1 virtual contacts and interactions. This is a great opportunity for your sales team to send one-to-one emails (or have marketing send on their behalf) with helpful, supportive content. Regardless of whether your email is one-to-one or one to many, you may need to focus on content instead of conversions. Businesses will need to shift their regular messaging to be more supportive in this new normal versus strictly promotional. What kind of content do your customers need right now to get through this crisis? What can you provide to them to offer support? It will be important to keep your contacts warm during this time of uncertainty so when life gets back to normal, they will want to do business with you.
In the B2C space, creating community engagement is especially important right now when people are missing their normal physical communities and turning online to find new social support. What’s a channel that makes sense for your business and target audience? How can you build community on there with your content? This is another way to keep up that virtual contact with your customers. For example, can you do a Facebook or Instagram live video offering a free class? Can you issue a challenge to your viewers to submit their own content? Build a place on your website to share all the live streams or classes or resources that you’re collecting for your community of fans and customers and keep updating it, so people keep coming back looking for more.
Integrated Sales Campaigns
In B2B industries, your sales team will have to adapt to new techniques to make virtual contacts with their leads and customers. No more in-person sales calls or walk in interactions in your showroom. Marketing can support sales in new, virtual customer outreach that takes the place of face-to-face by supplying content and facilitating communication such as:
- Product demo webinars that can be watched live or shared for on-demand viewing
- Live-streaming, virtual video tours of products
- Educational presentations via slideshare
- Facetime video chats 1:1 with customers
Enhanced Digital Customer Journey
The path to purchase is now changing, with store visits removed and face-to-face interaction limited. Your customer journey is changing too, with an increased emphasis on digital interactions. Sales may have relied on in-person interactions in store to close the deal and now we need new ways to create the personalized touch with customers. It starts with reaching them in new ways, especially ways that reach them at home.
- What channels will people be on right now? Think about social media, YouTube and streaming platforms. Then find what works for you and double down on what’s effective.
- Consider a broad reach and frequency campaign – if your product facilitates working from home or is used specifically at home, now everyone may need your product or service. Get them to your website (which is now optimized with the tactics above) and get their contact info.
- Nurture them with content, either with your sales team like described above, or your own email content and social engagement.
- Then when they do buy, keep them loyal with post purchase content and support: how to make the most of their purchase, enhanced education, service and maintenance reminders and even helpful cross sell items.
The world is changing. Your business is changing and your marketing strategy has to change too. But you can adapt to this new way of doing business and your customers will adapt to it, and welcome it, too.
About the Author:
Jennifer Thompson is a Certified Marketing Specialist and currently the Marketing Operations Director for Flaman Group of Companies. She’s an award-winning marketer who’s driven by a passion for analytics and improving the customer journey. She’s also an award-winning journalist, with a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University, who was formerly a reporter and then editor of a weekly newspaper. Right now she’s using those writing skills to create integrated, content-focused strategies for the businesses she supports. Her favourite customer, however, calls her “mom”.