by Jules Miller
Marketing & Digital Intern at Charles Aris Executive Search
Even as restrictions are beginning to ease in many regions around the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the marketing world is here to stay. So how can you help your business navigate this new kind of limbo between pandemic and post-pandemic life?
While some business leaders may instinctively revert to their pre-pandemic marketing strategy, it’s important to analyze how the changes which came with digital marketing during the pandemic have impacted your organization and the ways in which it goes about its business. Many are choosing to go the “phygital” route – blending their physical and digital marketing strategies into one coordinated system that supports its customers both functionally and socially. Consider how the pandemic has changed the nature of interactions with your core customer base; how can you implement these strategies for those who are choosing to remain quarantined or socially distant?
As the pandemic began to impact businesses and their customers, the focus for many turned to e-commerce. Without a physical way to reach out to customers through in-person store browsing, one-on-one appointments or other physical marketing strategies, businesses had to move quickly to ensure that customers could still access them from home. Many businesses saw growth from introducing e-commerce into their sales strategy as geographic location relative to the business became less of a limiting factor for sales. The growing convenience of ordering and contacting the organization online made connecting with customers even easier.
Think about how your business could benefit from beginning or continuing to use e-commerce by looking at your customer base. Is it mostly local, regional, national or international? Have you or could you attract new cross-continental customers through implementing it? All these questions can help you determine how your business will function as the world continues to reopen and help streamline your current processes to make them more convenient for and tailored to your users.
By examining analytics on your organization’s website or offering a survey that in-person and digital customers can complete, you can not only get a better picture of your demographics but what the people with those demographics want from you. Some of your offerings might be more popular in an e-commerce space than in an in-person setting – and vice versa. By knowing what your audiences are looking for, you can cater your digital and physical content more easily to them and take advantage of both avenues for your business.
Most businesses are familiar with marketing automation. It’s a tool that can help you send routine emails, confirmation messages and more to your customers – all while creating a positive first impression and saving you time. More people interacted with businesses via email last year than prior to the pandemic; how can you continue to incorporate automation as you potentially introduce more in-person options for your customers?
While automated follow-up emails can always be sent to in-person customer contacts after an initial meeting or subscription to a company service / email list, don’t forget to take advantage of the in-person or online conversations that these automated interactions can lead to.
By offering webinars and other relevant content to your client base, or digital product showcases where customers can virtually interact with your salespeople, you can encourage your audiences to interact with your team – including providing their email addresses to receive more information about these opportunities. From there, you can customize your automation based on what kinds of content they sign up to receive. If they sign up for a webinar or professional development course, you can automate email updates to send to them when your business has a similar opportunity in the future, whether in person or online.
More than anything, it’s important that you and your business stay committed to having a social feel and human connection when customers interact with your brand. Your digital marketing reaches out to real, physical people and should always put them first; that’s the key to “phygital” marketing.
Don’t forget that every digital interaction you have can potentially lead to an in-person or digital face-to-face interaction. If your organization uses chatbots for customer service, for example, the language and diction you use for the chatbot is important, as well as the responsiveness of the chatbot. A frustrated chatbot customer is more likely to be irked when calling in for person-to-person customer service if the chatbot they tried to use first wasn’t responsive, helpful or even available. By understanding your digital services from the customer’s perspective, you can help better cater to and understand their relationship with your company.
As many people begin to come out of the pandemic, we must remember what pushed us through it in the first place: empathy and connection. Whether that comes from the language you use in your emails or on your company site – or the language you use in person or on a video call – empathy for your customers’ experience is an important aspect that can be addressed using physical and digital means, or a blend of both.