Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Marketing best practices for reaching customers in Covid-19 and beyond

By Paul O’Donoghue, VP solution engineering, Uberall

Brands and businesses, from restaurants to retailers, have unquestionably been facing difficult times as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Many have been scrambling to adjust, with marketing and communications strategies being developed on the fly.

However, some companies have been responding successfully to the crisis and adapting to the situation in ways that will also help them cope in the unknown market conditions in the months and years to come. Here are some of the best marketing practices businesses and brands can implement to keep customers engaged, and business going now and in the future:

Stay resilient through creativity

For many CMOs and marketing teams, any previous plans are now playing second fiddle to coronavirus. Businesses who are agile with their marketing plans and are prepared to adapt their focus and content to be responsive to market conditions, are the ones who are surviving now and who will thrive in the future.

Indeed, the current crisis has called for creative thinking and problem-solving, and businesses from large enterprises to sole proprietors have shown remarkable resilience, from local takeaways switching to online ordering to big retailers making a bigger push into ecommerce. Creativity will continue to be vital as the after-effects of the pandemic begin to emerge.

Keep online listings in check

At the start of lockdown, consumers were looking for businesses that were open for key products like eggs, flour and toilet paper, but many were frustrated by the lack of updated information online and were turning up to shops only to find them closed.

Indeed, research shows that 80% of consumers lose trust in businesses that show inaccurate details online and Uberall found that 3 out of 10 customers who receive inaccurate data around a location are lost for life. With businesses like Five Guys and B&Q beginning to re-open, consumers will continue to seek up-to-the-moment information online and businesses that have mastered online listings management are the ones connecting with customers when it matters most.

Businesses should therefore ensure that their information on Google My Business and other relevant directories like Yelp, Bing, Apple and TripAdvisor is all correct and up-to-date. This includes opening hours, address, contact information and product availability.

Also make sure this information is reflected in your other online content such as your website and emails, and let customers know that you’re taking the necessary precautions to ensure everyone’s safety.

Climb up the search results

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – optimising your website so that customers find your business at the top of their search results – is critical to the visibility of brands online. Particularly in current high-demand areas like food delivery or home-office equipment, and considering consumers spend only 5.7 seconds looking at results before they click, businesses need to make sure they come out on top.

As things remain uncertain, it can be tempting to pull back the focus on SEO, but as consumers spend more time online searching for goods and services, now may be the time to double-down on SEO and invest in the likes of new website content and relevant landing pages that’ll help you climb the search results ladder.

Reach out to customers on all platforms

With social distancing in place, everyone is relying on smartphones and social media to keep in touch with friends and family. Indeed, Messenger and WhatsApp activity has increased 50%, so businesses should look to utilise social media to reach out to their customers where they are the most.

This doesn’t just mean on a global, brand level, but also at a local and community level. When used properly – and certainly it’s a logistical challenge – social media can empower businesses to start direct dialogues with their customers. This open, responsive form of communication will sit better with your audiences who will know you’re looking out for them.

Know what matters to your customers

We’ve all received ‘An important message from our CEO’ email in the past few months – but that subject line isn’t as eye-catching as it once was. Coronavirus content has flooded the market, so standing out from the crowd and connecting with customers requires a bit of innovation.

Instead of sending out generic, corporate-sounding missives, engage customers with matters that directly concern them. Don’t waste time updating them about internal company logistics, but pivot your content to address the current situation.

If you run a restaurant, consumers looking on your website will want to know if it’s safe to order a takeaway – maybe even make note that your staff all wear gloves and a mask to provide reassurance. If you’re a bricks-and-mortar retailer that’s shifted to ecommerce, update your FAQ page or share a post on social media about any changes to distribution times or new returns policies.

When it comes to marketing in age of coronavirus and beyond, understanding and sharing what information is most important to your audience, and having processes in place that allow you to share that information on the most relevant channels, is what will keep brands and businesses connected with their customers, even with no boots on the ground.