Over the last several weeks, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has put the world on high alert, as concerns rise that the virus will significantly impact the wellbeing of people across the globe. Schools are closing, offices are urging employees to work from home, and now, a large number of businesses are being forced to close their physical spaces as well. In the United States, theaters, museums, gyms, restaurants, bars, and shops are all affected by states who are following CDC guidance to eliminate gatherings of more than 50 people for the next two months.
While these are necessary steps our country needs to take in order to slow the spread of the virus, we know that this can feel like a challenging time for you, your families and friends, and your businesses. However, there is hope! During this time of isolation and uncertainty, people are looking to maintain a connection to the world as it was before the outbreak.
Using digital outlets, such as social media, telecommunication services, email, and e-commerce, staying in close contact with your customers and continuing to conduct business and sales is easier than ever before.
Increase your organic social media presence
While everyone is social distancing, your customers are likely to be spending much more time on social media, searching for both news updates and distractions. You should plan to increase your posting frequency to ensure that you are showing up in their newsfeeds, keeping your brand on their minds. This is especially true for those sharing important business updates through these channels, as you will want to reach as many consumers as possible.
Potential content ideas include:
Being transparent with your customers about what steps you’re taking in your store or office to prevent the spread of the virus
Updating your customers on any changes to hours of operation
Sharing lighthearted, positive quotes and messages to take people’s minds off the panic
Utilizing Stories to promote featured sales, products, blogs, etc on your website with the “swipe up” feature to drive more traffic
Email your customers with business updates
If your business is still physically open, we recommend mimicking any messages you promote on social media regarding your own efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Send an email to your customers and hang up signs in your store or office to let them know that you’re doing everything you can to protect their health when they visit your space. Share any increase in disinfecting and hygiene protocols you’re following, and let them know that any employees who are ill are following the proper guidance to self-isolate.
If you are operating on reduced hours or are conducting your business online-only, let them know that, too!
Get creative with digital customer service
Ensure that your team has eyes on all of the usual digital customer service outlets, such as email, Facebook Messenger, Instagram DMs, etc.
In addition to simply fielding incoming requests, this is a great time to step up and connect with your customers on a more personal level! Offer your time to your followers on social media by hosting fun moments of distraction on Facebook or Instagram Live, such as Q&As or product demos.
If you’re a service-based company, offer to schedule video chats with your clients and customers via services such as Skype, Zoom, or Whereby to discuss projects and estimates. Having face time with others, especially during a time when many people are isolating alone, is incredibly important, for both you and them.
You should also make a point to express to your customers that you’re here for them during this time, should they have questions, comments, or concerns that they would normally ask in person.
Don’t go overboard on digital advertising
In terms of building brand awareness, now is the time to leverage digital marketing and social advertising. However, we don’t recommend that you don’t blow through your budget during this period of time. A conservative email drip campaign and a few additional ads on your preferred social channel(s) will be enough to stay top of mind, all the time.
Offer deals on your website
In addition to spending more time on social media, your customers are most likely doing a bit more online shopping while they’re home. Knowing that website traffic will surge with everyone working from home, show customers that you appreciate their support by offering discounts, free shipping, etc. for orders placed on your site.
If you’re a service-based business, you can offer discount codes or certificates that are valid on future service dates. If you’re in the home improvement space, we also recommend adding an estimating tool to your site. Should someone use it, surprise and delight them with a special reduced rate for service. These efforts help you maintain sales while giving your customers something fun to look forward to once the outbreak slows down. It’s a win-win!
If you don’t currently have an e-commerce component…
Now is the time to start one. Don’t feel overwhelmed by the idea of launching a site, as e-commerce platforms, such as Shopify or Squarespace, don’t require you to have any design or coding skills. By using one of their products, you won’t have to worry about finding a payment processor either! Everything from the URL to the design of the store can be customized within the platform.
If you aren’t ready to launch a full e-commerce site, offer in-store or curb-side pick-ups on orders
If you are open to conducting business in person, you could offer customers the option to stop by your location to pick-up an order they placed online, messaged you about on social media, etc. By scheduling individual pick-up times, you’re creating a one-on-one interaction for the consumer, eliminating stress around being exposed to a group of people. For added peace of mind, you can have your customers give you a call when they arrive, and your team can bring the order out to their car.
We are all in this together! Stay calm, and keep in mind that you, as a company, are not trying to profit off a difficult and sensitive time in our country’s history. Your efforts are about keeping your business flexible, nimble, and top of mind to emerge from an economic bump well-placed on the road ahead.
Questions? Call, DM or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be here at my desk, computer-side, fielding questions. Be safe, be well!