On 8th December, Margaret Keenan, a 90-year-old British grandmother became the world’s first person to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Thousands more will join her in the coming weeks. As the world finally prepares to move past the terrible pandemic, it’s time for marketers to do some serious soul searching. Past months have been extremely challenging for businesses due to extreme changes in customer behaviour, government restrictions and an overall uncertain global economy.
While most of us would like to believe things will gradually go back to the pre-pandemic mode, a recent survey by the UNCTAD shows that many customers will continue the behaviors they’ve adopted in the last 7-8 months. These individuals will still prioritize essential goods, travel less frequently and shop more from online stores.
Brands would need to craft renewed strategies to survive and thrive in the post-pandemic world.
Here’s how you can go about marketing in a world that emerges from the on-going crisis.
1. Keep Customers Engaged With An Omni channel Approach
To reduce human interaction, many businesses were forced to digitize in recent months. According to Mckinsey, the pandemic sped up the adoption of emerging technologies by several years. Meanwhile, there was a notable surge in chatbots usage as websites saw an increased flow of traffic.
RohitMahna, SVP and GM of financial services at Salesforce, claims many companies have integrated AI chatbots in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In his talk with TechRupblic, Mahna explained how AI-enabled chatbots have evolved to provide personalized customer service.
“Chatbot is now intelligent in essence with embedded AI, so it’s not just providing your customer with automated responses but also personalizing those responses,” he explains.
But there needs to be a balance as most experts point out. Customer service cannot solely rely on chatbots. Marketers would need to determine which inquiries can be handled by automated tools and which require a human touch.
Human agents and chatbots will have to work in harmony to create a superior customer experience going forward. People who have braved the pandemic might desire an empathetic human interaction even if you’re utilizing Artificial Intelligence to handle the bulk of traffic.
2. Leverage Virtual Reality
In March of this year, the pandemic caused a number of conferences to be cancelled or postponed. Later on, as businesses began adopting the work from home dynamics, many conferences also went virtual.
One such event was Laval Virtual World, an entire function that was powered by VR. It was organized across three days, had 150 speakers and more than 10,000 virtual attendees.
All the participants in the event embodied avatars and roamed around the auditorium where presentations were taking place. This was the closest one could get to an actual conference in the pandemic.
Innovations such as Laval Virtual World have only created a new level of expectation from consumers when it comes to their online experience. The bar has been raised and marketers need to take note. While there would be a lot of conventional conferences in the coming months, creating new virtual engagement points will still be vital.
A perfect marriage of VR and digital marketing will not just meet customer expectations —it will bring a new degree of sophistication in your promotional efforts.
3. Reward the Customers Who Stuck With You
COVID-19 pandemic put the spotlight on customer loyalty and how critical it is for businesses to survive and flourish. This year saw some drastic changes in customer behaviour. Some of these changes were enough to kill major businesses.
If your company has managed to outlive the crisis —it makes perfect sense to reward customers who have continued to invest in your brand. This move will inspire further loyalty and create a brand-customer relation that most businesses strive to achieve.
Even something as small as giving them a discount code or sending a complimentary product their way might be enough. According to studies of ClothingRIC, 69% of customers say that coupons and discounts are vital in building customer loyalty. But whatever method you choose, it’s crucial to show your regular customers that you appreciate their trust.
4. Take a Light-Hearted Approach to Email Marketing
During the past few months, marketers flooded the inbox of customers with all kinds of email. Most of these were carefully crafted thoughtful messages while others seemed a bit opportunistic.
Many customers who were already under a load of stress due to the pandemic were overwhelmed by what could only be described as pleas by marketers to continue shopping. Meanwhile, many emails went unnoticed due to the sheer load of information.
When things go back to normal, marketers might want to take a creative and witty approach to email marketing. People who have only seen or heard bad news in the previous months will welcome this change of tone.
Humor has been an important tool for marketers. Brands such as Old Spice have managed to create their entire image around outlandish comedy. It might find a fresh importance post-pandemic as people prepare to move on.
Research by Lucky Generals that was conducted in May 2020, found that 90% of Britons felt “keeping a sense of humor is important in times like these”. A great number of individuals have used laughter and joy to overcome the current crisis. They would appreciate your sense of humor when the virus is finally dealt with.
5. Be Socially and Environmentally Responsible
This year also had massive racial inequality protests which forced brands to change their racially-insensitive names and look at their marketing strategy in a whole new light.
On the same token, young customers in particular want companies to care about the environment. When the COVID-19 is contained, the conversation will gradually shift toward climate change. This is where you’ll have the opportunity to demonstrate that you care about the earth’s future.
While 2020 has been a punch in the gut for businesses, there will be better times ahead. Business with a potent post-pandemic marketing strategy will thrive in the coming days.