By Saad Muhammed, GM Digital at NAAS Digital
We’re all reeling right now – I don’t know a single company that hasn’t been impacted by COVID-19. But those who have invested in and focused on digital will get through this situation the best. What we’ve been doing over the past couple of months is helping our clients with a set of digital tactics that are helping them through this. Our recovery framework can be adapted to any industry. Given the unprecedented circumstances, we wanted to reach out to the community and help everyone get through this as best they can.
Step One – Engage and Inform
During a crisis, companies must up their digital relevance and look to their website and their content. The first actions companies need to take are simple. Undertake an analysis of your digital assets, everything that you have and use across all of your platforms, and understand what you need to change.
Start by updating your website, and increase your digital relevance. Have you added COVID-related content to your website, such as a frequently-asked-questions, changes to your policies, even a simple addition to your menu bar? By doing this, you’re helping customers quickly get to the information they need, you’re understanding what their concerns and issues are right now, and you’re showing that you care about them and their concerns.
Second, ensure that whatever changes you’ve made to your business are replicated across all local listings, be it social media and aggregators such as Google.
Third, ensure that your customers know what’s happening. We’ve all received countless emails talking about what brands are doing – email is an effective technique to reach out right now – but use other channels too. Social messaging apps are a brilliant way to connect with, engage and inform your customers as to what is going on with your business, how you are still operating, and how you can meet their needs.
And finally, while you have the time, check the data integrity of your customer information. How are you storing the data, how are you updating it, and is your data connected to your engagement? If this crisis teaches us anything, it’s the importance of good quality data that is constantly checked and updated.
Step Two – Recover and Adapt
We’re now opening up, and the hope is that businesses will bounce back. Hope isn’t a strategy, however. Those firms that have though through and started to build a digital transformation strategy – an approach that touches on what you need to do regarding your content assets, brand positioning, and gaps in customer experience – will recover the fastest. Be one of them.
There are a number of actions that you can take to improve your ability to recover, adapt and grow. First, listen to your customers and the general market, tune in to what they need right now, and adapt to the conditions by offering products at the right pricing points.
Re-engage customers with simple, direct surveys. Ensure that your website analytics are up to scratch, and that you’re monitoring what is driving interest and where your customers are coming to you from. Look externally, to Google Trends, social media searches, forums, and any other reliable source of information about what your customers are doing and thinking. If you’re going to invest in online advertising, now is the time. Target your online advertising, use A/B testing with different offers, and grow the amounts you’re putting in slowly.
And consider the importance of a customer relationship management system; CRMs used to be expensive and hard to implement. Luckily, that’s not the case any more, and, if done right, CRM solutions can give you incredible insights as to what you’re doing with specific customer groups, and where you can offer more. You can integrate your CRM into your website and your email solution, ensuring that all of the data is available to you on one dashboard.
Another key area to look at is your mobile presence. If there was ever a time to improve your website to make it mobile-friendly, it is now. Optimize your mobile website with accelerated mobile pages (AMP), and simplify, improve your mobile website’s navigation and search. AMP is Google’s format for ensuring websites load faster, meaning that your users aren’t left waiting for pages to load. Is it time to revisit the conversations about developing or improving your mobile apps? It should be.
One final thought here – now is a good time to think of playing in the area of audio. The increase in audio content right now is staggering. We’ve long talked about audio’s potential – be it podcasts or voice controls – and we’re now seeing it, both globally and regionally. Creating podcasts costs virtually nothing, and audio advertising is also low-cost.
Step Three – Return to Growth
We all hope that we’ll return to some semblance of business normality. And those that are digitally ahead will benefit the most. This is the time to ramp up social media spending, use all of that data and those customer insights you’ve collected to roll out new products and services. And keep focusing on relevant content marketing that reflects your customer personas and moods.
I’ll be sharing more thoughts on this piece when the time is right. Given what’s happening around us, most are still on stages one and two. All the best for your online marketing – get it right, and it can mean the difference for your customers and your business.