How do we stay close when we find ourselves in the middle of a pandemic urging distance? That is the question we have all been trying to solve and navigate through this new, different world that operates on social distancing; a widespread term that did not exist a mere six months ago.
As remote working, remote learning, and remote shopping have quickly become the new norm, organizations are absorbing the new changes and working overtime to revamp their digital strategies and keep up with how consumer engagement is evolving.
For businesses that were not technologically advanced in marketing and social media pre-COVID, or that are not sure of where to start in this new digital era, evolving customer engagement strategies is much easier said than done. To help businesses adjust and grow their digital marketing tactics, this blog aims to explain the importance of online customer engagement and provide effective mainstream solutions for everyday businesses.
Why Are Marketing and Customer Engagement Important?
Keeping in touch with existing and future customers has always been crucial from a modern marketing perspective, and the emphasis on its importance has only grown considering the global pandemic shutting down and reducing business capacities around the world.
Here are a few key reasons why marketing and customer engagement strategies are important to maintain for your business to thrive, not only during a crisis, but long-term:
- Online engagement can keep your customers updated with news and updates including potential changes in operations, latest specials, virtual events, and more.
- Inbound marketing approaches such as e-newsletters, informative webinars, and fresh blog content can remind your audience that your business is ready to serve.
- Digital platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram can serve as strong pillars for open discussion and in building a sense of online community.
Each of these points may be classified under the umbrella of inbound marketing, a practice for maintaining and attracting customers to products and services via content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization, and branding.
How to Foster Consumer Relationships During a Pandemic
Now that you have learned the why of inbound marketing, let us discuss the how. Every business is different, and every sector and industry has its own distinct set of customer personas within its target demographics. This is where customer engagement strategies will vary because what may work for a local pet food shop would not necessarily work for a software firm promoting the research and development of virtual reality innovation.
Fortunately, there are tangible steps that can be taken that apply to essentially every business type across all kinds of industries. Follow along as we outline the 5 steps of fostering a positive consumer relationship during the pandemic:
- Identify your audience: Who does your business generally cater to? Are the demographics heavily male, female, other? What age ranges would you say your products or services heavily align towards? Where are your consumers located? All these statistics can help narrow down your target audience. These demographics can be found via tracking tools, such as Google Analytics, when imbedded on your website.
- Discover your customers’ wants and needs: Say you have discovered that your business’ audience is primarily women in their mid-40s located in Ontario. Now you need to know what their wants and needs are. You already know that they are accessing your content, but you want to make sure you can reel and hook them in. You can learn more about what their wants and needs are by looking at your business model and evolving your online presence to match with what you offer. Try using keywords on your webpages to highlight the importance of main themes.
- Craft, tailor, and plan your content: Create relevant, highlighted, and up-to-date content, publish it online, and make sure to link back to your recently keyword-optimized web pages. Whether it is an update on business hours, a new promotion, or simply company news, make sure to pair it with a bold visual to retain the attention of your busy audience.
- Assess your success: In today’s world of customer engagement via inbound marketing, tracking your business’s online success is easy peasy, lemon squeezy. You can check click-through rates (CTRs), impressions, time spent on pages, and so much more. Keep track of your email campaigns, social postings, webinar attendance, and monitor which content is best performing to continue and evolve the best practices for your business.
- Try new things: Ask your customers what they would like to see by taking a poll on a social platform or starting up discussions on your website; Try partnering with collaborative, relevant businesses on innovative content; Send newsletters; Update your web pages; Ask your team for their advice and suggestions. After all, it is better to try and not succeed, than to not try at all.
Which Inbound Marketing Strategies Are Best?
To succeed at inbound marketing and customer engagement, it is best for businesses to follow the four stages of attracting, converting, closing, and delighting customers from the first point of contact. Strangers become visitors who become leads that may turn into customers, with the end goal of those customers becoming online ambassadors for your business. Here are some of the best methods of turning strangers into happy customers:
- Daily Blog Posts
- Social Media Activity
- Downloadable Web Content
- Live Chats, Contact Forms, and Direct Messages
- Email Newsletters
- Virtual Events & Webinars
- Email Campaigns
Remember, the quality of the content your business creates is the most important aspect of your customer engagement strategy. If you create generic, self-serving content, you will rarely see success. To create content that will delight, keep your target audience’s wants and needs in mind.
Stay Updated with Canadian Government Funding News
We hope this blog has prepared your business to feel confident in staying engaged with your customers in the age of social distancing. Simply because we need to stay at least six feet apart in person should not mean that we cannot feel closeness in our future and existing relationships and communities.
Connect with us and stay informed on government funding program updates, changes, and deadlines by signing up for our Weekly Funding Newsletter and by tuning in to our various upcoming webinars on funding opportunities for various levels of support.