A business can never be too prepared to bear the brunt of unexpected situations. No matter how strong your crisis management plan is, a situation like the current pandemic can disrupt your operations to a considerable extent, if not completely. While you can expect the impact to be enterprise-wide, the risk is the highest for your marketing operations. As every ad campaign, message and channel are likely to be affected, customers will perceive your brand differently.
The last thing you would want to experience during a phase like this is the loss of consumer trust and brand credibility. The only way to secure your presence is by realigning your marketing strategy to maintain customer connections and retain their trust. At the same time, you need to keep up the momentum so the efforts of your agents and you don’t get wasted.
Right now, marketing leaders need to identify the right actions and find the right message, though both can be challenging in a fast-evolving situation. Fortunately, there are several tactics that can help you steer your initiatives in an optimal direction. The focus has to be on nailing the right ones while operating with integrity and trust even during this tough situation. Here are some marketing tactics that you can implement for staying afloat.
1. Follow the Customers Closely
The needs and sentiments of your customers matter most during a crisis. Brand tracking is a great approach as it not only gets your inputs on consumer expectations but also reveals how your current marketing efforts are performing. With all these vital pieces of information at hand, it becomes easy to cover the gaps in your campaigns and fine-tune them to align with the wants and needs of your customers.
While you can listen closely to the audience on social media channels, gathering data on their support queries is also a good idea. A cloud call center solution serves big potential in this context as it can help you get caller data, analyze it, and derive useful insights. Once you understand the pain points of the customers, you can resolve them faster and even nip them in the bud.
2. Move Online to Stay Connected
If you were still contemplating building an online presence for your brand when the pandemic first struck, then you might have learned your lesson. Moving your brand was not a choice then, but a necessity and you wouldn’t have survived without it. An online presence will keep you connected with the customers because this is the only channel that everyone is using to search for goods and services in the era of social distancing.
Investing in a website is a no-brainer because it is the foundation of a brand’s digital presence. Further, you will require a holistic digital marketing plan that includes search engine optimisation (SEO) and social media marketing (SMM). While SEO will make your website visible on top of search rankings, SMM will help you listen to the audience and keep them engaged through meaningful interactions. You can also take your marketing plan to the next level with a pay-per-click campaign if the budget permits.
3. Revamp Customer Experiences to build Trust
The pandemic has made consumers apprehensive. Reassuring them with positive customer experiences will aid in winning their trust and consolidating relationships in the long run. Marketers need to refresh their customer experience strategy at this point in time, ensuring constant availability and support.
Empowering your customer support team with cloud telephony services is a great idea because it streamlines the end-to-end sales and support processes for your business. Moreover, agents can be available for customers anytime and from anywhere, even if they aren’t present at the physical office. They’re also able to optimise processes, respond with agility and engage across different sales channels without much work.
4. Bring Empathy in Marketing Communications
While availability fosters consumer trust, empathy drives loyalty for your brand. People are struggling with social isolation these days and they require genuine and empathic human connections during this difficult phase. Marketers and brands looking to win loyalty can capitalise on this opportunity by bringing empathy in their customer interactions. Making a shift from a sales-mindset to a support-mindset will do the trick.
The transition should reflect in your brand messaging and every other form of marketing communication. Unless you show your inclination to support your customers through the crisis, they will perceive your brand as one that is taking advantage of the situation. Even as you leverage marketing technology to send across automated messages, try to understand and address customer pain points at individual levels.
5. Make Realistic Promises and Manage them
Customers are already under immense pressure and the last thing they would want from brands right now is big promises that they cannot fulfil. Set realistic expectations about everything, right from product launch dates, product availability, service levels and more, and convey them honestly in your marketing communications. Right now, under-promising and over-delivering should be your mantra.
If you are running ad campaigns for promoting products that you are not really sure about delivering, stop them right away. Taking orders and not delivering on time can get you in trouble. You will not only sustain the loss of your customers but also face reputational damage in the long run.
6. Build Capacity to Handle Extra Customer Service Volumes
Since the pandemic has left customers confused and apprehensive, you will probably experience a heavier influx of service and support requests right now. Not being able to handle them translates into the loss of customer trust and loyalty. It makes sense to build capacity for handling these extra volumes.
Investing in tools such as IVR is a smart idea as they will ensure that you never miss a caller and representatives can provide a better experience to the customers.
Also, onboarding new resources for your contact centre and training the existing ones for managing higher demands can help. Having alternate support channels such as email, social media and the Web can distribute the load to a considerable extent. Be ready with proactive messages and reactive scripts to help your service reps handle critical one-on-one interactions more effectively.
7. Ramp up Digital Delivery
Another measure that can take your marketing strategy for the crisis to the next level is ramping up digital delivery. Self-service tools and online apps make connections much simpler and easier for the audience, despite the prevailing challenges of remote operations and social distancing. Leveraging digital means to connect with customers and deliver your products and services seamlessly would make a strong impression on the buyers and will give a positive boost to your brand’s image.
Even as you strengthen digital delivery, don’t forget the value of human connections in difficult times. Create a blend of technology and human interactions in your marketing operations. For example, you can have a comprehensive contact center solution in place, which automates repetitive tasks through an IVR service but forwards more critical complaints and queries to a live agent.
8. Optimise the Marketing Budgets
As money runs tight in the crisis, all organisations will be focused on cutting costs. Chances are that your company will need to prioritise expenditure. Marketing spends are the first one to face the axe but going slack with the initiative can waste all the good work you may have done in the past. Rather than making across-the-board cuts, look for ways to drive efficiency with minimal spending.
Trim campaigns that aren’t likely to add value and postpone launches that you can delay for now. Look for marketing tech investments that can smarten up your processes with optimal spending and deliver value over the years. Even as you spend on marketing in the new normal, weigh the costs and benefits because every penny matters.
Marketing during a global crisis, such as a pandemic, is very different from what you normally do. While your team will have to do extensive research and realign your brand messaging Accordingly, an investment in the right technology solutions is equally important. You will need the help of cloud communication services to keep your customer interactions seamless.
Vanita Arora is a marketing enthusiast currently working with Servetel – a leading cloud telephony service provider. Reading novels, travelling is some of her interest areas that keep her rejuvenated.