The pandemic has forced people to change how they live and work rapidly. Many business and life elements are being challenged. In some cases, the next normal may look very different as new working methods are carried over into the future. They are also looking into customer acquisition.
Companies are doing their best to manage this pandemic. They are ensuring an effective crisis response. Firms are managing supply-chain disruptions. They are also safeguarding their employees’ well-being by adjusting daily working practices.
Customer discovery gets a new meaning against this pandemic backdrop. Executives typically approach customer experience by creating seamless, convenient, and engaging customer journeys. However, customers’ needs have shifted dramatically towards more essential concerns.
Sixty-four percent of respondents have felt depressed, anxious, or both over the past several weeks due to the pandemic. Thirty-nine percent stated that they would be unable to pay their bills after one month of unemployment. This was found in a recent McKinsey survey.
In the U.S., 14 percent of all retail sales take place online at regular times. So, brands already have a wealth of information about shoppers’ digital activity. There are weeks — and maybe even months — of social distancing ahead of us. Not only will e-commerce sales increase, so too will first-party data.
The bad news is that most brands are not set up operationally to harness this data and improve experiences and drive customer value.
Leading organizations are reorienting their customer acquisition efforts due to the pandemic.
They seek to meet their customers’ primary needs, such as safety, security, and everyday convenience.
These actions will inevitably speak louder than words in a world where companies increasingly advertise a message of “we are here for you.”
Firms are consciously providing empathy and care during this crisis. They are building a foundation of goodwill and long-lasting emotional connections with the communities they serve.
This article will serve as a comprehensive guide to enhance customer acquisition during lean periods for businesses.
Steps to Boost Customer Acquisition During Crisis
Brands want to capitalize on this influx of new e-commerce shoppers. They want to retain current customers and boost customer acquisition. There are three unexpected and pressing priorities for them. This is according to new research released by Bluecore and Forrester Consulting
Understand what shoppers want for customer acquisition
It is not that retailers do not want customer acquisition. First, it is that they struggle to deliver personalized experiences to individuals across channels and touchpoints. Marketers are more focused on customer experience now.
People were asked to rank their three top marketing priorities for 2020. 39 percent of respondents cited “customer experience.” It was second only to “winning new customers” at 45 percent.
Retailers have to clean, process, align, share and turn all of their data into actionable insights. This is a not-so-glamorous part of achieving this and is not always addressed
Only 13 percent of retail executives are very confident regarding this. They believe in their organization’s data hygiene and reconciliation capabilities.
In comparison, just 16 percent believe they excel at data aggregation.
It is impossible to offer relevant and personalized experiences if brands cannot understand what their customers’ engagement and shopping behaviors are saying.
Consider the experience of shoppers amidst coronavirus. They are likely searching for hyper-specific items for the optimal work-from-home setup. This includes loungewear or desks.
Brands may fail to deliver a personalized experience in line with shoppers’ needs during this time.
They will immediately lose sales to competitors more accurately and effectively leverage behavior data to speak to the same shoppers.
Regularly evaluate technology and tech partners
More is not always — or even usually — better when marketing technology solutions and partners. Retailers are battling data fragmentation. This is due in large part to their massive technology stacks. The complexity to manage data grows as data sources multiply.
For instance, retailers look to email service providers (ESPs) and campaign management software for various aspects. This includes A/B testing of email content, products, and offers.
Campaign optimization is housed in data management platforms. Identity resolution is done across customer data platforms (CDPs) or customer relationship management (CRM) tools.
Not only is this highly confusing and unnecessarily complicated, but odds also are these technologies are not directly speaking to one another. This prevents firms from getting holistic views of their users and their journeys.
Brands need to evaluate the technology partners they are working with to ensure they provide modern solutions that address data’s ongoing evolution. It gets bigger, faster, and more complex. Therefore, brands should consider the following:
- Will this technology allow us to observe and identify important shopper behaviors and the availability of the relevant products to every one of them in real-time?
- Will it help us make intelligent decisions based on specific business goals, such as preserving margins or increasing email revenue?
- Can my team execute through the technology directly, or do its core capabilities require using a service team that comes with a high price tag?
Align on philosophy and remove process bottlenecks
Process roadblocks and organizational misalignment are just as essential to address as technology.
Our industry has been talking about the need to access and act on real-time insights for ages. But only 10 percent of marketers report having access to real-time data.
Nearly 36 percent of respondents have to wait up to a week or more for the audience or campaign data.
Two-thirds of I.T. respondents claim they can only allocate a maximum of 10 hours to these projects. In times of crises, such as currently, retailers’ ability to act quickly can genuinely make or break the entire business’s bottom line.
But how do brands establish that trust?
In mid-March, Qualtrics asked over 1,000 consumers in the United States. It asked what brands need to build and maintain trust with customers and employees.
A brand should avoid taking advantage of a crisis to maximize profits. Instead, brands should focus on the well-being of their customers and employees.
Looking after employees
Nearly half of all respondents said they trust brands that take care of their employees. Fifty-four percent were concerned about how brands are treating their employees during this crisis.
As companies contemplate returning to the office, they should consider how comfortable their employees are with the idea.
Two out of three workers are uncomfortable going back to the workplace right now. They would feel most comfortable once public officials give them the all-clear.
Nearly 70%, though, said they trust their company leadership to make the best decision on when employees should return to work.
Most employees expect the management to take action to keep everyone safe. A vast majority said they want their workplaces regularly cleaned and disinfected. They want to see cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer available at all times.
More than 60% said they want to see social distancing enforced at work, while nearly the same amount said they want all employees to wear masks.
Others hope additional safety measures will be implemented. This includes more flexible sick leave or a “no handshakes or hugs” policy.
Brands that want to build and maintain trust with consumers will listen carefully to their employees’ wants and needs. After all, employees are every brand’s best ambassadors. Trust your workers, and they will cultivate trust in your brand.
Taking care of the customers will enhance customer acquisition
Since the pandemic hit, businesses have been looking for creative ways to meet customer needs while balancing the crisis’s realities.
GoDaddy hosts more internet domains than any other provider globally.
In response to challenges facing their customers, it rolled out OpenWeStand.org. It had resources from partners like GoFundMe, Slack, PayPal, Salesforce, and others. These were there to help small businesses during the crisis.
Thousands of GoDaddy customers took advantage of the free resources in the first week itself. All of which were based on customer feedback. The company was able to listen to their customers’ needs and take quick action to help, instilling trust in their brand.
Gyms, restaurants, retail stores, and other businesses are looking to reopen. But customers are still hesitant to get back to the way things were. This is true for brands across various industries.
Measures Businesses Should Take For Customer Acquisition
In the Qualtrics study, there were some other findings.
Nearly 80% say they would be uncomfortable going to a live event. About 70% say they would be uncomfortable going to the gym or a restaurant. More than half are not comfortable shopping at a retail store presently.
How do brands take care of their customers with so much anxiety and create a feeling of safety and connection that consumers will forever associate with the brand?
Nearly 63% of respondents said they are uncomfortable patronizing businesses right now. They want to wait until public health officials say it is safe. This is a stat that brands should keep in mind while deciding when to reopen.
Customers want to see further safety precautions once they do reopen. Respondents to Qualtrics’ study said they would feel more confident returning to watch their favorite sports team or band with specific measures.
Social distancing should be enforced. Masks were mandatory, and assigned seating kept attendees at a safe distance.
At restaurants, diners want to see tables separated at a safe distance, social distancing enforced, and servers and staff are wearing gloves and masks.
Retail stores should also consider devising systems. They should ensure social distancing, require customers to wear masks, and check temperatures at the door.
Real-world examples of brand involvement during the pandemic
Some brands are stepping up to help customers. They are serving on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis:
- Chains such as Subway, Pret a Manger, and Nandos offer discounts on food or free coffee for medical workers who are working around the clock.
- In Canada and the U.S., Uber has also pledged free food for healthcare providers. It is aggressively launching marketing campaigns. It aims to promote delivery from 100,000 independent restaurants.
- An excess of handwashing equals dry skin. Skincare brand L’Occitane has been sending hand creams to hospitals to help soothe their hands.
- Perfume giant LVMH has been producing luxury perfume-scented hand sanitizers for French hospitals.
- Even the beer industry is taking part. BrewDog, a distillery in Scotland, has been making hand sanitizer called BrewGel for the local hospitals.
- Soap giant Lush has been offering the public free hand washing to help slow the spread of the virus.
Leading companies are pivoting from marketing during this pandemic. They are helping and fulfilling customer desires to meet customer needs. Socially conscious organizations find ways to get involved. They support their customers and communities.
The current pandemic is a global crisis. It is an opportunity for leaders to support their communities and customers.
Leading in a caring, empathetic manner has the potential to create genuine customer acquisitions. These connections will outlive the social and economic impacts of the pandemic.
Large firms should consider it a duty to serve the communities in which they do business during the pandemic.
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