The World Has Changed

As you’re well aware, the world has changed significantly over the past couple of years. How we live our lives has changed. How we operate our business has changed. How we act as consumers has changed.

As we emerge from lockdown, we can’t just go back to marketing our businesses the way we used to. Your digital marketing needs to change to reflect the post-pandemic world.

But at the same time, some things shouldn’t change, because whilst the environment has changed, some of the general marketing principles that have stood the test of time, still worked during the pandemic and will continue to work long into the future.

This post outlines what has changed, what hasn’t and where you should be focusing your marketing efforts as you emerge from lockdown and adjust to your ‘new normal’, whatever that may be.

If you’d prefer to watch a video on this topic, you can get instant access to the recording from our recent Digital Marketing in a Post-pandemic World here. 

Your Customers Have Changed

In particular, your customers have changed. One of the things that the pandemic has really done is speed up the rate of digital adoption across all demographics. Your customers are not more online savvy than they’ve ever been. They’ve adapted to the world of online shopping and deliveries and for some people, they now prefer it. 

Your customers are also working from home more and this may continue in large numbers for quite some time yet. 

Your Business Has Changed

Most businesses had to change up their offerings during lockdowns.

That may have been changing products or services altogether because what you previously offered was no longer accessible, required or relevant during lockdown. Or perhaps you just had to adjust the way your products and services were delivered or consumed to allow your business to still be able to generate an income whilst adhering to Government restrictions.

You might’ve set up new product ranges, or you might’ve delivered things online that were previously only accessible offline.

Your Digital Marketing Must Change

To survive lockdown, there is a good chance that you had to change your marketing to reflect the details of any new or changed offerings and the changed circumstances.

As we emerge from lockdown, some of these things will be changing yet again. Perhaps back to the old normal or to a ‘new normal’, such as a hybrid approach to online and offline delivery or an option between the two.

Similarly, some of your products and services that were highly relevant during lockdown may no longer be required or desired. 

These changes will require adjusting which product lines you now need to promote, as well as the messaging behind how you promote them. 

Listen To Your Customers

Our messaging also needs to take into consideration the changes that have gone on in the environment and the headspace of our ideal customers. These changes have created heightened awareness around things that otherwise weren’t even on the radar of your customers as little as a couple of years ago.

So the best way to achieve that is to really listen to your customers.

If you have a bricks and mortar component to your business, then you’re going to have people coming back into our premises. This will provide you with the perfect opportunity to really get to know your customers and what they want from your business now and in the future.

Now is the perfect time to dig into the headspace of your customers. You don’t even have to wait for them to return to do this. If you’ve been engaging with your customers in the online environment, then use those open communication channels to make sure that what you’re delivering and how you market your offerings matches with their expectations.

If you don’t have a way to discover this information online, then make it a priority to start having those conversations with your customers as soon as they return.

The fortune is in the relationships you have with your customers and there’s never been a better time to build those relationships, because you’ve missed your customers and they’ve missed you.

It’s the data that you extract from those relationships that informs you where the highest returns on your marketing investments can be made.

This involves really taking a genuine interest in those people that you come in contact with in your business. Whether that be reaching out to them in the online space or waiting until they next walk through the door, you’re job now is to find out:

  • What aspects of your products/services have they been missing the most?
  • What experiences are they craving?
  • What’s changed for them?
  • What hasn’t changed?

If you can find out that information, then you will know where to focus your digital marketing efforts moving forward – around the products and services they most want, using the language that is most relevant to their needs right now.

There’s never been an easier time to do this either, as a lot of people have a real thirst for connection at the moment. They are desperate to speak to people again. They want to share their experiences. They want to find out whether or not other people have had similar experiences. They want to see how people have evolved. How your business has evolved. What’s changed. What’s the same. And loads of other stuff that a meaningful conversation will uncover.

It’s always been much harder to generate a new customer than it is to retain the ones that you already have. So use this time of reopening to reactivate and solidify your previous customer base by finding out what they need and delivering on those needs. If you can engage with them in a meaningful way, then not only will you get to know them better, but you’ll also form a stronger relationship and they’ll become even more loyal customers.

We also need to dig into the online data to see what that’s telling you. Are people searching for particular products on your website? What are the current frequently asked questions across all of your communication channels? Has there been a lift in any relevant industry search terms of Google Trends?

You need to analyse the data and let that inform you on how you can be the next toilet paper of your industry or niche.

If you’re listening to your customers, you’re going to find out what the thing is that they want to grab off your shelves. When you know that, you know what products or services you need to put front and center in your marketing campaigns. 

Redefine Your Ideal Customers

As a result of the pandemic, many people have had a change in priorities around the importance of:

  • Health
  • Family
  • Social connections
  • Environment
  • Supporting local
  • Experiences
  • Affordability
  • And many other things

As part of the process of listening to your customers and acknowledging that people have changed, you may realise that the customers you served previously are not the right fit for your business moving forward, for whatever reason. 

There’s a good chance that you’re going to have to redefine who your ideal customers are (at least to some extent) and therefore the messaging, as you will now be speaking to a different cohort of people, with different priorities, interests and behaviors. Or they could even be a completely different demographic altogether. 

Overhaul Your Communications

Given that your offerings and the people you are offering them to will have changed to at least some extent, then there is a good chance that you will need to overhaul your communications to revised, more appropriate messaging. 

The messaging may need to change to reflect their new pain points, desires and aspirations. The visuals you use to support those messages may need to change to reflect those things that your audience is more likely to value now, like physical distancing, cleanliness and safety. 

Communicate Your Changes

Your business has changed. 

But your customers won’t know this until you tell them. 

Don’t leave it to your customers to search for the information they seek. Make it obvious so that they don’t have to ask. This is most important when it comes to the reopening of your business. 

Make sure you’ve updated your website and your Google My Business Page with the latest information. Use social media and email marketing to let people know what to expect when they return, so that there are no surprises. 

If people need to book an appointment, let them know how they can do it before you open, so they are not disappointed when you finally reopen to find out that you are booked out for months and they end up going elsewhere out of desperation. 

Communicate Your Postion

It’s particularly important that you communicate your position around those issues related to reopening that are going to be most controversial, such as vaccination status and mask wearing requirements. 

This is going to be a very challenging topic for a lot of businesses and the customers desperate to get their freedoms back. 

QANTAS was one of the first companies that came out and actually made a stance on what their position would be in regards to vaccinations and they’ve done an incredibly good job of it. 

Whilst you may not have the equivalent of their marketing budget, there are a few simple principles that we can all take from this. Here’s what they’ve done:

  • They’ve incentivised the collection of data around vaccination status with their “Been Vaccinated? Be Rewarded.” campaign.
  • They’ve created marketing messages that touch on the deepest desires of their ideal customers (reuniting with loved ones) as part of their “Fly Away” video campaign.
  • They’ve emailed their customers informing them what they need to do to prepare for international travel again. The email incorporates eye-catching graphics, topic specific headlines and simple instructions of what the traveler needs to do. They have answered the questions that are already going on inside the minds of their customers, before they even asked them. 

Chances are that your business is either going to be mandated by the Government or your industry body around these issues. Even if you’re not, you’re going to have to make a decision on what the position on these issues will be for your business. 

Once known, it’s super important that you communicate it with your audiences as soon as possible to eliminate the guesswork on their behalf and to reduce the chance of them taking their business elsewhere because they aren’t certain of your position on these issues. 

Be mindful that whenever you communicate your position on contentious issues like this, there’s a good chance that you’re going to get some backlash from a subset of your audience. But it’s better to have this happen online than to not inform your audience in advance of their attendance at your premises and then have to deal with that backlash face-to-face. 

You also should never choose not to advise your audience of important issues like this in fear of conflict, as you may not get any negative comments and your customers do want to know what your position is on these important decisions. It will be part of their decision making process to determine whether or not they want to visit your premises once you reopen. 

What you are going to have to do when you post this kind of content to social media is be really vigilant in watching the comments to see what people are saying and don’t be afraid to hide, block or ban those people that are making comments that are detrimental to your business. 

Look at your offline channels of promotions also. For example, a tradie with an “I’ve been fully-vaxxed” decal on the side of their van could result in a lot more calls by eliminating the need for awkward conversations from potential clients that are keen to only have vaccinated tradespeople in their house, but are too scared to ask about vaccination status

Feature User Generated Content

User generated content is any content (i.e. text, videos, images, testimonials, reviews, etc) created by people external to your businesses, that is shared via their own social media accounts. With permission, this type of content can be shared by your business on your own marketing channels. 

The reason why user generated content is so effective is because it feels organic. It feels less like marketing and a lot more like an authentic review from a friend. It builds trust in the business, making people more likely to purchase. 

User generated content has been an effective form of content marketing for many years, and the effectiveness of this type of content will continue to increase in post-pandemic times. 

Another benefit of this type of content is that quite often you will discover people within your audience that are more highly skilled at creating engaging visuals than yourself and would happily let you share the content on your channels. This can sometimes result in a reduced content creation workload for yourself, and increasing the quality of your content at the same time. 🙂

Encourage your customers to become advocates for your business by social sharing their experiences and tag your business page or using your branded hashtag so that you can easily see what has been posted and then reach out to ask for permission to share. 

Highlight Social Proof

Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people follow the actions of others, whether that be a trusted friend, celebrity, stranger, certification or the masses, in an attempt to reflect correct behaviour for a given situation.

This has always been an important part of your digital marketing arsenal, but now more than ever, people are going to be looking towards the actions of other people to determine what businesses and activities they should be giving the green light to. 

Some of the ways that you can achieve more social proof for your business include:

  • Testimonials
  • Ratings and reviews
  • Recommendations and referrals
  • Endorsements and collaborations
  • User generated content
  • Size of following or customer base
  • Number of engagements on social posts
  • Certification
  • Verification

As people start seeking our products and services to support their newfound freedoms, they’re going to be turning to Google in droves. 

Increasing the number of Google Reviews you have is one way that you can increase the chances of your business being discovered in search results. It’s important that you systematically ask for reviews from your customers. 

However, if this has not been the case for your business, then it’s definitely time to start!

Reach out to some of your most loyal customers and ask them to leave you a review, providing them with the direct link to your Google My Business Profile Review Form.

Here’s a simple message you can send:

“Hi <INSERT CUSTOMER’S FIRST NAME>, we’re starting to ramp up our digital marketing in advance of reopening and as a valued customer, I would really appreciate it if you could help us by leaving a five star review via this link <INSERT YOUR LINK HERE>. We’ve missed you and we can’t wait to see you again when we reopen.<INSERT YOUR NAME>”

Then don’t forget to reply with a personalised message once they leave a review. Also, don’t be afraid to follow up and ask again if they haven’t managed to write a review within the week. They’re busy too, and may just need a friendly reminder to ensure they do. 

Once they leave a review, you can then convert that into a testimonial graphic that you can share on other platforms or even reach out to them again, thank them and see if they would be interested in doing a video testimonial for you. 

You won’t know if you don’t ask. 

(BTW, if you are getting value from this post, you can leave us a Google review here). 😉

Create Engaging Visual Content

Video is continuing to produce great results across all social channels these days. Not only is video a great way to create thumb stopping content, but on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, it also allows you to create a warm retargeting audience of those people who watch your videos. 

Even if you are not super great when it comes to creating visual content, there are loads of apps out there these days that will make it look like you’re a professional. 

Stop motion videos and gifs are a great way to get your message across visually, with relative ease. You don’t need massive production budgets in order to do this kind of stuff, and it can be really effective. Check out these Simple to Use Video Creation Tools.

Scroll through your newsfeed and see what other businesses are doing and use that for inspiration to create similar content for your business. The idea is to think of creative ways that you could showcase your products/services. The even better news about this is that a lot of this kind of content can be created in your home, before you are able to reopen. 

You can batch create your content and then drip it out over time once you’ve reopened and you may be too busy to be creating content, particularly during the first couple of weeks when people are flooding back into your business. 😉

Personalise Your Marketing

Something else that is tried and tested that is going to be increasingly important in the post-pandemic world is personalising your digital marketing. Personalised digital marketing makes your customers feel like they’re really important.

A great way to do this is to record short video messages to your most loyal customers, letting you know that you can’t wait to see them again or doing this after you see them, reflecting on how nice it was to see them again and letting them know that you really appreciate them taking time to let you know what they would like to see more of in your business and that you are taking their feedback on board. 

Personalised marketing is also important at key stages of your customer lifecycle, such as when their subscription is about to renew or when they are having a key life event that you are aware of. It’s these kinds of personalised gestures that impress your customers and make them want to do business with you time and time again, as well as tell their friends and family about you and the positive experience they had. 

Optimise Your Customer Journeys

Your customer journeys are the pathways people take from their first exposure to your business right through to becoming a customer and beyond and all of the touchpoints in between.

Lifecycle marketing is a systematic approach to marketing and sales that businesses can use to organise, design and measure your marketing and sales pipeline and the customer journeys within it, so that you can create predictable results and growth for your business.

As elements relating to your business, customers and marketing change, so too will the customer journeys within your business. 

Now is a great time to review the various customer journeys that go on within your business and check that your customer journeys are planned, complete and optimised. Where possible, take the time to design a cohesive and complete marketing and sales pipeline that creates positive and frictionless customer journeys without any unnecessary obstacles, specific to the post-pandemic world. 

Invest Strategically In Paid Advertising

To be successful with your digital marketing, you need to make sure that you’re putting the right marketing messages in front of the right people at the right time. 

Facebook Ads allow you to do this really well through their advertising platform by allowing you to target top, middle and bottom of funnel audiences, and providing appropriate messages based on each stage of the funnel. 

One thing that’s really important to note as we come out of the pandemic is that if you’ve been closed for quite some time or offer products or services that people wouldn’t have had much of a need for during lockdown, then you may find that your bottom of funnel audiences are quite small.

That’s going to mean that you’re going to need to invest more heavily in your top and middle of funnel audiences and will only need to spend a relatively small amount of your budget on your bottom of funnel audiences initially. This may mean that your return on investment is not very good in the early stages as you reactivate your campaigns.

But stick with it, as if you’re not investing in building your top of funnel audiences, particularly targeting your new ideal customers, then you’re going to struggle having a warm audience to retarget with your digital marketing for some time still to come. 

To learn more, check out this Simple 3-Phase Strategy For Creating High Converting Facebook Ads.

What Will You Do Differently?

So my question back to you now is, what will you do differently?

How will your digital marketing change to make sure that it is effective in the post-pandemic world? 

I hope this post has allowed you to start thinking of some ideas of how you can adapt your digital marketing to reflect your revised business operations, offers, and your new ideal customer.

If you have any other suggestions that you think businesses should consider, please feel free to let us know in the comments below. 

If you’d like to find out more about how Impactiv8 can help you with your post-pandemic marketing, then I encourage you to check out the services we offer. In particular, our Click Engage Convert Academy is a digital marketing membership that helps small businesses increase profit by strategically focussing on those aspects of their digital marketing that will provide the best possible return on investment. 

You can find out more about the Click Engage Convert Academy here.