Establishing customer engagement and keeping them engaged is more important than ever for brands. Now that many brands have temporarily lost the ability for invaluable face-to-face contact with customers, it’s crucial that they diversify their engagement for this new normal.
What are brands having to do differently?
Where possible, brands are figuring out if and how they can offer their services online. This is understandably tricky for people like hairdressers and massage therapists. And even if people working in these professions did manage to offer services online, they do so at the risk of their post-lockdown income—will people want to pay $50 for a massage if their partner can do it for free?
Many of the bigger consumer brands quickly boosted their capacity for home deliveries to account for a much higher online demand. And some restaurants and bars developed delivery systems for the same reason.
Aside from simply making an income from customers, brands need to work out how to keep their customers engaged with their products or services.
Customers can’t pop into their local branches for now so they’re not able to get a feel for the brands’ latest offerings. Through livestreaming, brands can give customers introductions to new products and services, delivered by a representative of the brand, just as if they visited a branch.
Fitness and wellness coaches have embraced livestreaming as a way to host classes and training (often for free). Giving customers the real-time presentation a livestream affords, a brand can really make them feel included and maintain the idea that they’re consuming the product or service.
Goodwill gestures and rewards
Brands need loyalty right now. And the kind of loyalty we’re used to isn’t possible—rewarding x amount of purchases with a free gift isn’t very useful. Offering gestures of goodwill and usable rewards will make customers feel thankful and it’ll give them a helpful reminder that the brand is still around and that it’ll still be there when lockdowns are eased.
Goodwill gestures have proved to be valuable to brands from a marketing perspective too. Lists have been doing the rounds of companies offering discounts to essential workers and stepping up to the fight against the virus. Among them are the likes Armani, Kiehl’s and Co-op. Conversely, those that haven’t shown the same goodwill now belong to their respective lists of brands to avoid.
Keep customers informed
As a way of keeping customers included and nudging them with a reminder that they still exist, brands should keep customers up to date. Whether it’s updating them about new products or announcing a charitable scheme, customers will appreciate the heads up. And since they’re online more than usual anyway at the moment, they might even feel more inclined to share it with their network.
Don’t stop there
Here are a few more tried and tested ways brands and online communities can boost engagement (whether or not there’s a pandemic):
People will engage with truly valuable content. This might be through blogs, video, images, livestreams, and so on. Whatever form it comes in, it needs to inspire, entertain and inform.
Take a personalized approach
People thought chatbots would revolutionize customer service. Those people were wrong. Customers still need the personal touch. Brands still need to make them feel valued and listened to—they must be responsive to their community’s questions and comments
Help customers to help others
Step 2 can lead to step 3. Brands want their customers to contribute too. Customers can sometimes take the role of ad hoc customer service representatives and marketeers, if they’re treated well in the first place.
Reaffirm your mission
Customers should be reminded of why brands exist. What are they trying to achieve? What problem do they solve? What is their mission? Customers need to feel the excitement they felt the first time they came across a brand.
Customers respect honesty and transparency, even when things aren’t going so well, When brands communicate openly and trust customers’ perspectives, they’ll win trust and strengthen loyalty.
Remaining consistent is key to building brand loyalty. If a brand is consistent with what it provides, it’ll become ingrained in customers’ minds and loyalty will become second nature.
It’s vital that brands maintain their customers’ engagement, and it’s at times like these that businesses experiment with new ways of delivering services and satisfying customers. That’s really exciting and let’s hope it sets a trend for the future too.
musician, I had my own community of fans and followers. What I didn’t have was my own space to grow and manage that community in the way that worked for me. So, I set out to create that space, and in doing so, found a lot of other community managers with the same problem as me. Health and wellness coaches, film stars, YouTubers, politicians and celebrity chefs were all looking for a solution to the same problem. Disciple is a community media platform that, unlike Facebook or a website, empowers community hosts to build, manage and control their own private, social apps. Our platform gives communities their own mobile meeting spaces to gather and interact in the ways that work for them.