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When the COVID-19 quarantine began, people across the world locked themselves in their homes and only went out for essential services. In fact, department store sales plummeted 75% from Q1 to Q2 of 2020, as consumers flocked to online storefronts over traditional retail. In many cases brands who didn’t quickly adapt their strategy lost customers to those who did.
As the world recovers from the pandemic and people start going out again, businesses need a plan to get customers back after COVID-19. Whether you’ve already opened your doors and want advice for winning back lost customers, or are planning to reopen soon — we’ve created this guide to help with your post-pandemic strategy.
Check out these ways to engage customers and win them back after COVID-19.
If you stopped operations during COVID-19 and are planning to resume soon or have already begun doing so, let consumers know and provide details on how you’ll protect customers and employees.
For businesses with a customer facing physical location, indicate if you’ll be utilizing safeguards such as contactless transactions, mask policies, and hand sanitizer stations. For online retailers and service providers who are resuming operations following a delay, let customers know you’re back and detail the steps you’re taking in workplace facilities including offices and manufacturing plants.
You should do this across a variety of channels, but it’s important that you add any post-quarantine announcements to your website’s homepage, where they can’t be missed. You can accomplish this in several ways. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Another way you can re-engage your customer base after quarantine is by sending out an email or SMS campaign to update your entire list. Though your most loyal customers may regularly check your website or follow you on social media, most probably don’t. An email or SMS campaign is an easy way to send pertinent updates directly to your customers. This increases the chance that they will see your message and re-engage with your business.
If your business has a physical location or service area, you probably have a Google My Business (GMB) listing. If your business’ hours changed or you had to temporarily close your doors because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you likely updated your GMB listing to reflect these changes..
When you’re ready to reopen or resume normal business hours, it’s important to go back into your listing and update your hours of operation to reflect the change. If you don’t, some customers may think you’re still closed or operating under different hours which could lead them to shop elsewhere. Make sure your open status and hours of operation are consistent across your GMB listing, website, social media profiles, and all other places it’s featured to avoid confusing customers.
One of the best ways to engage and win back lost customers after COVID-19 is through exclusive offers and content. Unfortunately, the quarantine has negatively affected many peoples’ finances and even after the pandemic is over, customers may feel hesitant to spend money on anything that isn’t a necessity. You can re-engage with customers — and support them in a time of need — by offering limited-time discounts or subscriber content as you resume normal operations.
For example, camping gear company Sierra Designs had a flash sale encouraging customers to “get ready for when outside is open again.”
During the pandemic, Disney+ gave subscribers plenty of exclusive content to keep audiences engaged. They began by bumping up the digital release of movies that had already been in theaters including Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Frozen 2, and Onward which hit the streaming service weeks after its theatrical debut.
While this move netted the brand plenty of positive reception from audiences and media, they didn’t stop there. Disney+ kept audiences engaged by releasing new movies including Mulan and a film captured version of the hit Broadway musical Hamilton. The decision to release this content helped retain existing customers and drove new subscriptions as well.
In fact, the company started with 10 million subscribers in November 2019 with the goal of achieving 60 million subscribers by 2024. They blazed past the initial goal, surpassing 100 million subscribers just 16 months after launch; they’ve since updated their goal to hit 260 million subscribers by 2024.
Whether you’ll offer discounts, exclusive content, or both — start planning now. Exclusive content can help keep existing customers engaged, while discounts can help get customers back and attract new ones as well. Whatever you do, make sure to spread awareness about it across several channels including social media where it can be shared to others for greater reach. If you’d like to expand your social media marketing capabilities, learn how the Khoros Platform can help you drive engagement.
Throughout the pandemic many brands hosted virtual events to keep customers engaged including webinars, sales events, and more for people who couldn’t leave their homes. For example, Chipotle frequently hosted Zoom lunch parties which featured Q&As, celebrity guests, and giveaways:
You can also create events that don’t require any type of interaction. For example, UberEats ran a virtual food festival which spanned 13 days. Each day gave customers discounts focused on a different type of cuisine which encouraged frequent purchases and supported local businesses.
Even if you aren’t reopening soon, you can host digital events like this to re-engage customers. After the COVID-19 pandemic is over, you’ll likely have customers that have been isolated and are craving social interaction. You can use this as an opportunity to host an in-person event to bring customers back, just be mindful of local health guidelines at the time. Advertise the reopening event on your website, social media, and email — then follow up after it’s over and consider hosting similar events on a regular basis to keep customers coming back.
The impact of COVID-19 on society is impossible to ignore. Even after your business begins to pick up, it’s crucial that we support those in our communities who were affected.
Many businesses stepped up during the pandemic to manufacture highly demanded items like masks and hand sanitizer, while others offered food and more to affected communities. But the need for help doesn’t end after the COVID-19 pandemic, as people still need food, medicine, and other essential supplies and services. Showing your support not just during quarantine but also during recovery shows your business’ commitment to the community. Even if you’re not in a position to help directly, you can still organize charity events, team up with businesses who are in such a position, or make donations to organizations providing relief.
Chipotle is a great example of this — in the early stages of the pandemic they donated money to Direct Relief with gift card purchases, then as things started winding down they celebrated healthcare workers by giving out free food.
Think about how your brand can give back to the community after the pandemic. Doing so can foster brand loyalty and win back customers who left during COVID-19.
The period of recovery following quarantine may test how well your business reacts to customer sentiment and feedback. Businesses will need to closely monitor feedback and pivot strategy based on changing demands. For example, businesses that started offering customers curbside pickup, delivery, live streaming, and other social distancing-approved services are likely to see continued customer demand for these services after quarantine has ended, as customers may still be wary of social interactions or find the services more convenient. Your business’ success could depend on how well you meet these changing customer needs.
Social listening is a quick, easy way to get a pulse on this conversation. Below are a few tips to get you started:
Review mentions of your brand and with this sample query in Khoros Intelligence: (@brand OR #brand OR “brand name”)
Scan social feeds of others in your industry and beyond to see how those brands are engaging in the conversation.
Look into mentions of your competitors and the crisis to understand if their approach is resonating with their audience.
Businesses that listen and adjust strategy based on customer feedback after the COVID-19 quarantine ends will improve customer satisfaction as customers will feel heard. To start utilizing social listening for your brand, check out Khoros Intelligence.
Khoros is committed to helping brands increase their digital engagement and improve customer service. For additional insight on post-COVID-19 marketing trends, check out our post 6 ways to keep your COVID-19 plan strong, and use the findings to help you re-engage audiences and win back lost customers.
For additional guidance, check out our strategic services page to discover how we can utilize our expertise to improve your digital engagement.