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Effectively Engaging With Your Audience During A Pandemic

Stay connected to your customers and think of ways you can help them and stay relevant. They will appreciate it.

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Any business, whether affected directly or indirectly by the pandemic, needs to re-evaluate their goals and strategy. While critical business issues like securing your cash flow may be taking precedence, do not neglect the importance of customer engagement. What you do and say now, will reflect how your customers perceive your brand even after the crisis is long over.

The importance of empathy

Your customers and prospects are also affected by this pandemic, and your product or service may not be their priority at the moment. While it's okay to keep selling, you need to be a lot more empathetic in how you engage with them. Make your narrative and messages more relevant, contextual, and compelling across all channels—email, social media, and phone. Cross-sell your products and services, if you can. If you are an eCommerce business and in a position to do so, add credits to your customers' accounts and let them know via email. Run an offer wherein they can make purchases at a discount, which can then be delivered later once the lockdown is lifted. But don't send multiple push notifications for something you can't deliver right away.

Leveraging social media

While people are home, they are likely to spend more time on social media. If you are selling something that you think people need right now (no, not travel gear!) running a promotion on Facebook might be a good idea. The good thing about digital ads is that you can segment and target your audience better, and measure the effectiveness to a large degree. There's more that you can do. For example, ask your frequent customers to share your content and help you with referrals. Word of mouth is even more powerful during a crisis.

Depending on the products or services you offer, your customers may not be buying right now. If you are a travel boutique, this may not be the best time to make a sale, but you might want to think about nurturing your relationships with your frequent customers and checking in on them. This is also an opportunity to ask your customers to leave a review for you on Google My Business and other review sites. Running a restaurant? This might be a good time to reach out to your customers, share recipes and interviews with your chefs, or just ask people what they are eating while staying in.

Use social channels that you haven’t tried earlier. Now is the time to be creative. Creativity thrives under constraints, they say.

Emails are still relevant

Build an email list. Offer value, not a forced sale. Start an email newsletter for your customers where you share interesting news and updates from around the world. Keep your messages positive instead of adding to the panic and chaos. Ask your audience to share their stories on how they’re holding up. Share your own story and tips.

Engage at all levels

This is probably a good time to research and create a substantial amount of content whether that be long-form, bite-sized, videos, podcasts, Instagram and Facebook Live feeds. Plan your social media calendars. Everyone needs good vibes, so remember to keep your messages positive. Be authentic and interesting. Not just top of the funnel, it's worth working on content for the middle and bottom of the funnel, too. Depending on what you sell, you may not be getting a lot of new customers. But can you do something that will a) retain the existing ones or b) serve the new incoming leads? Create a ton of educational content that will help with retention—blogs, how-to guides, videos, presentations, etc.

Stay connected to your customers and think of ways you can help them and stay relevant. They will appreciate it. We are all in this together, and need to work with and support each other so that we emerge out of this strong as a community.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Praval Singh

Vice President, Zoho Corp and Marketing & Customer Experience, Zoho Corp

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