When global lockdowns and restrictions disrupted economic activity around the world, it didn’t take long to see the colossal impact on both consumer behavior and brands.
For many, it's been a case of adapt or die, with recent data showing that more than half of SMBs have pivoted their business model to survive COVID-19 conditions. As a result, there has been a significant migration of operational and brand activity into the digital space, as typical brick-and-mortar businesses engage with customers in new ways online.
Where should businesses making a pandemic-inspired pivot prioritize? Here’s where to start:
1. A website centered around your customers. Data shows that 66% of businesses who were not already online are in the process of creating a website as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Another 27% are currently refreshing their existing web presence.
But for many businesses, it’s not as straightforward as simply replicating an offline experience in an online format. Many brands will have lost entire revenue streams from the shut down, so when moving online, (figuratively) setting up shop is only the first hurdle. Business owners may have to assess what new, online services or products they can offer, not only to provide additional revenue streams, but also ensuring they keep customers at the heart of this changed experience.
Crucially, any pivot — digital or otherwise — needs to be deeply rooted in a brand’s values and mission. If what you’re doing stays true to these core principles, you’re going to be serving your customers, whether that’s through additional services, new ecommerce options, or more flexible terms.
2. Branded content that actually adds value. The internet is one of our only sources of distraction, inspiration and connection right now, so it makes sense that 41% of brands are exploring new ways to engage with customers online during the pandemic.
Creating content that’s helpful, informative and takes the current landscape into account is valuable. But content can also be fun — and distraction is a valid commodity at the moment.
For example, IKEA’s guide on how to build a fort with your kids was an effective way to connect with customers and convey empathy for families stuck inside at home.
3. Channels for genuine brand connection. Given the astronomical increase of social media usage in the last few months, (per a study from Flixed), it’s obvious people are hungry for new ways to connect, and 39% of business owners have started or are planning to increase their brand’s social media output.
Investing in social assets is not just about visual branding -- it’s also a powerful avenue for customer service and commerce. The launch of new tools like Facebook Shops has the potential to change the way you’re selling, so having brand assets that can be reworked and updated quickly across channels is valuable.
That doesn't mean you have to be present on every single social channel. Instead, create an authentic connection with your customers where they are already spending their time, whether that’s Instagram, LinkedIn or TikTok. Most importantly, make sure you’re listening: this will ensure you can continue to adapt and evolve over the next few months in a way that keeps your customers at the heart of your strategy.