how to thrive online in a crisis: our top 7 tips for eCommerce businesses during covid-19

Over the past few weeks, due to social distancing regulations and working from home processes being put into place, many businesses have been negatively impacted with some even forced to close down.

It’s clear online ordering will grow significantly due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus as people are gradually moving from offline shopping to online and the habit won’t disappear when the pandemic is over. This could have a very positive impact on the whole eCommerce industry if brands are agile in their response and can adapt to the ever-changing situation.

However, there’s now more pressure than ever to retain customers and have the perfect customer journey from marketing to purchase – which is why we want to help! Keep reading to discover our top 7 tips for eCommerce businesses during this challenging time.

1. Give Them Something to Be Part Of: Create user-generated content challenges

According to a study by TurnTo Networks, 90% of consumers say that user generated content holds more influence over their buying decisions than promotional emails and even search engine results. This is because the content is much more genuine than a Photoshop edited version. While UGC can be used effectively throughout the customer journey, it has been found that one of the places it has the most impact is on the product page. Adding shoppable Instagram photos to your website will make your brand seem more authentic, as photos of others wearing your products gives your customers the extra confidence to purchase.

2. Be a Shoulder to Lean On: Provide reassurance to your customers

It’s so important during times like this that you provide reassurance to your customers and keep the lines of communication open. Reach out through your online and social media presence to spread a message of optimism about getting through it as a community. It’s also equally as important that your business is taking extra precautions to follow the government guidelines.

The Salesforce Shopping Index shows that people, especially with Gen-Z consumers, look to social channels as an information resource (up to 34%).  

Also, think carefully before sending out an email. If your COVID-19 emails aren’t read as important or helpful, then it might get lost in over-crowded inboxes. You could also receive backlash from your subscribers if your messaging is considered insensitive. Here are some examples of brands communicating well with their audiences through email:

3. Make Yourself Irresistible: Review your value proposition and customer competitions

While discounts are typically used as a way to boost sales, remember that several of your customers may have had their employment hours cut and are probably facing a personal cash flow crunch. Any value that helps customers manage their expenses better is almost guaranteed to earn you loyalty in the long run.  

It’s also beneficial to reward your customers especially in these challenging times. Competitions and giveaways are the perfect way to not only spread some positivity, but also to increase brand awareness. Here are some good examples:

  • Like and/or comment to win

The classic “like and/or comment to win” is a great way to increase engagement. It can be actioned on any social platform. All you need to do is create a post with an explanatory caption and include a deadline and simple guidelines.  You can also share the post on Facebook or Instagram Stories to help spread the word.

  • Tag a friend

Using the “tag a friend” approach will benefit from the ripple effect, causing new people to discover your brand.

  • Photo caption contest

A “caption this” competition is a fun way to encourage followers to comment on your photo and engage with your brand. All you need to do is post an image (ideally that relates to your brand) and instruct people to come up with a caption that fits the image. This also gives them something to do and sparks creativity whilst self isolating at home.

4. Stay In Touch: Communicate directly with your customers

Honesty is a very valuable thing, especially when there are social challenges. If you predict that delivery problems could arise in your online shopping process in the future, then make sure you tell your customers in good time. The best way to do this is to use all the channels available to you. For example: your website, emails and your social media profiles.

5. Put Faces to Your Name: Utilise Influencer marketing 

If you haven’t already, think about incorporating influencers into your marketing strategy. With people spending the majority of their time indoors, they are likely to spend more time on social media browsing what their favourite influencers are up to. 

Be selective with who you choose to represent you. Make sure to find people with genuine followers that are right for your brand, as well as having a following that aligns with your own audience.  Engagement is a big indicator of how interactive an influencer’s audience is with their content.

 Are the amount of likes adding up to their followers and do they also receive a good amount of comments? Remember a lot of people have fake followers so it’s important to look out for the signs that they aren’t real.

6. Make Things Personal: Review and adapt your marketing automation

Marketing automation is the lowest cost, easiest and most effective way to keep in touch with your customers based on their behaviour.

Make sure you send out personalised, contextualised and targeted messages to existing customers who want to hear your news, whether that’s via email marketing or retargeting. You need to be connecting with your customers at every touch point in their digital journey through social channels and email. Doing this systematically and automatically will make sure that you’re thorough in your approach and don’t miss an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with your audience . It will also free up time for you to focus on other things.

Most brands will have a conversion funnel that has triggers, but not every brand will go back into the detail and tailor content and messaging to fit in with these changing times. If you create less generic and more specific comms, you will be remembered by your customers.

7. Fine Tune The Details: Complete some detailed analysis on your conversion funnel

A low cost, effective digital marketing technique to focus on is conversion rate optimisation. 

By analysing and making small changes to the user journey, you will turn more of your website visitors into customers. Focus on customer experience by investing in your website to ensure you are giving a fast and personalised experience. To keep costs down, remember that small changes to your website will have an overall impact on the final results.

The base data should take into consideration pre-Coronavirus data and how users were engaging during this period. Whether we like it or not, the current events will have changed how people interact with brands forever and now is a good time to take stock and optimise your conversion funnel to bounce back after all this is over.

It’s important to stay connected during this time. Whether you’re working from home or simply staying at home, we want to help you feel in touch with what’s going on here at seventy7. Follow us on LinkedIn for the latest updates, or to just drop us a hello. We’d love to hear from you!

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