We are now into the summer of 2020, and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow both globally and in the United States. Depending on which state you’re in, restrictions on certain businesses have varied, with some lockdowns persisting much longer and restrictions much tighter than others.
Regardless of where you live, if you’re a business owner that depends on everyday storefront transactions and interaction with customers, you may be struggling to find ways to keep your company afloat. Many small and large businesses alike have been forced to either shut down or declare bankruptcy, while the remaining survivors struggle to maintain any type of solvency.
For the businesses which are still standing, many are having trouble finding ways to stay in touch with their former or current customers, whom they may have interacted with on a daily basis. In light of the crisis as well as the struggles of many businesses to adapt to lockdown restrictions that prevent connection with customers, we have compiled a list ideas that any business may implement during the pandemic in order to stay in touch with their recurring customers.
Keep Sending Emails
While many of our suggestions revolve around different social media platforms, one of the most tried-and-trusted methods for reaching customers without speaking to them in person is to have them sign up for an e-mail newsletter. Maintaining a comprehensive e-mail list as well as looking to add new customers during lockdowns has been and will continue to be one of the most important marketing tactics for any business. Even in non-pandemic times, e-mail newsletters are a fantastic way to stay in touch with customers when they are not physically present.
E-mail lists are especially effective because they bypass the limitations of most internet advertising in the sense that they are only sent to people who are specifically interested in your business. Unlike online ads, which require engagement or sharing between individuals in order to create exposure, e-mail newsletters are sent directly to the people who actually want to hear about what is happening with your company. Even during times of regular business, the importance of an e-mail newsletter could not be stressed enough when it comes to successfully connecting with customers.
These days, Twitter has become a social media platform not just for casual sharing and personal interaction but also a place for academics to post their research, politicians to engage with their supporters, and businesses to market directly with consumers. If you haven’t made an account for your business already, registering a profile on the site opens up the potential for an entirely new method of customer to business as well as business to business interaction.
Twitter marketing can be especially effective when users see a company’s tweets as authentic and outside the normal realm of business discussion. Some of the most effective advertising on Twitter has been done by fast-food chains such as Taco Bell or Wendy’s. Both of these companies along with many others have had success in generating traction for their profiles on Twitter by responding genuinely to customers and other users, as well as by responding to one another’s accounts in playful, joking bouts of 120 characters.
Some of Wendy’s most popular, re- tweeted posts have been responses to competitor accounts where they make jabs at the quality of the other restaurants’ food and service. Users may see these interactions between restaurant Twitter accounts as more genuine or clever than other forms of advertising. Regardless of the type of business you run, Twitter can be a fantastic platform for connecting with customers in an alternative way under the conditions of COVID-19.
Create a Podcast
Podcasting is another relatively new trend in media that can connect individuals and businesses digitally. As they are just now becoming more mainstream, many people may not be familiar with their rapidly growing influence on both internet media consumption along with brand new forms of marketing and consumer interaction.
Podcasts are essentially an audiobook, audio article, or recorded conversation that is posted and shared on some internet platform as an audio file. They can take on many different formats, with some reaching the length of a four hour conversation while others may be short, five-minute informational snippets. Some of the most successful and wide-reaching podcasts appear in long-form conversational structure, as they allow particular individuals to express their opinions, views, or knowledge without the pressure of time-constraints. A number of other popular podcasts have cropped up as well that typically range in length from 30 minutes to an hour.
For businesses, it may be useful to gravitate towards a shorter format that allows for some discussion while also presenting valuable information or news regarding a company’s specific industry. While some formats may work better than others, there is no single way to make a podcast. This new form of media has room for a ton of growth and presents businesses with a fantastic opportunity to get creative when it comes to connecting with customers.
Make a Tik Tok Account
Of the many ways for a business to continue interacting with customers under the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of a relatively new app named Tik Tok could be one of the most exciting and innovative forms of connection. Tik Tok allows users to select from a wide range of background music for 15-second videos that get posted to a scrolling feed similar to what Facebook or Twitter uses. Because music is such a large part of the app, the majority of videos on Tik Tok are 15-second dance routines.
However despite being music and dance focused, the app has also been used for comedy videos, announcements, marketing and even for making political statements. Currently, Tik Tok is adding a huge amount of new users per day, mostly from Gen-Z, and is the most highly valued tech start- up of 2020 by a long shot.
Still in its early stages as a social media platform, the opportunity businesses have right now for gaining a following on Tik Tok are wide open. While the app supports advertising from third parties, no single business has truly figured out yet how to harness the connection potential of Tik Tok through its regular use. If your business is looking to build a massive social media following over the next few years and remotely connect with more customers, Tik Tok could prove to be an amazing place to have a presence.
If you are one of the lucky owners of a business that made it through the first few months of COVID-19, its likely that you are scrambling now for new ways to interact with customers under the conditions that are still present today. Growing your company’s presence on social media and shifting interaction with consumers online is an effective way to start this process, but businesses will still ultimately have much to do in order to adapt to a new way of life that is being played out in most parts of the United States.
Making podcasts, videos, or posting media online will likely serve as useful marketing tools heading into the future, but is important for every business to survey the digital landscape now for opportunities that may pay enormous dividends in a few years, such as investing in a Tik Tok account. As the pandemic develops, it will be interesting to see what changes occur in business to customer interaction.