Just the other day, I went on a local retailer’s website to place a same-day pickup order for basic supplies around my home. I felt a little tingle of excitement when their homepage listed hand sanitizer in stock, only to see that each individual product listing was sold out. I continued my order though, selected about a dozen items total and finished the checkout- only to get an email saying order volumes are high and I’d have to wait until the following day. Okay, no problem- I’m generally a patient man. Yet when I arrived the next day at my allotted pickup time, half the items that I had already purchased were sold out…including the three main things I needed to begin with.
Listen, I understand that we’re in uncharted waters with the COVID-19 pandemic and every retailer is doing everything possible to ensure a smooth transition. But the one thing that seems to be overlooked the most is actual communication with customers. Things like changing store hours, limited supplies and processing delays are expected during this transition time, but that messaging needs to be shared ASAP in the buyer’s journey. It’s actually a great opportunity for businesses of all industries to really nail it with customer service and come out of this as a hero to their customers.
Here are a few quick marketing tweaks that your customers will appreciate while also boosting your bottom line-
- Whatever your new normal for operating hours may be, update it on your website and all of your other digital properties as well (social media, Google Maps, etc.). Then place your updated hours on the top of your homepage since it’s one of the first things consumers will look for. This is a 5-10 minute task that will save your consumers hundreds of hours combined.
- Maybe you don’t have the technology in place to instantly update stock levels throughout your supply chain. But most of today’s digital marketplaces have a setting that automatically hides items that are out of stock. You are much better off not showing an item for sale than having a customer drive to your location and then have a low-level associate try to explain what went wrong.
- Email marketing should be your new best friend in the COVID world and you should absolutely keep all your customers in the loop about current and future changes. This is important for multiple reasons since it keeps you current in the minds of consumers and shows them you truly care about providing great service.
- Likewise, your digital ads should take into account the massive lifestyle changes your customers have experienced over the past few months. You should be displaying compassion, understanding, and ultimately strength in how your brand has responded to unforeseen challenges. Show customers that you truly “get it” and be relatable to their personal struggles.
- B2B entities can employ similar tactics by staying relevant in the eyes of potential consumers and showing how your offerings can be part of the larger solution that we’re all looking for. The good news is that other businesses are still spending capital to meet the needs of their consumers and it’s actually a great time for growth.
While none of us truly has all the answers during these troubling times, your best path forward will be doubling down on meeting changing consumer needs and effectively communicating what you’re doing to help. As long as you keep those lines of communication open, you will come out of this on the other side as a leaner, more agile company that can handle any future challenge.
Scott O. Hirsch is an Internet Marketing Pioneer and CEO of Media Direct, one of the nation’s largest data-driven digital marketing agencies. Across his 25+ year career, he’s pioneered many of today’s most important digital marketing concepts including email marketing and display advertising. Scott Hirsch is a regular contributor to Forbes, CEO World Magazine and countless other publications.