In uncertain economic climates when budgets face scrutiny from all sides, it’s easy to lose sight of how marketing can achieve one of your most important business goals: retention.
Whether you’re a SaaS company offering subscription-based products or a B2B services business, retaining existing customers will provide much-needed cash flow to help you weather the storm of an economic downturn. Above all, supporting your customers when times are tough is simply good business.
Let’s look into five ways you can support your customers through simple marketing initiatives, to ensure your customers continue supporting you.
1. Communicate Proactively
People crave information in times of uncertainty, like the current COVID-19 crisis. Proactive communication may sound simple, but it’s an essential way to demonstrate your commitment to your customers, answer their questions before they’re asked, and lighten the load on your customer support inbox.
Using your existing digital real estate is an efficient way to communicate these messages. Consider these three examples:
- If your retail business is expecting an influx of online orders due to brick and mortar store closures, a banner on your eCommerce shopfront could warn of potential shipping delays as you process a larger volume of orders.
- If you’re a B2B services company managing an increase in unscheduled client meetings, your email footer could warn of delays in replying to their message.
- If your operating hours have been affected by the crisis, your Google My Business listing could reflect updated hours, alongside a post detailing how else you’ve been impacted.
2. Communicate Personally
On top of general brand messages, personal notes can go a long way in reassuring your customers that you’re sticking by them through thick and thin.
If you’re a B2C business working with a large database, this might take the form of a basic check-in email using accurate personalisation. If you’re working with a smaller list, like your top tier customers for example, you may even consider going the extra mile with a physical mail-out that includes a personal note and product discount or incentive.
If your business has a large social following, you may even consider hosting a live-streamed Q&A session where customers can interact directly with a brand spokesperson. This tactic has been used with great success by politicians like Jacinda Ardern during the COVID-19 crisis, who was widely praised for personal, sincere and direct communication with her audience using Facebook Live.
3. Offer Revised Payment Terms
Times of crisis can hit some industries harder than others, as we’re seeing with the Coronavirus pandemic for businesses in travel, tourism and hospitality. If your company is in the fortunate position of strong cash flow, you may consider offering your clients and customers revised payment terms to ease their burden.
B2B businesses may give clients the option to defer payments for a period of time or offer credits they can use at a later date.
4. Offer Incentives
Deals, discounts and giveaways can be a win-win marketing tactic during times of crisis; rewarding your customers with cheaper goods while providing your business with much-needed cash flow.
However, it’s important that these promotions don’t appear opportunistic or insensitive. A comprehensive study by media consulting firm Kantar found that over 90% of consumers were happy for brands to continue advertising during the COVID-19 pandemic, although 78% believed brands should support them and 74% believed brands should not exploit the situation. It’s clear that consumers crave genuine and meaningful offers.
5. Commit to the Cause
Is your business in any position to help in this time of crisis? Companies should consider looking beyond their immediate customer base to find opportunities to assist on a grander scale.
During the COVID-19 pandemic for example, brands from varied industries are digging deep to support the fight against the illness. Some are offering cash donations to healthcare services, others are providing free services to charitable organisations, and some, like musical instruments company D’Addario, are transforming their production lines to manufacture personal protective equipment for medical workers.
Larger-scale initiatives like these may not directly benefit your immediate customers, however, they demonstrate your commitment to corporate social responsibility. After all, in times of crisis like these, we’re all in it together.
It’s clear that while times of crisis can pose significant marketing challenges, they also present an opportunity to strengthen your relationships with customers and emerge as a more resilient business on the other side.