A Digital Marketing Guide To Navigate The Market Amid The COVID-19 Crisis As the global business environment looms into uncertainty, changing the way you approach customers can be your key to survival.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were quick, abrupt, but subtle- in just several months, hundreds of thousands of businesses closed down, millions lost their jobs, and trillions of dollars worth of global GDP were potentially lost.
The disruption was so complex and profound that businesses were left wondering how to navigate the turbulent market. With everything uncertain, it's easy to get lost in "the new normal." Improving your business practices can help your company stay afloat during the pandemic.
So, here are three important tips to help you navigate the business world during and after the crisis:
1. Be mindful of the change in customer behavior
There are many lessons to learn from the past when it comes to dealing with an economic crisis- especially one that is caused by a disease. Case studies on the 1918 influenza pandemic, the 2014-2015 Ebola virus disease outbreak, or even the Great Depression, World War I and II, and the 2008 global financial crisis are often used as references when studying trends, policies, and business models. These crises have helped shape best practices in many businesses to cushion the impact brought about by potential and existing disruptions.
The most important lesson from these case studies is understanding the change in human behavior. In the context of businesses, this change comes in the form of shifts in customer preferences, purchase behavior, or buying patterns. As a response to the stringency of lockdowns, for example, consumers have rapidly adopted new digital services when making a purchase.
Another important thing to highlight is that "the new normal" consumer puts more importance on customer experience over anything else, which is why companies must rethink how and where they connect with their potential and existing customers. There will be a decrease in overall consumer spending- customers will now be more careful where to put their money in, and customer loyalty will be tested in the upcoming days. Developing good customer relations will be your key to survival.
2. Use tools that will help you improve and grow your customer relations
My tech company, Loyica, has conducted several case studies that support how technology can significantly improve the way businesses interact and engage with their leads and customers when utilized the right way. We have developed systems like Saphyte that provide data that businesses can use to deliver personalized services. This is important because businesses must be able to identify and determine beforehand the needs and preferences of their customers, so that they can develop a plan to engage them meaningfully, i.e., avoiding redundancy and bombarding the consumer with irrelevant information.
Consumers now are more informed than ever. One bad service and they'll be off looking up on the internet for another company to transact with. To guarantee customer satisfaction, tools like customer relationship management (CRM) systems can help in gathering and pulling data from each customer and improving the sales experience for both the customer and the company's sales representative. These systems enhance sales and marketing processes through automation and enhancement of the agile practices of the company.
The use of tools, however, necessitates the recalibration of digital strategy- how you deal with your customers, how you penetrate markets, how you market your products and services online. These will have a strong, decisive impact on your business in the future. Crafting a strong brand proposition, understanding the rapidly-changing customer habits, and strategizing your marketing channels should be considered vis-a-vis the use of digital marketing tools.
3. Empathize and develop genuine relations with your customers
It's not just enough for you to improve your reach to your customers- you also have to make sure that the intention comes from a genuine place. Empathizing with your customers especially during difficult times allows you to put your position in their place and understand their needs even more. This lets you become more responsive in addressing their specific demands, which improves the way you engage with them and sets you apart from the competition.
Developing genuine relationships with your customers also lets you prove your organizational value to them and build long-term profitable relationships with them. It lets you gain constant access to genuine feedback, allowing you to identify the changes in their buying behavior, their new habits, routines, and preferences and allow you to adjust your business model right away.
Having reliable data about these changes when making strategic decisions comes in handy- which is why it is also equally important to have a working customer database (which, as mentioned above, a CRM can provide). Otherwise, the changes that you will be implementing will just rely on pure assumptions, nothing more.
When you help your customers, especially in trying times, the end result is not just an increase in traffic but an opportunity to prove your value to the market- which significantly helps in converting leads into customers. A genuine story of empathy in the midst of a pandemic, of wanting to help the community out, is superior compared to any other marketing narrative.