Coronavirus: How to sustain customer engagement post-lockdown
When we launched our brand as a part of the healthtech sector, my co-founders and I knew we had a winning idea. We created a fitness platform that rewarded users for walking, especially for walking outside. One year later, we are faced with a situation we could have never imagined, with everything going on a complete standstill, which has been devastating to certain industry sectors.
With the lockdown in effect for over two months now, we have adopted the WFH formula successfully and have made sure we have enough systems in place to avoid loss in productivity. Interestingly, enough, we have expanded our team from 25 to 30 members just in the last 40 days.
One thing that is clear is that as a platform, we need to be flexible and keep innovating to make sure we come up with creative solutions that will drive engagement during this time.
At the core of innovation, especially amidst a crisis, it is important to take a step back, and ask yourself who your users are, and why are they a part of your brand’s journey. By understanding their mindset, you will be better placed to provide solutions that can be enjoyed by them, and build your brand’s reputation.
Hence, keeping these in mind, we have a complete digital set up, changing the way our app rewards users and came up with solutions to keep them engaged. One needs to be mindful that the engagement hooks/solutions provided are within your ecosystem as there is always the risk of creating a disconnect with your user base if you try to do something entirely different.
So we kept it simple and boiled everything down to providing the motivation for users to move more while they are stuck at home. These hooks can come in the form of games, challenges, and even social interactions to push movement/fitness.
Social media strategies
Over the last few months, social media has become an integral part of every brand’s engagement strategies; and for all the right reasons. Studies have shown that time spent on various platforms has significantly increased and can be leveraged to drive engagement.
From connecting with newer audiences across geographies, and hosting interactive sessions and competitions online, to using existing tools to increase engagement, the potential is huge, and if executed well, positive brand engagement can be witnessed.
A great example of how social media can be used to engage with audiences is virtual concerts, which have become highly popular today. In India, a virtual concert was organised where the biggest names of the industry came together under #IForIndia, supporting various charities and raising funds through a Facebook live concert.
Internationally, music artists joined forces with WHO and Global Citizens under the campaign #TogetherAtHome by using music to unify people who are feeling alone during the time of lockdown, including John Legend, Chris Martin, Shawn Mendes, and Lady Gaga. This is a brilliant example of how celebrities are using their brand power to not only support a social cause but also grow the value of their brand.
Simple targeted messaging
While there is much to do in the online space, it is pertinent for brands to note the sensitive nature of the times we are living in. KitKat, for example, regularly encourages its audience to take a break, used the crisis to thank frontline workers for not taking a break. This simple, yet strong message resonated well with users, who further engaged with the brand through comments, likes, and shares.
These are unprecedented times for everyone. Brands, in particular, need to be extremely cautious about the messaging they put out. While the objective is always engagement, at the same time it should be positive and meaningful. What users want now is information, and answers.
In a time when they are starting to question everything, let your brand be a trusted source for information. Try to give them as much information as possible, to help navigate through difficult times.
It is no secret that people across the world have been financially hit because of the COVID-19 crisis. Hyundai started a scheme wherein a buyer making a purchase until the end of April 2020 will be eligible for the late first payment, providing a breathing space for up to three months.
Furthermore, the buyer can expect additional relief from payment for six months in case they lose they job after purchasing Hyundai Capital. This gesture attracted a lot of attention from the media, as well as the readers. Similarly, The Taj Group of hotels sent free meals to patients, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers at Mumbai's government hospitals.
These goodwill gestures are great examples of incorporating the human element into marketing, and how to resonate with your audiences.
Use of influencers
Influencers, by definition, are known as those who can impact a large audience. They can be used as a means to promote staying at home, or a certain lifestyle change, along with your brand, in a sensitive manner. Influencers are also highly effective in spreading COVID-19 related safety messages, which are also opportunities that can be explored.
In addition to the above, it is important to note that engagement strategies are never a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. What works for one brand, might not work for you. Brands should also be conscious of the limitation their users are facing when creating engagement strategies.
Games, fun challenges, and social interaction will serve the purpose, but this alone is not enough. Explore collaborations with brands that are completely unrelated to yours, to reach a much larger audience. At the end of the day, the objective is to retain your existing users, while attracting new ones, who will continue to use your service well after the lockdown ends.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)