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How your ‘Pandemic Processes’ can grow community & engagement today and tomorrow

New ways of doing business have made it possible for businesses to stay strong in tough times. In many ways, they’ve also delivered service experiences that customers have been wanting to see all along. Which of these evolutions should stick around for your business? Let’s take a look.

It’s safe to say that in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, best practices and consumer expectations have been thoroughly shaken and stirred. From retail and construction, to consulting and education – it’s nearly impossible to find an industry that hasn’t had to shift their approach to customer service.

Stores that had resisted online selling for decades have quickly pivoted to become successful e-commerce shops overnight. Community staples, like bakeries and breweries, have created ways to keep loyal customers engaged from afar. And across the board, traditional businesses have found digital touchpoints to be a saving grace. 

Harnessing the advantages of being local and agile, independent retailers, mom & pop shops, and other small businesses will continue to benefit from new and innovative ways to connect, even after stay-at-home orders are lifted. And, With survey data from our research partner Lab42 showing that businesses expect many of these changes to persist for a long time, adopting some of these measures for good is an empathetic move that could also lead to greater success.

With many malls closing and a record number of big-box stores shutting their doors around the world, local and independent businesses have a powerful opportunity to take market share
Below, find some examples of how adopting pandemic protocols required for survival today will help you maintain a connected community for the years to come. 

Double-down on Email Marketing

 If you still haven’t started an email list, now is the time to jump on board. With industry-specific restrictions of opening, closing, and offerings changing by the day, customers and clients will turn to you to keep them up to date on your business. Email is the best way to get long-form information out, fast. 99% of consumers check their email every day, and many marketers report email to offer the highest ROI. In a time where money is tight, email marketing is a smart, safe, and ROI friendly alternative. 

Our suggestion? Turn on customizable, mobile-friendly email campaigns to keep you top-of-mind with new and familiar customers. Marketing4Members provides business owners with everything they need to create professional emails with less effort.

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Humanize & Empathize with Social Media

Social media lets you ask your customers about what they want, how they feel, and how you can serve them from virtually anywhere – for free. These days, social media has become the first stop for many customers looking for answers – and that won’t change. A global study revealed that social media consumption was up 32% in the United States as of March 2020 – the beginning of stay-at-home orders for the majority of states. 

If you aren’t considered an essential business, and you aren’t already clearly communicating your current hours, customers will assume you’ve closed. At a time where there’s risk associated with leaving the house, people aren’t going to venture out to a store that may or may not be open. Social media is a fast and easy way to keep loyal customers up to date today, and in months to come. 

Take advantage of the community-driven nature of social media to stay connected to your customers. Have you shifted to selling products or services online? Spread the word on social and include pictures of the items for sale. Or, invite customers behind the scenes to show them your work from home setup. However you engage on social, make sure it’s humanized and helpful. 

We’ve already mentioned that you need to pivot your offerings to meet customer needs today. Consider the new ways businesses are using social media to support their customers during COVID-19. How can you meet customers where they’re at? Can you offer a new service or class that brings value to your community beyond what you traditionally offer in-store?

Social Media usage is up 32% — Are you covering your bases? We can help! 

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Collaborate with other local businesses 

Local businesses have teamed up to create efficiencies where it’s easier to deliver products to customers. For example, a toy store and a bookstore in Chicago worked together to deliver purchases and provide curbside pickup. Owners shifted their attention to the toy store’s website to keep inventory moving, “We uploaded 500 SKUs in two days,” the owner said. She’s also been connecting with customers through social media.

It goes without saying that the old ways of doing business simply won’t suffice in a post-pandemic world. As states start to open back up, consider how you might take these processes into your ‘new normal’. How can you use these new tactics to connect and build a community where it might have otherwise felt ingenuine before? Now is the perfect time to implement some of these changes that you can use in the long run. As always we’re here to help! 

Continue to improve your follow-up

As many are now discovering, checking-in with customers with a message of support (not sales) is one of the most powerful strategies around. Fortunately for businesses like yours – the process doesn’t have to be completely manual. From SMS and Email to social media and beyond, the ability to authentically follow-up  – whether it’s to say ‘thanks’ or offer a helpful tip – is more powerful and scalable than ever before. How will you put it to use?

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