COVID-19 has touched us in a way that has not been seen in the last 100 years. Not only did this pandemic claim the lives of tens of thousands of people, but it also spelled the end for many companies, particularly, small businesses. Navigating the choppy economic waters in our post-COVID world is not without its challenges; however, there are steps that business owners can take to ensure they give themselves the best chance of recovering from this set-back as quickly as possible.
Reconnecting with Your Customers
A loyal customer and client base are the cornerstone of any successful business; repeat business is a guaranteed strategy to success. With “lockdowns” being implemented during the pandemic, many businesses have lost contact with their customers; reconnecting with these guests is the first step to generating customer flow into your business once again.
How do you do this and what are the most effective strategies?
Option 1 – Email Marketing
This is probably the oldest, most tried and tested form of digital advertising and clearly, it works as it’s still used today. In fact, email advertising can piggyback off of promotion or offering in which customers opt-in and provide their information in return for being placed on an email mailing list and receive some benefit to doing so. The success of email lists is largely due to their specificity and directly targeting the needs and wants of the consumer.
There are several reasons email marketing should be used:
It is important that the emails sent to consumers have the right tone to appeal to them and pique their interest in the products and services offered by the business. This keeps a brand fresh in the minds of the target market and usually results in a noticeable boost in sales.
Option 2 – Text Message Marketing
It’s projected this year that smartphone usage in the United States will sit at approximately 273 million, but 292 million people have text-message-enabled phones. That’s 80% of the total population using text messages and for those small businesses looking to market themselves, this equates to a vast demographic.
The effectiveness of text message marketing in comparison to emails or cold calls is simply due to emails going ignored and phone calls from an unknown number being “screened”. A text message, on the other hand, is more likely to be read, thus affording a business the opportunity to advertise a promotion and further promote their brand or product.
Additionally, a text message marketing strategy is quick and easy. A message only needs to be crafted once per campaign before being sent from whatever texting services platform is being used; a well-crafted text message using personalized, warm and clear language can result in worthwhile return on investment.
Option 3 – Heat Mapping
For business owners wanting to know what the flow of traffic looks like throughout their brick-and-mortar store, heat mapping is one way to go. A heat map is like a physical version of a website. It allows a business owner to track the movements of people from area to area within their store. Knowing what the flow of traffic looks like within a physical establishment, can help a business owner improve a customer’s experience and ultimately, make consumers of passers-through. Heat maps, or kinetic maps, help to locate ‘dead zones’ which are areas of low activity. What this infers is that these areas aren’t engaging potential customers and holding their interest in a specific spot. Additionally, heat maps allow the monitoring of people and the amount of time they spend in specific areas enabling the business owner to target displays or promotional material that may be located there, thereby generating or maintaining traffic in the vicinity.
Heat maps or kinetic maps don’t just show traffic density but also the path that said traffic takes throughout the store. This is extremely important as it offers the opportunity to glean valuable information on how best to reorganize your business and where to situate items. The spending of resources (how and where), will determine the success of marketing campaigns and will justify daily operational costs better. This is because heat mapping lets a person know things like whether or not extra employees need to be provided and where to station them. After all, no one likes to hunt for a store associate when they need one. Having the assistance readily available creates a better customer experience and a happy patron is more likely to partake in word-of-mouth advertising.
Option 4 – Combine Text, Email and Heat Mapping into a Comprehensive Proximity Marketing Solution
Proximity marketing taps into a customer’s physical location in relation to a business in order to advertise products and services in a more relevant and timely manner. This is done through the use of triangulation based on cell phone signals that are emitted whenever a customer’s mobile device is powered on. When a device is detected, the system can then trigger text and email messages sent to a specific customer when they are nearby.
So, how does a small business implement proximity marketing?
Businesses can make use of third-party systems that handle the logistics of locating, opting-in, tracking and communicating with customers. While the use of a third-party provider requires a small investment, the benefits of amplifying your reach and investment via this medium is undeniable.
After your proximity marketing solution is installed, customers can sign up directly in your store by providing their personal details to begin receiving email and text message communications. The heavy lifting is accomplished by the solution, so business managers and owners can dedicate more time to business operations.
After the dust settles, the companies that implemented proximity marketing campaigns well before the pandemic are no doubt better positioned to recover quickly. As they reopen, they can instantly notify customers of their store hours or post-pandemic promotions that are currently available. For businesses lacking this robust technology, it’s not too late – proximity marketing solutions can be rolled out quickly using existing solutions, like NRVE. Fortunately, proximity marketing is within each reach for most companies and the cost of such solutions can be easily offset with the dramatic boost in sales they are likely to see as a result.
The challenges that small businesses face in the post-COVID19 era cannot be ignored. The return to normalcy will require fortitude, patience and perseverance on a global scale; businesses need to be dynamic and flexible in order to meet their customers’ ever-changing needs and abilities to pay for goods and services. With the marketing strategies listed above, businesses have the opportunity to reach existing customers as well as enticing an entirely new demographic of consumers.