It’s been a rough couple of months to say the least. Whilst it’s true, we are heading back to some kind of normality, business can’t simply expect to fall back into the same routine as before. The world has truly changed, at least for the foreseeable future. And in order to keep up, everything... and we do mean everything, has shifted to digital in some capacity, from toilet roll purchases to education, with this comes the question, is investing in digital the only way to recover from lockdown and embrace continued social distancing?
As we’ve all been house-bound, we’ve understandably been spending more time online. According to OfCom, Internet use has surged during lockdown with adults now spending 4hrs per day on the web. That’s an extra hour that you could be reaching out and connecting with your consumers, reminding them that you can still operate efficiently, despite the current climate.
For some, digital transformation has already been playing a big role in brand strategies, even before Covid-19 reared its ugly head. For others, rapid decisions are being made in order to adapt processes, making them fit for a socially distanced culture. Investing in your digital presence doesn’t mean you have to start making TikToks every five minutes or build yourself an ecommerce empire, there are many levels and degrees of digital transformation.
“It’s simply about creating an experience that enables your customers to find you, learn about your business and connect with your brand from the comfort of their home.” - Stephanie Tabah, Client Strategy Manager
Effective digital transformation should not just be customer facing, with a large percentage of companies like Amazon and RBS promising to continue their ‘work from home’ scheme until January 2021 at the earliest, internal digitisation is just as important if processes are to work effectively.
It’s safe to say we’ve all got the hang of Zoom or Teams by now, but what other technologies do you have in place to support an ongoing flexible work environment? See how we integrate digital technologies into every aspect of our processes in our Inner Workings of an Agency blog.
Has social distancing created a new consumer?
The past decade has brought us a more demanding consumer, one that wants what they want, delivered the very next day, and Amazon became every online shoppers’ best friend. These demands were only multiplied during lockdown, with supermarket giants like Ocado not able to provide a delivery slot until 3 weeks later, forcing them to discontinue their reserved members slots in order to keep up with demand. The effects of social distancing and the temporary (some permanent) closing of our beloved high-street stores has forced us to move nearly every buying habit online. But investing in digital is not just for fully eCommerce business models, social distancing has meant that all industries must be present and accessible quickly and remotely if they are to survive.
Research into buying habits over the lockdown period shows that after the initial panic buying of essentials, most of our attention and buying habits turned to more creative outlets. Duolingo was one of the most popular, with the company seeing a 148% increase in users in the US over the lockdown period! The reason being, they are accessible from your phone, and they tap into that need to be creative that consumers were craving. These consumer desires were also reflected in the surge of pinterest users, the brand reported a record peak in searches, increasing by 60% year-on-year! This could present an interesting platform for business advertising opportunities. And the great news is according to The Drum, 85% of those asked, said they are planning to continue purchasing from these newly found brands.
With websites becoming the main source of enquiries and lead gen, investing in your digital channels such as your website and online communications is crucial in order to draw in those websurfers and result in sales. Whilst the furlough scheme has meant that there are less people in the business to work on actively promoting the brand, there has never been a greater need to focus on attracting and retaining inbound interest through digital marketing. That’s where we come in, collaborating with you as a digital partner to create a digital strategy that revolves around your sales goals.
How to invest in your digital experiences?
For those that cannot become fully digital, finding a balance between the physical brand and digital retail is the key. Let’s look at pubs for example, not every industry has the capacity to live online, as far as I’m aware there is no way to drink a pint over the internet. And yet, pubs seem to have adopted the most dramatic changes post-pandemic.
If one thing is clear, it’s that our new way of living has resulted in more people ‘planning’ their outings; and a good plan always starts with online research. So brands need to understand what their customers want to know before they choose their shop or venue. Whether it be via the website, app or tripadvisor, visitors will want to know how you are handling the current situation, what is expected of them upon entry and how your processes have changed post-pandemic. If this information is not currently available online, how can you reassure the public it’s safe to come to your establishment? Or worse, loyal customers may think you haven’t reopened and won’t risk a wasted journey, opting for a competitor that they know can fulfil their needs instead.
Early-adopters Wetherspoons brought out their mobile app ordering in 2017, now, many chains and independent establishments have had to follow suit, investing in tech that not only improves service quality but keeps customers and staff safe. To ensure restaurants remain socially distanced and customers can be traced, most establishments have implemented mandatory online booking. Some have even taken it a step further, introducing app ordering to eliminate the need for contact with staff. Implementing these technologies into your service is just the first step. As walk-ins become less likely, you must also find ways of communicating these changes to your customers. Nurturing your existing client base with updates on the processes you have put in place is essential if you don’t want to lose them to the competition. A strong online presence and comms strategy is crucial to stay in touch, attract new customers and remain front of mind.
Greene king pubs highlight the importance of digital technology both as a back-office support and a customer attraction and retention for the industry. But perhaps the most interesting change is the shift to contactless ordering and payment options. The Drum discussed this topic recently posing hygiene as the reason for the quick change from what was a new technology (Touchscreen) to an innovative social distance friendly alternative (Touchless).
If you get the digital experience right, customers can easily purchase your products/services, learn about your brand and trouble-shoot any questions without getting the runaround. The same goes for the B2B sector. You might have had the best customer experience pre-lockdown, but how's your digital experience looking? Your consumer journey should be as strong online as it is offline, the transition should be seamless. But getting your digital experience up to scratch starts with understanding your consumer, their emotional drivers and all the non- digital touchpoints they may visit on the way. Only then can you create a journey built on empathy and functionality. In this post-pandemic world, safety and hygiene are the clear emotional drivers, this along with the desire for simplicity and ease in their everyday lives. Using digital to address these consumer drivers is key to surviving in this current climate.
With experience working in a wide variety of industry sectors to create multi-channel digital strategies, here at Venn we want to help you level up your brand coming out of the pandemic. With a team of strategists, developers and branding specialists, no project is too big. Get in touch with us today to find out how we could help you.