Article

Sarah Sennett MSc
Sarah Sennett MSc 4 May 2020

How Customer Behaviour is Changing the Performance of Digital Channels

In the space of a few short months, the world, as we know it, has completely changed. No one knows when this pandemic will end, what the economic aftermath will be or even if things will ever go back to how they were before.

This uncertainty has left businesses across the UK in a state of panic for their futures. They need to know how they can attract new customers, retain their current ones, and, above all, find a new way to conduct business remotely to survive. To do this, you must first understand how customer behaviour is changing the digital channels that you have and how you should then be using them during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Understand that online behaviours are different

Before we dive into how you should be using your digital channels during Covid19, you first need to understand that online behaviours have changed. It is only natural that this has occurred.

Panic buying

The UK experienced some of the worst panic buying in February, as people emptied the shelves of toilet paper, hand sanitiser, soap, and household cleaning products. As a result of the panic buying, the sales of hand sanitiser rose by 255% in February.

Increase in online shopping

Online shopping has seen a huge increase since the lockdown has been put into place, with people expanding what they previously bought online, ordering non-essential goods, such as board games. There has also been a rise in the number of tech devices (iPads and Nintendo Switches being popular choices) and DIY appliances bought to help get people through this period of being stuck indoors.

Shoppers are not just changing what they are buying, but they are also changing when. There has been a big rise in sales during the week, so your business stands a chance to win over customers a lot more now. However, not everything is as successful, and you could be worried about facing troubling times ahead. The fashion industry was particularly hard hit in March by more than 23%, and it’s not the only one.

Millennials and Gen Z are changing their shopping habits

While many are stockpiling, a survey discovered that not everyone is interested in spending money. Almost 54% of millennials said that the coronavirus had impacted their purchase decisions, and so they are cutting back.

How customer behaviour will affect your digital channels

With the change in customer behaviour, it would be foolhardy to believe that the marketing strategies that were working before will work now. 62% of marketers have already changed their marketing strategies since the pandemic occurred. How we handle business and how you use your digital channels has to reflect the current climate. From your website or eCommerce site to your emails, and your social media, you have to reimagine your current strategies when it comes to securing customers, making sales, and maintaining steady cash flow throughout COVID-19. Here is how you can respond.

Make the most of your website

With the rise of people shopping online, businesses need to offer customers as many products that can be delivered as possible without promising false delivery dates or letting customers down because they don’t have the stock. Inform your customers that due to the situation, delivery times might be longer.

You also need to tell your customers about changes (hours you are open, new product lines, etc.) and convince your customers that you are someone you can trust. Fortunately, Google has made this easy. Optimising your site for COVID-19 updates allows your customers to know of your situation. Google even suggests adjusting your FAQs page to reflect the current climate.

It’s not just this that needs to be considered. There are more customers online, but they still won’t buy from you if your site doesn’t look great. It has been reported that 39% of users will stop engaging with a website if it looks unattractive, so make this a priority and see how we can help you with this today.

Be more caring with content

You need to change the way you produce content for your site and beyond. Before a customer commits to buying products from you, they will carry out research thoroughly and look through your content. Content that is informative and engaging shows you know what you are talking about and can be trusted, but if your current content is not passionate or caring about their current situation, they will go elsewhere. Audit your old content and refresh any that might seem unsuitable for today’s climate and rework it to be more caring and passionate.

There several ways to pivot your content strategy for the changing consumer environment, but the top three are:

  1. Reach people who can’t reach you right now – share recipes, how-tos and useful stuff.
  2. Create new content or stories from new products you’re creating – people engage with stories behind brands.
  3. Switch in-person events into the digital space – they can work just as well.

Engage on social media

Being interactive with customers on social media has never been more important than it is right now. People are feeling lonely and isolated, and so are spending more time online, so you are presented with an opportunity not just to make sales, but to deepen relationships with your audience - vital in retaining loyal customers.

What to post?

Several posts will work during this time. As long as you are consistent, you could:

  • Write a status about keeping safe
  • What to do at home
  • The best TV shows to watch
  • Photo and story competitions
  • Show them your current office setup
  • How they can help you (inform your customers how they can help by leaving reviews – 90% of customers will read reviews before visiting a business)

If you can’t remain open, then all is not lost. Share educational videos, audit your social media sites, start a new social media account (TikTok is taking the world by storm), and start trying to build up a loyal audience. 

However, it’s not just how what you post; it is also about how you communicate, so be sure to:

  • Keep your site active by posting all the time
  • Listen and acknowledge your customers
  • Be empathetic
  • Don’t just focus on driving traffic, focus on engagement
  • Tell them they can reach out to you
  • Keeping them up to date about your business status

Remarketing campaigns to help people

Now is the time to target previous customers and get them back. Advertise deals, such as free delivery, or special promos like 25% off. As millennials are less inclined to spend money due to worries about their own financial future, give them a reason not to feel guilty about treating themselves with your products. Keep an eye out for those that are interacting on your social media pages, watching videos, or filling out surveys, and make the deal relevant to them.

Emails

To show people you care and that it is okay to keep buying from you, you need to make it personal when sending out emails. Build up your brand so that people can trust you by responding promptly, thanking them for their loyalty during this unprecedented time, as well as sending inspiration messages and providing helpful resources that will get them through being at home.

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