COVID-19 has made crisis management essential for everyone.
Coronavirus crisis has touched millions of lives around the world. It has also affected digital marketing in an unprecedented way: It is the first pandemic, and the first crisis of this calibre since the birth of digital marketing.
This has led to an important question: What are brands to do when facing a substantial crisis.
In other words, do you have a crisis management content marketing strategy?
If you need help building one, here are a few ideas to adapt your content strategy for a major crisis:
1. Ask For Patience
This is always a hard one because, technically, it isn’t the customer’s job to be patient. Under normal circumstances, this is an embarrassing thing to have to do. It usually means you have had a personal crisis with your business. These are not normal circumstances.
Let your customers know that you are working tirelessly to fulfill orders and get them shipped in the timely manner. Unfortunately, due to increased demand there may be a slight delay in when they receive their product.
Being transparent goes a long way, in any crisis management.
Don’t pretend you are doing just fine: Describe your unique situation and how you are coping. You will be surprised at how well your customers will respond to that.
Be sure you have tracking information easily accessible from the beginning. Don’t require them to reroute to your site, log in, go to their account, find their order and use the tracking number. They are already going to be high strung and the name of the game is “easy”.
Go out of your way to make the little things simple to improve customer experience anywhere possible.
Review your entire customer experience marketing but specifically focus in on your customer support emails and find the ways to improve them and adapt to the critical circumstances your brand is currently dealing with. To help you out, here are few great templates to help you make your customer support emails much more customer-centric and helpful.
2. Promote Empathy
Empathy is an ability to understand what a person (may) feel. In marketing empathy is a capacity to place oneself in your target customer’s position.
In other words, empathy helps brands better understand their customers, share their feelings and adapt their strategy to being actually helpful.
Whether it is giving away tools to solve the struggles or helping cope with emotional crises, a brand can use its voice and reach to make their customers’ life easier whenever they are facing a difficult life situation.
When applied to the current coronavirus crises, a good example of empathic marketing is Guinness helping people around the world cope with isolation by launching the “Don’t worry, we’ll march again” campaign.
Guinness’s content marketing strategy was directed on promoting safety while remaining optimistic – which is exactly what the world needed to hear.
Empathy is able to save a brand out of a really bad crisis. But for this strategy to work, you need to change the mindset.
From “how to promote my products to target customers” kind of perspective, you should start thinking from the “how can I be helpful” standpoint.
Empathy is hard to fake which some failed marketing campaigns are proving.
There’s a big difference from hijacking news and creating an empathic content marketing campaign, and that big difference is based on a single key concept: It’s not about you, it’s about everyone else.
Once your content marketing starts focusing on that key component, it will all fall into place.
Get together with your team or co-workers and start by listing problems your customers may be facing and how your brand can help. If you are all working remotely now, get on a Skype or Zoom call.
3. Pick the Best-Fitting Medium
As customers, we all can totally relate to this one: We saw a flood of emails from businesses on how they are coping with the situation. Most of those updates were not really useful for me personally, partly because I was at an absolutely different place at that point.
In other words, keeping your customers updated on how your brand is coping is more often than not a good idea. But not all of these updates warrant an email message.
Instead of sending an email update, publish a blog post on what you are doing and how the crisis management has been handled by your business.
This way, people who really want to know this information will have no problem finding it.
Some updates do require an email though, and these include:
- When customers’ important or private information is at steak
- If your customers can take an immediate action (described in your email) or immediately benefit from it
For example, if you are running a financial institution or providing accounting services, updating your customers on how to avoid newly emerging fraud during the crisis is a good idea.
But if you simply want to inform your customers of your employees’ safety and your new business operations, it is a good idea to keep this content on your site.
Make a list of all the things you have to say regarding the crisis management you are dealing with and decide which medium fits best. A blog post is usually the safest route to take, when in doubt. Only use email marketing when your content offers immediate action or when there’s important information that directly concerns each individual customer.
4. Engage Past Customers
Keeping the above point in mind, approaching your past customers in a special way is always a good idea.
- Want to update and cheer up your past customers? You have their emails… send them a discount code!
- Utilize social media retargeting ads to get people who have been on the fence about trying your brand, or are researching it, to pay attention.
You can create custom messages to address people who already bought from your site in the past using Finteza, an analytics and conversion optimization platform that requires no technical skills to use.
With Finteza, you can set conversion goals based on any past events users performed on your site, and then create retargeting campaigns to better serve their unique needs. For example, if a customer bought something that is no longer available, you can suggest an alternative product or possible workarounds. Or if a customer previously read a specific article on your site, you can now suggest them a matching product.
[Content marketing personalization is a great way to engage more of your past customers in a crisis]
Here are more tools for user retention to look at but do use all of them with caution. Crisis is not the time to get aggressive with your marketing tactics.
5. Make Sure Your Site Fits an Immediate Need
At the time of crisis management, your customers’ priorities may shift dramatically. Adjust your content marketing so you can provide fast solutions to current problems, and hide everything that doesn’t make sense under the current circumstances.
For example, you may want to remove any traveling tips from your home page now that any traveling is hardly possible. Instead, you may want to find older articles on making the best of your time when staying or working from home, even if those tips don’t necessarily match your product line.
As tempting as it may seem to keep encouraging people to use your travel app, this is a time when you should step back and put your customers’ needs and safety into the spotlight.
Likewise, if you are selling an essential product that is out of stock, adapt your site and content marketing to quickly help your customers:
- Note when you expect the product to be back in stock
- Create an article discussing possible alternative products or even DIY options
When in crisis management mode, expect your customers to be confused and lost, and do your best to accommodate their needs as fast as possible.
In other words, make your site more focused and less cluttered, based on the current situation.
Analyze your key landing pages to determine if they are doing a good job meeting Google users’ expectations and how to make them better. Text Optimizer is a great tool for that: Simply run your URL, the tool will distinguish the type of the audience you are currently semantically targeting and how to do that better:
There’s nothing wrong in following trends and following trends and implementing them in your marketing, But when it comes to crisis management, you need to be extra careful.
Instead of trying to tap into a crisis to increase your sales, try and embrace a more forward-thinking approach. Where is your brand going to be after the crisis is over? If you want to build a stronger brand, ignore quick gains and develop a content marketing strategy geared towards helping customers and building relationships with them.
For further reading: Corporate Communication Strategies for Responding to the Coronavirus Crisis
For more insights on how to best handle a crisis on social media, check out this infographic from 360 Public Relations.