Brand Loyalty in the Age of COVID-19

by | Aug 31, 2020 | Active Response, Blog, Digital Strategy, Smirk's Take, Social Media

The ongoing pandemic has created a seismic shift in consumer habits. From how your brand initially responded to COVID-19 to the ways you’ve implemented new health and safety policies, being transparent and empathetic with your audience can make or break their future with you as a brand.

Transparency and Trust

Be open and honest about the internal changes you’ve introduced in response to the pandemic. Use your social media and website as platforms to clearly broadcast what you’re doing to support your employees and how you’re navigating your storefront in order to be as safe as possible. Provide updated, easy-to-access information about your service hours and sanitizing procedures and pin it to the top of your Facebook page or across a banner at the top of your site.

Reassuring Your Audience

Nobody likes a brand that’s shady. Clear communication establishes authenticity. 89% of consumers believe companies should keep the public informed about how they’re keeping their employees and customers safe. Neglecting to share these details could easily lead your audience to believe that you haven’t taken any steps to protect your team or patrons since the pandemic began. They may not feel safe visiting or supporting your business.

covid-19 brand loyalty statistics graphic

A Change In Shopping Habits

With a total of 40.8 million unemployment claims made since mid-March, many Americans are facing hard times financially. Households are increasingly prioritizing essential items over other spending — in fact, total retail sales have fallen 8.7% since July, the largest decline in nearly three decades.

This isn’t the time to just return to your regularly scheduled advertising.

Adjusting Your Messaging

Communicating to your audience what value your product or service will bring to their lives is crucial. The point of any social post is to anticipate and answer questions before people have them. If you’re a restaurant offering curbside pickup, don’t be afraid to give detailed instructions on how to place an order and where to park when you arrive. As a patron, having that information at your fingertips is often the deciding factor when it comes to decision making.

Instead of just pushing services or products, we’ve advised our clients to increase social posts celebrating community partnerships and highlighting any changes to daily operations. No matter what you post, lead with empathy for our current climate, even if you don’t say so explicitly. Simply letting your audience know that you’re self-aware can go a long way.

Seizing Opportunities Amidst Uncertainty

While we’ve moved past the days of barren shelves at the grocery store, some items are still hard to come by. 44% of U.S. shoppers have tried at least one new brand during the COVID-19 pandemic because their standard brand was either unavailable or took too long to be delivered. It’s a valuable time for smaller businesses to bump their visibility.

Showing your prospects that you’re here to serve them while other brands may be having a hard time keeping up with the demand could potentially win you some new loyal customers.

Focusing on the pain points that consumers are experiencing with online shopping can be a powerful strategy. Communicating your shipping times and how quickly you can get products directly to consumers is a huge advantage. However, be sure that you have the capacity to take on new customers and are prepared for a possible influx or orders before supercharging your digital advertising.

Adapting to the New Normal of Shopping

Many people won’t be comfortable returning to brick and mortar stores or restaurants for the foreseeable future. If you can ship things, drive people to your online store. If you’re a restaurant, give your customers the ability to order online or on the phone and pick up their order curbside.

Even small changes can effectively demonstrate that your business is dedicated to making things easier for consumers, especially in a difficult time. If anything about your process is inconvenient, you’ll lose transactions.

E-Commerce and User Experience

What does the ideal online shopping experience look like for your business? Is it easy to navigate your website and make purchases, especially on mobile? All of the sleek social media or search advertising in the world won’t save you if someone clicks an ad and gets taken to a clunky website.

45% of U.S. consumers have shopped with online retailers they hadn’t previously purchased from during the COVID-19 pandemic and intend to continue shopping with them based on the excellent experience they had. If your e-commerce setup is confusing or at all overcomplicated, you’re at risk of losing sales.

Investing in Engagement

People are online more than ever and they’re depending on you to answer their complaints and questions. 51% of people are using social media at a higher rate due to the pandemic.

Take Control of the Conversation

Staying in tune with what your audience is saying about your brand is critical, especially if they’re tagging you into the conversation or reaching out via private message. Every conversation is an opportunity to repair or create a lasting relationship with customers.

Responding to brand commentary online is often the least you can do to show that you’re listening. It reflects poorly — and publicly — on your brand when comments and reviews go unacknowledged.

dunkin donuts customer complaint tweet
raising cane's customer complaint tweet

Today’s Reputation Management

If you’re going to post, someone on your team needs to be actively monitoring your social accounts for any engagements. You can’t just post and forget about it.

80% of customers expect a brand to respond on social media within a 24 hour period. Further, 50% of customers claim they would no longer do business with a brand that does not respond to negative social media posts.

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Now more than ever, it’s important to actively make meaningful connections with your audience online. Create content consciously and seek opportunities to provide value and show customers you care.

Trey Rhoades
Smirk Content Creator
If someone takes the time to engage your business and you ignore it, you could lose not only that customer but any prospect that sees the unanswered comment or review. Social media is a public forum and it’s your brand’s reputation that’s on the line.

When you do respond to customers, it’s key to always lead with empathy and understanding first.

Similar discussions with business owners led us to first pilot our Active Response system in 2017. Since then, we’ve been helping multi-location companies achieve a 100% response rate on thousands of incoming messages and reviews every month.

We’re Here For You

It’s a very turbulent, very visible time for brands — every move you make has the potential to be noticed by your audience and criticized if done poorly. Whether you need to strategize on social content or position your brand among competitors, we’d love to hear from you. Schedule a free consultation with the Smirk team today.

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