When the first lockdown hit in March last year, and businesses were forced to close, many businesses paused their engagement with their potential leads and existing customers.
As more and more restrictions were lifted and businesses were able to begin operating in some form of normality again, a great deal of these businesses who paused their customer engagement, found it very difficult to get the ball rolling again as many of their leads and customer relationships had gone cold.
As we are now in the UK’s third national lockdown, businesses need to maintain their engagement with their existing customer base and prospective customers to ensure a quick bounce back once these restrictions are lifted.
To help you maintain your customer relationships and the rapport built with potential leads, we’ve put together this article to give you some tips for engaging with your customers and leads throughout lockdown.
Keep in Touch via Video/Phone Calls
Since the start of the pandemic, the use of VoIP software sky-rocketed with platforms like Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams being used frequently for both internal and external meetings. Even after the pandemic dies off, the use of these platforms will likely remain a widely used option for holding meetings instead of travelling hundreds or thousands of miles.
Phone calls, or especially video calls, are a great way to maintain engagement with your prospects throughout lockdown. It’s a very direct and proactive approach that provides a more personal touch than email, which has become rather oversaturated over the last year and through previous lockdowns.
But with almost every business holding video calls with their customers, people may be starting to get tired of sitting through the same type of meetings day-in-day-out, so why not change things up a little bit?
When speaking to existing customers that you have been working with for quite a while, why not take five or ten minutes at the start of a call to have an informal chat. Talk about how they have been managing during lockdown, what they have been doing to keep busy, and genuinely ask how they’ve been doing.
Lockdown is a difficult and stressful time for everyone, so taking the time to have this type of informal engagement can help to relax both the customer and you, and helps to build and maintain rapport.
Send a Personalised Email
Emailing has long been one of the most popular forms of communication in the 21st Century, with over 3.93 billion email users worldwide as of 2019.
Before the events of 2020, the number of email users was expected to rise to 4.04 billion by the end of the year. After the last 12 months, this is now likely to be much higher with more and more people needing to use alternative forms of communication due to social distancing measures and lockdown restrictions.
Email is a very low cost and simple form of engaging with your existing customers. With long-standing customers, and customers you have a very good relationship with, engaging via email can be much more relaxed and can take minimal effort to maintain. Engaging with prospects, however, is a different story.
Before the pandemic, and before the days of lockdown, your prospects would typically receive between 5 – 20 sales or marketing emails each day. Now, as we make our way through the third national lockdown here in the UK, there are more and more marketing and sales emails being sent due to other forms of contact e.g. events, exhibitions, face-to-face meetings etc. being unviable.
While some of these emails may be well-targeted and valuable to the prospect, the vast majority of emails that they receive will go something like this:
Impersonal opening line.
Facts, statistics, and prices everywhere.
Text in Bold to try to grab your attention.
A cheesy call-to-action.
And more often than not, no opt-out link!
So how do you create well-targeted and valuable emails for your prospects, and avoid ticking all of the above?
The majority of the emails that your prospects will receive will be irrelevant spam that simply has ‘To whom it may concern,’ or ‘Hi [Company Name],’ in the opening. This immediately tells you the prospect that this email is from someone they don’t know, selling something they likely don’t want or need, and it’ll be a waste of time to read it.
If you have the prospects name to hand, use it! Including name personalisation at the start of your emails can increase your email open and click-through rates, and can be an additional driving factor to encourage more replies.
One mistake that a lot of people make, is thinking that email personalisation is only about including the recipient’s name, job title, and company name – but what about the content?
If you’re emailing over 500 different people, that fit into several different business types/sectors, a ‘one size fits all’ approach to your content is going to generate much interest.
Instead segment your email lists based on either company types or the sector that the prospect operates in, and create a variation of your email that is tailored to each of these segments.
By doing so, you’re not only creating a more relevant message for the prospect, but you’re also standing out from the rest of the emails that they receive that just mass target thousands of companies with the same message; which means you’re far more likely to get a positive response from the prospect.
Consistently Posting on Social Media.
While some businesses are inactive on social media and opt for more ‘traditional’ methods such as email, social media as a whole is home to more than 3.81 billion users worldwide, which is almost the same as the number of email users, making it just as valuable, if not more in some cases, than email marketing.
Throughout lockdown, more and more businesses have started paying more attention to social media as a way to engage with their customers and prospects, grow their audiences, and even generate leads and sales.
Posting Attractive Content
As a more indirect approach than picking up the phone or sending an email, there are many layers to social media marketing, and if you want people to engage with your content then you need to get their attention.
One way you can do this is through branded visual content. On some platforms, such as LinkedIn, plain text posts can do quite well. But on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram especially, creating powerful visual imagery and videos is the key to grabbing your customers attention.
Once you have got their attention, the content itself needs to be relevant, compelling, and valuable enough to make them want to engage with it. Posting nothing but promotional content won’t do much to provoke engagement. Instead, focus on creating posts and content that will spark a discussion, topical news pieces that are relevant to your prospects, even light-hearted posts like uplifting stories or jokes.
It all helps to encourage engagement and keep your audience interested in your content.
Spend Time Engaging
Developing and sharing your own content is only one half of maintaining engagement with your customers and prospects on social media, the other is engaging with the content they share.
Try spending some time liking, commenting, sharing, and generally getting involved with your customer’s and prospect’s content and you’ll be surprised to see how far it can get you when trying to build or maintain your relationships.
The more you engage with other people’s content the more likely they are to reciprocate this engagement which is where the rapport and relationship starts building.
Additionally, you can start to get more exposure from other audiences, which helps to widen your reach and grow your existing audience.
If you are wanting to have some more direct engagement with your customers and prospects on social media and put the rapport and value that you have been building with them to good use, direct messaging is the way to go.
Just as with email marketing, your customers and prospects will receive several dozens of marketing messages and sales pitches via social media each week, so don’t just send over the same type of salesy message that everyone else does.
Instead, try having actual conversations with your prospects. Just as mentioned earlier in the video and phone calls section, lockdown is a difficult time for everyone, so take the time to have a relaxed conversation, and when you do move onto the pitch or call-to-action do it simply and naturally.
Often being human first, and a marketer or salesperson second is the key to creating and maintaining engagement that your customers and prospects will remember for a long time.