Using a customer-first approach to build communities that outlast the moment.
The coronavirus crisis has sent waves through the marketing world — rapidly accelerating trends like digital transformation, while bringing strategies like in-person events to an overnight halt. It’s time for forward-thinking tech marketers to take stock.
While this environment has created uncertainty for tech marketers, it has also presented clear paths forward for engaging positively with customers and building long-term trust. Should marketers embrace these opportunities, they can hope to grow their customer communities and build relationships that long outlast the current situation.
The crisis won’t last forever — companies need to fix their horizons on the six months to two years mark. Bear in mind that, as of mid-April, 60% of B2B software buyers still expected their spending to return to pre-crisis levels by next year.
Here are 3 ways to position your marketing strategy for post-COVID success.
1. Lean on digital, as new engagement opportunities emerge
With in-person events on hold — cancelled, postponed, or moved to virtual — digital marketing strategies have become more critical than ever. As HBR notes, this crisis is not only accelerating the transition to virtualized work, but widening the chasm between companies that can spin up agile, impactful digital content strategies and those that cannot.
Opportunities abound, however. With millions of digitally captive professionals to address, content strategies like video, podcasts, virtual events, social media, and email campaigns will hold much more sway. Moreover, companies who can deliver innovative engagement strategies — think Zoom-based roundtables with industry thought leaders or an educational video series — will be rewarded with immediate mind share.
Meanwhile, there will also be more opportunity to engage reporters and the media. With fewer chances to source live interviews — and with potentially fewer competitors vying to generate press — reporters will be on the hunt for high-quality contributed content and captivating story ideas. In other words, organizations have more opportunity than ever to get in front of customers and distinguish themselves with thoughtful campaigns, amid a smaller playing field.
2. Embrace agility as a rule
Change will be a constant in the coming months. To effectively connect with customers and provide timely messaging, organizations must embrace agility as a mantra, from the top town. This means that, on the one hand, tech marketers will need to build rapid-response capabilities to quickly update and deploy messaging; on the other, they will need to collaborate more closely with the C-suite and executives for routine marketing and messaging decisions. The reason is that each marketing touchpoint will reflect the values of the organization like a giant mirror, and companies need to be aligned on message from the CEO down.
Similarly, to ensure that each marketing asset hits the right notes for customers, companies will also need to audit all of their content, across all existing channels — from the home page, to social copy, to website chatbots, to landing page CTAs. This may seem cumbersome, but even something as simple as an invitation to schedule an in-person demo from a chatbot could spell a missed opportunity over the long term.
At the same time, organizations should closely monitor which channels, using which messages, are getting robust engagement — email? social? —and adapt their strategy accordingly. It’s likely that customer engagement patterns have changed, and now more than ever, it’s critical that content strategy not be left to guesswork.
3. Keep it insanely real (with a customer-first strategy)
Despite the real challenges they may face, tech customers have little need for platitudes or messaging balms — they need concrete, actionable information that provides genuine value in the moment. If companies are creating crisis-specific content, they need to share insights that educate customers about timely issues — like how to provide secure access for remote workers — or help them achieve specific goals — like pulling off a successful virtual event.
The bottom line is that customers won’t forget companies who provide genuine aid during trying times.
More than anything, to build trust, companies will need to be transparent with customers. What does transparency mean, in this situation? It could mean being vocal about your status as an organization, positive or negative: are you running at full capacity? Are certain services suspended? Are you offering flexible payment terms or skeleton services to help your customers with diminished spend? When can customers expect you to be able to meet their needs?
It could also mean being honest about what your customers are going through. Their priorities, buying cycles, and decision-making chains may have changed — and the ways that you typically engage them may have changed, in turn. To build long-term trust, companies need to rethink their own strategies to reflect those changes, which may mean building new content strategies from the ground up.
This worldwide coronavirus event has created uncertainty for tech marketers. However, new and innovative engagement strategies have opened up significant opportunities to build long-term customer trust. Moreover, this crisis is a slow-burning one — and by adopting customer-focused content strategies, organizations can ensure they evolve along with their customers, building strong communities to long outlast the moment.