Post-Coronavirus Marketing: How to Get Ready for Business Reopening
As many countries introduce quarantine weakening, companies start looking forward to resume their business and reconnect with their audience. However, activity resuming must be done carefully and based on the current situation in each particular location.
Each country is implementing different lockdown easing measures, and even within one country, there might be different protocols for specific regions, states and counties. Study the situation carefully so as not to deliver too hasty and irrelevant announcements. This step is especially important for international brands that operate in multiple locations.
Apart from geo-specific lockdown protocols, your strategy will also depend on your own quarantine actions, as businesses addressed the COVID-19 crisis differently. In general, there were three main types of response:
- companies didn’t stop their activities at all, and did only minor situational adjustments.
- companies partially stopped their activities, froze some campaigns, and switched a part of processes online.
- companies fully stopped all their activities, and were sending only informational messages concerning operational changes and refund policies.
Below I’ll be giving general advice to consider when building your post-pandemic digital marketing, but you need to make sure they’re applicable to your particular situation. There is no one strategy that would work for everyone so your main job is to meet expectations of your specific audience.
Marketing Strategy After Coronavirus: What to Consider
Communication with empathy was crucial during the pandemic; it remains as crucial for the post-COVID-19 strategies. Your customers have been affected differently during the crisis; many are still at risk. Your task is to address each group with a corresponding approach, provide support and help where needed, and don’t overdo it with too excessive offers.
Physical Location Reopening
Reopening of any brick and mortar location presupposes physical interaction, even if it’s kept to the minimum. And after COVID-19, many people would like to keep on with social distancing, especially if they or their family or friends were infected with the virus and went through rigorous recovery.
The mere fact that your place is open doesn’t mean customers are ready to come back. To encourage their security, make sure your place can deliver an optimal shopping experience.
- When do you open?
- Are working hours the same?
- How many people can your place allow at a time and is it able to provide the required distance between the customers?
- What are the conditions for visiting your place?
- Are there changes in the booking process?
- Do you offer contactless payment?
- What measures do you take to keep your place up to the sanitary requirements?
- How will interaction with the staff go on?
Be ready to cover these questions even before your visitors may have it. The comprehensive info on reopening should be available on every platform you use for customer interaction:
- Prepare the corresponding updates on the website;
- Update your Google Business profile;
- Release posts on social media;
- Send email campaigns or use other communication channels to notify your audience;
- Contact your partners (if any) and ask them to update the info about you on their platforms as well;
- Educate your customer-facing staff on all the queries people may have.
Help Your Business with Email Automation
Even if your business is 100% online, the crisis has most probably still affected it in one way or another. You might have had changes in website operation, international shipment, delivery, return policies, stock availability, etc.
Now when these are hopefully over, let people know you’re ready to return to a normal mode. On your website, in emails or any other messages (SMS, web pushes, mobile pushes), and on social media, cover the following aspects people most likely have queries about:
- Updated website working hours;
- Available helpline (in case it had operational irregularities due to high demand);
- Shipment and return policies;
- Order processing time and delivery time;
- Back-in-stock products;
- Available services (that were frozen during the quarantine).
Make sure the necessary info is provided in a clear and understandable way. No big volumes of text, small print or references to your previous statements: your reopening announcement should outline all the important information and be easy to scan and digest.
Keeping On With Online Activities
The COVID-19 lockdown forced many to switch online and learn to do regular routines in a new way. The elderly was probably the category that had to adapt more than others. However, now when the learning process and related technical issues are behind, many wouldn’t like to give up on the new convenience.
You need to explain to them whether your post-quarantine marketing strategies would still offer online options, and how they will work together with offline activities. Make sure you cover the following queries:
- Will the online service/product I paid for in advance during the quarantine be available after it’s over? (especially applicable to online classes, coaching sessions, webinars, etc.).
- Will you further be offering options for those who follow social distancing?
- How can I combine my online and offline experience?
- Will you further keep on your quarantine social programs, possible with minor moderation? (charity, support of frontline workers, online Q&A, etc.).
The notification protocol is the same as for the previous positions. Use your website, social accounts and communication channels to let people know what interaction they may expect in the future.
Caring About Your Team And Partners
Don’t forget that you have responsibilities not only towards your customers but also towards your workers. Hope you were keeping them up to date during the crisis; do the same after it as well.
These are the aspects all your employees must be aware of:
- Reopening date and working hours;
- Safety precautions;
- Distancing options;
- Payment info (if payment conditions have been changed);
- Logistical support (for those who moved home their work equipment);
- Commute support (if public transport is not available/limited in your region);
- Customer-facing guidelines;
- Changes applicable to the particular job requirements of each worker.
You can deliver this info via any channel you use to keep in touch with your team: Google Meetup, Zoom conference, safe offline meeting, email, communication platforms like Slack, Discord, Workzone, etc. The most important is that the info should be clear, understandable, and should cover all possible topics.
The same applies to your partners. Let them know about changes in your reopening operation in the most convenient way. Ask to update any info on your company published on their platforms, and do so with their info as well.
Email Marketing after COVID-19
When you’re ready with the general reopening marketing plan, start planning your campaigns. I believe email will be the best option as it gives enough space to provide all the necessary information, but don’t disregard other channels: SMS and push notifications can as be useful to deliver fast and urgent updates.
Regardless of your activity during the crisis, your post-pandemic email strategies most probably need adjustments, minor to major. So take a look at the below advice and follow those applicable to your particular situation.
1. Validate your contact base.
Validation of the subscriber base should be a regular activity you do regardless of any crises. However, COVID-19 has created a favorable climate for spammers of all kinds, so it’s better to double-check your contacts, ensuring no spam traps or fake addresses have got into. Making a start after a quarantine pause by sending to inactive contacts can harm your deliverability a lot.
2. Segment your base and see what segments need a different approach.
I’ve already mentioned above that your customers have been affected differently during the crisis, and purchasing power of many has been affected as well. Run post-quarantine segmentation to see how customer behavior has changed. Pay attention to the following:
- website visit frequency;
- campaign activity;
- last purchase date;
- average check of last purchases;
- VIP category.
Since many people have experienced financial difficulties, their behavioral pattern has changed. Many might have switched to less expensive options (products, brands, services, complementary purchases, etc.) and reduced their shopping activity.
Consider this when making new offers after reopening. If you see that customers who had regularly had an average check of $500 each month have made over the last three months only several purchases equal $50 or no purchases at all, there is little use in sending them VIP offers or luxuries.
Also build a segment for customers who have demonstrated high online activity comparing to the previous less active offline experience. These customers might find a new format more attractive, so address them with relevant offers.
3. Adapt sending frequency.
In case you completely froze your marketing activity during the quarantine, get started step by step. Don’t send bulk campaigns to the whole base. Email clients monitor sending consistency and can find such scheduling drops suspicious and send you to spam.
Return to your regular pre-coronavirus schedule steadily by sending to the most loyal audience first. High open rate and low bounce rate are equally important to signal to email clients you’re a trustworthy sender with quality content.
4. Optimize your paused campaigns.
In case you put some campaigns on a pause, it’s time to revise them. If you sell activities and products that presuppose physical contact (gym, beauty studios, massage, medical procedures, etc.) explain how they will be provided in the current situation. Offer online options, where possible.
5. Revise email templates.
If you changed or deleted some elements or blocks in your email templates (working hours, pick-up offices) it’s time to put them back. Pay special attention to synchronized modules as the info in them can be updated for all campaigns containing these blocks.
6. Revise recommendation algorithms.
In our article on COVID-19 recommendations, I advised to adjust email recommendation algorithms so as to exclude untypical behavior and situation-related browses from further recommendation. The fact that people browsed a lot for facial masks, sanitizers and the first symptoms of the coronavirus disease doesn’t mean it’s their usual interests. Make sure they don’t receive the corresponding recommendations months after the lockdown is over.
Also, consider adapting the algorithms that pick up recommendations based on price categories and VIP segmentation, as the purchasing power of many might have dropped significantly.
Ready Email Templates For Easy Start
1. Send information on reopening.
In the first section of the article, I’ve already stated what reopening details your customers will most likely be interested in. Prepare relevant updates on your reopening, make them informative yet short and crisp, and send them to your audience in one email.
Please, don’t bombard people daily with the same message – We’re open/We’re here for you/We’re in it together. One notification with comprehensive well organized information is enough to let people know you’re back to business. Multiple messages with zero new information annoy more than educate on updates.
Don’t speculate on subject lines with such words as Important/Urgent news/Last updates, especially if inside there is a regular promo. Mind that many companies that were on lockdown are now reopening and sending the same notifications. Don't add to mess and clutter in inboxes.
2. Thank customers for their support during the quarantine.
Thank your audience for their commitment during the hardest time. If people supported you via donations, social activity or volunteering, show them you appreciate it. You may write a separate thank you email or drop several lines at the beginning of your reopening notification. The most important is to find the right words and sound sincere. Empathy remains a top trend of the marketing strategy after coronavirus.
3. Share your experience and ask their opinion.
By sharing your experience I don’t mean to lay all your problems out there even if you had many. Try to find some words of support and inspiration instead. Tell what solutions helped your brand survive, how proud you are of your team’s dedication, what new online options you have introduced, and how your community has contributed.
Also ask people to share their experience as well:
- How satisfactory was their online experience and what needs improvement?
- Do they feel like further opting for online services?
- Are they ready to come back offline?
- What offline-related precautions do they have and how can you ease them?
- What was their best quarantine experience with your company? What was the worst?
- Do they want to revise their campaign options? (frequency, topics).
What’s more important, don’t send such campaigns just for the sake of sending. Analyze answers, give feedback where needed, and make the necessary adjustments to your service.
4. Send careful reactivation campaigns.
Reactivation campaigns are part of any marketing strategy that enables to rive sleeping clients back. However, COVID-19 is an extraordinary situation and requires a special approach towards all aspects, including reactivation emails.
Mind that people might have become inactive not because they’re no longer interested in your products or turned to other providers, but because they can’t afford the previous commitment. Address them with less imperative and pushy campaigns. Instead of inviting back to your website, ask if there is something you can help with:
- tell about afterpay options;
- explain how they can save on used products;
- help switch to another pricing plan;
- instruct on the return and refund policies;
- tell what customer categories may have extra discounts and on what conditions.
5. Provide a summary of your charity activities.
During the quarantine, I saw many brands donating, participating in social campaigns, supporting frontline workers, and running volunteering. Many keep on doing so. If you also ran any charity campaign, feel free to share the results. If whatever you did involved help by your community, don’t forget to thank them.
6. Share your plans.
It’s definitely hard to plan anything nowadays but had enough free time to rethink your brand, plan future campaigns, new services or collaborations. Share your expectations and predictions, show people what they might expect, and what direction your business will be moving in after reopening.
Business Reopening Email Examples
And since I believe show beats tell, here are some reopening email examples my colleagues and I have recently found in our inboxes. I liked the most those with minimum text (nobody reads much these days), clear infographics (for step-by-step safety instructions) and the important info in bold.
However, you always need to tailor your campaigns to your business, audience and established conversational pattern, and the below are simply to give you ideas on how to craft your own.