As we start to kind of vaguely see a pinhole light at the end of the pandemic tunnel (like, maybe, sort of, if you squint and turn your head a bit), many individuals and businesses alike are going to start questioning what will stay and what will go. Most will need to ask themselves whether the changes they’ve made during the socially distanced years worked merely as temporary measures, or whether some of their newfound practices are here to stay. I know several people whose hand washing practices have been forever changed for the better and I, for one, am happy to know I can wear a mask during future allergy seasons.
For many businesses, the major change brought on by the pandemic was the shift to a partial, or fully, online marketplace. And as restrictions ease around many parts of the globe, the time is also coming for those businesses to decide whether they’ll continue to forge ahead with their new web presence, or let it fall to the wayside in favour of in-person business practices. If you’re one of those in the throes of decision making, here’s a few convincing reasons why you should continue to keep up, and promote, your brand’s online presence moving forward.
1) Convenience and direct access
We’ve adjusted to a new way of operating. Following a decades-long debate on whether a work-from-home situation could actually be feasible, the workplace has irreversibly shifted to an online landscape for many industries. What’s more, consumers have been able to more fully experience the conveniences of shopping online, home delivery, and video appointments, especially from smaller businesses who may not have previously offered these features. Even late adopters have been pushed to finally try out long-standing features like pre-ordering online for in-store or curbside pickup.
Now that e-commerce has had its chance to shine with consumers and workers alike, it’s highly likely that it’s here to stay for the long term. While the novelty of shopping in-store will find a resurgence immediately after restrictions lift, customers are unlikely to give up the conveniences of online business in a post-pandemic world. Continuing to maintain, and grow, your brand’s online presence makes the path between your customer and your brand much more direct, and therefore much more appealing to the convenience-based consumer.
2) A place to call home
People crave stability during times of change. With the unpredictability of new health restrictions many businesses are opening, then closing, then partially opening their doors with drastically different hours, customer limits, and stock availability. This kind of daily uncertainty can be hard for in-store businesses to survive, as customers become frustrated with the erratic interactions they’re having from one shopping trip to another.
That’s where online brand management is crucial. Because it exists outside the hours and restrictions of physical interaction, your online presence becomes a go-to source of up-to-date knowledge for your consumers. While the outside world is shifting day to day, the online world becomes a reliable place for consumers to find, and interact with, their favourite brands.
Positively assuring your customers of this stability with video marketing is a great move leading up to a known time of change like a pandemic reopening phase. Harvard Business Review suggests in the ‘E’ of their HEART framework of sustained crisis communication, “Elaborate how, despite the upheaval in how you operate, you will continue to provide the things they have come to know and love — the defining reasons they patronize your business instead of others” (https://hbr.org/2020/04/ensure-that-your-customer-relationships-outlast-coronavirus). And while this advice was written during the opening weeks of the global pandemic, it remains just as relevant as we shift focus to vaccination rates and the potential for reopening phases. Let your online presence be the home base for your brand, and let your customer know you’re there for them with reassuring video content that promotes your brand stability during turbulent times.
3) Versatility and adaptability
If the sheer depth, spread, and response to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that it’s impossible to predict how the future will look. Things are changing rapidly, but keeping up your online presence allows you to stay adaptable regardless of the direction things turn.
Important information regarding opening hours and safety measures can be easily and instantly updated through websites and social media, ensuring your followers have the most correct information at any one time. New procedures, company changes, and new or adjusted services can be helpfully explained through short online video content.
4) Broadening your brand horizons
The pandemic has forced many face to face businesses to get creative in offering new and innovative services online (check out more of these innovations in our previous blog about how explainer videos can improve your customer service in uncertain times: https://www.explanimate.com.au/how-explainer-videos-can-improve-your-customer-service-in-uncertain-times/). The upside of this adjustment, once achieved, is that it opens up your customer reach to a whole new world… quite literally. Where proximity previously ruled who you could market to and how big that market could be, the online world has next to no borders and grants the freedom to target your exact desired audience. The challenge, then, is to find your audience and meet them where they are. Native video advertising can be a great way to situate your brand naturally within the social media world of your target market, without becoming part of the white noise of traditionally promoted advertising.
5) Connection and control
By keeping up regular content updates it’s easier to maintain control over your brand image throughout any external changes. The more consistently you post content, the more your followers are able to understand, interact with, and become attached to your brand’s unique ‘voice’, image, and values. They see the kind of content you’re likely to produce and how that may be a valuable thing to hold onto while the world shifts around them. By providing inherent, ongoing value in your online presence, you build your brand beyond mere products and services and begin to establish the brand itself into a connected, engaged community.
Written by Maree Railton.