With the world still in the grip of a global pandemic, it’s clear that life as we know it has drastically changed. Covid-19 now looks like it will be with us for a long time. And the implications for the business world are only just starting to become clear.
Back in the BC era (Before Covid), businesses were able to grow pipeline at physical events and visit with prospects and customers in person. But shelter-in-place orders (as well as common sense safety measures) mean we can no longer conduct business the old way. Physical events around the world are being cancelled en masse and professionals are working from home in the millions. It’s an entirely new landscape for business.
The most important concept for companies is this: There is no physical anymore. The customer buying journey now begins and ends entirely online. This means that providing a seamless customer experience (CX) is of the utmost importance. One that delights. One that demonstrates real empathy. And one that is iconic so that it’s memorable — something customers want to share.
But every single business in the world is trying to do this right now. So here are a few tips to fight through the noise and stand out.
OPTIMIZING VIRTUAL EVENTS
As incredible as it seems, every single professional event since Q2 has been either cancelled or moved online. That’s thousands of events, from giant trade shows with 20,000 people to smaller industry events for 100. But what’s clear is that companies need to go all-in with an all-digital approach.
No surprise, the use of webinars has increased tenfold. Every time I scroll through LinkedIn, it seems, I see another invitation to join yet another webinar. But some formats work better than others. For example, virtual events need to be relevant not only to the end consumer but consumable in bite-size chunks. Long gone are the days when people had the time – or attention span – to watch hours-long presentations in one sitting.
What works are clips: short and to the point.
And large conferences also need to do some rethinking here. Going virtual doesn’t just mean webcasting the previously planned speakers from their living rooms. Topics and talks need to be more relevant to the moment we’re living in (i.e. how has this industry been challenged by Covid-19) and also more engaging for an all-digital audience (e.g. with much more online interaction).
Because just sitting in front of a screen is a snooze-fest.
It’s clear that all-digital events are here to stay but it’s also clear they’ve got a long way to go before they realize their potential.
A BETTER DIGITAL CX
The pandemic has proved to be a major tipping point for retail. Companies already on the edge have been forced into bankruptcy, including Brooks Brothers, J.C. Penney, Lord & Taylor, Neiman Marcus and Victoria’s Secret. And many more may follow unless they ramp up their innovation and rethink their strategy.
Meanwhile, eCommerce is soaring with sales up 93% in May according to RetailDive. Which means that combining content and commerce is now not just a nice-to-have but a business essential.
Because the entire customer experience is now exclusively online, brands need to find ways to stand out from the competition by supplying customers with the right messaging and content at every step of the buying journey.
For an example, let’s look at the wine and spirits industry. Because of Covid, we now live in a world where certain products regularly sell out (due to people stocking up on goods like toilet paper, fitness equipment etc.) which, in turn, has a major impact on the supply chain. So wine and spirits organizations are adapting. Through the use of marketing automation tools, they’re more closely tracking inventory so they don’t promote products already sold out in a certain ZIP code.
As well, wineries are evolving their websites away from an online brochure model (i.e. with location, hours, etc.) and more solidly toward eCommerce, with an emphasis on purchasing, shipping and even digital tasting rooms. It’s a bold tactic that isn’t necessarily driving new customers, but it is keeping their current base quite happy (and tipsy).
And it’s all part of providing a better digital experience in order to stay relevant and memorable.
BRAVE NEW WORLD
In recent weeks, it’s become alarmingly clear that the pandemic is not be a temporary event. It’s actually ushered in a new digital reality that will be with us for a long time. And we may not ever get back to what we considered “normal” before.
All of these means that this is an inflection point for every business. Organizations need to test and learn and iterate and innovate and experiment… Basically change everything to figure out what works in terms of capturing customer attention and providing a powerful and profitable digital experience.