Localization and other digital marketing strategies will allow most businesses to retain customer (and even employee) loyalty during the economic and social shutdown resulting from the global Covid-19 pandemic. The global economic and medical crises together also present opportunities for the savvy marketing professional to capitalize on the current scenario and increase their potential customer base, using tried and proven marketing strategies.
You have worked hard, built up your business, and then, like a case of Little Miss Muffet gone wrong, along comes a virus that plopped down beside us, forcing us our separate ways. The 2020 global coronavirus pandemic will go down in history for many things, not the least of which appears to be all the makings for an unprecedented global recession.
In a never before seen scenario, this recession is not a result of junk bonds and major financial institutions, but one which strikes at the very heart of the middle class people all over the world. The global Covid-19 shutdown has forced people around the world to self-isolate, practice social distancing and even to live with full quarantine restrictions in some places.
This has resulted in the first potential economic recession starting from within the service and local retail industries according to a March fifteenth article in the Guardian. The ramifications of such a devastating economic collapse are made all the worse since these people are at the very heart of the global economic system based on the service sector and their capacity to circulate currency, keeping the economy moving.
The rich may invest heavily in stocks, bonds and other shares, but do not contribute much more than anyone else in terms of the local economy. The social distancing, isolation and quarantine of such a vast swathe of humanity have left large numbers of people unemployed and unable to contribute to the economic outlook.
According to the US Chamber of Commerce, in the United States alone, one in four small businesses (24%) report having already temporarily shut down. Among those who haven’t shut down yet, 40% report it is likely they will shut temporarily within the next two weeks. Forty-three percent believe they have less than six months until a permanent shutdown is unavoidable. Nearly half of small businesses (46%) believe it will take the US economy six months to a year to return to normal.
While this is indeed a challenging time economically, there are still steps that can be taken to mitigate financial losses and to retain customer loyalty during the covid-19 shutdown of society. The key is learning how to interact more personally with the customer while at the same time, focusing on digital marketing and localization strategies.
Open Direct Lines of Communications with Your Customers
The best idea in the world will be for naught if it is never actively communicated. If such a consideration has not already been undertaken, it should rapidly become a priority. Whether running a business online or “in the real world” it is imperative to maintain an open line of communication with the customers.
The principles of localization are such that you can communicate with your customers on the local level, addressing them in their own vernacular and utilizing local cultural values and views in order to establish a more personal connection with them. Think about the current advertisements on television and radio. How many times are local landmarks discussed? How many times are local expressions used?
While most customers will not consciously recognize such a localized approach, subconsciously it will form a bond or connection. This in turn, ensures the customers that the digital marketing campaign that is successfully using localization strategies will have a more localized understanding of both the problems and solutions.
The end result of a successful localization strategy is that there is a more positive emotional response from the target audience, making it easier to induce the desired response of the communication. This may be merely getting the person to click on an ad and visit the website, provide contact information to remain in active communications or even clicking on the “buy now” button.
None of this however, is possible without an active line of communications. During the current global Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing isolation, this becomes an ideal opportunity to more openly and personally communicate with the customers. Such personalized services can not only increase customer interaction resulting in a better understanding of the market, but also serve to maintain or even increase customer loyalty, even during times of a global crisis.
Let Customers Know How the Covid-19 Outbreak Has Impacted Business
The average customer probably concerns themselves very little with the overall health and welfare of those with whom they are conducting business. The age old and timeless “WIIFM” attitude is at the front of the mind of many customers. WIIFM or “What’s In It For Me” merely means that the customers will appreciate being put at the forefront of the conversation.
When considered from a more objective point of view, this may seem a rather callous statement, but when someone is standing in line at their favorite fast food place, is it likely they are concerned about how well the employees are faring? Or how the latest economic downturn may have impacted the franchise owner? Customers care about being put first, not because they are selfish, but merely because they are engaging in a voluntary transaction solely because they can get what they want.
This is just human nature. It is necessary to remember this factor when dealing with customers, even while the business may be shut down partially or completely due to the global coronavirus pandemic. There is no need to tell the customer that the business is shut down if it has, as they will probably already be aware of this.
If the business is being restricted or limited in its capacity to perform, the customer wants to hear the business apologize for not being able to provide the same services either due to the economic recession or social distancing brought about from the global Covid-19 pandemic. Localization is all about talking to the target audience on their level about things that matter to them! To really step up both the digital marketing and localization potential for retaining customer loyalty during times of global crisis, get the customer personally involved.
Using Digital Marketing and Localization Strategies for Customer Interaction
Localization as was noted, is all about engaging the customer at the local level. While this is easily enough accomplished on a geographically limited scale, it can be more complicated when dealing with a more global customer base.
The more complete the understanding of the local cultural sources of pride and social taboos, the more these can be incorporated into the localization strategy. There are many cases, especially with more international markets, where the strategic use of a translation agency that specializes in localization may be both cost effective and beneficial to the marketer seeking to actively engage their target audience.
The more successfully the localization strategies are implemented, the more likely the target audience will be to respond favorably. One factor that is common virtually anywhere in the world, is the desire of the customer to be the center of intention and to have their contributions to the business recognized.
Fortunately, in the digital age that we live in, this is made all the easier through the localization of social media marketing campaigns. In this way, it becomes easier to actively engage the target market and current customers in addition to adding new potential customers into the mix. Personal interactions, even online, can not only continue to offer something for existing customers, but potentially open up entirely new markets that had never before been contemplated or explored.
Encourage Customer and Employee Engagement and Activities Online – User Generated Content and Localization Strategies
What are the best ways to get to know people on the local level? How can a business owner running an international business online really get to know their customers from a cultural and more personal understanding? Encourage both the customers and even the employees to actively engage in user content creation.
Encourage both customers and employees to actively engage in online communications. Ask both to post videos or photos and even articles about what they are doing to pass the time. While it is not guaranteed that any of this user generated content will go viral, there have been some that did. People in general will be happy to have a larger audience such as that provided by the business owners online.
There is the added benefit that both existing customers and employees will also be sharing their content, enhancing the positive impact of the digital marketing and localization campaigns. For a more international clientele, this will also help to provide a more personal glimpse into both the local culture and the local language habits, enhancing the ability of the business to implement localization strategies more effectively.
The business owner can also actively engage both customers and employees in open discussions regarding special offers, deals or even bonus packages that they would like to see put into place. If the business is in a position to continue operations even during the Covid-19 global pandemic and despite social distancing and isolation, special deals or offers can be a great way to actively engage the target markets and ensure a continuation of profitable operations even in the midst of the global medical crisis.
For those businesses that cannot actively continue operations during the Coronavirus shutdown, encourage both customers and employees to share what kind of bargains and deals they would like to see when business operations have resumed. Offering prizes or other incentives to have people show up once business operations have returned to normal can help to ensure a packed house for the grand re-opening.
A local restaurant for example, may offer a free meal to participants, but they must be present to win. Thus, when the restaurant was allowed to open back up, people who had been actively participating would return to the restaurant in order to have the opportunity to win a free meal. Not only are the customers kept included even during the global crisis during periods of isolation, but now they have an added incentive to return once the social distancing and isolation policies are done away with completely.
A local bar may ask customers to contribute new drinks or other creations of their own design. Free drinks for the winners may encourage their immediate return again, after the global medical crisis has been reduced sufficiently to allow business to continue. The key to customer retention during the Covid-19 global outbreak and the ensuing isolation and even quarantine is actively engaging the customers at the local level, no matter where they may be in the world.
Use Localization Strategies to Retain Customer Interaction Even After Reopening
The global Covid-19 pandemic will likely remain a trending “hot topic” even long after the virus has faded, cures and vaccines have been discovered and life has gotten back to as normal as it gets for most people. As soon as the social-distancing, self-isolation and coronavirus quarantine measures have been done away with, the use of localization strategies can still be effectively used as part of the ongoing marketing campaign to encourage customers to come back.
This process will be made much easier if the localization services have been implemented throughout the life of the global coronavirus outbreak, and the customers and even employees have been actively engaged and interacting. The end of the global medical crisis however, should not be seen as an acceptable reason for discontinuing localization strategies that have been put into action as part of a successful marketing campaign.
Actively engaging the target market at the local level should help to retain both employee and customer loyalty even during the times of a global crisis. The end of the Covid-19 pandemic however, does not mean an active end to a successful marketing campaign. Whether marketing at the local level or for an international conglomerate, successfully implemented localization strategies should be an integral part of every marketing and advertising campaign.