Coronavirus, and the economic climate of most businesses globally, are currently two extreme unknowns. Not only is this pandemic devastating lives, but it’s devastating business, income, and job stability. While it can be difficult to find positives in this situation, there is a silver lining—and it’s in eCommerce.

As shopping turns completely digital, consumer behavior is changing before our eyes. For the businesses that have already been selling in the digital space, you’ve got a great head-start on this. If you were thinking about throwing in the towel, don’t lose hope just yet. We want to help you understand how the change in consumer behavior can lead your business through the coronavirus.

The opportunity to maintain—and even exceed—your business goals are still feasible. In order to continue success is to really understand that consumer behavior is changing, to pay close attention to how your customers are changing, and to be creative in how you can deliver more value without huge costs. If there’s anything I can advise, it’s to prioritize your marketing efforts now more than ever. Let’s jump in!

 

Understanding Changes in Consumer Behavior

Emphasizing consumer behavior right now is justified by the environmental, economic and sociological stimulants that commonly affect consumer behavior, all three of which are rapidly changing due to COVID-19. Keep in mind that your traditional marketing techniques might not be as effective during this time of extreme change. Reinventing your usual strategies to fit today’s context will be your best course of action, but you can’t restrategize correctly if you don’t understand the new consumer climate. Here are some of our findings:

Decrease in store visits, increase in online purchasing

This trend is pretty intuitive, but just in case you didn’t know by how much, stores experienced a 90% drop in store visits in one month and eCommerce retailers experienced a 52% growth rate in online spending during the time period when the virus began spreading worldwide.

 

WordStream Coronavirus Data

Source: WordStream

Decrease in non-essential items

Non-essentials are experiencing a decrease in sales due to consumer’s hesitation to purchase unnecessarily. Not every industry’s stats are in yet, but for fashion, luxury, and home furnishing industries, sales haven’t dwindled. Hopefully this news provides some relief to the businesses in these industries.

Criteo Coronavirus Data

Source: Criteo

Increase in mobile search traffic

If your eCommerce site isn’t optimized for mobile yet, home arrest is giving us nothing but time. Definitely try and fill that gap quickly. Remember—speed, efficiency, and user experience will be your biggest drivers for conversions.

Increase in media consumption

Your reputation is essential, especially during such a sensitive time. Social media has a lot of power to discredit your business for any markups or malpractices you may conduct. On Twitter, the trending hashtag, #pricegouging, serves as a hub for sharing the businesses handling COVID-19 selfishly. Many posts look like this:

Twitter Example - Coronavirus Blog

Source: Twitter

Don’t be the next business drowning in media defamation by implementing a game plan consumers can agree with. Below are some of our suggestions.

 

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Adjust Your Marketing Campaign Strategies

Considering the economic environment, seeming money-hungry is going to be an immediate turn-off to potential buyers (more than it already is). Your newly adjusted marketing strategies need to appear empathetic to this global struggle. We recommend changing your positioning, your company goals, and your communication tactics.

Change Your Positioning

Changing your position is an essential way to add value to your company. You’re more likely to build and maintain the trust necessary to keep purchases steady for your business when you communicate your eagerness to help consumers in this trying time. This could mean updating the message on your homepage, sending an email addressing how you’re adjusting to these circumstances, and including your most important offerings during the pandemic across all touch points. Check out how The Frenchie Co. implemented this strategy on their homepage:

 

The Frenchie Co. Homepage

Source: The Frenchie Co.

Communicate Your Goals

Your goals as a company likely include a smattering of revenue-based benchmarks. Driving your business’ bottom line works in economies with relatively stable circumstances, but won’t be fitting for the next few months. This doesn’t mean you should put a halt on all company activities, but rather let the next few months focus on building your brand image. Communicating some new, temporary goals will earn your company the respect and credibility that people will return to do business with when the economy is more stable again. Some goals include:

  • Provide your product/service in the most convenient, appropriate way possible.
  • Be vocal about how you’re accommodating your employees.
  • Donate any surplus of resources to your community.
  • Host a fundraising campaign to help those in need.

Reach Out Through Email

Not every interaction with your contact base should push business. Using email as a medium just to let customers know you’re taking the necessary precautions to keep your workers safe, or sharing some wins in your community, can go a long way. When you do push for sales, sending emails to your contact base offering deals, waiving shipping costs, or providing a free service can be a very attractive way to keep the transaction mutually beneficial.

While more than 90% of consumers read their emails on a daily basis, keep in mind that this pandemic is affecting everyone worldwide. Many consumers are very sensitive to how companies are responding and presenting themselves, and now is the time for businesses to further nurture and develop relationships. Teachable does a great job staying positive, offering benefits, and remaining informative:

Teachable email - cropped

Source: Teachable

 

Find Alternative Ways to Deliver Value Online

If discounting products or services is not feasible for your eCommerce business right now, then get creative with other ways that don’t require a monetary cost. Here are a few ways you could continue to deliver value.

    1. Turn in-person events into digital events.
      No need to let your community down by letting the location dictate the event. There are plenty of websites that allow you to host events digitally with just as much ease, including Zoom, vFairs, On24, Vimeo, and 6Connex, to name a few.
    2. Take advantage of live-streaming.
      Promote your live-stream ahead of time, and use it to deliver a personalized, well-received message or PSA.

      Zoom callSource: Zoom
    3. Create a guide.
      Free downloadables are a great way to educate quality leads on a topic, and promote your company as a strong partner to do business with, without coming off too salesy.
    4. Post a video.
      This is a great way to boost your conversion rates. You can easily include one in your emails, and it highly encourages social shares. Your email could look as simple as this:


Email with video

Source: HubSpot

Don’t Stop Marketing

As we mentioned already, your marketing efforts should remain intact. Not only is there plenty of opportunity for marketing in a cost-effective way, but with the budget you do have, it’s wise to put it towards marketing while the digital competition is stiffer than ever. Differentiate your business, update your goals and positioning, and start communicating with your customers and community.

It’s not going to happen overnight, but your business can come back ten times stronger with the right work ethic and the right techniques.

For anyone that wants to talk about their business and to discuss ways to mitigate risk or a disaster plan, we are here to provide whatever insight we can. For anyone that is looking to begin selling their products or services online, we are here to help by providing free 30-minute strategy sessions. We have dedicated ourselves to fighting through this, and we are here to help and join your fight as well.

Stay healthy, stay positive, and know that this all will pass.

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