Maintaining (and even increasing) customer engagement is more important than ever
Economic downturns can be challenging times for businesses, and it’s not uncommon for companies to cut back on their marketing efforts as a result.
But, in times of uncertainty, maintaining customer engagement becomes more important than ever. It’s crucial not only to retain existing customers but also to build brand loyalty, so why risk cutting that back?
It may feel counterintuitive, but studies have shown that companies that maintain or increase their marketing spend during economic downturns can emerge stronger when the economy recovers, gaining around a 4.3% increase in profits compared to brands that cut costs.
In this article, we will explore the importance of customer engagement during an economic downturn and provide practical tips on how to weather the storm and keep your customers engaged.
The benefits of customer engagement during an economic downturn
By maintaining communication and going the extra mile to keep customers happy, you’ll foster a sense of brand loyalty that withstands even the toughest of economic times because you’re showing people that, as a company, you still care about them even when times are rough.
Engaging with customers regularly through content marketing can increase customer retention rates, as customers are more likely to stick with a brand that they feel a connection to (building that brand loyalty again).
Plus, satisfied customers will more often than not generate positive word-of-mouth, which is especially valuable in times when marketing budgets may be limited.
By engaging with customers and *actually communicating with them*, you can also identify opportunities for growth and innovation. Your customers might have valuable feedback or suggestions on how to improve products or services, so make sure to listen and react.
If you’re focused on ramping up customer engagement and your competitor has stripped back to the bare bones, what company do you think will be front of mind for the customer?
That’s right, yours.
Best practices for strong customer engagement during an economic downturn
While engaging with customers is critical always, it’s equally important to do so in a thoughtful and strategic manner – especially during a tough situation.
Here are some best practices to keep in mind when engaging with customers during uncertain times:
- Listen to customer feedback
This is gold dust! Your customers are always telling you what they like and dislike, so use their feedback to improve products, services, and communication.
- Offer exceptional customer service
It should go without saying, but without customers, there is no business. Economic downturns affect people as well as companies, so go the extra mile to go above and beyond their expectations – they’ll love you for it.
- Stay relevant, and stay helpful
Aim to provide relevant and useful content that demonstrates the value of your product or service. Consider how customers might be feeling – how can you show them you’re able to solve their problems, rather than pretending their problems don’t exist?
- Get personal
Personalizing communication makes customers feel seen and heard, and it can be a budget-friendly way to increase engagement. Make use of ‘first name’ tagging on emails, dive into your analytics to segment your audience and speak to their specific needs and pains, and check in with customers beyond the point of purchase.
- Be empathetic and understanding
Don’t forget among all of the exciting engagement that your customers may be experiencing hardship, too. Demonstrate empathy and understanding for customers’ unique situations and challenges, and you’ll begin to build loyalty that will help you (and them) emerge stronger on the other side.
Examples of successful customer engagement during economic uncertainty
It might feel daunting to continue, or even increase customer engagement during an economic downturn, but there are plenty of examples of brands that have done so and seen the rewards.
- Procter and Gamble, 2008 recession
During the 2008 recession, P&G successfully engaged with customers by focusing on innovation and launching new products that offered value to consumers in tough economic times. They offered coupons and discounts to help customers save money without sacrificing quality.
- Slack, COVID-19 pandemic
Slack offered free upgrades to paid plans for organizations working on coronavirus research or response efforts. The company also provided helpful resources and blog posts on how to work remotely and stay productive during a crisis.
- Zappos, dot-com crash
During the dot-com crash, Zappos invested heavily in customer service, offering free returns and exchanges and providing exceptional customer support that resulted in gross sales reaching $32 million in the two years following.
Tools and technologies for customer engagement
To help you engage with customers, even through economic struggle, there are various tools and technologies you can leverage to your advantage.
- Social media platforms
Free outside of paid advertising, social media marketing is a great way to stay connected with customers and offer timely updates about your products or services.
- Email marketing software
Software such as Mailerlite, Mailchimp or Flodesk are effective tools for reaching customers directly and providing personalized communication through their inbox.
- CRM systems
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems can help you manage customer interactions and track their engagement over time.
- AI tools
In today’s world, chatbots and other AI-powered tools can automate customer service and support, freeing up time for human employees to focus on more complex customer needs.
- Outsourced design
Part of customer engagement includes creating enticing and engaging designs – whether for social media, email banners, website updates or any other marketing efforts. Our teams here at Design Force can be a flexible, scalable option for creating consistent, quality content that resonates with customers and keeps them engaged with your brand.
Prioritizing customer engagement is crucial for businesses looking to weather the storm
By maintaining communication with customers, listening to their feedback, and providing exceptional service, you can build brand loyalty, increase customer retention, and gain a competitive edge.
While it may be tempting to cut back on marketing and engagement efforts during tough times, doing so can be detrimental to long-term success. That’s why we encourage you to prioritize customer engagement and use the tools and technologies available. Your customers (and your bottom line) will be grateful for it!
By staying committed to customer engagement, you can emerge from an economic downturn stronger and more resilient than ever before. And if you need support levelling up your design assets while you’re at it, claim a free trial to see how you can have a global team of vetted designers on hand in just one day.