Creating a digital experience for your brand was once a nice thing to have. Icing on the cake. A way for clients and customers to interact when they couldn’t get outdoors.
The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside-down. The icing has become the cake. Between new rules for quarantining and social distancing, no business can overlook the inevitable digitization of their brands and ways their customers are now forced to engage with them.
In essence, COVID-19’s crunch on businesses could include an acceleration of what McKinsey calls “digital Darwinism.”
It’s not survival of the fittest. It’s survival of the “most digital”.
Even before COVID-19, increasing digitization was a battleground for brands. McKinsey describes “Digital Darwinism” as including:
We’ll all feel the pain of the new changes that arise with the COVID-19 pandemic. But with the world becoming increasingly digital by necessity, expect Digital Darwinism to accelerate. Those with digital branding options can no longer treat these as “nice-to-have” features.
Here is what your business can do if you’ve decided that you’ve waited long enough to go all-in on digital and mobile:
Optimize the Customer Experience for Mobile and Digital Features
There may be no better example of brands that need to migrate their customer experience to the digital environment than banks. According to one survey before COVID-19, 86% already believed that “digital will fundamentally change the economics and competitive landscape in corporate banking.”
There’s no time left for banks to emphasize the in-person experience. The world no longer uses mobile banking for convenience. It uses it out of necessity.
In short, you need to migrate to a simple and robust online banking app. Concentrate on the most popular customer interactions:
“Banks and credit unions that digitize can achieve a 20% increase in revenues and a 30% decline in expenses,” noted The Financial Brand. How much more pronounced will this effect be in an economy of quarantines and furloughs?
Lead Generation: A Digital Mindset
Even before COVID, lead generation was tricky.
65% of businesses identified lead generation as their top marketing challenge. It outpaced other significant problems like not having enough money in the marketing budget and team training.
But with a global pandemic, lead generation got a heck of a lot trickier. For the time being, there’s no more showing up in-person and making the sales pitch. We don’t have to remind you how important lead generation is to keep a company growing—or even afloat. But before you think that you can back to your old pre-digital habits, consider how rapidly these lead generation channels are changing:
The solution? Moving to email-based digital lead generation.
According to HubSpot, “79% of B2B marketers credit email as the most effective distribution channel for demand gen efforts.” The ability to personalize messages (the next best thing to in-person networking) is the “#1 tactic” email marketers use, says HubSpot.
In particular, industries that will be hit hardest by COVID-19—real estate, construction, human resources, and arts & entertainment—note the most success with email marketing efforts.
There’s no time to wait. Building an email networking framework for lead generation is a powerful way to improve marketing ROI at a time when every marketing dollar counts.
Communications: Keeping the Lights On
What if your business is already digital in most of its customer-facing marketing efforts?
You still have to have options for meeting existing clients and responding to customers.
Client engagement and retention will need to move. No more office visits for a while. Instead, expect Zoom meetings to become the norm.
And don’t assume that the need for meetings will automatically plummet. Businesses all over the world will be in “crisis-mode.” You may be expected to help large customers navigate this world by working with them as they develop cash flow issues of their own.
In other cases, you may need to consult with clients to help them sort their priorities.
There are some additional tips available at MIT that you can use to run effective mobile meetings: 1) designate a meeting facilitator to herd the cats, 2) prioritize audio over video to prevent issues in communication, 3) utilize a speaker queue for larger meetings, and 4) don’t stress about which meeting technology to use, as most of them are perfectly acceptable.
How to Succeed in a Digitally-Accelerated World
These changes aren’t something that you can defer. The problem is here. The culture has already changed, and if your brand isn’t digital-capable, you’re already lagging. But it is possible to succeed in the accelerated environment we find ourselves in. Here’s how.
COVID-19 is a wake-up call for many brands: if you aren’t prepared to work in a digital environment, you’ll have to play catch-up in a hurry. But this experience doesn’t have to be as abrupt as it needs to be. Work with INK to transform yourself when there’s no more time to wait on the sidelines. The future of your business—beyond COVID-19—depends on how well you adapt.