The COVID-19 pandemic has captured consumer mind share. During a time like this, pushing for business-as-usual can damage your brand reputation—but you still need to start and strengthen customer relationships in the meantime. One way to do that is with low-effort, non-conversion-oriented content like blogs, social stories, community forums, and user-generated content. Here are 10 great examples of brands doing this well.
Pushing your customers to convert is a tough ask right now, with so many of us facing uncertain financial futures and most of the world still grieving the loss of the booming 2020 we all hoped for. The best response to a disruption of this caliber is to focus on connecting with your customers in authentic, generous, and engaging ways.
Enter: Content. As your customers sit at home, bored and blue while self-isolating, they’re going to be scrolling through their social feeds looking for content to distract, entertain, soothe, and engage them. If your brand can provide them with the content they’re looking for during this troubling time, then you can create a lasting and powerful impression that translates into customer loyalty and lifetime value later down the line.
These simple, relationship-oriented engagement tactics include:
- Free giveaways and contests
- Blogs—including how to’s, insider interviews, relevant tips, and product reviews
- Social stories and shareable or downloadable templates
- Small business callouts and brand collabs
- Employee-generated, influencer-generated, and user-generated content
- Music, books, movies, and other media recommendations
- Live-streamed events
Tactics like these are easy ways to genuinely connect with your customers and provide them with the human, one-to-one digital experiences they deserve while stuck at home.
Here are some examples of creative engagement tactics that are helping brands build their prospect lists, strengthen existing customer relationships, and market their brand during this period of great fear and uncertainty.
11 Examples of Low-Effort Digital Engagement Tactics to Help You Build Customer Relationships During COVID-19
1. NuFACE’s user-generated content provides consumers with at-home self-care tips and organic product reviews.
To engage customers on Facebook while they’re quarantined, beauty brand NuFACE is encouraging customers to share their at-home skincare routines and tips for using the NuFACE Trinity collection.
This is a great opportunity to encourage self-care for stressed-out customers, solicit product reviews and feedback, offer peer-to-peer advice for using the product more effectively, market the product via word-of-mouth, and keep consumers engaged with the brand on social (even if they’re not currently in the market for a new purchase).
2. Lunya’s “Nominate a Nurse” giveaway is providing support for nurses dealing with COVID-19 overflow and encouraging word-of-mouth marketing.
On Instagram, women’s sleepwear brand Lunya is encouraging followers to nominate a nurse to win a Lunya care package. The brand is running the campaign by providing a quick template on its Instagram story for users to screenshot and share with information about nominees and selecting the winners daily.
In doing so, Lunya is encouraging its followers to remain active in their social communities, creating virality and word-of-mouth marketing, and welcoming new potential customers with a free gift.
3. Spyder gave a live virtual tour of a ski influencer’s home.
Snowsports apparel brand Spyder recently hosted a live Instagram tour of skier Amie Engerbretson’s home. Although an active skiing video isn’t possible during the quarantine period, welcoming viewers into Amie’s home is a great way to engage prospects and customers online.
This strategy entertains consumers while they’re at home and capitalizes on Amie’s following as a professional skier to introduce new prospects to the Spyder brand.
4. Allbirds is posting Instagram shoutouts of their favorite local businesses in the cities where they’re located.
Allbirds is a premium natural shoes and socks brand. Although all of its retail locations are closed due to the pandemic, the brand is using their Instagram story to highlight other local businesses that are still open nearby.
This social good strategy heightens consumer loyalty and boosts awareness of Allbirds in the cities where their brick-and-mortar stores reside. If you scroll through their comments on Instagram, you’ll notice a number of people commenting that Allbirds will be the first brand they’ll support when this is all over and others commenting that they made their first purchase with Allbirds as a result of their small business support—this is proof that small acts of genuine and engaging content can go a long way toward profit and customer loyalty.
5. Amour Vert is sharing at-home playlists, workouts, and other media in their marketing emails.
The team at Amour Vert, a women’s apparel company, understands that most of their customers and prospects are stuck at home due to the pandemic. They’ve tailored the brand’s regular marketing emails to that fact, highlighting comfortable work-from-home clothes like joggers and yoga pants and linking to engaging media—such as a work-from-home playlist on Spotify, free workout videos on Instagram, and blogs about social good programs—in a “Good News” section at the bottom of the email.
This strategy works well for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they’re featuring clothes they already sell in a relevant and contextual way, but they’re offering more in the email than just the ability to shop; during a time like this, adding as much value for your customers as possible is critical. Secondly, linking out to engaging content produced by other brands, celebrities, and influencers takes very little effort but goes a long way in capturing and maintaining their contacts’ interest.
6. Vinomofo highlighted one of their playful employees’ daily WFH costume parties.
Although brands typically turn to user-generated and influencer-generated content to engage customers, highlighting your employees in your social feeds can be a great way to connect with customers too! Online wine business Vinomofo did that by highlighting some of the daily WFH costumes worn by one of its customer service representatives.
This is a fun way to relate to followers who are also working from home and need a pick-me-up, highlight the brand’s playful values, and give a face to one of the many customer service representatives who engage with customers on a day-to-day basis.
7. Juicy Couture is sourcing at-home customer looks with the hashtag #StayInStyle.
Luxury brand Juicy Couture is engaging its followers with user-generated content tailored to the quarantining period that so many are going through right now. With the hashtag #StayInStyle, the brand is encouraging Instagram users to share pictures of them wearing their favorite Juicy Couture at-home looks and tag the brand in their stories.
This is a great and low-effort way to not only keep followers engaged with a continuous stream of content but also to feature Juicy Couture products and market them as real styles worn by real people. Because people have to post the looks on their own Instagram stories in order for Juicy Couture to share them, it creates a natural virality and word-of-mouth marketing that helps build interest in the brand.
8. WILDFANG is entertaining Instagram followers with live weekly performances by the creatives in the WILDFANG community.
WILDFANG, a style and culture brand, has created a weekly live performance series on Instagram called “WHERE THE WILDFANGS ARE.” Similar to the live home tour hosted on Spyder’s Instagram page, this series is meant to entertain, not convert, customers and prospects during this troubling time.
The live performances help bring WILDFANG customers and prospects together, appeal to an influencer/celebrity audience, market WILDFANG looks and values, and support the creatives in the community who may be struggling to find work during the COVID-19 crisis.
9. Maui Jim is spreading positivity by featuring acts of kindness from around the world.
Maui Jim is a sunglasses brand founded in Hawaii. With a mission to spread aloha, the Hawaiian concept of love, acceptance, and unity, and to make its customers’ lives brighter, the brand is sharing inspiring quotes, videos, photos, and other content on its Twitter account.
A simple tweet like this is an awesome way of highlighting the brand’s values, offering some much-needed levity to stressed-out followers, and creating deeper, more meaningful connections with customers and prospects via social media.
10. Taylor Stitch’s #StandSmall campaign is engaging customers while supporting small businesses.
Taylor Stitch is a global, responsibly-built men’s apparel retailer. As a small business itself, it understands the impact that the pandemic is having on small businesses. To give back to independent businesses, the brand created its #StandSmall campaign which encourages customers, prospects, and partners to share their favorite small businesses with a sentence or two about what others could purchase from them and why.
Along with the #StandSmall campaign, Taylor Stitch is running a 25% discount sale on its entire site. Pairing the discount with the engagement campaign helps strengthen customer relationships with social good and community impact and gives prospects a powerful incentive to make their first purchase with Taylor Stitch.
11. Mammut’s Instagram template is helping followers focus on the future and creating word-of-mouth marketing for the brand.
Mammut is a Swiss mountaineering and trekking apparel and equipment brand. To engage its customers on Instagram, the brand created a three-question story template for users to screenshot, share, and tag others.
This is another smart strategy because it encourages existing followers to tag others in their stories, creating virality and word-of-mouth marketing. Additionally, it’s a fun and easy way to learn a little bit more about what the brand’s core customers are interested in.
Genuine customer engagement comes at a low cost but offers immense value to your business
We’ve been saying it since long before the COVID-19 pandemic: Genuine understanding, one-to-one human engagement, and exceptional customer experiences are key to building a thriving business with a loyal customer base.
Now, in the midst of a global crisis, those experiences are more important than ever—and you don’t need a huge amount of resources to get started. The first and most important step is knowing who your customers are.
For more examples, how-to guides, and other tips on operating your business during the COVID-19 pandemic, click here to view our curated list of articles, “Defending Coronavirus Disruptions: Resources for Retailers.”