It’s been a challenging and uncertain time for all. The world has been turned on its head due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and adapting to “the new normal” has been the name of the game.
Over the past three months, Amber Lab has had the opportunity to help our clients realign their digital communications to suit current circumstances, as well as work on Covid-relief projects that we are proud to be associated with. A BIG thank you to all our clients for trusting our insights and believing in our creativity. I am fortunate to be backed by a talented team who have seamlessly adapted to working from home while retaining their commitment to excellence.
“Do you think the lockdown restrictions will be eased soon? How do we plan for July? Will we see more conversions? Do we increase or decrease our digital ad spend budgets?”
These are some of the obvious questions that clients have been asking us lately and rightly so. On one hand, demand and logistics for certain products and services have come to an absolute standstill, leading to minimal revenue and therefore a natural tightening of marketing budgets. On the other hand, people are spending more time online and have been more receptive to digital content. Digital advertising costs too, have been comparatively lower over the past few months. From what we have seen so far, adaptability of a product or service offering has been a key to success during ongoing times. Strategically, brands that have been in a position to prioritize lead generation over sales have relatively thrived during this time.
So what is lead generation? Simply put, it is the entire process of attracting, engaging and converting those who may be interested in your product or service into paying customers. For brands, especially during unsure times like these, it’s all about how you communicate with your audience at each phase of this process. One thing to bear in mind though is that during an economic downturn like we are experiencing, lead acquisition to conversion times (also known as the lead generation funnel) may increase significantly. This refers to the time it takes from the moment a potential customer learns about your brand to the point they transact with you. With no foreseeable timelines for lockdown restrictions to be lifted, there is an opportunity for brands to build credibility and strong connections with their potential customers.
“Lead generation with both, The Acres Club and Iconic Galaxy has seen a spike in responsiveness. More people are on their phones and tablets so the opportunity to educate people about our product is all the more. Our sales teams have reported that more people answered their phones and that our targeting has been more effective in the past 3 months” - Anuja Parikh, Client - Apurva Natvar Parikh Group
The Acres Club is a lifestyle club in Chembur, Mumbai and Iconic Galaxy is a real estate venture in Sri Lanka. Both have faced distinct challenges considering social distancing and lockdown restriction norms. However, they have found ways to acclimatize to continue generating leads and serve value to their potential customers and members during this time. For those of you reading and still uncertain and asking the question ‘When a recession comes, do you stop advertising?’ - according to Forbes, the answer is a solid NO!
As pointed out, people are spending a lot more of their time online, giving brands a potentially far more captive audience. With the exponential growth in popularity of online classes, webinars and Instagram Live sessions, it is evident that people are looking to be productive and are highly receptive to learning opportunities. As digital marketers and lead generators, we need to be brave enough to experiment and accept that what made a successful case study yesterday, is by no means a template for success today or for the foreseeable future. Those familiar with lead generation strategies, remember that tweaking your qualification funnel to accommodate more working leads and then nurturing them effectively will be vital. It's important to build credibility, earn the trust of potential customers and to show that you care!
Be empathetic - what goes around, comes around. Now more than ever, this holds true for brands. During complex times like these, providing customers with simplicity in communication and a sense of assurance will put you ahead of the game. Being digitally empathetic means shifting the focus from purely a sales-driven approach. It means understanding the challenges your customers face, being solution-oriented and providing resources with no expectations in return. Do this, and you are sure to keep those prospects knocking at your door.
Many of us are facing anxiety or stress, in one form or another during the lockdown. People are longing for human connection and brands that can inspire people to feel more confident are getting the bandwidth they deserve. Learning from this, it is important to acknowledge each of the five prospect categories in your lead generation funnel - i.e. new leads (Awareness), working leads (Interest), nurturing leads (Decision), cold or unqualified leads and qualified leads (Action). Prospects at each stage, all have common questions:
How is your brand solving their problem?
How are you adding value to their life?
How do they get your product or service?
You need to be able to provide assurances accordingly. A strong message that encapsulates that you understand your customers' current mindset should be the basis of your communications strategy. The Acres Club, as highlighted above, is an excellent example to illustrate this. Despite being a business that depends on the physical presence of its members, The Acres Club has successfully owned the lifestyle space for its members by adapting its service offerings to a range of online activities. During the lockdown, members have had access to a wide range of online activities including dance, yoga, gymnastics, calligraphy classes on Thursdays and Saturday Lego sessions for kids, followed by live music sessions at night. Members who participate build very strong word of mouth and guest referrals for new leads. Along with this, guest teachers and instructors for online activities come with their own audience base, who are then introduced to the club (this is where an influencer with relevant followers can be handy in providing your brand with positive exposure).
For other brands that are looking to appeal to a broader audience base - acknowledge that people are seeking inspiration and positive vibes. Focus on building narratives that illustrate success stories and happy customers, provide answers to frequently asked questions and give your audience a sense of assurance with strong testimonials and reviews. Allow prospects to visualize themselves in happier times, and if your brand provides a means to that end - nothing like it!
Some of the successful digital trends that are effective in generating new leads include:
Lead Generation Advertising on Social Platforms.
Video Content: Online classes and tutorials
Educational content and resources
Light-hearted content that provides positive recall
Quora - spending time answering relevant questions
Linkedin - Highly recommended to build awareness & credibility with relevant audiences, especially for those looking to generate B2B leads.
Tip: Consider investing in quality content and value add hooks to drive long-term leads.
One of the most important pieces of the lead generation puzzle during this time is following up with leads in your pipeline. If you’ve committed to generating leads, it’s vital to give due importance to the quality of your follow-ups. Use customer data to your advantage, allowing it to facilitate a better initial conversation between the brand and the potential customer. Be it a high-level employee, founder of the company or a sales representative - the individual who represents the first point of contact with the customer, especially during the ongoing pandemic, must be empathetic and show they care for the customers' concerns. Stay real, especially on phone calls and smile - your body language can be sensed, and there is enough tension in the world already. A friendly and happy voice is approachable and instantly more likely to engage with a prospect. Moreover, if in times before social distancing, your follow up norm was an in-person meeting, definitely consider adapting to a video call during this time, giving your customers a friendly face to associate with. Nurturing customer relationships, especially with more personalized calls, emails and advertising communications will lead to long term positive recall and higher purchase intent.
Lead generation is an ongoing process that will need constant analysis and improvement. During the ongoing Coronavirus crisis, each day has been a learning experience, and together with our clients, we continue to learn what works best to drive quality leads at a scalable level.
Key Takeaway: Be digitally empathetic, all else will fall in place.