The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way online audiences consume content. Comscore, which uses data science and advanced insights to evaluate media consumption, recently reported that audiences are engaging in digital content at a clip that is 31 percent higher now than before the virus began in the US.
So, with over 56 billion total digital visits in the US on a weekly basis (based on Comscore’s look at 10 key categories), you would think that it would not be hard to find your audience – right? But, if you consider that more people are spending more time online and consuming more content in a digital format than ever before, it makes sense that your audience might be more distracted and overwhelmed with messaging than ever before.
That’s why, despite the deluge of “new normal” practices being developed to adjust to changes to audience behaviors, companies continue to cultivate their own audience lists. If you have a spreadsheet with hundreds or thousands of contacts who have opted-in to learn more about your product or service, and you are not using that list to drive engagement, you’re missing out.
Some companies have recently dialed back their advertising and messaging because their product or service has been interrupted due to COVID restrictions. As they begin to determine how and when to re-emerge from their quasi-hibernation, the best approach may be to connect with their closest friends, allies and consumers first. That’s where those spreadsheets of customers, sample requests, and newsletter signups come in handy. Those are groups that you can continue to engage with, even as business is shifting. It’s a group that can also be a test market for determining the right time to turn on the lights. And, it’s the consumers you want to spread your brand messages and insights when the timing is right.
While this may seem simple, some organizations are not used to cultivating a following. It requires a shift in how you think about your audience and your messaging. Instead of broadcasting messages and talking at your audience, cultivating a following requires two-way dialogue and treating your customers like they are part of the family. Plus, you own your database, and no one else can take that from you or suddenly start charging you more to reach them.
Here are some helpful tips for cultivating and managing that online following:
- Ask people to sign up. Offer an incentive, giveaway or something of value that will encourage them to give you an email address.
- Give those who sign up the inside scoop on your brand, products or services. Let that email list become the resource through which people get more information about a product or service, see a preview of coming attractions, offer coupons or share something they can’t otherwise get online.
- Offer opportunities for engagement – create surveys, polls or open-ended questions that solicit a response. Give those people something for responding. Most importantly, let them see how you are using their feedback to make them feel like what they offered was valuable and important.
- Turn them into brand ambassadors and influencers. Give them something to share. Make them feel like you value and respect their role as a consumer.
Who do you turn to in your time of need? Usually it’s family. So, it’s good to have that family of followers who you can turn to in the aftermath of the #summerofcorona to start the conversation about your brand, products and services. Hopefully, you’ve been building the relationship with that group for a long time and you’re already treating them like a family member. But, for some, we realize that spreadsheet has some digital dust on it and needs to be brushed off and repurposed. There’s no better time than now to begin engaging your allies in a meaningful way.
Once you have that database, read more about how to start leveraging it through Account-Based Marketing.