Digital customer touchpoints: More than a crisis survival mechanism

Digital customer touchpoints: More than a crisis survival mechanism

Reaching and serving your customers online and on their mobiles, where it’s safe and convenient, is a long-term success strategy.   

The COVID-19 crisis has transformed the way that customers buy products and access services  across business sectors. Digital touchpoints such as mobile apps and e-commerce platforms have made it possible for customers to buy the things they need, order dinner, send gifts, manage their finances and much more from the convenience and safety of home.

The OECD reports that in the UK, e-commerce’s share in retail rose sharply during the pandemic. This was already growing steadily, from 17.3% to 20.3% between Q1 2018 and Q1 2020; and then shot up to 31.3% between the Q1 and Q2 of 2020.

Another notable trend in this space has been the increased adoption of digital and low-touch activities by people who had never used these channels before the pandemic. For instance, a study by McKinsey found that first-time users were responsible for more than 50% of the increase in online grocery shopping and curb-side collection from restaurants, among other activities.

By stepping up their reliance on – and confidence in – digital channels in this way, customers have allowed companies to stay in business in spite of shelter-at-home measures and contact restrictions. It is vital, however, not to view the shift to digital as a short-term survival mechanism or stop-gap measure to get your business through the crisis.

In 2021 and beyond, customers are likely to maintain the momentum to digital, as they look for safer and more convenient channels for engaging with businesses and accessing goods and services. Going forward, customers expect to be offered more digital touchpoints from the brands they know and trust, as well as the new brands they’re reaching out to. 

What does this mean for your business?

In a nutshell: the shift to digital you perhaps imagined for the future, now needs to become a reality.

If you want to remain relevant and stay in business, let alone build a competitive advantage, you need to offer your customers the choice of virtual shopping and service channels, such as a branded mobile app, an online store and more.

These are safe options during times when people want to avoid travelling to restaurants, grocery stores and other crowded establishments. They are also attractive options for customers who value convenience.  

When you think about it, taking advantage of the strong demand for digital channels now will allow you to expand your customer base and boost sales. And if you make your virtual customer experiences exceptional, you’ll be in an excellent position to earn customers’ loyalty and advocacy – so that digital becomes a successful long-term growth strategy for your business.

Building digital touchpoints is easier than you may think

The good news is that, thanks to the proliferation of readily accessible technologies and digital skills available today, developing digital channels such as apps and websites is easier and more affordable than you may think.

If you’re looking to meet your market’s expectations and remain relevant with a branded mobile app or online shop, the team at Webtex Limited offers custom solutions that are built around your needs, timeline, budget and, most importantly, your customers’ expectations. 

The pandemic has created an upswing in digital adoption among customers and highlighted the value of offering customers safer, contactless services as a long-term retention and growth strategy. If you’re ready to take advantage of the opportunity – and critical need – to offer your customers user-friendly digital touchpoints today, get in touch to discuss your requirements.

Don’t just see this as a matter of survival, but rather an opportunity to delight customers, build a competitive advantage and future-proof your business. 

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How The Hospitality Industry Can Survive and Thrive In The Pandemic

How The Hospitality Industry Can Survive and Thrive In The Pandemic

In the wake of COVID-19, few industries were hit harder than the hospitality industry. Due to restrictions and stay-at-home orders, the audience for spaces like bars or restaurants has declined significantly. In some areas, there has been a more than 50% decrease in footfall traffic to these spaces. With this sudden change, business owners in the industry are struggling to be able to reach their audience in a safe way. Since the pandemic has shown no intention of leaving any time soon, it is up to businesses to adapt and reclaim customers. In this article, we will discuss how the hospitality industry can survive and thrive despite this change.

Finding Innovation at Every Turn

Adaptation is at the base of every major survival plan. In business, innovation is how we adapt. In order for businesses to thrive while faced with restrictions, innovation must be a key focus. When the pandemic first broke out, spending at restaurants and pubs decreased by 96% in some areas. It is important to note that spending in this way did not decrease completely. People were still spending, but those sales went to businesses that were able to adapt to meet customer needs immediately.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a new era for the world. No one was truly prepared for this, and few business owners had plans in place for this kind of outcome. However, business owners quickly started making changes. A company that is innovative about policies and serving customers right now will be the one that gets the sales. The world is changing and the hospitality industry must change with it.

Engaging Customers Directly

Customer engagement is a core focus of the hospitality industry—and the industry has done this well. Unfortunately, the changes brought on by COVID-19 have also influenced how easy it is to engage customers. Before, physical engagement was an opportunity. Now, you need a new way to interact with your audience. The key to this is personalized engagement, and the best way to do this is through mobile apps and social media.

Personalized engagement is a growing concept that every business must lean on. It involves being able to speak to the needs of your customer on an individual level, but it doesn’t have to be one-on-one. In a recent study, it was determined that 66% of customers believe that companies should be able to understand their needs.

Personalized engagement can be a really effective way to reach your customers. Posting ads at the right time or leaning on push notifications can really help you to provide the right engagement. Drizly, a popular delivery app for adult beverages, routinely sends out a push notification every Friday evening. Why? They know that their audience is looking to unwind and that Drizly can be the solution.

Embracing Contactless Interactions

Given the risks associated with the ongoing pandemic, there is a need to reduce face-to-face interactions. Offering your customers the opportunity to leverage this can do a lot for increasing comfort levels. More importantly, it will make your business more easily able to stay within regulations.

Contactless deliveries are the gold standard for delivery services right now. These deliveries allow customers to interact with your business and have items delivered in a much safer way. Fortunately, they aren’t only effective for deliveries. Restaurants and hotels around the world have offered users the opportunity to order from their table rather than interact with a server. Giving your customers the ability to set their comfort level can make them much happier with your service.

Making It Easy For Customers To Say “Yes”

Right now, your customers are in an unusual place. Mental health has taken a large hit on a global level because of COVID-19. People are dealing with a lot, which means you need to make choosing your business as easy as possible. No one wants to struggle to choose a coffee shop to order from when they are already facing difficult decisions in their lives.

It is not a secret that customers are always seeking out convenience. Offering conveniences is what the hospitality industry has always relied on. Now, it is even more crucial. A customer will be more likely to order from a restaurant through an app than if they have to call. They will be more likely to choose a restaurant that offers delivery in addition to pick-up orders. Find the needs of your customers and make it as easy to work with you as possible. A well-timed discount code can really go a long way

Reducing Third-Party Costs

In an attempt to meet their audience, many restaurants and coffee shops have leaned on third-party providers for sales. While this does offer access to a great audience, it also comes at a cost. When you partner with third-party companies like DoorDash and GrubHub, you lose money to them. Third-party services charge commissions, which can really hurt when you have already lost sales.

The best way to reduce third-party costs is to use your own platform. Using a custom app to process orders from customers can offer significant savings over time. Even better, it enables you to completely control how you interact with your customers. It makes it possible for you to offer rewards, send out discounts, and receive payment directly. A recent study even revealed that 54% of food delivery platform users open the app with a specific restaurant in mind. Offering your own app allows you to adapt to their needs in real-time without the frustration of third-party ordering.

Final Thoughts

In order for the hospitality industry to thrive during the global pandemic, businesses need modern solutions. Technology is a proven tool that empowers businesses to safely interact with customers during uncertain times. If you would like to be able to reach your customers and offer easy sales through a branded mobile app, the team at Webtex Limited offers completely custom solutions.

Cut Out Third-Party Apps

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How to Prep for a More Productive 2021

How to Prep for a More Productive 2021

2020 came and threw us curve ball after curve ball, but we all adapted to a life online, a life where our commutes went from hours to minutes. Back in March 2020, the novelty of working from home full-time wore off quite quickly towards the end of 2020 and most craved that human interaction and to get back to the office.

However, as we head into 2021, it looks as though working from home might be here to stay for now. So how can we maintain positivity as well as continued productivity?

Here are a few tools that we have been using over the course of 2020 and how they have helped us become a closer team even though we are spread out across the UK & abroad

1. Slack

We tried many platforms from Google hangouts, to Facebook Workplace, even WhatsApp, none seemed to provide that collaboration that being in person provides. Slack has provided our team with the opportunity to collaborate on projects as well as provide input into tasks in a seamless way.

We have dedicated channels for projects, campaigns, divisions and we are working more collaboratively than ever before!

Even though we are apart, we are working together and becoming more of a team in the digital space.

2. Trello

Trello is one tool that I have been using for over 5 years, it is one tool that I can put all my personal tasks in and shuffle them around the board to provide a personal project management overview.

As a team we are using it to provide an overview of what projects are being worked on – at what stage it is at and if it is going to meet its deadline. This also integrates with Slack so we can get notifications when someone has tagged us in a task or when a task is due.

3. JIRA

Similar to Trello, JIRA is another project management tool that allows us to create tickets for our developers and designers so we can ensure that work for development gets funneled into their workflow and deadlines are met.

Again, this integrates seamlessly into Slack so we are all aware of tickets created and job codes so we can work together to meet deadlines

4. Zoom

2020 saw the rise of online meeting tool Zoom in both a personal and professional capacity. We use Zoom for our weekly catch ups, as it allows us to be together and talk things out rather than just relying on email.

This way we know what each of us is working on and if anyone needs help with some tasks that are bogging them down.

5. Microsoft 365

We recently moved from G-Suite to Microsoft 365 and it has provided endless collaboration in terms of document management & feedback, (it also integrates with Slack!!).

Using OneDrive and uploading documents direct from desktop to OneDrive to allow for real-time collaboration with teammates has been a lifesaver instead of emailing documents and then trying to find the right version. (We were also not affected by the recent Google Downtime)

Microsoft 365 prides itself as a collaboration tool for the online world, providing both an online and offline solution which makes it a versatile tool for working from home in 2021.

6. Clockify

If you work serving clients and need to monitor hours, Clockify is a great tool to track hours for multiple clients and projects. There are also extensions for Chrome and iMac so you can track your hours straight from a browser or desktop which makes it easier to log times on a daily basis.

7. Canva

For quick and simple graphics, and GIFs we use Canva (our main graphics are created using Creative Cloud). The simple to use design tool helps us create quick graphics which can be shared directly from the platform via social or email for feedback.

These are just a few of our tools that we utilise to maintain a productive workday whilst we work at home. What are you go to tools? We would love to hear your thoughts on how you use them to be productive whilst working from home.

Wondering how to have a Productive 2021?

Get in touch with us today so we can help your business grow into a productivity machine in 2021
Digital Detox: Start 2021 Right

Digital Detox: Start 2021 Right

New Year. New Me. The standard phrase that circulates at the end of one year and into January. Resolutions get made. Resolutions get broken and then we spend the rest of the year wondering why.

This year, instead of focusing on creating a new me, I am focusing on taking a digital detox before the year is up and seeing how this will impact me going into 2021!

Now don’t get me wrong, 2020 became the year that we spent online, with national lockdowns and the global pandemic, we spent more time online! In fact, according to Ofcom we were spending an average of 4 hours a day online & using twice as many video calls to keep in touch. However, this ends up having an impact on one’s mental health.

That is why instead of drawing up resolutions to become fitter, leaner and more productive in 2021, why don’t we focus on ourselves and coming offline for a week can help put things in perspective.

We will cover a few reasons why a digital detox can have wonders on your mental health as you prepare for 2021 (or as some call it 2020 part II)

What are the benefits of a Digital Detox?

1. Sleep

Have you noticed recently that you feel perpetually exhausted, even though you are not going anywhere or doing anything strenuous?

Being online 24/7 can actually disrupt your sleep and using multiple devices before bed can ruin your chances of a decent nights’ sleep without you even realising.

95% of adults admit to using their digital devices right up until lights out – not only does the blue light from the devices keep your brain awake and kicking, but your brain is also subconsciously comparing and making lists in your head of what needs to be done. You might be harmlessly scrolling but your brain is working 10x harder in the background

2. Work-Life Balance

Our work-life balance definitely fell to the wayside in 2020, as we were working from home, 45% of adults admitted to working longer hours every week in order to stay on top of work. As we were working from home, there was this temptation to be constantly online and to check emails and address them as soon as possible even though it may be 9pm!

Taking a step back and unplugging can help us see things more clearly as we create more of a work-life balance rather than being slaves to our devices and emails!

3. Less FOMO

Do you find yourself comparing yourself to these picture-perfect lives on social media? You are not alone, this is a completely normal reaction, especially during the festive season? A digital detox after Christmas can help you put things into perspective and focus on what matters to us, rather than wishing your life was like that of those online.

By turning away from the digital devices for a week, we can live in the moment and appreciate what we have in front of us – be it friends, family, pets, or even neighbours.

Now we are not suggesting going cold turkey or booking a cottage in the most secluded & remote area to get a detox – as this can actually have adverse effects on what we are wanting to achieve. Instead, there are small changes that we can do to put things into perspective to have the 2021 that matters.

Here are our tips on having a “digital detox” to start your 2021 off with a bang.

1. Place notification blocks on emails after a certain time

Turning off notifications on emails between 6pm and 6am can help you focus on yourself & your family / loved ones. No dings or beeps to distract you between these times can help you unwind and focus on tasks or hobbies

2. Place your devices on charge in another room or across the room

If you use your device as an alarm, try charging it on the other side of the room to avoid rolling over and snoozing, but also to stop yourself from reading emails in bed as soon as you wake up. What this does is put your mind straight into fight or flight mode and your anxiety makes it difficult to make rational decisions and 9 out of 10 times you tend to crawl into bed and avoid getting up until the last minute. Not very productive

3. Have Do Not Disturb on your devices when you go to bed

There is nothing worse than just falling asleep and then you hear your phone vibrate or it lights up the room. Your brain then just wants to get up and check it.

On most mobile devices, you can set up a ‘sleep’ routine where your devices automatically go onto Do Not Disturb from a set time and notifications, noises, lights etc are silenced until your set wake up time – that way you can get the rest you deserve and not have to worry about pointless notifications.

4. Unfollow toxic social media accounts

These are accounts of completely fake online lives of those who are ‘living their best lives’ and in reality, their lives are not at all like the online ones.

Just these small changes can help set you up for a successful year ahead. If 2020 taught us anything it is that being online 24/7 can have a detrimental effect on our mental health, but this is something we don’t need to take into 2021. Small changes can help & can actually make you more productive at work, at home and with yourself.

How are you focusing on mental health and your digital consumption in 2021?

What Will Digital Marketing Look Like in 2021?

Future_Digital_Marketing

When will we return to business as usual?

As 2020 winds down in the next couple months there are still a lot of questions that we can’t answer.

How soon until there’s a vaccine to Covid-19?  

When will the pandemic end?

When will we return to business as usual?

For small business owners, that last question looms large. With COVID cases spiking across the country and the probability that we’ll be back to only essential businesses opening their doors to the public, it’s crucial to take a long view of the marketing landscape.

Because there are so many unanswered questions, the marketing trends for 2021 have a slightly different focus than might be the case in a typical  year. Here’s what’s on the horizon.

Focus on Customer Retention

I’ve talked a lot before about how much less it costs to retain customers than to win new customers. In 2021, it’s going to make a lot of sense to put your marketing budget into customer retention. Holding steady in a global crisis qualifies as a win.

Social media and email are the best tools you have available to drive customer retention. By encouraging existing customers to follow you on Facebook or subscribe to your list, you’re gaining the ability to stay in touch with them. You can offer special deals, keep them informed, and remind them of why they chose your product or service in the first place.

Product and Service Availability as a Priority

We’ve all experienced issues with product availability as well as with delayed deliveries due to the pandemic. The key to customer retention is ensuring that your customers have access to your products and services. And, if they don’t, letting them know why.

If you have the financial wherewithal, then it may make sense to increase your inventory and beef up your fulfilment to make sure that you can ship products out quickly. For companies providing services, you may need to think about alternative or extended hours, curbside pickup, and other adaptations to meet your customers existing needs. At the same time, you’ll need to communicate clearly about delays and shortages to minimize the risk that customers will abandon you for a competitor.

Marketing Automation 

Marketing automation has been a trend in digital marketing for years now and that’s not going to change. 51% of companies were already using marketing automation as of the end of 2019 with a slight edge to B2C companies. However, 58% of all B2B companies said they planned to add automation.

Automation can include everything from simple fixes such as email autoresponders to complex solutions such as chatbots and digital assistants. Chatbot technology is within reach thanks to free chatbot builder tools like Chatfuel and MobileMonkey. You don’t need to pay a programmer to build an effective bot.

Interactive Content

There’s no doubt that there’s still room for static content, meaning content that your followers read, watch, or listen to on their own. That said, one of the biggest content trends for 2021 is the rise of interactive content as a way of engaging customers and providing value at the same time.

Interactive content can take many formats, including:

  • Calculators
  • Quizzes
  • Questionnaires
  • Games
  • Polls
  • Interactive Videos

The reason for the rise is two-fold. First, interactive content is fun for your followers and can make them feel more engaged with your company and brand. Second, the data you collect – whether it’s in the form of quiz responses or information entered in a calculator – will help you learn about your audience. You can use the information you collect to fine-tune your marketing and increase new customer acquisition and customer retention.

List Segmentation 

Another key element of customer retention is list segmentation. With marketing budgets shrinking, it is far more cost effective to segment your list than it is to send the same emails to everyone expecting to get a high conversion rate.

Segmentation can be done using any factors you choose, including:

  • Previous purchases
  • Product preferences
  • Location
  • Industry

You have the option of segmenting your list based on the data you’ve collected from your subscribers or asking them to self-segment by sending out a survey or email where they can opt into and out of your content. Either way, the result is better targeting and a higher return on your investment.

Automated Bidding for Google Ads

In-house automation isn’t the only way to streamline your marketing in 2021. While automated bidding for Google Ads isn’t new – it was first introduced four years ago – it has been greatly improved in the past year.

The benefits of automated bidding are clear. By taking advantage of automation and letting it handle bidding adjustments, you can dedicate your valuable time to improving your PPC ads and increasing your marketing ROI.

Optimizing for Voice Search

Voice search optimization isn’t an option anymore – it’s a must. 40% of all internet users in the United States have used voice search and those numbers are only going up. If you’re ignoring voice search in your optimization efforts, you’re making a mistake.

You can optimize for voice search by making the content on your website conversational and accessible. Keep in mind that conversational still needs to apply to your audience. If you own a B2B tech company, your audience’s conversation may include jargon.

Instead of focusing on short keywords, try building your content around common questions and responses. Using questions in your blog headings and other content – and having a robust FAQ on your website – will make it easy for potential customers to find you using voice search.

Non-Linear Buying Journeys

The rise of digital has undoubtedly shaken up traditional marketing. When you consider the many ways that a potential customer can learn about a company or product, it’s hardly surprising that you can’t count on a linear buying journey to be the result.

How to respond? The trend is toward an omni-channel marketing strategy that includes:

  • Website content
  • Social media
  • Advertising
  • Mobile apps
  • Chatbots

Your goal should be to provide any customer or potential customer with a seamless experience across channels. Customers should get the same tone and information on Facebook that they do from a chatbot on your website, your mobile app, or your landing page.

Overall, agility is going to be the name of the game in digital marketing in 2021. We can’t know yet what the new year will hold, but businesses that remain flexible and adaptable have the best chance of continued growth and success.

 

 

What are your plans for 2021?

Why not contact us for a free digital review?