Attracting customers in a socially distanced world
Understanding and capitalising on recent changes.
Account Director at RocketMill
Sarah has a decade of experience in managing and directing marketing strategies across a range of industries including retail, manufacturing and publishing.
RocketMiIll are one of the UK's largest and fastest growing independent digital marketing agencies. They have successfully united old world craft with digital heritage to provide b rands with a full funnel service, using a strategy they call Total Performance. Their services fall into four key areas; analytics, strategy, media and creative.
After months of lockdown, most cafes have re-opened their doors, welcoming back customers with open arms (and few new rules).
As social restrictions ease, people certainly still want their caffeine kick and the social interactions of a cafe experience. Many consumers also want to support their local businesses.
What has changed however, is how customers are behaving, specifically around digital media. We are seeing far greater adoption of e-commerce, social media and digital marketing - and new expectations as a result.
In this article, we aim to help you understand this and capitalise on it.
What happened while cafes were on lockdown?
During lockdown, digital experiences became critically important for customers.
Ecommerce has been on the up dramatically since March as the public have had to rely on the internet as their primary source of interactions with businesses.
Within your sector we’ve witnessed new delivery trends emerging, viral content on social media sharing novel ways of enjoying coffee (like Dalgona) have created new demand, and plant-based products have thrived further - all highlighting a continued appetite for coffee and cafe innovations.
At Smokin’ Bean, when lockdown took away the chance to launch their new mobile service, they pivoted to use their coffee truck to travel to Surrey’s neighbourhood's. The experience of a barista coffee from the socially distanced comfort of their doorstep kept community spirits high, the long queues evidenced pent up demand for their product, and the venture provided some great content for digital channels
How digital experiences replaced the physical in lockdown and how to respond?
Digital has played a critical part for those customers who are looking to replicate a cafe experience at home. From learning how to master a flat white, to ordering fresh beans online, your customers appetite has not diminished, but their behaviour has changed.
Whether you're an independent cafe or a chain, there is an opportunity to expand the way you interact with your audience and sell your products through digital media.
Obvious angles for you to consider investing energy in order to capitalise on this would be adding ecommerce to your service and interacting in engaging ways via content on your social media channels.
Ecommerce can be a small or major investment. On the lightweight end of the scale you can partner with third party businesses such as Deliveroo and if you wish to own the process yourself then ecommerce platforms such as Shopify offer scalable solutions too.
Things you can do right now to help your local visibility and footfall
Marketing with a local message appropriate for your audience is key. If you are a local business then make sure your messaging and energy on local themes and tactics. Here’s a few specifics to get you started:
Google My Business
Google My Business is the part of Google that generates the map pins for businesses, often showing near the top of a search page.
Ensuring your Google My Business profile is live and up to date is critical to ensure you are visible to users using search to find local cafes and coffee shops.
With Google My Business, you get more than just a free business listing, it lets you easily connect with customers across Google Search and Maps, for example you can post photos and offers on your profile to give customers reasons to choose you above your competitors.
Google My Business also presents you with more ways to reach and engage your customers. We know when customers are cautious they will ask more questions and you can set-up your profile to include calls, messaging and reviews to cater to this.
At a basic level we recommend that you use the insights, reviews and questions from customers to communicate your safety measures to reassure people - and at a more complex level we recommend you use the insights and data tools to spot opportunities and understand how you can grow connections and engagements.
Relevant, local and engaging content
Brand visibility is fundamental to your business's success. At this time you need to be visible, giving people security and a sense of normality/hope.
Creating meaningful and engaging content and distributing this through your social channels will help you stay relevant and engaging to your local customer base.
Your customers are alway asking you questions and you are passionate about coffee, these are great cornerstones for generating ideas for content. Answer the best of your customers' questions to everyone, it’ll reassure them all, and share coffee innovations or the best of life in your business in order to create demand.
Build long lasting customer relationships
Building a loyal and long lasting community will help you weather the storm of environmental and economical challenges in the future.
Your customers' interactions with your business are increasingly digital due to Covid, whether this is on social media or even at the physical point of sale. This means you will collect more data on your audience than ever before.
We recommend that you use this data to build relationships with your audience, rather than rely on one off physical interactions. From interacting with your customers when they leave a review, when they like some of your social content, to supporting their content, to providing offers via social/email - you will need to communicate well digitally to keep fostering long term loyalty.
Note: you must comply with GDPR when processing, storing and using any of your customers data.
Look around you for support
You don't need to do this alone, tapping into local initiatives - e.g. Positive Putney, working with your local council and being inspired by and/or joining forces with other local businesses are all angles you should be exploring.