Post-lockdown digital strategy considerations for Hospitality and Retail Brands

With hope on the horizon for a return to ‘normalcy’, brands operating in industries hit particularly hard by the pandemic are naturally considering how they can adapt their digital strategy to cater to changing consumer behaviours, and help fast track their recovery.

As an agency specialising in digital strategy and support for luxury hospitality and retail brands, we have pulled together advice from our in-house specialists on what such brands may consider as part of their digital activity as restrictions begin to ease.

 

Arm your website with robust analytics and tracking that helps you understand your customers’ behaviour

If there has been one constant throughout the pandemic, it is that nobody can truly predict how quickly circumstances may change. One sure-fire way to make sure you can react well to the resulting behavioural shifts is to equip your website with events tracking that shed light on how customers are interacting with your digital platforms and content.

This can include the set up of events tracking that feeds data into Google Analytics, and the configuration of custom Data Studio reports that show a snapshot of key metrics such as conversion and bounce rates, page dwell times, drop off, etc. It is also important to have full visibility on the performance of your digital marketing channels (Organic search, paid media, social etc) in order to understand what type of content is doing the best job of engaging your audience and adapt your strategy accordingly.

 

Make sure your digital content creates trust with your customers and reassures them that you prioritise their wellbeing

People’s attitudes towards health and wellbeing have been irreversibly changed, and your approach to customer safety is going to be a key factor for customers when deciding whether to engage with your product or services.

Make sure that your digital communications work hard to reassure your customers that you have their best interests at heart, as they begin to be able to interact with your brand and products in a physical sense. This may include a dedicated section on your website outlining the steps you take to ensure your customers’ safety, with supporting messaging throughout your social media and email marketing. Regardless of approach, businesses must understand that attitudes have been permanently changed, and your ability to sensitively communicate how you are catering to this change will be vital for success.

 

Make sure your business and digital platforms are equipped to react quickly to changing circumstances

Agility has been key for brands in the hospitality and retail sector over the last 12 months, and will continue to be just as important moving forward. Demand for products and services is very volatile and dependent on unpredictable factors such as infection curves, government restrictions, etc.

This means that businesses need to be able to navigate both periods of drought and periods of increased traffic and conversion equally well. On one side that could mean the creative reshaping of product offerings, such as signature menu kits to deliver and prepare at home for restaurants, to the effective planning of product stocks to accommodate for increase in purchases. Each case will require adaptation to your tech stack as well as how you communicate with customers.

 

Be prepared for the increase in traffic, and use this as an opportunity to cross-sell

As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, we can expect to see an increase in search volumes and website traffic, particularly in the case of hospitality brands reopening their doors and inviting table bookings.

In the run up to this, we recommend first making sure that your website’s booking engine is working seamlessly and there are no UX issues that may give your users reason to click away before completing their bookings and check out your competitors. This may be facilitated by insights from historical data combined with some good old-fashioned cross-browser and cross-device QA testing.

This increased traffic is also going to be an opportunity to make your customers aware of your wider brand and product offering, for example any online alternatives you have introduced during the lockdown months and may be your current lifelines. Think about how your new online options can feed in with your in-person experience, and how the two may work in each other’s favour. For example, restaurants may look to offer discounts to their home delivery or meal kits for customers who have dined in person.

 

 

Prepare for things not to go fully ‘back to normal’

Even with lockdown restrictions beginning to lift, it’s important to recognise that attitudes and behaviours have been irreversibly changed, and the dramatic shift towards online shopping is here to stay.

With this in mind, it’s important to continue exploring ways in which you can enhance your digital shopping experience and make sure your brand stands out amongst competitors. This could include the optimisation of your existing support systems to be more intuitive and responsive in asking important questions that would normally be answered in-store, or the introduction of new technology that replicates the in-store experience, such as an AR fitting room.

Regardless of how circumstances change in the second half of this year, expectations have it is important to be conscious of this and have a clear plan in place for the continued optimisation of your digital experiences.

To discuss an upcoming digital project, please get in touch via our contact form.

The Time is Now for Purposeful Content & Brand Integrity

by James Doughty

With businesses of all sizes struggling to adapt to a rapid change of pace and shifting consumer needs, marketing teams are faced with the challenge of deciding where best to apply their efforts and budgets. 

Now more than ever, the saying ‘Content is King’ rings true. It’s vital that you keep up engagement with your customers and that your brand offers up digital content that is unique,  meaningful and above all useful for your audience. 

Brands will be judged by the way in which they communicate during this time of crisis, so a well thought-through and sensitive digital content strategy is absolutely vital for keeping your valued customers on-side.  

 

1. What do you really want to say?

Take a step back and think about the message your brand is putting out into the world and your digital footprint. Are you communicating your services effectively and with integrity? Is your content purposeful and does it inspire engagement? Is your tone of voice consistent and truly reflective of your values?

Now is the perfect time to review the content of your website and ensure that it is still meaningful for your users as their world view and buying behaviours continue to shift.

Above all, avoid content that is self-serving. Your users want to know that you stand by their side during these complicated times and any ‘hard sell’ is bound to go down like a lead balloon. 

 

Additionally, do not fall into the trap of thinking your content needs to be crammed full of keywords. It doesn’t. Keywords can help define the topic, however your content should be written with the reader in mind – not search engines. If the article is well written it will be shared, linked to, liked on social media and this is how content campaigns drive SEO value.

 

2. Build your online community

With people spending even more time scrolling through Instagram and Twitter, they are bombarded with negative messages that build stress and anxiety. 

As a respectful brand, you need to show your customers that you will stand by their side through thick and thin. Post useful, insightful content that gives them hope and reassurance. How can you apply your particular knowledge or expertise to help your audience navigate these uncertain times? 

Leveraging Social Media will no doubt be key to continued customer engagement, but avoid self-serving posts at all costs. Take this opportunity to build up an online community of loyal followers that believe in the integrity of your brand.

 

3. Keep ’em coming back

Invest some time in carrying out a full review of your website’s analytics and identify trends in user behaviour: 

  • How have people been interacting with your content?
  • Which areas of your site are the highest-performing? 
  • Where are people dropping off? 
  • What content drives the most engagement?
  • What content has attracted the most backlinks? 
  • What are your competitors doing well?

Maintaining a strong understanding of these areas are crucial to running successful content campaigns.

Think also about your keyword strategy and how to increase organic traffic to your website. Having your site appear on the top positions of the first page of Google when markets recover will be vital for keeping a step ahead of your competitors. By supporting your core landing pages with optimised blog content, and by building a strong backlink profile to the website, you’ll help your pages climb the rankings. 

Whilst traditional marketing budgets have been significantly cut over the last few weeks and months, now is the time to ensure your digital presence is leading the way and your website is easily found in organic search.

 

4. Develop your creative roster

Make the most of this time to build up your bank of creative content. Design impactful digital brochures, banners, or even carry out a full website redesign; anything that will help you to effectively communicate your brand values and prepare you for when things inevitably bounce back. 

Think about where you stand in relation to other businesses in your market. If your digital content is lacking impact and purpose, now is the time to invest some time and make sure you stand out from the crowd.

 

5. Plan for the future

This won’t last forever. Spend some time now to think ahead – what will be the need for your products or services in 3-6 months’ time? How do you want your brand to be positioned in the market when consumer behaviour regains some degree of normalcy?

If you’d like to talk to a specialist, get in touch below and we’ll schedule an hour long consultation with one of our Content, SEO or Social Experts, from which we can get an idea of your pain-points, current marketing activities and most importantly, your short and long term goals. From this we can put together an action plan identifying the low hanging fruit, as well as laying out a longer term strategy for continued success.