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Varun Maheshwari
Varun Maheshwari April 8, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has got users cooped up inside their homes for the next few days. As the virus continues to spread, facilities around the world are being quarantined, and one can observe the following-
  1. Cancellation/Postponement of social gathering and prominent events like Olympics, Coachella, IPLs, etc
  2. Travel and entertainment industries are feeling the heat
  3. There is a disruption in the supply chain and logistics
  4. Companies are taking drastic measures and asking their employees to WFH
  5. Insecurity, fear and limited availability is changing the buying behavior of users towards brands

These changes have led to decreased spending in marketing, advertising, and media industries. Businesses are looking to extend their runway and save as much money as possible. Pumping money into traditional marketing is not a sensible option for transactions currently.

But still, all businesses have their existing users to be cared for,and not all is lost with a budget cut and usage of the right channels and organic campaigns for acquiring new users.

“What industries need now is personalized promotions targeted towards the desired audience with right onboarding and engagement strategies.”

When the desired audience is targeted with the right strategies and campaigns, they will be intrigued and explore the product, but things don’t stop there. Most of the marketing is focussed around, bringing the audience at the doorstep of the product. Beyond that, products need a companion that can accompany the users, guide them to navigate through, and provide maximum value. –In essence, this is where user onboarding and engagement play a key role.

In stressful situations like COVID-19, we need to think about deeply:

  1. The audience on which money is being spent in the form of marketing, campaigns, etc.
  2. The right strategy to onboard and engage in creating maximum value for users and the company

The strategy that will work best in the present conditions wherein people are much concerned about safety, security, and necessities is to educate them about product offerings and the current situation.

Here are some of the strategies that will improve user onboarding and engagement in the current scenario:

1.Show users that you care about them

If there is any specific problem that your platform is trying to solve in the current scenario, then it must be conveyed powerfully to the users. It could be a new feature that has rolled out, keeping the present situation in mind or valuable information around the scenario.

Use Cases:

  1. Campaigns aimed at increasing awareness about features that support Social Distancing like “Digital payments,” “Contactless delivery,” “Custom orders from your desired shop.”
  2. Campaigns around best practices, like training of delivery boys, regular health checkups and sanitization
  3. Notify users in advance if there is any delay or stock-out like situation due to limited resources and strict measures taken by the government.
  4. Campaigns around a product or the service that is situation-specific. For example, if the product is a grocery delivery app or website, then based on the last purchase history, items like sanitizers, or hand-washers can be promoted. Users should be kept up to date with the latest information about things that can’t be delivered or the impact on the delivery in their location as per government mandates. These campaigns have to be geolocation specific.

2.Appeal to the users

Some users might not find desired products because of stock-out or limited delivery. Still, you must try to retain them by creating value with information around the present situation so that they do not immediately uninstall the app or stop exploring the platform.

Use Cases:

  1. Provide daily insights on the latest breakthroughs about the COVID-19. This could include nation-specific announcements made by the government, such as lockdowns announced in India, Wuhan, Italy, UK, and other countries/cities
  2. Remind users to follow guidelines (or requests) mandated by the government and the WHO.


3. Map the purpose of your platform with WFH

As the lockdown is implemented in various places, companies are taking precautionary measures by asking their employees to WFH. Use this opportunity to help users feel more connected and be more productive.

Use Cases:

  1. If your platform features a digital community, then it’s the right time to promote it as an alternative to a social gathering. If there is no community feature yet, then you may as well go ahead and build it and educate the users about it. There is no better time than today to invest in a digital community.
  2. If employees are one of the target audiences, then educate them about best guidelines around WFH, skill development opportunities, and courses available for free.

4. Motivate users and uplift their energy

Users aren’t coming out of their homes currently for a good reason, and as a business, you can join this reason by entertaining and uplifting them using your app or website.

Use Cases:

  1. Promote commitment towards the social cause of the brand.
  2. Provide some of the paid features of the platform for free until the pandemic settles. It would help in two ways-
    1. First, it will bring in more traffic towards the platform
    2. Second, Users will spend more time in exploring these paid features while they stay at home
  3. Promote content to uplift the mood of the users by sharing the decisive moments.
  4. Gamify their experience, by conducting an opinion poll on trending topics or by integrating a mini-game on your platform.


All of these, if communicated via the right channel and with proper messages, can build a secure connection between the product and the users, and by bringing in the situational element, it will ensure that users stick more.

The messages should to be personalized and geo location-specific, as different regions are following various measures to fight the crisis.

Believing that the pandemic will be over soon, businesses must engage and retain their users now more than ever and build long term relationships through a variety of engagement and onboarding strategies, which keeps them informed, entertained, and engaged.

Stay home, stay safe, and stay positive. This, too, shall pass.

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