The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world in countless ways, leaving no industry or sector untouched. For marketers and business owners, it has created a need to rapidly respond to the new demands and expectations of audiences.
Anyone involved in local SEO strategies and other marketing efforts must stay on top of such developments in order to meet those expectations.
So in a world where so much has changed, what is it that customers now expect from local businesses?
Customers expect brands to be more helpful
During a time of global crisis, consumers expect brands to do what they can to help.
A YPulse survey early in the pandemic found that amongst younger consumers in the Gen Z and Millennial generations, 89% said they expected brands to help with the coronavirus.
Additionally, 84% agreed with the statement “brands have just as much responsibility as everyone else in helping to stop the spread of the coronavirus.”
For brands, this means stepping away from approaches designed purely to make sales, and offering on-brand help instead.
This includes everything from sharing industry advice and knowledge, to offering discounted or free services, to donating funds.
A 2020 report from Strive Philanthropy found that top Australian corporates gave a combined $152 million between February and August, which was largely comprised of cash and free products or services.
Customers expect brands to offer improved online experiences
In 2019, consumers were already shopping online more than ever, but data from the IBM Retail Index suggests that the pandemic accelerated the move from in-person shopping to online shopping by as much as five years.
This doesn’t mean websites have to be cutting edge or complicated – they simply need to work well.
This means they must be:
- Easy to navigate
- Informative (think useful content and product descriptions)
- Fast, so the consumer doesn’t lose patience and click away
- Designed for smooth and easy purchasing online
- Mobile friendly
Ticking these boxes will also help with your Google local ranking, so you’ll improve your own marketing efforts as you ensure your customers get the experience they want.
Customers expect products and services to be fairly priced
The past 18 months have created financial challenges for many households. This has led to many consumers seeking more affordable products and services.
Whether that’s been due to job loss and lower household incomes, or simply a more cautious approach to finances, the result is the same: affordable prices are more important now than they were before the pandemic.
As much as 60 per cent of Australians said they would switch to the lowest-price option amongst their preferred brands to save money, according to a global survey by NielsenIQ. The same survey found that a third of Australian shoppers are ‘newly constrained’ due to the pandemic.
This means brands may need to seek ways to offer more affordable prices to budget-conscious consumers.
Customers expect to be able to trust brands with private information
As online shopping is on the rise, consumers expect that brands will do more to protect sensitive data and information, such as personal and credit card details.
Research from KPMG looked into consumer behaviour during and before the pandemic, and found that consumers were increasingly concerned about cybertheft. As much as 87 per cent of Australians were worried about cybertheft after the arrival of Covid-19, and 83 per cent expected a company to protect their data and make transactions as easy as possible.
That means for businesses that collect customer data – even if that’s nothing more than names and email addresses – it’s important to not just take steps to ensure customer privacy, but also to make those steps clear to audiences.
Meet expectations with expert digital marketing and SEO
You don’t need huge budgets or massive marketing teams to meet customer expectations. Even small businesses can tick these boxes without overhauling their websites or investing heavily into campaigns.
Smart search engine optimisation (SEO) and marketing can make your brand more helpful, entice customers to explore your website, highlight your great value, and improve trust in your business.
Contact us today to learn more