Are you making the most of your website in a socially distanced world?

November is here and once again, so is a national lockdown. Home is where we’re at for the vast majority of our days. As with the first lockdown, the restriction in our physical freedom has shone a fresh light on the importance of digital technology and its ability to help our businesses.

Reaching out to existing customers

The first job all businesses needed to do when we first went into lockdown was to set up a way of reaching out to existing customers. Video calls became and still are the backbone of our day, but our websites became the focal point of quick information sources – both internally for employees and externally for customers. Here at Olamalu, we had a surge in demand to build intranets for customers and to add new functionality to their websites to help them to better serve their own customers from afar.

 

Attracting new customers

Customer acquisition is hard at the best of times, but when your business relies on face to face interactions to ‘sell’ products or services, lockdown can feel like a very challenging place. We like to keep our eye on how businesses of all shapes and sizes are responding to life in lockdown and have noticed that leading car brand Renault quickly recognised in the first lockdown that the closure of car dealerships presented a big challenge in their sales function. The ability for customers to visit a dealership to browse and ask questions about a particular car they were interested in is a vital step in the customer journey, so they pivoted from ‘bricks’ to ‘clicks by setting up a virtual car showroom. To access the service, a potential customer books an appointment through the Renault website and then enjoys a live video chat with a staff member who is housed in a bespoke facility with the core range of Renault car models at their disposal. Customers can ask to look at particular features of a car – for instance how big the boot is, ask as many questions as they need and compare and contrast different models, all real-time and all from the comfort of their sofa! If the customer decides to buy, they can do so from the Renault website and have the car delivered directly to their home.

 

In our own world, two of our clients were also quick to adapt a key part of their acquisition strategy and use their website to replace face to face. The University of Oxford’s Trinity and Pembroke Colleges each came to us earlier this year with an exciting brief to deliver their Open Days to prospective students virtually. The key objective was to enable the student to get as real a feel of the colleges as possible, without actually being there. Our response was to develop and build a technical solution which led the user on a journey around the colleges, showing them what it's like to both study and live there. This wasn’t a straight video presentation, but an immersive and interactive experience using a combination of video and animation to bring to life rich and interesting content which answered the key questions for prospective students. Take a look:

http://www.trinity.ox.ac.uk/virtual-open-day/

https://www.pmb.ox.ac.uk/virtual-open-day-2020/

 

Meeting people you may not otherwise have met

One of the positives for businesses (we always try look for the positives!) during lockdown has been the ability, through digital technology to reach out to customers who may have not been a viable geographic target to them during non COVID times. One of our clients, Brand Brain Consulting, a marketing consultancy based in Oxfordshire recently attracted a new customer from another part of country that they wouldn’t normally be able to travel to. The customer, whilst stuck at home noticed and responded to an article Brand Brain had written on their website and wanted something similar developed for their own business. Brand Brain is now working regularly with this new customer, and enjoying serving them from afar – something which would have never happened in the past.

 

An opportunity for some humanity

For many organisations, their websites have provided a source of kindness, help, advice and entertainment to others during the difficult months of COVID restrictions.

Our client, Oxford Preservation Trust - a heritage charity, has done an incredible job digitalising their normal face to face interactions. 2020 has seen fun zoom coffee mornings, interesting virtual lectures and the annual showcase of Oxford Open Doors delivered largely through their website. This has provided such comfort and support to their members during this difficult and isolating year, as well as reaching out and inspiring new customers with the work that the Trust does in restoration and preservation in Oxford.

 

Similarly, the arts sector has used their websites to deliver some colour to us all during lockdown. The Louvre Gallery in Paris has a wide range of virtual tours and talks available on their website – including a close up with the Mona Lisa. The National Theatre have been serving us an incredible menu of weekly performances from their archives and even pop star James Bay has delivered free guitar lessons through YouTube.

Kindness and advice have been delivered freely from a number of well-known brands and celebrities. PE with Joe got the nation up and moving every morning during the first lockdown and Ferne Cotton turned her hugely popular Happy Place podcast into a week-long Happy Place Festival in the summer, delivering a range of interactive wellness talks, workshops and classes through her website. Simon Sinek set up a hugely popular online book club which includes avid readers from all corners of the globe and countless brands have offered free advice, learning opportunities and information through webinars.

 

Over to you

How are you using technology to reach out to existing and potential customers in these socially restricted times? Are you using your website to its full ability?

Do you want to turn a service you usually do face to face into a virtual experience? Or perhaps you want to showcase your expertise or experience? Maybe you want to connect to an audience segment with some advice or kindness, or to inspire and excite them or to help them get the most out of something or look at things in a different way?

Are there new customer targets and segments that you could reach that may not have been available to you prior to lockdown?

 

Once you’ve established your objective and developed your messages, the next step is to work out how best to deliver the content through your website. Perhaps it’s a regular blog or article? Maybe you want to be physically part of the content so a podcast, video or webinar could be the answer? Perhaps it’s some new or refreshed copy uploaded in the main body of your website and brought to life through brilliant animation? Or maybe it’s something else altogether…

If you’d like to chat to us about getting the most out of your website to reach new audiences, get in touch info@olamalu.com

November 2020