Monday, October 26, 2020

BY SIMON CURTIS

Consumer behavior shifted virtually overnight during the pandemic, but among the big winners was technology—Zoom, Amazon, streaming services, and the like have all seen an uptick. Not surprisingly, people also increased their time on social media apps such as Facebook, but especially Instagram and Snapchat. According to a Harris poll conducted during the summer, people spent an extra seven minutes per day on average using social media apps than in 2019. They are there, and now it’s time to make sure that you capture their attention.

Simon Curtis As the founder of a global social media and digital marketing agency with expertise in ground transportation, my team and I have used social and digital techniques during the global pandemic to help clients diversify, proactively generate business, and maintain a brand presence.

Ensuring Your Messaging and Tone Are Correct for Your Target Audience
Your current and future customers may not necessarily be thinking about using your service now—or perhaps can’t due to local restrictions—but with the correct messaging, they will. Many are dreaming of the time when they can again travel, or they are pining for some “normalcy.” They also may not realize that you are open or accepting reservations, and that’s where social media can help. In times of a global pandemic and national unrest, messaging needs to be centred around two key factors: safety and quality of service. Now more than ever, your messaging about your duty of care will help to differentiate your service from other forms of transportation that can’t compete in those areas.

The Importance of Quality and Diverse Content
In a digital-centric world, content is king. Social media allows you to tell your story and communicate to your customer base as to why they should choose you now, or continue to use your services when they are ready.

Your content should stimulate emotion, whether that is excitement, comfort, trust, confidence—whatever you want the response to be. For example, the U.S. Travel Association, to promote travel throughout the States, recently debuted its Let’s Go There campaign featuring beautiful imagery of local destinations and a hashtag of #letsmakeplans to inspire travelers to get out there and travel when they feel it’s safe.

As another example, safety is obviously top of mind for the traveling public, so creating messaging that assures them that you are doing whatever is necessary to protect them is critical. Operators have been producing and sharing their own cleaning videos on social media channels or sending to customers as part of their newsletter, which has been effective. Organizations such as the National Limousine Association offer a version of that video that members can customize with their logo and post.

To push your service out to multiple new markets, you can share video, customer testimonials, high-quality imagery, and a whole plethora of creative content. Examples of content for some target markets include:

  • Slick creative video detailing the positive safety aspects of booking a corporate chauffeur over a standard rideshare journey or even using their own personal vehicle
  • Infographic detailing the reasons why someone should trust your vehicle/service to keep a vulnerable person safe when visiting doctors/hospitals
  • Details on new types of service you may offer (e.g., long-distance trips) or additional revenue streams you’ve recently developed such as facility cleaning or auto detailing
  • Animated video to showcase to current corporate clients that you are available to support their personal lives too
  • Testimonial videos from current clients detailing their positive experiences with your brand
Using Ads to Amplify Content and Drive ROI
Now that you’ve produced some great content, we need to ensure it is seen by the correct audience. Beyond just posting to your current followers, taking advantage of paid ads helps you to expand your content to new customers. The ad function on all social media allows you to target the correct demographic you’re looking for. Not only can this be targeted by age, affluence, and location, but you can also drill down your potential customers through their behaviours and interests—essentially, you can hone in directly on the audience who are most likely to resonate with your product or service.

Social media demographics and reach can be measured, so you can determine the effectiveness of each campaign. This allows for continuous campaign optimization, which ensures that you are utilizing your marketing dollars for maximum ROI during these campaigns. The best part is that these efforts don’t have to cost a lot of money to make an impact, which is vital during a time when you need to protect your cash flow.

Search Intent vs. Proactive Outreach
In the current market, there is still a place for Google searches/search intent (i.e., people searching for your service online). This remains a valid way to generate business and pay-per-click/SEO marketing should not be ignored. However, to truly generate new revenue streams, you must include social media marketing to educate new markets on your service diversification. In short, no one will know that your service is an option if you don’t tell them. Continue to reach out to the affluent millennial, the son or daughter of a parent who is vulnerable and may need regular medical transportations, or that newly engaged couple about your wedding service.

You have a great service and your personal touch makes a difference—make sure you show them how.

The Importance of Customer Journey
If you use social media effectively you will generate inquiries and web clicks, but you must ensure that when a potential customer goes onto your website they can easily book and find out more information about your services. Your website is your digital shop window, so if you’ve recently expanded your types of service—or you’ve really needed to get around to making those changes for a while now—make sure there is a clear call to action so that people can give you their business readily. The conversion from click to reservation should be as simple as possible.

Maintain Your Presence in Pre-COVID Markets
For many luxury ground transportation companies, corporate travel made up a large percentage of their market. While the pandemic may have temporarily derailed this client base, it will return. Social media—especially LinkedIn—can be a very efficient tool for keeping in touch with those customers, reinforcing that you’re still there when they need you. Going silent is the WORST thing you could do right now; it is critical that you ensure your digital presence amplifies everything about your brand—strong, active, and committed to your customer base. You should not just be attempting to sell to them, but providing useful information that they can use now or in the near future.

Wrapping Up
It’s time to prepare for life beyond the immediacy of the pandemic as you’ve put plans in place to keep customers safe. Fortunately, the industry is reporting that trip numbers are increasing week on week and month on month. To maintain a competitive edge as business returns, you must ensure that:
  • Your search rankings are where they should be
  • Your website is up to date
  • Your email database is organized, current, and clean
  • You’re active on social media with everything we have discussed
[CD0920] Simon Curtis
Simon Curtis is the founder of Curtis Gabriel, a global social media and digital marketing company. He can be reached at simon@curtisgabriel.com.