COVID-19 resources

How to Use Marketing to Communicate Your Retail Reopening

Whether you’re in the planning stages of reopening or your doors are already open for business, consider this your playbook for communicating with customers and planning marketing campaigns during and after the current pandemic.  

The reopening of businesses may differ depending on where you operate, but you’ll want to make sure you have your marketing spigot ready to turn on when it’s time.

This checklist can help you create a practical marketing plan for engaging with customers without overwhelming your resources. Whether you’re in the planning stages of reopening or your doors are already open for business, consider this your playbook for communicating with customers and planning marketing campaigns during and after the current pandemic.

Set the foundation

The first thing to consider when marketing your reopening is getting the right tools to communicate the changes you’ve made. You want to ensure you’re proactively reaching out and promoting relevant services and offerings, such as delivery, curbside pickup, or eCommerce. Some tactics to try:

  • Use an email marketing service: With a tool that manages your email marketing, you can link your customers to your online order site or delivery partner. Be sure to personalize the message to let your brand shine through: Use your own logo and images and edit the template copy with your brand voice to reflect who you are as a company.
  • Reach out to regulars: If you have regulars, and people who have continued to support you through closures or restrictions at various stages of the ongoing pandemic, consider reaching out to them first to alert them about reopening. If you have an existing email list of repeat customers, you can use an email marketing platform to tell them about your reopening and communicate the health and safety precautions you’ve adopted to help them feel more secure while shopping with you.
  • Promote your loyalty program: If you have a loyalty program that is linked with your online store, make sure to communicate that to sellers and provide them with details on how to enroll and redeem rewards.
  • Advertise contactless payments and touch-free checkout: Keep customers updated on your payment and checkout options by promoting your touch-free and contactless checkout options. This is especially important for in-person customers to feel safe, and according to a McKinsey study, nearly three-quarters of consumers wish to continue with these safe procedures going forward.
  • Advertise health and safety measures: Keep customers up to date on any design changes you’ve made to your store or restaurant layout to adhere to social distancing, along with any new hygiene procedures, so they know what to expect before coming in.
  • Start booking appointments and reservations: Building up your client and customer base creates momentum and gives you something to look forward to. Scheduling windows can also help you maintain social distancing by limiting foot traffic once you’ve reopened.

Build your digital brand

With a foundation of communication in place, you can start building anticipation with your customers.

  • Post on social media: Use social media channels like Instagram and YouTube to highlight any design changes you’ve made to promote social distancing, as well as your expanded hygiene protocols, to help returning customers feel confident about visiting your business.
  • Hold a livestream event: A live event on Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok is a great way to showcase new merchandise and update customers on your store opening plans. To build up the hype, consider sending an email event invitation to customers.
  • Try a new digital marketing channel: Set up your text messaging services through Square or consider making a YouTube video, Pinterest board, or Snapchat filter — or use another platform that will reach your target market.

Find your groove

Once the doors have reopened, it can take some time to find your footing and build back your customer base. Keep in contact with customers through email, and don’t be too quick to let go of the purchase and fulfillment channels (like online and curbside pickup) you might have implemented when doors were closed.

  • Send a newsletter: Use a newsletter to communicate upcoming events, show off new products, or remind customers to use the coupon you sent last week. Keep it short so it’s easy to read on a mobile device, and include a call to action that drives customers to your online store or to request more information.
  • Automate marketing campaigns: Once you’re comfortable with email marketing, you can shift your focus to setting up automated campaigns so you can communicate regularly with customers all year. Consider a service that provides templated marketing campaigns that can be customized to welcome new customers, send birthday perks, reach out to lapsed customers with win-back offers, and more.
  • Find the right email cadence: Sending too many emails can wear out your customers with too much communication, which can decrease your open rates. Aim to stay top of mind, but don’t overdo it. Try weekly planned and automated campaigns instead of on-off manual sends that are sent on an irregular cadence.
  • Don’t abandon curbside pickup: If you implemented online ordering and curbside pickup when in-store shopping wasn’t an option, don’t be too quick to remove it. Nearly 60% of consumers intend to continue using Buy Online Pick Up in Store (BOPIS) over the long term, according to McKinsey. By having options for how customers shop with you, you create more opportunities to make a sale.

Now is the time to sow loyalty by planning your marketing outreach, while being respectful of the various comfort levels of your customers. Your goal is to underscore the efforts you’re making to fulfill health and safety requirements while continuing to promote your goods and services for a sustainable future, and above all, to communicate with your customers.