By Daryl McCarl, Director of Business Development at Smartwaiver.
Businesses across the globe have been significantly impacted by unprecedented events brought on by COVID-19. While retailers are desperately working to shift their sales strategies to remain profitable during the pandemic, other businesses have not been so lucky. If your business relies heavily on revenue from events and activities, social distancing and shelter-in-place guidelines have not been kind to you. Fear not though! There’s still quite a bit you can do to remain productive during this downtime.
Many event- and activity-based businesses have some sort of release of liability waiver in place to keep participants safe and to avoid unnecessary lawsuits. Because operations are largely shifting to the online space, some of these businesses have started implementing digital liability waivers for further convenience and security. If that’s where your business falls, you’re in luck! Here at Smartwaiver, we know digital waivers can be one of the most beneficial tools for sustaining your business — especially during this time of social distancing.
But how can a digital liability waiver benefit you now? What can you do with all the data that you collect?
1. Segment your audience
Every individual that visits your business or participates in your activities comes in with their own personal histories, and a unique set of demographic, psychographic, geographic, and behavioral characteristics that define who they are. Having access to such insightful information is a huge step towards better understanding your target audience.
Imagine two different customers— Angie and Marcus:
- Angie: A middle-aged woman, married with two young children. On the weekends, she enjoys bringing her kids on various outings, and allows them to explore and appreciate nature. They are frequent customers.
- Marcus: A young, single man taking a vacation with several of his friends. They’ve never been pedal boating, but they want to experience it. They discover your store and head over.
While Angie and Marcus are both valuable customers, the way you communicate and relate to them should be significantly different. Since Angie is a regular customer, it’s important to let her know you appreciate her frequent visits. Marcus, on the other hand, is a short-term tourist who will likely return home soon after his visit. Still, it’s a good idea to keep in touch to remind him of the great time he had in case he ever visits again; or to encourage him to share his experience with friends and family who may visit the area!
But how can you keep track of all this information? Do you have to manually record details you pick up on each customer and use that to inform your messaging strategy? That’s where digital liability waivers come in. Every time a customer fills out a waiver, they provide you with certain basic information (i.e., name, age, date of birth, address). Plus, you can customize your waivers to get more data— although you don’t want to overwhelm the user. Armed with this information, you can divide customers into segments (or categories) of similar individuals; and greatly improve your marketing strategy by creating more effective messages that appeal to them.
2. Send more personalized emails.
After segmenting your target audience, it’s time to decide what to do with that valuable data that can be collected from your digital liability waiver. One of the best ways to use consumer data is to implement personalized email outreach. Did you know 99% of consumers check their email at least once per day? Whether you have an email marketing strategy or eager to get started, here are some important tips to keep in mind:
- Address the recipient by name. Too many business emails open with ‘Dear customer,’ or worse, they have no greeting at all. Beginning with the recipient’s first name is an easy way to show you put thought into your messaging and you care them on a more personal level.
- Target content for each segment. Just like unaddressed messages seem impersonal, so does generic emails. Email content can and should be catered directly your segments, whether they are first-time participants, returning guests or lapsed customers.
- Stay relevant to current events. In order to avoid appearing ‘tone-deaf’, it’s important to adjust your messaging to reflect the current strange and unprecedented social environment. Let customers know you’re thinking of them; and while you know your business isn’t likely top-of-mind right now, you’re looking forward to seeing them after this is over.
- Avoid overwhelming your audience. It might be tempting to continue blasting emails in hopes of a positive response, but that can do more harm than good. An influx of messages in a short amount of time can lead to recipients clicking the unsubscribe button— and nobody wants that. Try your best to find the perfect balance that works well for your business.
Not only will personally-crafted emails grab the attention of your audience, they can help to build positive customer relationships during the off-season. There’s a better chance they will visit your business in the future!
3. Monitor and analyze trends.
Another best practice to keep in mind throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and beyond, is to monitor and analyze retail trends. These can be trends within your own company, evidenced by trends identified in digital liability waivers, as well as those concerning business on a larger scale. Here are some business-wide trends to look out for:
- Seasonal changes in participants: If you see your business is in high demand during a particular season, that’s an important trend to note. You should adjust your marketing strategy to meet seasonal demands.
- Changes in repeat vs. first-time guests: Be sure to note if the majority of participants are visiting for the first time, who has replied to previous experiences; and why other guests aren’t returning.
- Changes in sign-ups for different packages/options: If you offer various activities, it’s important to be aware of changes in registration. Then, see how you can upsell guests to larger packages!
And here’s a few current industry-wide trends:
- A move to mobile-friendliness: Customers everywhere want access to all of your content on their mobile phones— whether that’s marketing, personalized messaging, or a registration form. There’s an increasing demand for such convenience; and mobile-friendliness can strongly impact business.
- Social distancing— even after COVID-19: Many predict social distancing will continue long after the initial panic is over. If your business involves a lot of people in crowded areas, it might be time to make adjustments for safety precautions.
- Increased focus on customer relations: As previously mentioned, improved customer relations is one of the biggest transformations going on in the business world. Personalized messaging and customer-focused communication is increasingly important.
By analyzing your business data and external research, you will have a better understanding of trends that impact your business. Check out AccuData’s guide to effective data marketing for more information.
4. Start planning future events.
Just because now is not a great time to host events doesn’t mean it’s not the perfect time to start planning them! Customers who are now stuck in the house need something to look forward to more than ever. Planning and promoting future events is a great way to maintain ‘the hype’ surrounding your business, and create a high demand for your events and activities as soon as it’s safe! Here are three things you can do to get started planning events while social distancing:
- Marketing: Start getting the word out about future events by posting on social media; include detailed information on your website; and reach out personally to invite past customers. With everything else going on, guests will love having something positive to focus on.
- Pre-registration: By opening up virtual event registration early, customers will start to feel the upcoming excitement. Plus, customers who pre-register are more likely to show up on the big day!
- Digital liability waiver signing: With your virtual waiver software, customers can have all the necessary paperwork filled out and signed before arriving when you reopen. And with integrations to retail and/or eCommerce software, such as Celerant, setting up your digital waivers is easier than ever. Click here to learn how to add a digital waiver to your website.
Don’t wait too long to get your business up-and-running again after the Coronavirus pandemic. Start planning for the future NOW; you’ll thank yourself for the head start later. By making the most of a not-so-great situation, you can set your business up for success going forward. After all, it’s never a waste to invest in customer relations and data analysis. It’s time to leverage every tool you have— especially your digital liability waivers.
And if you have yet to invest in online waiver software, now is the perfect time to do so. Good luck!
Click below to learn more about Celerant’s retail software, eCommerce platform and/or integration with Smart Waiver; or visit www.celerant.com/partner/smart-waiver.