How SMEs Can Adjust to a Post-Covid World

Written by Sam Holding, Head of International, SparkPost

In the tax year ending April 2019, approximately one new company was formed every minute in the UK – or 672,890 companies throughout the year. Despite their promising start though, statistics have shown that almost 58% of new companies might not exist five years later. These numbers reflect a period of market stability, economic prosperity, and optimism. In 2020, things changed dramatically, and so did the market landscape. An economic fallout is emerging and is likely to affect growth and sustainability, even in the most stable and resilient enterprises.

It will probably be many years before we realise and accept the magnitude and full impact of the current crisis to people, communities and the business world. Not all businesses are equally resilient in a crisis, or can afford a prolonged lockdown. But medium-sized and small enterprises in particular, which make up 99% of UK businesses, as well as start-ups, are amongst the ones that are most vulnerable. Many will struggle to regain customers and prove they deliver value; while they’ll also need to examine how the consumers’ needs have changed, and adjust their approach accordingly.

Swim with the stream

The need to quickly adjust to the new norm is imperative at the moment. Traditional marketing practices may not be that effective any more, so businesses have to make a dive and redirect their focus on practices that not only deliver fast and measurable results, but are also low-risk, easy to execute, and cost effective. 

Digital and email marketing integrate all these characteristics and will play a pivotal role, giving start-ups and small enterprises an opportunity to shift and engage with customers in a more conversational mode. For most companies, email marketing is key to customer experience and loyalty. Doing it effectively can have a direct, positive impact not only on sales, but also on customer engagement and loyalty.

The scope of these conversations is equally important. Corporate messaging may need to temporarily change for a period of time, to reflect the current context and present accurate information. Some companies may have to modify certain campaigns for now, freeze them or even abandon them. Also, they may need to revise their performance metrics in order to prioritise programmes that have high return.

During a crisis, it’s more important than ever to understand customer data. Knowing where customers are in their journey can help businesses empathise with them, identify needs and create opportunities for proactive message development. Customers today have more power than ever, and they know how to use it. They are now in full control of their interactions with the business; whether it’s data collection, preferred method of communication, or content, and demand transparency. Businesses can accommodate this demand, assisted by advanced marketing automation tools, and the use of rich Analytics.

Loyalty and culture are strong assets 

Loyalty pays off; even more so in times of a crisis. Many businesses will have to develop and execute loyalty programmes to re-activate their existing customer base and make the most of it, and focus on customer experience. Offering an immaculate experience throughout the customer journey is not easy, but for many businesses this is the only way forward. As most consumer products have become commoditised with very few differences or unique selling points, consumers are in pursuit of better service. Not every company has a truly unique product, but any company could potentially deliver a truly unique customer experience. And customer service can vary significantly, based on companies’ ethos and culture. 

Culture has always been a catalytic factor to success for any enterprise, despite their size or industry sector. When approaching this pandemic and its impact, we can choose to focus on the challenges or see the opportunities arising; opportunities for accelerated change, improved service, and digital transformation. Companies who are more flexible and keen to embrace change, are one step closer to overcoming the current challenges and maintaining sustainability.