Berlin – With almost two months of ‘the new normal’ behind us, FSG shares with you what has changed in ways of communicating with online German consumers since the Coronavirus crisis.

Many brands in Germany have a lot of different challenges on their plate, now that social distancing is becoming the ‘new normal’. Shops in Germany have opened up again since last week, however, people are spending more and more time buying their stuff online. With less support from retail, good product USP’s are not enough to stand out anymore.

For brands, there is an opportunity here to invest in organic traffic and interaction with (new) customers. In Germany, this means localized branding is the way to go. A brand selling online in Germany, needs to communicate ‘the German way’. In German.  Here’s what we did and learned.

Inform and entertain your customers
According to FSG’s Head of Brand, Denny Hartmann, German consumers want to be informed but also entertained. ‘In these trying times, we want to offer followers a good mix of infotainment and facts. With the only goal being increasing customer engagement, we worked on the following ‘on-top’ measures for one of our clients called Paula´s Choice that sells skincare products:

  1. We created ‘infotainment´ packages on how to take care of your skin for our community members (loyal customers). These prefab contents were easy to share with their own followers;
  2. We interviewed several loyal customers so that they can tell their personal story and skincare routine via our – and their own – social media;
  3. We intensified our current program for all influencers that we work with, with the aim to reward and educate them. For this we worked on so-called knowledge boosts for specific products, a reward program for successful posts and fixed content packages that are easy to integrate in their postings;
  4. We are preparing an online Q&A event with founder Paula Begoun for German press, influencers and customers.

Prepare for more in-depth questions
We see that German consumers spend more time online in general. We also see that they have more in-depth questions, and follow up questions. More than normal, according to both Denny and Afrula Repas, who is one of FSG’s Senior Customer Service Representatives. The amount of comments on Instagram increased.

In these trying times, German consumers want to be heard. Not only during working hours. Also on weekends and at night. ‘We see that people are more active late at night compared to before-corona. I think since many Germans are working from home, at it seems that they sleep in later and therefore go to bed later’, says Afrula.

‘Also threads with customers who contact our customer service department are longer and more in-depth’, says Afrula. We also see this on social media, where the amount of comments compared to before-Corona increased for some of the brands by 20 per cent. ‘All of this made us decide to expand the Customer Service team especially during the Covid-19 crisis, since the last thing you want now is unanswered calls and questions’, says Managing Director Radboud Langenhorst. 

Good Customer Service becomes crucial
Because of the above, we have decided to have the live chat function working non-stop now, because we see this is a crucial channel in generating sales. In most of the cases a good and obviously real-time chat can be the last push to make a customers find their product and buy it. People have, and therefore take, more time to consciously buy a product so we made sure to be there to consult and to answer questions about shipping times and return policies. Now more than ever good customer service becomes a crucial Online USP. ‘We are even going to test video chat soon’, says Afrula. 

Keep the frequency, make it (more) relevant.
Here’s an important thing to keep in mind. Suddenly increasing the amount of newsletters because people are spending more time at home, or the amount of posts on Facebook, is going to turn off German customers. ‘They are used to a certain routine. So there’s no need to bother them with more, just because the world has changed’, says Denny. ‘However, try to make your content more relevant.’

This is the time to see if adjusting your content can get your customers to order a second time. Introduce other products to them, items that could be of interest to them. We did this for Kaufnekuh, the website where customers can buy a share of meat. We started spreading the word about packages that also contained chicken and pork from local farms and started with more content on topics like recipes, the life of a local farmer and their livestock and cooperations with other relevant brands. This led to an increase in orders on Kaufeinhuhn und Kaufeinschwein, but also a significant increase of the open- and clickthrough rates. 

Be patient
Due to Covid-19 many of our clients had both an increase in demand and challenges with cross-border shipping. This led to an increased amount of questions about packages being delivered with a delay. As a customer service representative, now even more than before, it’s the time to be patient’, says Afrula. FSG has generated automated newsletters to customers to spread the word about small delays in orders and returns.

All in all, according to FSG, this is not the time for brands to cut up the marketing budget or the efforts on brand activities and  customer engagement. Denny states: ‘There’s lots of opportunities to increase your traffic and awareness on social organic platforms.

Now that German consumers are spending more time writing comments and also replying to your comments, brands can profit from that and can more easily create a connection between the customer and the brand. Let’s take advantage of that.’ 

The online cards are being reshuffled. With less and less support from retail, good product usp’s will not be enough to stand out.

Do you want to talk to us about localized German branding, or do you have questions about this subject? Drop us a line here, or contact us via info@fs-gefuehl.com.