It’s no secret that COVID-19 has changed digital marketing in a multitude of ways over the past several years. For example, the question remains whether customers still look for online reassurance from home services companies that they will use personal protective equipment (PPE) and other safety precautions when they visit homes as part of COVID-19 safety efforts.
To see whether digital marketing strategies that include displaying COVID-19 safety precaution reassurances from businesses still have an impact with customers, we performed a recent A/B test (AKA split test) of a homepage hero image for one of our clients, a Central Florida heating and air conditioning company.
As a starting point for further investigation, our initial hypothesis was that customers by this time have a reasonable expectation that workers visiting their home will use safety precautions such as wearing PPEs and social distancing. Therefore, any additional online reassurances from businesses to this fact would have little to no impact on their customers as we enter year three for the pandemic.
For the A/B test, we decided to test the key visual on the company’s homepage. One version featured two employees totally decked out in COVID-19 PPE complete with face shields and other protective gear and the other, an employee in regular work clothes without any type of COVID-19 PPE gear – the type of image that would have been used pre-Covid. The A/B test ran for 90 days (between July 1, 2021, and September 29, 2021) with a call to action that linked to the “Contact Us” page via a “Get Service” button.
Out of 2,692 sessions over the 90-day period, consumers exhibited no clear preference. We recorded 38 attempts to contact or engage with the company for the home page featuring the COVID-19 PPE imagery and 39 such attempts for the home page without the COVID PPE imagery. So, the statistical variance of data turned out to be about even comparatively for users completing the “Contact Us” form. This also held true for key website metrics like average session duration, which averaged just over one minute in both versions (with the original version slightly edging out the variant by just a few seconds, but not enough to draw any definite conclusions in this regard).
From the data we collected, we can see no significant statistical significance that tells us that seeing a company’s COVID-19 prevention messaging had any impact on the consumer’s willingness to engage the company.
Customers seeing that this company was offering COVID-19 precautions as part of their service delivery was not a strong enough message to change consumer behavior. It is possible that the main priority of customers interacting with this particular website was to get their air conditioning unit fixed and other considerations such as price or timeliness overrode COVID 19 safety concerns. Furthermore, we can theorize that customers have become accustomed to workers using PPE as standard procedure when visiting their home at this stage in the global epidemic and therefore it didn’t have to be said or promoted. Possibly it is now assumed.
Furthermore, customers are also aware that businesses must already comply with any local city or county ordinances requiring the use of PPE equipment during home visits. In addition, the possibility exists that customers are willing to take a little more risk to get their A/C repaired during Florida’s sweltering summer months.
The prospect of COVID-19 fatigue and antipathy at this late stage in the global epidemic may also play a role. Therefore, many customers simply don’t need or pay too much attention to any type of extra reinforcement involving the use of COVID PPE imagery on the website.
The bottom line is that COVID-19 has led to significant changes in consumer behavior that have evolved over the past several years. A/B testing in messaging remains the most effective way to stay tuned into your customers’ feelings and attitudes so you can adjust your digital marketing strategies accordingly.