As the Corona pandemic grows, everyone is understandably anxious about their health and struggling to face a life that looks radically different than it did just a short time ago. Businesses are finding themselves floundering in uncertain times. Every industry is being forced to adapt, whether by being forced to close down, operate remotely, or change their business model. Conferences and live events are being cancelled or postponed indefinitely, leaving businesses worried about how to generate new leads and promote growth.
With all these rapid, dramatic changes, marketing teams are having to navigate totally uncharted terrain. It would be understandable if businesses were to downgrade their marketing efforts, especially when they are concerned about their bottom line and trying to trim budgets.
But - this is not the moment to curtail your marketing efforts - the results will have longer lasting effects than this current crisis. Research has shown that those who focus - rather than cut - their spending and employ a progressive approach, end up as the winners when markets stabilize. With much of the world now primarily interacting online, digital marketing is the new frontier for businesses to conquer.
So, how can we adapt our digital marketing strategies during this Covid19 outbreak?
Let’s take a look at 10 digital marketing techniques that can help keep your business afloat during these challenging times.
1. Keep in touch with your existing customers and leads
At a time when businesses are concerned about generating new leads and customers, the first thing you should do is to touch base with your existing contacts, through email channels and on social media. It’s important to communicate how your business has been affected, and details on how closures or remote working will affect your ability to help them.
Why is this helpful?
- If you’re still up and running, you definitely want to let your customers know that you are open for business. Consider running a special offer or discounting products as a gesture to show that you value your customers and are thinking of them in a trying time
- Even if you don’t expect conversions now, ensuring customer loyalty and maintaining a relationship is key to achieving conversions in the long term.
What should you say?
The inbound methodology is especially relevant here. Your customer is likely experiencing high levels of anxiety. Instead of a pushy sales pitch, you want to be focusing on your customers pain points, and how you are trying to alleviate them.
Check out Starbucks new homepage:
They cannot operate as usual but they address concerns about their customers' health, strike an empathetic tone by stating “we’re still here for you”, and are offering free delivery.
2. Audit your website
If you are finding yourself with extra time at home, now would be the perfect time to do a little spring cleaning on your website! If you are used to customers completing their buyer’s journey offline, but you now need them to convert online, make sure the process is as seamless as possible.
Some things you can do:
- Optimize your website so you can be found easily through organic search
- If you are used to relying on traditional retail, make sure that the shift to e-commerce is smooth for your customers: check that you have clear images for products and services, and clearly listed prices.
- Improve your website's user experience to maximize conversion. Take a look at the placement of your call-to-actions (CTAs). Maybe you should add more, or change the wording so that they are more effective.
- Are your landing pages successful at conversion? Check out tips here: https://www.abilityseo.com/blog/landing-pages-a-beginners-guide
- Think about whether adding a chatbot to your website would allow you to help your customers more. With more staff working remotely, and reduced budgets, it can be difficult to be constantly available. At the same time, customers whose lives may have turned upside down may be grateful to be able to reach you at more unconventional hours. A basic chatbot is cheap and can ensure that your business is accessible 24/7.
3. Focus on your content strategy
Another way you can use any extra time you may have is to upgrade your content by:
- Updating any evergreen blog content - see what is timely and relevant. Maybe popular material can be promoted again or repurposed.
- Review current campaigns and see if they need to be adjusted under the new circumstances.
- Re-evaluate your key performance indicators, and what goals you want to set for yourself during this outbreak. Often, online marketing serves to drive offline purchasing; You may need to look at different metrics to measure success if your way of doing business has been impacted significantly.
- Create new assets that work for today’s environment, like new blog articles, e-books etc.
Look at the new articles featured on the website of 'UkOfficeDirect'. With more people working remotely and home-schooling, they are writing content that will appeal to the buyers they want to attract.
The Asana blog leads with this relevant article
- Create new creative assets, even if they aren’t timely, so that they are ready and waiting for when the crisis is over.
4. Maintain a strong Social Media presence
People are spending even more time glued to their social media these days, so now is not the time to disappear. If you need to step back from paid advertising, that doesn’t mean you need to go off the grid.
- Keep contributing to group discussions that are relevant to your industry, establishing yourself as a helpful resource and industry leader.
- Communicate if your business is operating differently, like Mc Donalds does here
- Lyfe Marketing recommends using topical hashtags for example #socialdistancing and #JOMO. Look at how this therapist uses #socialdistancing to promote her new podcast
- If you are able to give back to the wider community during this pandemic, share the good news and positive PR with your fans! For example, look at this generous offer from UHaul: 30 days of free storage for College students forced to suddenly vacate their dorm. They have shared both their offer and subsequent glowing coverage on Twitter.
5. Improve your email strategy
People are inundated with emails, and you want to make sure that your carefully crafted message is actually getting through. If you aren’t already taking advantage of software that automates your emailing campaigns, now is definitely the time to start! You can segment your lists so that your customer receives the most relevant emails. Automating your emails makes sure that your email reaches your customer at the right time. Not only that, but automation ensures that sequences of emails can go out with less manpower - and in chaotic times it’s great to have one less task to think about.
Try to adapt your email subject lines to resonate more with your customer
Check out how Marks & Spencer, a leading British brand’s emailing strategy. Look at what they are choosing to promote, and how they’re framing their products by using words such as comfort, and effortless.
6. Don’t ditch your SEO efforts
The problem with letting SEO fall to the wayside is that SEO is really a long game. You’ve invested in optimizing your website and assets, and created content that ranks well. Once you have lost traction, it will be a huge struggle to recover. Not only that, but other businesses may be more impulsive, so staying the course will make your business more competitive.
7. Focus on Local SEO
The first thing you should be doing is ensuring that you have a Google My Business listing, so that you will show up when people are searching for businesses near them. While Google My Business is always important, it is even more crucial when people are home-bound and looking to support local business.
If your business opening hours have changed,or you have store closures, be sure to update your listing.
That said, Google My Business is working with more limited functionality. They recently released the following statement:
In short, accept it’s limitations but do what you can to get the most vital updates out there. If you have reviews to add, unfortunately they won’t be added now.
8. Be Flexible and pivot your business where possible
Every industry has been affected differently. Some businesses are flourishing and some are definitely hurting. You can see how traffic has grown and declined during Covid-19, across the spectrum.
Whether your business is doing well or has been badly affected, see if you are able to adapt your business model.
It’s worth thinking about whether a new type of buyer would be interested in your services.
Look at how Fedex is targetting new shippers, small businesses, and those unable to leave their homes.
Alternatively, there may be products that you can promote that will now be highly sought after.
Here, Siemens, a manufacturing industrial company with a wide array of services, puts the spotlight on its disinfectant robots and 3D printing that could help print and design medical devices.
It could be that your business cannot operate at all. There may still be some ways to cater to your customers. Even if it’s for free, or a reduced price, demonstrating flexibility and providing value to your customers even in trying circumstances will result in customer loyalty, and hopefully further custom in the future.
Look at what Holmes place - a chain of gyms that must remain closed - is choosing to offer:
Offering courses, tutorials, helpful resources and videos are great ways to remain relevant even if you can’t operate normally. You can live stream your services via Zoom or Google Hangouts. You can do this for free, or provide the link in return for a small fee. If live videos don’t work well for your business, you could start a Vimeo channel, which uses a paywall, so your customers can gain access to a tutorial for a nominal charge.
9. Live events cancelled? Be creative
Conferences are a great source of quality lead generation, in part due to the ability to make human, face to face connections, and reach wide audiences. There is a good reason that businesses often allocate 30-40% of their budget to them! However, with conferences and other live events cancelled or postponed, you can still be creative in getting your message out there.
- Webinars and videos are hugely popular and put a human face to your brand. If you had a great lineup of guest speakers, ask them whether they would be willing to repurpose their speech as a guest video blog post instead.
- Run a digital conference instead. IBM, who’s Think Conference in San Francisco was among those cancelled, is taking this approach
- Zoom is now a household name: video conferencing is a great medium for running smaller digital conferences. You can also use Zoom for consultations with interested new leads, to replace personal meetings.
- Engage social media influencers to promote your message, or any new announcements you had planned to release during your conference, to facilitate reaching a wider audience.
10. Stay on top of market trends
The markets are so volatile, and you want to make sure that you are getting to the best return on your investment.
The first thing to note is that PPC ad conversions have fallen steeply in recent weeks
Obviously, the results vary between different industries: It comes as no surprise that the travel industry has been hard hit, whereas the health and medical industry is performing well.
Neil Patel points out that pay-per-click costs have not changed dramatically, since conversions are lower , the cost for conversion has gone up. Although the expenses have increased, he recommends doubling down during an economic downturn (if you are able to), to gain market share in the long term.
Regardless, if you are running PPC campaigns, Mark Irvine at Wordstream recommends doing the following:
- Add negative keywords to your PPC search terms. You don’t want to pay for panicky but disinterested searchers finding you!
- Stay ahead of the game by finding new negative keywords to exclude BEFORE they start trending
- Follow trending COVID19 searches with Google Trends, to better understand how users are searching differently, so that you can adjust your ppc campaign accordingly.
Another important trend to follow is how web traffic has been affected. For example, we can see here that Google search use has been badly impacted, whereas Youtube has seen a 21% increase in traffic.
The take-away? Don’t concentrate all your advertising efforts too narrowly. Instead diversify, and look at how other networks can help you to reach your audience. Look at Youtube's popularity for an extra incentive to create those promotional videos!
In unprecedented times, market volatility and across the board anxiety, it can be difficult to employ a focused approach. But using the digital marketing techniques can help you remain connected - and relevant - to your customers, retain your market share, and help you reach new audiences while you weather the storm.