It’s true that the coronavirus crisis has forced companies to keep a watchful eye on their sales and marketing efforts. In this rapidly changing marketplace, knowing when to “hit the gas” and when to “stomp on the brakes” is a challenge our clients face daily. They lean on us to help them make the right decision, at times shifting from a well-planned strategy to one where plans change quickly.
Our clients are in industries ranging from consumer services to manufacturing, dining, and retail. They are using a variety of strategic and tactical approaches to promote their brands during the coronavirus pandemic. While every situation is unique, a few patterns have emerged:
- 96% of our clients have not made strategic changes to their marketing plans.
- Most marketers we’ve talked with are sticking with long-term strategies such as search engine, content, and social media marketing.
- Some have paused time-sensitive advertising campaigns – or have extended offer deadlines – if they could get back some of their ad spend.
- Of these, about half are creating new ad campaigns to leverage increased attention since many people are at home.
- 1 in 2 marketers are using this time to tackle marketing projects that have been on their to-do lists.
As you can see, only a few companies are completely halting their marketing efforts. Most believe that sustained marketing efforts will speed up their ability to bounce back when the recovery begins. That doesn’t mean it’s “business as usual” though. They are adjusting their strategies to meet the market where it’s at today – even if it’s temporary.
So, with more consumers at home and tuned in with nowhere to go, you may be asking how can your company benefit from this captive audience? What can you do today to ensure success when the economy returns to normal? And what shouldn’t you do at a time like this? All are good questions. To help your business weather the outbreak, we’ve compiled a list of five important marketing strategies you can follow to lessen the impact on your business, improve sales, and position your company for future success.
1. Build brand reputation.
Look for ways your company can help people and communities.
- Right now, acts of goodwill will go further than any advertising campaign could.
- Find ways your business can help others during this time. Grocery stores, for example, are extending hours so elderly shoppers can shop in less-crowded stores.
- Don’t forget to acknowledge the people who keep your business going: your employees, your suppliers, and your vendors.
Promote loyalty, not fear.
- Don’t exploit the situation by causing fear or price-gouging. This is short-sighted and will hurt your brand in the long run.
- Stay optimistic in your messaging.
- Reinforce loyalty and dedication to your customers by offering advice, support and positivity whenever possible.
2. Be open to business opportunities.
Offer discounts, trials and free delivery.
- Companies of all types are trying discounts, free trials, home delivery and extended payment terms to keep revenue coming in while helping consumers navigate the current economic climate.
- Many companies are using heavy discounting techniques, typically reserved for Holiday shopping seasons, to counteract the economic uncertainty of many consumers. A smart, competitive discount or offer may help keep your business moving forward, mitigate losses, and compel many savvy stay-at-home shoppers to make a purchase.
Take advantage of a less-competitive playing field.
- You have less competition right now than ever. Pay-Per-Click advertising is on sale, and there is less competition for ad space. Google Ads’ cost-per-click are down by as much as 50% right now.
- There are similar opportunities with Facebook ads and traditional advertising, like TV, radio, billboards, and print. Take advantage of it: buy advertising that’s on sale, even if you reserve the ad space for future use.
- The perfect time to build awareness and stand apart is when you see your competitors pull back.
3. Communicate with your customers.
Announce that you are open for business.
- Make sure your customers know that your business is open. Don’t assume they know.
- Update operating hours and other pertinent information everywhere: on your website, Google My Business page and Facebook page, as well as on other social networking sites.
- If your business is closed or operating with limited hours, staff, products, or with temporary restrictions, explain this clearly.
Give frequent updates.
- Don’t subscribe to the once-and-done approach to communication during this critical time. Maintain contact and update your customers often. Don’t assume they know what is going on with your company.
- Giving consistent updates can help customers stay engaged with your business and increase confidence in your brand’s ability to cope with the unexpected.
Make sure your updates are reaching everyone.
- Send email communication to current and past customers and prospects.
- Update your social media pages through daily post updates, personal messages, and business information.
- Update your website using pop-ups, homepage banners, and content-rich web pages that address your company’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Update your company’s phone greeting message.
- Use paid social media advertising such as Facebook ads to deliver your brand message to a wider audience than your followers. This can attract new customers that have increased their online activity, too.
- Communication shouldn’t stop with customers; be sure to continually update employees, vendors, and job candidates as well.
4. Tackle those big website projects NOW.
Review what’s working on your site – and what isn’t.
- Perform a content audit on your website. This is a great time to update website content and add features that make it easier for people to buy from you.
- Need content ideas? Look at your website from a fresh perspective: your customers. What impression does it give? What information are you, as a first-time visitor, looking for? Is that information available and is it easy to find? What pages are popular with your audience and how can you improve those pages?
Create more content.
- Create blogs and resource content to assist research-driven consumers. This content can really drive traffic – especially while many people are stuck at home.
- Need help with a topic? Start by answering the most-searched questions online for your business or industry. (You can figure this out using Google’s search results for your popular keywords.)
Make your website accessible to all.
- Make your website more accessible for people with disabilities – 61 million in the US alone!
- Maintaining ADA compliance isn’t just a good idea; it can help you avoid a lawsuit or legal trouble, too.
- Making your website more accessible can also improve traffic to your website, as Google promotes websites that are the most user-friendly.
Sell your products and services online.
- Consider adding eCommerce capabilities to your site so you can sell online, anywhere. Consumers will likely remain quarantined for weeks or months, and some buying habits will change permanently.
5. Maintain your brand’s digital presence.
- People are seeking information and answers. The demand for news content has never been greater. According to Comscore, web traffic has doubled for some online publishers and is up about 30% overall.
- Consider publishing a positive or supportive message to build awareness and create an audience acquisition channel.
Continue to optimize your website for search engines.
- Continue your website’s content and SEO strategies so your past SEO investments don’t go to waste.
- Many industries are experiencing a temporary drop in search engine traffic and related conversions, but Google isn’t shutting down its algorithms for ranking sites. In other words, maintaining a steady and consistent SEO strategy running during this time is crucial to your success in search rankings and visibility once life returns to normal.
- Even through this pandemic, Google is still giving top rankings to sites that are keeping their sites full of fresh, engaging content.
- Be ready for traffic and conversions to bounce back when coronavirus-related restrictions are lifted.
Get consumers to take action from their couches.
- Consumers are glued to their TVs right now. Cable network viewership has increased 73% year-over-year. Broadcast network viewership has increased by 19%. Purchasing a TV spot during the morning or evening news, for example, can be a near-perfect opportunity.
- TV advertising is effective, but not always affordable or accessible to all brands. If you can’t afford TV, consider other channels like streaming services, cable or YouTube.
- Most TV viewers consume content on a second device while watching TV. Use behavioral targeting to cross-promote content between the TV screen and mobile devices.
People are more engaged than ever. Get in front of them now.
- It’s a simple formula: more people at home + more time on digital devices = more attention.
- Use digital tactics that can ramp up quickly and capture people’s attention.
- Display (aka banner ads), Facebook Sponsored ads, YouTube pre-roll or mid-roll video ads, and streaming channels such as Spotify and Hulu all offer opportunities to connect with a captive audience.
As you can see, there are plenty of things you can do for your business during these uncertain times. Before you put your marketing on pause, think about the long-term effects it could have on your business. Consider pivoting your message or approach instead. Stay on course and put your energy where it’s best. Now may be the perfect time to tackle big projects or projects that have been on your to-do list.
While you’re doing that, know that we are here to help you navigate the marketplace along the way. Reach out if you would like to discuss your current marketing strategy or have a project to tackle during this unique time. And above all else, stay healthy and take good care of yourself.