If you are like us, January is spent putting plans in place and setting goals. Digital marketing and COVID-19 wasn’t even a ‘thing’ back then, even with talk of a virus on its way. It seemed so far away, both literally and metaphorically! So, we dug into planning for 2020 for both ourselves and our clients as normal.
A few months down the line, lockdown happened and overnight the whole country changed. Plans suddenly went up in smoke and everyone has had to find a way through a situation we’ve never seen before.
Across print and online media, there is endless talk about digital marketing and COVID-19 and what impacts of the situation are.
However, we want to look forward. Let’s talk through how things have changed for the good and how you can adapt to survive the uncertain future.
Digital Marketing and COVID-19… It’s Not All Doom and Gloom
The media is full of doom and gloom stories, however, as tends to be the case with the media, this is only part of the story.
Hidden among all the negatives are some amazing stories of businesses thriving and growing beyond expectations. These are organisations who have adapted to the changes quickly for their customers.
Take Zoom as an amazing example of a company flourishing in lockdown!
If you’d asked people what Zoom is before the start of the year, we’re guessing not many people would be in the know. Now, since the outbreak of COVID-19, web and video conferencing has increased by 500%!
It has quickly become one of the go-to places for connecting people and they have grown and expanded throughout the year. The use of the software increased 30 times in April, with expected sales of up to $1.8 billion this year! (Who else wishes they bought some shares last year!)
B&Q are another great success story. Kingfisher, who owns both B&Q and Screwfix, saw a 225% growth in online sales in June. This is a huge growth for a traditionally offline store. This was all helped by the speed and efficiently of getting their Click and Collect running during the crisis.
Both of these are large companies and it’s often easy to ignore these as exceptions to the rule. However, there are lots of opportunities in digital marketing to improve your presence and help to grow your business.
People indoors means more people online
Internet usage has surged during the pandemic, with BT and other suppliers struggling to keep up. A lot of this is for entertainment purposes such as Netflix and the recently released Disney+. However, with people furloughed or being stuck at home at weekends, internet browsing, and social media use has skyrocketed.
This means that if people are online more you have more opportunities to engage with your audience or introduce yourself to new ones. Digital marketing and COVID-19 doesn’t have to mean the end of marketing as we know it!
Don’t go for the hard sell
We always advise people against the hard sell. Product focused campaigns can work but they often required large budgets for elements such as AdWords and Facebook Ads to get a justifiable return on investment.
What’s more, people don’t like the hard sell! They need to be engaged, especially now more than ever when there are constant concerns of jobs and finances. Use the pandemic as an opportunity to spread some positivity and good will amongst your customers.
If you aren’t open yet, use the time to educate your customers and keep people up to date about your business and your plans for moving forward. Social media is a great platform for spreading updates about new opening times, rules and changes to your business and making sure they know when you are ready for business!
Brick and mortar stores moving online
For companies with an online presence, it was easier to keep business moving when lockdown hit, whether through an online store or social media.
However, a lot of traditional brick and mortar stores, especially local suppliers such as your bakers and butchers, will most likely have done hardly anything online apart.
The pandemic has forced people to find new ways of working and by offering local deliveries during the crisis a lot of local companies are surviving something they never dreamt possible. They are using their online presence to keep customers and often find new ones.
Never has the call to ‘Shop Local’ be stronger!
Take stock of your current online presence
Have a look at your business and how you can improve it. Do you have an up to date Facebook or Google My Business Page? Does your website need a revamp?
Take the time to really look at where you want your business to be online and start making plans. Just because you can’t afford a website at the moment doesn’t mean you can’t potentially make improvements or look at lower cost alternatives to get your presence moving forward.
This brings us back to our earlier point about how so many more people are online at the moment due to furlough and working from home. If you’re looking at your website and seeing potential improvements, chances are someone else (a potential customer!) is too.
Keep an eye on the competition
As well as keeping an eye on your own marketing, what are your competitors doing?
Just because you may still be open and able to focus on your marketing, it doesn’t mean your competitors have. If they have gone quiet of the pandemic, take it as an opportunity to catch up and take over them.
Be the place people go to online to find information during the pandemic. Build up your customer base now and your competitors will find it a lot harder to take them back when they get chance to get moving again!
Some potential PPC bargains
As people’s marketing budgets are being slashed, they are often pulling back on activities which have the largest direct cost such as AdWords or Facebook Ads.
This means that there is less competition for keyword bidding so if you can afford to, you may find some easy wins with cheaper keywords to really grow your market.
Of course, we would always suggest caution as we always do with PPC as it’s easy to do a quick fix and seriously burn some money. But, if you have the opportunity, have a look and see if there are any bargains to be had!
Email marketing is growing
GDPR heralded the end of email marketing, or that’s what people thought at the time! Email marketing was never dead and now is as important as ever. With people at home and with more time online they have a better opportunity to keep an eye on their emails.
Email marketing can work, but only with the right strategy. Don’t go for the hard sell, use your e-shots to educate your customers and have some fun. Keep in people’s minds and when things improved you will be the first person they think of to buy from.
Email marketing becomes even more powerful when you can segment your traffic, especially for eCommerce clients who should be segmenting already.
Break your email list down into your VIPs, those that spend high or spend a lot, look at your returning customers, look at those who only buy once.
Even just focusing on these basic segments you can tailor an email that fits to each client perfectly. For your VIPs, send a thank you or a special offer exclusive to them… everyone loves being made to feel special!
It’s also important to look at which tools are right for the job. Mailchimp is the biggest and well known but doesn’t mean it’s the only one. We are making great use of Websand who focus on automation, segmentation and email clients. It’s definitely worth taking a look at their site https://www.websand.co.uk/
Don’t be afraid to pivot
For some companies, there just isn’t business to be done at the moment.
But those that are still surviving are those who are able to adapt and pivot if needed. Some companies quickly pivoted their manufacturing into producing PPE which not only provides a public service but brings in a totally new revenue stream whilst their traditional business takes a backseat.
Have a think what your business could be offering to generate some goodwill or some revenue. It may be for the long term, but you might just find an extra income stream to add to your business for the future!
React but don’t overreact
Nobody can say that these aren’t uncertain times. Life changes so frequently at the moment with new rules being announced often which makes it hard to plan long term.
It is always important to react to the changes but don’t become too short term focused as this help today but cost you in the long term.
Stick to your values and your longer-term plans even if you push them back a little and use short term plans to help keep your business running.
Making massive changes to your business may feel great and help with short term cash flow. But as things return some resemblance of normality you don’t want to find yourself out of touch with your original customers and open the doors for someone else to swoop in.
Test and measure
Above all else, when making any changes during these crazy times, rely on the data.
We love data and write about it a lot, because it is essential to all of digital marketing! Best practices and articles online can give you some quick wins but it’s important to monitor them on your own business and adjust accordingly.
What works for one organisation won’t always work for others so don’t just assume you can make some changes and leave it running. Keep a close eye on your data and adjust where needed. Doing this can also help you spot some great opportunities you might have otherwise missed!
For example, if suddenly you see traffic shifting to a lesser sold product or a shift in focus to certain types of blogs, use the data to see if there are any opportunities to focus on these areas.
It’s also important to keep a close eye on your data, don’t look once and forget about it! Search intent has changed and is still changing as the pandemic moves on. People are starting to look forward to the next steps, so it is as important to try to keep ahead of the curve. Be the person to answer those new questions people start to ask before somebody else does it for them!
To have a chat about digital marketing and COVID-19, get in touch with the team today. We’d love to hear about your experiences!