As markets around the world reel from the turmoil of the COVID-19 coronavirus, companies of all sizes are feeling the effects. In a crisis like this, rapid change and proactive plan to adjust and adapt to the situation is important. Does that mean cut down your digital ads budget or completely stop the digital marketing activities? No Definitely Not, read below why you shouldn’t stop your digital marketing activities during this pandemic.
Yes, I agree that the crisis is forcing companies to reevaluate many aspects of their financial plans – particularly for those operating in the B2C space. Brand managers and marketers are facing tough decisions about their online presence and digital campaigns.
I can still recall what happened during the 2008 financial crisis, where most of the marketing manager played it safe and cut their marketing budgets, but its 2020.
The intention of writing this blog is not to disturb the restrictions and closure. I intend to help the UAE’s small businesses survive and possibly re-tool if necessary and help them during these difficult times. Working together now and preparing for the post COVID2019 is the utmost importance.
So first and foremost do not panic, and do not stop all your digital activities wondering if we’ll ever be able to leave our homes again. No, this situation isn’t going to last forever and your business isn’t closing.
Assuming that many marketers will have some extra free time, re-visit your marketing strategy for the next few months, rework on your KPI’s, review your online marketing strategy and most importantly redefine your marketing messages until this pandemic settles down.
Yes, the pandemic is bringing significant shifts in consumer buying behaviour, the path to purchase and the buyer journey is evolving. It’s an uncertain time with lots of unknowns and while I don’t have all the answers, but I want to share what I do know and offer some free guidance and tips people who may be experiencing shifts in their business.
How Chinese brands performed during the outbreak?
The pandemic started from China, but if you have noticed, during the COVID-19 outbreak, brands in China had maintained connections and sales by switching their marketing messages and their media mix in ways that provide lessons for brands in other countries. As a digital marketer for a decade, I have been closely observing and learning how the Chinese brands were communicating.
Customers may never know how a company’s finance department responds to major unpredicted events, but remember your marketing department’s moves are reflected in every ad campaign, messages and channels. Hence setting the right tone is important, that’s what the customers will perceive during a difficult time.
Interestingly, the Gartner research report shows how several leading brands in China successfully adapted to these changing conditions, and how brands in other markets can manage their way through these difficult times.
Did Social Distance Increase Social Media Consumption?
Yes, certainly it did, a report by Obvious.ly suggests that the media consumption, use of social platforms, time spent on mobile have drastically increased. Social distancing coupled with coronavirus induced self-quarantines, businesses around the world is being forced to temporarily close, nationwide closures of bars, restaurants and public venues have inevitably led to an uptick in social media consumption, particularly on Instagram and TikTok. Not just consumption, the report also suggests the engagement rate has increased by 27%.
Pew Research Center found that over half of the world’s adult populations got news from social media and as the anxiety over the coronavirus pandemic grows, many will further turn to social media not only to consume news updates but also to connect with friends and family.
So What Should A Marketer Do?
As a seasoned marketer, I would like to offer some tips.
Website: Often people, including me complain that often complain that they have no time to update their websites because of their work overload. Well, this is exactly the time to revisit the website and make sure that your company is well presented. Time for some A/B testing of your site. If SEO wasn’t previously in your priority list, its time to combine content strategy with SEO. Test the new language, like adding Arabic to your website.
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New Social Media: Use multichannel communications, try out social channels you never used before, like Pinterest, TikTok and others.
Search Ads: Ensure your current search ads includes the right keywords and topics for more precise targeting. Check your negative keyword list, go through the recommendation google suggests. Design new landing pages for each of your ads. Don’t forget to optimize the Google Paid Search Campaigns and be vigilant with ads budgets. Check all your ad copies and ensure your paid ads are meeting your audience’s changing behaviour.
Time to test ads scheduling to ensure ads are shown at the right times and use the correct call to action. Check your call extensions, sitelinks and other ad extensions in Google Ads Manager.
Creative: Keep your creatives relevant across all platforms. Re-visit all your social channels and optimize them. Preparing presentations, social media posts, brochures and other marketing materials. Draft the storyline for your upcoming video, schedule the shoots and be prepared with the right contents.
Sales: Don’t hard sell, show Support, advice your sales and marketing team to brainstorm on “How can we support customers during this time?” not “How can I sell more?”, and set your messaging tone based on this strategy. Focusing solely on profits amid the current situation will not do your brand any good, in fact, it might work against.
Social Media: Keep the communication with your fans on social media and provide as many tips, and support as possible to your local community, even when your doors are momentarily closed to the public. It would be good to use social accounts to let customers know of any changes to your service, such as any closures, delivery issues or stock shortages etc, etc.
Chatbots: If you haven’t used chatbots before, this is the right time to use chatbots and automate your enquiry process, please note I have partnered with Hubspot and we offer free chatbot services. Let me know if you need some assistance on automating chat assistants for your website.
Google My Business: Don’t forget to update your opening times on the website, Google My Business profile, Bing Maps, and all social media profiles.
Review the Reviews: Google reviews can give businesses a big credibility boost without having to spend a dime. The many benefits of getting Google reviews include Google ranking for local SEO, leveling the playing field, increasing your online reputation. Time to respond to all the good and bad reviews.
Analytics: Finally keeping an eye on your website’s analytics can inform how you adapt your digital strategy. Use annotation markers within Google Analytics to mark key events, announcements or changes to your marketing as this will enable you to better understand any changes in traffic. Stay alert to visitor behaviour to better understand how current events are impacting users to identify issues or spot new opportunities. Set up alerts to be notified of abnormal website activity, such as big drops in traffic, increases in visits, blog views, inquiries or sales, etc.
And before I end this blogs, a golden tip, monitor the situation on a daily (or at least semi-weekly) basis and adjust your tactical plan and marketing spend accordingly.
For more in-depth advice and audit your Google Ads and Facebook Ads, please feel free to contact me. Now I’m offering video conferencing consultancy
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