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Navigating your digital marketing strategy during COVID-19

Navigating your digital marketing strategy during COVID-19 Navigating your digital marketing strategy during COVID-19
Justin Greenwood
Director

Coronavirus is changing the way we work. The way we communicate. The way we live. 

As companies learn to survive and operate in a world afflicted by COVID, we all need to reconsider the way we do digital marketing.

A new normal

It’s hard to navigate this new world – especially when we barely know what this new world looks like yet. Depending on where you are, hospitality venues are running at lower capacity or still only open for takeaway.

Some companies are keeping their employees working from home, or working in offices at different times to allow minimal cross-contact with other employees. Retail businesses limit the people allowed in stores. And in some industries, businesses haven’t survived.

In times like this, you’re probably wondering if there is any point continuing marketing at all.

We know most digital marketing strategies are long-term investments. When it comes to SEO, for instance, it requires a holistic strategy with consistent manual work month-to-month for optimal results. It can take some businesses up to a year to see a return on the investment.

So, is it worth it?

In crisis, often digital marketing is the first thing to go.

Unfortunately, this can have a detrimental impact on your business, especially when everything is moving online.

With nearly 4 billion people using social media every day, every organisation needs a presence on there for lead generation and communication with their audience in real-time. For smaller companies, social media can be the best tool to attract new customers and show their current clientele their brand is active.

PPC campaigns can see some quick wins for companies to get people on their site. And none of these strategies can work without a secure, easy to navigate, high-performing website.

According to the guys at CXL on this blog post, businesses who chose a more proactive strategy of refocusing spending during a recession have outperformed businesses that made dramatic cuts. Ideally, you want to keep your digital presence as active as possible. So what can you do to keep your business afloat and continue marketing during these tough times?

How do you navigate your digital marketing strategy during COVID-19?

Don’t let panic make your decisions for you

We understand times are tough. Your trade may have plummeted. This can be causing panic, and no good decisions are made when panic is involved.

Most businesses will survive the chaos, just as they have through wartime, recessions, depressions, and pandemics in the past. As places such as Perth, where Dux is located, businesses are already beginning to recover.

Putting together a rational marketing plan for the future when we should see some normality, based on the information available for your business and industry, is the best approach to ensure your business survives. 

Talk to your digital marketing team

No matter what situation you’ve found yourself in, the best thing to do is to communicate with your digital marketing team. There may be several ways to keep your strategies working by reducing the hours spent on, rejigging priorities, or focusing on more budget-friendly options. You might look at pausing some strategies or all strategies for a couple of months until some things return to normal for you, which is a better solution than stopping altogether. 

If you do have downtime during this period, a good digital marketing agency will help you use it efficiently. They may be able to coach you to take on some of the digital work yourself to reduce your budget like creating your own blog articles or Instagram content.

Adapt your services

Businesses who have adapted quickly to COVID-19 are already faring better.

As COVID hit, many hospitality venues started offering takeaway options, including alcohol, to keep things running. Gyms offered online workouts. Beauticians offered Skype Makeup lessons. Doctors and medical clinics took appointments via Facetime, and many still do.

Businesses had to adapt the way their employees would work for them, as things moved remote.

If you’re in an industry where there are viable ways to take your business online or adapt in different ways, then why wouldn’t you? Or if you’re in an industry where it’s just not possible, can you offer gift vouchers or other ways to get some sort of income stream happening?

Can you rent out equipment to use at home? Can you create downloadable content that people would pay for? Look outside the box or talk to your digital marketing team for ideas. 

Associate your brand with good

If you have the capabilities to do something good during this crisis, then do it. When done with authenticity and genuine kindness and concern, brands that stood out and helped out during difficult times, are brands remembered fondly.

Not only that but sharing this feel-good content promotes positive messaging and helps counteract some of the anxiety people are feeling at the time. However, companies need to show that their contributions are material and not solely for commercial benefit. 

Is it possible to donate to charities or food services? Are you able to provide free products or reduced-price items to essential workers? Are you capable of producing much needed medical supplies? Can you volunteer your services in any way?

We believe brands that are promoting acts, not ads, will be better received, as brand promotion can seem insensitive in this climate. Just look at the team at Bacardi, who used their distilleries to make hand sanitizer, or Guinness, which pledged funds to bartenders. They are companies we want to get behind. 

Communicate with clients

We’ve all received those emails from every single business we’ve had any contact with telling us how they are “keeping us safe” during coronavirus. Which is great, but for a lot of these companies it seems to be a “one size fits all blanket approach”. Businesses who communicate with customers simply, clearly, and directly about how their services will be affected and offer solutions are those that will stay a step ahead. 

You need to ensure that your clients know they are the priority, despite everything else going on. You can do this by keeping communication open, updating them when you have information, and providing multiple ways they can contact you from email, phone number, and social media messaging. It’s also important to make sure your messaging isn’t insensitive or tone-deaf amid the crisis. Make sure you double-check any already scheduled campaigns as well.

Even as we begin to recover from the COVID crisis, you still need to stay in touch with your customers and remain sympathetic.

Ensure your information is correct

Keeping your website updated and having correct online business information is crucial. You might have varying operating hours, limits to how many people you can have in the store, or other key information your customers need. Having the right information ready to go on your Google My Business is imperative.

Google did recently announce some of GMB’s features have been temporarily removed due to COVID-19. However, there are no changes to how you edit your business descriptions to reflect any updates to services or product availability and contact information. If you have any trouble with this, get in touch. We can help. You should also keep other business listings like Tripadvisor or Apple Maps updated as well. 

Expect change in your campaigns

Even now, we are seeing our client’s websites with unusual traffic patterns. Under normal circumstances, we’d look for seasonal changes, Google algorithms, or core updates, or check the technical health of websites for an explanation.

If you are keeping an eye on your website traffic and your digital marketing campaigns understand that these are times you haven’t encountered since you first published your website, nor in your lifetime.

Comparing this period to that of the previous period or year is not going to be accurate in understanding the current or future behaviour of your website visitors. Any type of forecasting relies on historical data to predict future trends. Given the volatility of the situation, it’s best to leave the data deep dive for when things are returning to normal.

Prepare your business for bounce-back surge

With the release of the COVID-19 vaccine and a world where COVID is under control in sight, we need to reconsider the way we market.

How you use these first few months will determine how quickly and how well your business will thrive. You need a planned course of action pointing the way to the position you hope to attain. It should explain what you need to do today to achieve your objectives tomorrow. 

Look at the products and services you wish to prioritise post-corona and tailor your marketing towards these now. Plan a content calendar of blog articles and onsite content for the coming months. Start creating social media content and campaigns now. Update your products online or refresh your website if it needs an overhaul.

Ask customers for reviews if possible. Prepare your business for the government changes necessary. Start a waiting list if you’ve been closed for the post-corona surge, and ensure you have the space and staff to meet these.

We’ll be okay.