It’s a time of uncertainty with the COVID-19 social distancing measures being mandated, affecting both consumers and businesses alike. A lot of our clients are just like you – they’re not sure what this means for them and what they should do with their digital marketing efforts. Should we stop advertising? Should we stop all marketing to save on budget until this is over? The short answer is… no business is alike, so there isn’t a simple ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer (See my other insight “One Size Fits All: Great for Cool Hats, Not Great for Digital Marketing”).
Our clients are responding in multiple ways. InvestED, an education focused nonprofit is refocusing $250,000 of their efforts to support Washington state students and their families that are impacted by school closures. Some clients are thriving with their product offering, and to be transparent, I’ve recommended some clients to pause prospecting ad spend (we’ll never tell you to spend budget when a ROI isn’t in sight).
With this in mind, here are a few things to consider when making decisions on your digital marketing efforts.
1. Keep a Cool Head and Look at the Big Picture
Whether the social distancing initiative lasts the initial two weeks, or two months, we know there will be an end to this awkward period of time, and we will return to our norm. With this in mind, make sure you’re not being too short sighted and overreacting. Review your monthly, quarterly and annual goals and how the decisions you make now may affect your sales funnel in 2-3 months from now. A few questions to ask yourself:
- Who is my target audience? How do we envision their activity over the next two weeks? How can we best serve them?
- What can we do right now to help us get back on track, continue success, or even thrive after this is over?
- If one type of marketing (ie. prospecting social advertising) doesn’t make sense right now, can you repurpose your time, energy and budget to achieve other goals? What can you check off of your list of “I’ll get to this one day” that will help you grow?
2. Take Your Audience and Your Buying Cycle into Consideration
This is where businesses tend to differ the most. Depending on your audience and buying cycle, it may make sense to ramp up ads, maintain your campaigns, or shift your existing strategy in a different direction. A few things to consider:
- If your product or software is something consumers want at this time, consider running a promotion and turning up your advertising to showcase this. Don’t forget to flesh out your entire digital sales funnel so the user experience stays consistent.
- If you have a longer sales cycle, engaging users (that will be more active online) now, might help you sustain a good sales funnel (form fills, email captures, remarketing, etc). If you deviate away from your marketing now, you may feel effects 1-3 months from now.
- If you’re a service that people often shop around for and plan multiple months ahead, consider running a promotion, where clients can prepay in exchange for savings (ie. spend $200, get $250 of value). This will help your cashflow now, keep your customers engaged, and ensure you don’t take a financial dip once you’re ready to turn things back up.
3. Consider Repurposing Traditional and Event Marketing Budgets to Digital
Events are getting rescheduled and attendance for future dates is seemingly uncertain. This doesn’t mean your networking, product showcase and sharing your expertise has to wait. By moving your efforts digital and being smart with targeting your audience or existing network, you can still drive meaningful interactions that can help you achieve brand exposure and sales goals. Utilize your website, email and social media outlets as a marketing tool. Make your keynote presentation into a webinar, or create a highly anticipated digital product launch.
A Few Client Examples
We’re all about showing, not just telling, so here are a few real examples on how we have adjusted digital marketing campaigns for our clients.
- A client in the travel industry is utilizing their time to knock out a handful of long term website optimizations that will have long term effects instead of active brand building focused advertising. This will set them up so once we turn ads back on, their user experience and conversion rate will both be improved.
- A service based client with a longer sales cycle is maintaining their brand awareness and service advertising efforts. We’re moving their ads to be more consumer friendly (less conversion focused) and providing interesting reading material crafted for higher social interaction and cheaper clicks to their website. The goal is to continue to build brand recognition and newsletter subscribers they begin nurturing.
- A national consumer goods brand with both an e-commerce and retail presence is providing (and advertising) temporary free shipping sitewide incase customers aren’t able to make it to a storefront to purchase.
Take advantage of this time of uncertainty to be creative with your marketing and aim to not just sustain, but to grow and serve your client base (and potential clients) even better. If you’re still questioning what you should do during this time, just reach out! Brainstorms are always free (plus, we love them). We’re here to help.
Alan Hwang, Director of Growth | firstname.lastname@example.org