Creating a digital marketing strategy is tough at the best of times. Right now, it can feel near impossible.
COVID-19 has turned conventional marketing wisdom on its head and even the most experienced marketers are having to go back to the drawing board. In the new world order, no one knows what rules to play by.
But throwing the rulebook out of the window doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, COVID creates a unique opportunity to engage with consumers and foster long term brand loyalty.
I’m going to show you how to create a marketing strategy that fills your funnel and remains sensitive to the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic. All you need to do is follow the 6 steps below!
1. Research Your Target Consumers
If you think your pre-COVID buyer persona still applies, you’re in for a shock. In the US alone, 42% of the workforce now work from home full time, whilst 33% are not working at all. Your buyers’ likes, interests and fears will have been impacted by the pandemic and their spending power may have changed too!
Review your target buyer(s) and create a new profile based on their pandemic-driven behavior. You might even discover segments with a newfound need for your products and you’ll be able to tailor your marketing strategy to them later in the process.
I’d also recommend altering reporting if you compare year on year performance. Comparing sales results from October 2019 to October 2020 is like comparing a cucumber to chocolate cake: impossible. Instead, opt for month-on-month comparisons whilst the situation is so volatile.
2. Re-Evaluate Key Channels
The more time we spend confined to our homes, the more time we spend online. Search, online shopping and streaming have all increased during the pandemic but its social media enjoying the biggest popularity boost. 46% of women and 41% of men said they’ve spent more time on social platforms during the pandemic, so if you’re not already active, it’s time to reconsider how you can use social to your advantage.
I know it can be tricky choosing which platforms will have the biggest impact. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, check out this post, where I discuss how to determine the best platforms for your business.
If you’re already on social media, it’s still worth re-evaluating the channels you’re using. People are stressed and they want to see light-hearted, visual content, meaning platforms like Instagram and TikTok are on the up.
3. Check Ads and Core Business Information
Easy to do but easy to forget! With so many companies working remotely and many having to close up shop for good, customers will be looking online for key business information. It’s never been more vital for your marketing strategy to include regular reviews of your opening hours, contact options, shipping policies and location.
In the same vein, it’s a great time to check in on PPC campaigns you’re running and optimize them for pandemic friendly searching. Phrases like “remote”, “online order”, and “work from” have increased significantly, whilst overall spending on PPC has declined over the past 6 months.
What does this mean? Your competitors are scaling back their digital ads so it’s easier (and cheaper) to get the visibility you want. Make sure you review paid campaigns regularly as search trends are constantly changing.
4. Review Your Content Mix!
From Dalgona coffee to TikTok, the pandemic is creating micro-trends that offer an insight into the consumer psyche. I’ll let you into a secret, they’re not after lengthy, scholastic articles right now. Consumers want content that is light-hearted, comforting and ultimately entertaining.
Anyone else found themselves lost down a YouTube rabbit hole recently? Recent research by Kantar found that in the post-pandemic age, people want to suspend reality when viewing digital ads, which suggests that escapism is key to today’s consumers. Rather than weighing your target audience down with text, introduce content ‘snacks’ such as GIFs, videos and infographics to your content mix.
You could even engage with your audience directly and ask them what kind of content they want to see under the present circumstances. Showing that you’re aware that your audience’s needs have changed and being seen as empathic, can help to increase long term brand loyalty.
5. Futureproof Your Digital Marketing Strategy
It can be difficult to move away from ‘firefighting’ under the present circumstances but it’s important to think about your long-term digital marketing strategies as well as adapting to the new normal.
For instance, are you prepared for a post-pandemic rebound? Recovery may seem like a distant possibility but once restrictions and the threat of illness start to decline, consumer spending is expected to pick up. You need to be ready for the initial rush.
What does your “Welcome Back” campaign look like? What promotions will you offer? How are you going to encourage consumers to spend with you vs. the competition?
Having plans in place early on will enable you to react swiftly to significant shifts in the market, especially if you’ve already secured stakeholder approval.
6. Spread Kindness Not Panic
In times like this, everyone’s got to do their bit. And brands have a role to play in that too! When you’re working through the above steps, be mindful of the messages that you are sending out to consumers.
We’re all thinking about the Coronavirus, so don’t be afraid to mention it and acknowledge how your audience is feeling. However, if your audience ends up feeling like you’re using the opportunity as a cash cow, you could lose them for good!
Above all, your marketing strategy should focus on helping people. If you can directly help consumers navigate these confusing times, then that’s great! Otherwise, focus on what you can do, which may be as simple as offering a product that will brighten a difficult day.
And there you have it! COVID-19 is throwing up new challenges for marketers, but it shouldn’t hold you back from having a foolproof digital marketing strategy.
Follow the 6 steps above to get started or get in touch to arrange a custom consultation!