2020 has seen unprecedented changes in almost every aspect of life. For many businesses they have being forced to close temporarily, furlough their employees, or down-weigh their business. Some sectors have seen the opposite, with a marked rise in business during lockdown, able to adapt and meet the changing needs & demands of their customers.
With a drop down or cessation of business, many businesses have seen their revenue plummet, and as a result, have had to look into using cash reserves or government help to continue.
During times like these companies look to cut as many costs as possible. One of the first places many look at is to reduce their marketing activity. Pausing Paid search & stopping advertising is seen as the easiest thing to do as it instantly reduces costs. However, as many have found out, just stopping Digital Marketing can have a detrimental impact on your performance.
Fortunately, we are now seeing positive signs of recovery; Shutters are coming back up, places are open, and there is more relaxation of the rules. How can you ensure that your business had a Digital marketing strategy ready for a post-lockdown world?
Here are our top recommendations for areas to focus on:
Keep connected with your customers
Your customers are still out there, and, even if they aren’t able to use your business as they did previously, they still want to be kept up to date. Utilise good Social media accounts to keep your customers informed on changes.
With lockdown affecting everyone in different measures, it’s hard to find clear and concise information. Customers want to know if you’re open or not, what your social distancing is like, or if there are any delays to e-commerce deliveries.
An effective way to communicate this is with custom pop ups on the home page, alongside utilising email databases to distribute updates to customers. Clear messaging delivered in a timely fashion can help to maintain your brand relevancy, reassure customers in times of uncertainty, and be at the forefront of their mind when they are ready to convert.
Minimise any uncertainly & reservations in the minds of your customers so that they can feel confident in your business, ready to use you again.
More and more online searches have been happening during lockdown
One consequence of lockdown has been people being online a lot more; Either furloughed with more free time, or working from home and having more spare time. This coupled with restrictions on shop & business openings has seen people searching online a lot more than previously.
If we look at Google Trends, we can see that terms that previously only gained low traction such as “home gym equipment” saw searches skyrocket once lockdown affected Gyms & restricted movement:
During the same period, searches for ‘Pure Gym’ fell, almost at an inverse to ‘home gym equipment’:
Whilst overall search volumes for brands have fallen, there are still some opportunities to build on your brand and look at where the search trends have shifted away to.
Understand what associations your business may have and see where you can capitalise on this during lockdown. For a fitness gym/class that’s been forced to close, this could be as simple as:
- Moving to online video classes for new/existing members
- Creating custom fitness plans to get people through lockdown
- Weekly check-ins & engagement with members; maintaining a sense of spirit
- Tactical activity on fitness. E.g.
- How to continue eating well
- How to turn household objects into fitness equipment
One of the key strengths of Marketing is being able to understand the market and adapt to it. Many businesses who have performed strongly have been agile enough to pivot quickly: Spotting gaps and opportunities caused by behaviour and making sure that you can capitalise on this. This can be built on by utilising all forms of Digital Marketing to ensure you are still at the forefront in the minds of users.
Maintaining your brand authority
With more and more medical developments, we are starting to see some more clarity on returning to normal. As that happens, consumers will be keen to return to previous habits and support businesses, as well as make up for lost time.
We all like to think that consumers are brand loyal and will return and come straight back, but unfortunately many are simply keen to have the best price or the latest product regardless of what company gets them it.
Businesses who have turned off their Brand activity during lockdown risk losing awareness in the mindset of consumers, quickly replaced by others who are investing and getting their brand noticed. Even if the investment cannot be properly tracked from an ROI point of view, it should still be seen as a prudent investment to capture users later on in the year.
Many industries have started to see or are expecting to see a big release in demand once restrictions are lifted and they return to full capacity. Making sure that you are prepared for this is essential; Preparing content, pushing tactical messaging, and ensuring that when it’s time to press play again, you are ready to go.
PPC advertising is essential during these times. Running a brand campaign helps to promote tactical messaging about ordering/opening hours/reduced services. As it can be updated quickly, it can show a clearer message than the Organic listing.
Generic PPC advertising is an area to consider, but be mindful of both the investment cost, as well as balancing this out with your product and service. With higher costs and lower KPIs, then it should be seen as an awareness piece rather than driving your core sales.
However, depending on your industry, you may need to down-weight spend heavily on products & services that can’t be utilised, or refocus efforts into new markets; Industries and sectors that have now risen as a result of lockdown or are starting to see an increase.
If we look at Pure Gym, historically they would avoid non-Gym based keywords, however there may be an opportunity to promote their fitness app, with a view to converting them to a membership when the Gyms reopen: a brand new opportunity for them created out of Lockdown.
Use this time to Improve your content & website
With less offline activity happening, there may be a lot of free time to now get a lot of activity in order, reviewing Analytics, tidying up the website. One of the key areas to look at is building out your website content to try and push your Organic presence.
Often many businesses find that they get so swamped with day to day that often, some of the simpler things get put on the back burner. Take this time to regroup and start focusing on areas to improve the content on the website. You may have lots of little bits and pieces about your industry and expertise that aren’t yet on the site. This could be used to really help push your authority. Some opportunities could include:
- Expanding out the FAQ
- Improve your productivity by answering all the questions that your team has had to deal with in the past
- Build out an article database & blog content
- Build your brand authority with great content about your industry & product. Offer tips and advice, try and answer questions that your consumers may have. Use the opportunity to write content that engages your customers and keeps them coming back and seeing you as the authority
- Case studies & testimonials
- Offer potential clients some real-life examples of how you’ve helped an existing customer. Outline the problem and your solution to this to help them relate to why they should use your products & services
Alongside this, use the time to review your website and work on all those changes that have been on the schedule. Look at your Search engine?optimisation; both on-page and on-SERP, See if there are any technical changes to be made, do all the links work? Work on your sitemap and structure, and see if there are any opportunities for link building. Invest some time now to improve your website, and reap the benefits when demand starts to pick up again by having a strong Organic presence
See what your competitors are doing
How have your competitors reacted to Lockdown and how are they coming out of it? Being in the same industry this should give you some indication as to where to focus on. Some areas to consider:
- How are their Organic and Paid listings
- Have they maintained a presence or have they switched this off
- Are they using any tactical messaging in their PPC
- What other Marketing are they running
- Signup to their newsletter to see what they are covering
- Review their Social media to see how engaged they are
- Have they updated their website
- What messaging are they running to reassure customers
- How have they changed their business
- Have they changed or launched their core products & services in a reaction to the market
- What are they focusing on; How do their USPs compare to yours
- What calls-to-action are they pushing?
Looking at what your competitors are doing is always a key focus, but more so during these challenging times. With them in the same industry and same boat, then now is the time to ensure that you can stand-out from them, and capitalise on any opportunity available in Digital marketing to be at the forefront of users minds when searching for your industry or brand.
Overall, there are a lot of areas to look at for Digital Marketing in a post-lockdown world. Ensuring that your brand authority is maintained is key, and ensuring that you are agile enough to react swiftly to market changes and serve your customers well will be key.
Ensuring a clear approach to reassure customers and be available for them now, whilst spending the time to prepare for your future activity and your future seasonal plans.
If you’d like any support with your Digital Marketing activity, then why not get in touch today and see how we can help.