7 Digital Marketing Strategies to Use During COVID-19
Digital marketing matters more than ever during COVID-19. Rather than go out, people are logging on.
This isn't just happening on the consumer side, either. Businesses are using more software tools as they switch to remote work. Rather than schedule in-office demonstrations, they're doing their research online.
Whatever your business does, chances are good your market has moved online. If you want to convince them to choose you -- especially in a tight economy -- you have to up your digital marketing game. Here's how to do it:
1. Redo your market research
The writing is on the wall: COVID-19 will be around for awhile. Many believe the pandemic will have a lasting, permanent effect. In fact, some voices in the scientific community say the world will have to practice social distancing until 2022.
In other words, you can't think of this as "just a phase." Your audience's needs and pain points may have changed for good.
Given the dramatic shift, the first thing you need to do is to gather new targeting data. Basically, you have to unlearn and relearn your audience -- because in some ways, you do have a new audience.
For this, look to the customers who've continued to buy from you. You can use surveys, email correspondence, or even video conferencing tools to interview them.
However you do it, your sample size should be in the dozens. Your marketing strategies will be based on this data, so accuracy is critical.
2. Take advantage of inexpensive ads
Because consumers aren't spending money at the moment, companies are spending less on their efforts to reach them. For the first time ever, Google actually lost ad revenue, according to B2B agency Hawke Media's latest coronavirus report.
Take advantage of rock-bottom ad rates. Because Google Ads uses a bidding system, you may find that you're able to name your price on certain keywords. Winning a bid secures you a top spot for that search term.
What's more, internet traffic has skyrocketed. More people are looking at ads, but fewer advertisers are competing for those spots -- an ideal combination, if you're in the market for digital ads.
As with any marketing tactic, do your research before you break the bank on digital ads. Every audience is different. You don't want to find out your readers find you through some other channel after betting the farm on digital ads.
3. Be helpful
People are deeply concerned about their financial security and physical health right now. The brands they look to are those that are helping customers get through this difficult season.
The key is to focus on contributions, not conversions. Here are some ways you can do that:
Offer payment plans
Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, and untold millions more are making budget cuts because they're worried. A simple but effective way to help is to offer payment plans. Break down installments into smaller pieces and stretch them out. Consider deferring payments until some future date.
Not only will this bring in more business, but it'll boost customer loyalty into the future. You might even snag some positive reviews out of it.
Offer discounts or freebies
There's a delicate balance here: Obviously, you don't want to discount yourself to death. However, being flexible on price can help you net customers who weren't able to afford your products or services previously.
A good middle ground might be small freebies: Why not throw a small bottle of hand sanitizer in with every purchase? That shows you care, and in most cases, the cost pales in comparison to the larger purchase.
Sharing knowledge is a free way to build trust with your audience. Keep them in the loop on how COVID-19 is affecting your business. Share articles with tips about how they can protect themselves. Provide resources, such as mental health help lines, for people who might be struggling.
In addition to the branding benefits, transparency can also help you better understand your customers' needs. Pay attention to feedback on the content you share: You might just learn a new pain point your customers are experiencing, or a competitor they're considering.
4. Check your brand voice
The coronavirus crisis has changed the emotional climate for everyone. Make sure your brand doesn't come across as out of touch.
For example, if your brand voice is typically sarcastic, that might not resonate right now. Don't abandon ship altogether, but do shift toward more serious statements. Consumers are looking for authenticity right now, even from brands like Steak-umm that are known for their happy-go-lucky style.
Audit your web and social media content for anything that could come across as inappropriate or insensitive. Take down pictures that could be misinterpreted. Make sure none of your influencers are spreading misinformation. When in doubt, cut it out.
5. Switch your pitch
In normal times, a great way to pitch your products or services is to use urgency. The trouble is, pressing people to spend through scarcity may create a backlash. Even elements like countdown timers could rub your audience the wrong way.
Don't discard this tactic altogether. Shelve campaigns and content that use urgency because you'll likely be able to use them in the future.
For the time being, try the inverse: Communicating patience with phrases like "When you're ready," or "When you feel comfortable" adds a caring angle to your brand.
6. Try teaching
Online courses and certifications are hot right now. Millions of people have lost jobs and are looking into new careers. In the information age, most of those call for some fresh education.
Under other circumstances, these individuals might consider going back to school or taking an apprenticeship. Between social distancing guidelines and economic instability, however, these options aren't as appealing as they once were.
To drive traffic to your site, put together a course on your area of speciality. If you work at an agency, could you teach social media marketing? What about copywriting or graphic design?
Unless you're direly in need of revenue, avoid charging for your course. If you must, use a freemium model, which provides value even to people who can't pay.
Think of your course the same way you would a blog post or email newsletter: The goal is simply to bring in fresh leads and build awareness of your brand.
7. Maximize your landing page
Landing pages get clicks because they provide value at the cost of the visitor's contact information. Whether through an online course, a discount, or helpful content, take advantage of the fact that people have more time but less money right now.
Before you use those low-cost digital ads to drive traffic to your landing page, make sure it's buttoned up. Concise copy, a clickable call to action, and a caring tone go a long way. Use A/B testing to find what resonates best with your audience.
COVID-19 has thrown a lot of marketing teams into chaos. When -- and frankly, if -- things will go back to normal is an open question.
The good news is, marketers are adaptable. Market conditions change all the time. Shifting with them can help you not just survive, but actually distinguish yourself from competitors who are stuck in their ways.