The Covid-19 pandemic is highlighting all aspects of marketing, as businesses attempt to navigate the challenging time. If you consider that 70% of countries are on lockdown, people are losing jobs, and some industries are in the middle of a huge slump, there is no easy solution to the problem.
Consumer behavior is changing dramatically. Buyers are now at home, browsing the internet more, wanting different things than only 6 to 12 months ago.
In this article, we will look at the top tips for businesses looking to succeed with digital marketing post-lockdown, in an ever-changing landscape.
Tip 1 – Agility and Preparation
During the economic downturn, there is a high degree of uncertainty about what will happen next in the context of quarantines, lockdowns, and social distancing. Businesses are having to act quickly and come up with new ideas that can serve customers who will mostly be in their homes. In the United States, and many other countries, high street retail is limited to essential businesses, but just because customers cannot physically come to you, it is no reason to pause digital marketing.
The chart below from Statista shows what the most searched terms on Google are in the U.K. during the Covid-19 outbreak (April 2020)
There are a few things you could take from these statistics. First, people are looking to purchase hair clippers where they still want haircuts despite salons and barbers being closed. A shrewd salon owner could create content focusing on hair tutorials to answer any questions people have. The boost in SEO could have you find new customers and set up a better position for when you can return to a physical workplace. The other search terms are focusing on the entertainment, grocery, and DIY markets. Putting some time into generating content within that space might help to engage prospective customers.
For any business, think about what customers in the industry might ask during a lockdown and how you can solve those problems. Answer The Public lets users enter a topic and return the questions that are currently being asked online. Have a look at the example below from entering the term “how to cut hair.”
In the six months leading up to September 2020, 60 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance. The hospitality and construction industries have been hit particularly hard due to the nature of their work. Small businesses have suffered worse than most, whereby they don’t have the resources available to survive that the big corporations possess.
A.K.A Kitchen is offering a pickup service and adult beverages to go, as well as creating a viral video about how they are keeping staff and customers safe. The family-run restaurant updated their website with Covid-19 specific messaging, used local SEO to promote their services, and maintained positive content to keep engagement throughout difficult times.
Rise.ai offered Shopify small business owners a 90-day free trial of their gift card program, as a way of gaining customers during a time of need.
The violinist, Gaelynn Lea, decided to hold virtual concerts online for her fans. Viewers are able to make donations during the performance that helps Lea with the losses from not being able to perform live shows.
The takeaway here is that these small businesses are thinking fast and finding ways to reach new audiences and solve new consumer problems.
Big brand responses
Of course, big brands don’t have endless resources to cope with a loss of business. Many are having to try out new marketing ideas and campaigns to keep afloat in uncertain times. A couple of the best approaches are from KFC and Starbucks. Both of these put the health and safety of the customer first over the direct promotion of their products. The brands realised that customers are looking for reassurance and altered the context of their campaigns appropriately.
Starbucks takes it a step further by offering a free drink to healthcare workers and first responders at participating stores.
The KFC and Starbucks examples make use of Instagram for their campaigns. Having a presence on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Twitter is pivotal to help businesses connect with customers and maintain relationships. 72% of consumers who follow influencers in the U.S. and U.K. say they are spending more time on social media since the outbreak and will continue to do so post-lockdown.
Tip 2 – Social media is key
Customers are looking to engage with brands that do more than just sell. They want to connect and bond in meaningful ways, with social media giving brands the perfect platform to reach out to communities.
Some strategies are proving to be successful during the pandemic and look set to continue for the foreseeable future.
Sensitive and empathetic
Indeed, customers don’t want to keep being reminded about Covid-19, but those who say nothing might come across as belligerent. It’s inappropriate to be humorous when it comes to the pandemic, but brands like Denny’s show how you can be positive, inspirational, and helpful. The graphic below shows how they have changed their typical digital marketing to a more applicable campaign while managing to stay true to the brand.
Be careful not to use insensitive words by mistake within your campaigns. For example, terms like “viral,” contagious,” or “spread” may have been entirely harmless twelve months ago but could break a brand today.
As a business, don’t use the pandemic to make the most out of a bad situation. For example, a mortgage broker saying to “take advantage of low-interest rates now” will be less successful than one who offers to help clients through the downturn in the economy. One way to think about it is by putting how you can contribute above how you might convert. The motive of any campaign must be to offer value to an audience.
Audiences will be interested in the stance that your business is taking towards the pandemic. Always ensure you have a clear and consistent message regarding your response.
Celebrity and business owner Kristin Cavallari explains why she is promoting her brand on Instagram, doing an excellent job of being understanding while adapting her digital marketing strategy. It is an excellent way to win business without coming across as overly opportunistic.
Tip 3 – Let customers know how you are helping
Emails, signage, and social messages will help you tell your customers what you are doing to protect their health and safety if they can visit your store. Brands are sharing their cleaning, disinfecting, and hygiene protocols, amongst other messages that exemplify a positive and assuring response.
Keep your brand top of mind
During the pandemic, even if consumers are not using your brand regularly, you still need to keep them aware of what you are doing. Keep promoting your core values and enforcing a personality so that you are not forgotten by the time lockdown is over.
It would help if you found ways to connect with your customers like never before to show that you are empathetic towards their situation. Sal’s Pizza added online ordering, curbside pickup, and delivery to their services. As a restaurant that is set up for dining-in, this was a step away from their comfort zone to show empathy towards the situation.
Gyms could offer online workouts, dentists can create virtual consultations, and grocery stores can follow the example of Sal’s by offering extended deliveries.
Continue to connect
Make sure you post your activity on social media often, and get people thinking about your business. There could be many facets to this, such as responding to comments, joining groups, and following pages. Continue to reassure your customers through challenging times.
Tip 4 – Revisiting old strategies
We have already talked about the fact that more people are online right now during the lockdown, which doesn’t look like slowing down any time soon. It is the perfect time to revisit SEO strategies that have become buried below a heap of other business priorities. SEO is particularly crucial, given the emphasis on helping you get found online.
You will have seen the press about TikTok as the social media craze of the lockdown period. It is the most downloaded app from Apple Store, as people use it to create videos to help boost their profile. A celebrity presence on the platform is forming the next generation of influencers.
Video is easy to consume and the preferred media for those in lockdown.
Work to find influencers that fit your brand. You can reach out to both micro-influencers (following of 40,000 or less) and nano-influencers (following of 5,000 or less). Reaching out to influencers is a reliable way of getting customer engagement. Take some time to generate a list of those that you would like to work with.
Doing more with Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
As people are at home and spending more time looking at their screens, it could be an opportunity to use PPC marketing to connect with them, even if it hasn’t worked for you previously.
A report from Thrive towards the start of lockdown shows that the cost-per-click decreased by 6% across all verticals and was projected to continue doing so. In short, that means you can spend less to generate traffic and pick up some of the organic markets you are losing.
Google offers smart bidding, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to optimize PPC bids for conversion. Using smart bidding tools, you can get the most out of your PPC campaigns and ensure you don’t go over budget.
Bulking up on social presence
According to Statista, 43.1% of respondents say they will use Instagram more if confined to their homes, while 63.7% and 62.3%, respectively, say the same of YouTube and Facebook. If you have old content, now is the time to start posting it on social channels. The type of posts that are winning include:
- Tips about remote working and how to get through lockdown
- Humorous memes and videos tend to be evergreen
- Using influencers to gain trust
Start adding new content to your website and blog to keep customers informed. Insightful content is a boost for SEO and helps position your brand as an industry expert. If you haven’t delved into SEO before, now is a good time to begin and generate organic leads for your brand.
A Forbes report says that mobile commerce is expected to drive about 50% of all e-commerce sales by 2022. Moreover, Google indexes on a mobile-first basis, meaning that the functionality, speed, and content of your mobile site outranks the desktop site. Check that your website is mobile-optimized and allows customers to access your products or services whenever they need them.
Tip 5 – Exploring new opportunities
A changing digital landscape is a perfect time to explore new ways of marketing. There are various techniques that you can try in addition to the tried and tested methods that we’ve already spoken about.
During the lockdown, people cannot travel and are looking for events and services that are closer to home. Local SEO optimizes your website for “near” me searches. For example, let’s say you want to find a Chinese restaurant offering local delivery.
“Near me” searches return a list of any services in the area of the searcher. Businesses should look to update their details to ensure they are picked up when users try to search for them. A Google My Business Page is the best place to start.
You can see our guide for creating a local link plan.
Reviews and testimonials
A good way to attract new customers is to have social proof that you offer the best products and services. Ask previous customers to provide reviews and testimonials for your website. If you go above and beyond to connect with them during the lockdown, there shouldn’t be any reason why they wouldn’t be willing to provide positive text.
Try to stay ahead of whatever activity your competitors are doing. If they cannot offer new services during the lockdown, then see if you can usurp them and build new USPs for your business. For example, if no other restaurants in the area can offer a delivery service, see what you can do to get ahead of them. Added value will win the hearts of lockdown consumers.
Prepare yourself for the new market
Post-lockdown consumer needs are changing. Covid-19 has impacted everybody’s lives whether or not you have tested positive. Everybody is locked in homes, taking precautions, and becoming more isolated than they have been in their lifetime. The new market is all about empathy and support. Consumers don’t want to be pushed into a purchase but need to have an assurance that the brands they are familiar with are doing whatever they can to help.