1. Evaluate the impact on your business
A first fact that cannot be neglected, is the “stay-at-home” policy. This implies a huge shift towards the internet, where mainly social media and e-commerce are booming. In short, this means that out-of-home advertising, such as billboards, printed displays or sampling, will become less important in the coming weeks, and online is and will be the preferred way to reach your audience. Therefore, it will become more important than ever to put the correct customer touch points in place.
How COVID-19 will impact digital exactly is still a rather big question. Studies have shown that search volumes remained rather stable in the past weeks, however there has been a decrease in conversion rates of about 21%. The main reason is that consumers are more hesitant to convert during uncertain times.
However, every business will be impacted in a different way. Industries that have increased performances are mainly: nonprofits and charities, health and medical, business management, finance, beauty and personal care, on-demand media and greetings, gifts and flowers. On the other side, industries that got the biggest hit are: travel and tourism, bars and restaurants, live entertainment, conferences, and fitness. For the retail, automotive, and real estate industries, the impact of COVID-19 varies.
Therefore, we recommend mapping out the impact it will have on your business. Analyze the most actual data available to you, talk to colleagues from different departments (especially customer care), use available third-party data and be aware of important news updates. In general you can’t afford to be otherworldly, you need to be on top of the situation to be able to make the right decisions.
2. Re-define your marketing focus on short and mid-long term
As shown in the trends above, it is important to realize that there is not one single right way to cope with the situation. Reflect on your business and ask critical questions:
- First and foremost: focus on the well-being of your employees or colleagues. Make sure they are working safely from home, or if that's not an option because of the business you're in, ensure they're working in a safe environment with the right protection. Communicate about this in a clear and transparent way. Even to your customers and potential customers. Show them how you are coping with the situation, for example, by providing an extra content box on your homepage, or publish a dedicated post on your social media channels.
- Aside from the human factor, evaluate the practical purpose of your marketing efforts. Are there enough products in stock or resources available to respond to the growing demand? If that's not the case, make sure to communicate this in a clear, transparent way. If necessary, pause your digital advertising.
- Afterwards, evaluate in what way the customer journey could potentially be influenced. In most cases we'll expect the 'evaluation phase' to last longer, which means that consumers might postpone their purchase due to uncertainty. They now have time to research more intensively before they actually buy a product or service. This change in consumer behavior could be perceived as a threat, but when treated correctly, it can be turned into an opportunity.
- Try to keep communicating with your potential customers. You can, for instance, send them more updates via e-mail, post more frequently on social media or put a news update on your homepage.
- Send out an update to your customers when a product is back in stock.
- Request customers to follow you on Facebook or Instagram, where you can also give them the latest updates on products or new services.
- Keep in touch with consumers who have shown interest in your product or service. Communicate with people who have, for example, engaged with you on your Facebook or Instagram page or have visited your website. In that way you'll become more valuable to them. And if you want to go the extra mile: an automated e-mail flow could help you in setting up the right touch points with the consumer during their research and hopefully eventually lead to a new sale.
- Take into account that there is a shift from push marketing (pushing your products towards an audience you find relevant) towards pull marketing (drawing consumers to your product when they show interest). The last thing an organization should be doing now, is be too intrusive towards sensitive consumers.
- Try to revise all your current content and messages.
- Try to figure out how to position your product or service in a positive way. For a bookseller, for example, the coverage on search ads could be extended with more general questions like: "How to keep your children entertained?". However, be cautious and avoid improper media placements. Try to tone it down on messages that are purely commercial.
3. Use extra time efficiently and accurately
As some of the digital activities might become less intensive in the coming weeks, use this extra time as efficiently as possible and tackle the to do’s that have been on your list for a long time. For instance:
- Re-evaluate important landing pages on your website
- Rewrite content with the right tone-of-voice
- Add a creative touch to your communication to be more appealing to your audience
- Improve your website's SEO
- Enhance your website's UX
- Follow some interesting e-learnings or webinars about online marketing topics, tools and trends
- Clean-up your tracking and analytics data and take the time to automate that reporting which you’re currently updating manually on a weekly basis
- Automate certain campaigns to be more relevant and data-driven
There are plenty of things to do! Get together with your team or colleagues and align on a backlog with useful to do’s. It is crucial to realize that the coming weeks will require an agile and flexible approach from everyone. The precautions taken by the government can still change from day to day, and also vary across different countries. Internal and external alignment and communication is now more essential than ever.
4. Show that you actually care
Last but definitely not least: be compassionate and show that you care. It’s essential to show how you are coping with the situation as a business, for both your clients, your employees and the outside world.
Furthermore, as everybody is impacted differently, take the time to realize that some people are facing a much more difficult time. We have seen many companies who have been very understanding with everything that is going on. Ranging from small local companies who are making mouth masks to telecom providers (like Proximus) who offer limitless internet or large enterprises (like Adobe) who are giving away licenses for free.
In difficult times, we can show our most thoughtful side as an organization and as a human being.
Do you need a hand in mapping out the impact that everything will have on your business and how to cope with that?