The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus, or COVID-19, a global pandemic. It is undoubtedly a time of uncertainty for all of us.
On the one hand, we’re trying to overcome our health concerns abiding by the lockdown rules, already common to so many countries. On the other, we’re still looking for answers as to what the world’s and our business’ financial and economic situation will look like once all this is over.
How long will this ordeal last? What will the new normal look like? How can we get through this period of uncertainty? While we don’t have all the answers, we want to share what we do know, offer some guidance to our customers, and all the companies that are experiencing unexpected changes.
Interested in finding out what the Coronavirus aftermath looks like, how your business can stay on top during this time of crisis, and what you should (and should not) do today to outrun competition tomorrow? Keep reading!
How to Stay on Top During Times of Crisis
First and foremost, take a deep breath, as soon we will be entering our new normal. However, to make sure our businesses survive these crazy times, we need to learn how to intelligently use our marketing efforts now, to prepare for the “coronavirus aftermath.”
Although cutting down on marketing operations may seem the solution to a possible economic recession, be sure that this gut reaction is setting your business up for a long-term, uphill struggle to recover.
On the contrary, in the coming months, businesses are going to become more reliant than ever on their digital marketing strategy. Which, in many cases, will be the deciding factor in whether they make it through the tough times ahead.
For companies belonging to industries that are not digital-native and used to meeting customers in person and in more traditional ways, the key factor will be adaptability. In this sense, adapting may mean opening new channels over web or social media platforms for attracting new customers and for retaining existing ones.
From a marketing perspective, let’s start off by saying that - yes - it’s still appropriate to market your business even during times of crisis such as this, as long as you’re using the right tone, attitude, and means.
If you think about it, the fact that the entire world population will spend most of the time at home in the next few weeks means that your prospects and customers will be spending a lot of time online.
This is the wrong time to slow down your online presence. On the contrary, consider it an opportunity to invest in your online visibility, leadership, and credibility. One way to do that is by providing consistent updates on your business’s progress as well as sharing your business continuity plan. Rest assured, your competitors are working on it as we speak.
An example of this comes from another Asian’s epidemic rodeo, 2003 SARS, which has paved the way for certain businesses and even entire industries to succeed. Believe it or not, Alibaba is what it is today because, in 2003, people were stuck in their homes and decided to try a new thing called e-commerce.
Today, with so many unable to leave their homes due to the virus, many niches of e-commerce have developed unstoppable momentum, and we predict they’ll continue to grow in popularity even once the crisis is over.
In general, businesses and industries that are able to adapt to our current situation will be the ones that thrive and succeed when we enter our “new normal.” This is why it’s vital to maintain your marketing efforts during the current outbreak, and if you cannot afford to grow right now, at least focus on customer retention. After all, awareness and trustworthiness are key for businesses looking to nurture customer relationships that will remain strong in the aftermath of the coronavirus. Always keep in mind that it’s cheaper to retain an existing customer than acquire a new one.
Let’s analyze the main aspect of an online marketing strategy and break down the short and long term effects of a potential marketing cutback.
Search Engine Optimization
Consider organic search as a zero-sum game - your gains or losses are balanced by the gains or losses of your competitors on search engine result pages.
When it comes to your SEO activities, you've spent a lot of time investing in building processes and workflows, ensuring data quality with consistent measurements, building an audience and customer base, and creating high-ranking quality content. So why pause now? It would mean letting go of all the hard work you've put in place up until now, not to mention great results you've delivered.
Let your competitors panic and underestimate the impact of an instinctive decision on their 6- to-12-month business horizon. As their engagements drop, publishing cadence slows, review volume or quality falls off, and they lose traction across channels, you have the opportunity to push ahead and pave your way to success.
Search Engine Optimization is very much a living, breathing, competitive space, and if you’re not actively moving ahead, you’re falling behind. This is the time to stay put and tackle all those potentially impactful SEO and marketing tasks you’ve put on your back burner for so long.
And if you haven’t had the chance to work on your SEO infrastructure yet, what better time than now?
Right now, 70-80 percent of worldwide paid campaigns have been shut down by businesses looking to cut down - what they think are -unnecessary expenses.
This can only have one implication; the moment all this will be over, we’ll register a boom of paid campaigns going live all at once. This can have serious repercussions on the level of competitiveness. If the cost-per-click will significantly increase, companies might run out of marketing budgets sooner than expected or may have to invest more money in order to stand out from the competition.
Additionally, paid campaigns have important implications on brand awareness. One of the long-term effects of running paid campaigns is improving brand exposure along the entire customer’s journey. Once a potential client gets to the consideration stage of the marketing funnel, he’ll be more likely to take your brand into account if you’ve been there all along.
Last but not least, businesses should take advantage of the increased amount of time users are spending on news outlets. This intensified traffic volume can be leveraged by running native ads on these news sites (through Taboola or Outbrain, for example) or with GDN campaigns. More than being an extremely valuable way to boost traffic and improve brand awareness, it can also give businesses important insights about which users clicked on those ads, essential to audience building and re-marketing purposes.
Running campaigns during this time of crisis might sound unnecessary today, but it can help advertisers outrun the competition tomorrow with a lower investment.
Content creation is an essential part of any marketing strategy. Especially in times like these, when it becomes essential to keep in touch with your existing audience and ensure client retention.
Online content will see a surge in availability as more people have time on their hands to consume it, and this spike may outlast the crisis period. Companies that stop investing in content production will be left behind, hence forgotten.
Your audiences see you as an authority - so leverage that. Reassure them you're there for them by showing that your business is still up and running.
Focus on creating high-quality content that is sharable and relevant to the current crisis. Discuss your personal take on the Coronavirus situation, and don’t forget to count on other trusted experts in the field who can provide relevant data.
Share the projects and innovations you’re currently working on that differentiate you from competitors, and promote your good news stories to cheer up your audience.
At the end of the day, positive stories have the power to calm the mind and help us make better decisions before we can go back to normality. Therefore, Brands should be harnessing the power of engaging stories about themselves, and their users, by interweaving the two.
Social Media Marketing
Though some businesses may think that escapism is needed during a time of crisis, experts have found that brands can evoke important emotional responses on social media by engaging on a much deeper level with their followers.
Confusing and inconsistent communication from brands on social media will be more damaging than engaging. That’s why businesses should share content that really resonates with their audience but still keep their identity a priority.
If you can find a way to make your customers feel you share the same emotions and fears, they will continue identifying and engaging with you even once this difficult period is over.
This gives businesses the opportunity to make decisions from a marketing perspective that will resonate with the consumer after this crisis.
If we take a step back and objectively analyze the situation we’re living in from a business point of view, we’ll realize that now is probably the worst time to cut down on our businesses’ online presence.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, younger generations were already living predominantly digital lifestyles and largely preferring online purchases over in-store experiences. But now, this outbreak is going to force people of all ages to rethink how they live their lives and buying habits.
As a business owner, now is the time to rethink how your business is investing in its online strategies and whether you’re prepared to embrace this new approach.
Even if the products or services you offer are designed for in-store experiences, your business can evolve and survive this changing dynamic.
The most effective way to do so is leveraging, or investing in, a comprehensive digital marketing strategy. Content marketing and social media, for example, can help keep customers connected to your brand; an SEO and PPC plan will help you stay on top of your game and outwin competition in the long run.
Companies that learn from extraordinary scenarios such as this, and develop resilience, will be able to sustain growth even in times where COVID-19 has transformed people’s lives.
A key factor in resilience is adaptability; focusing on the future and what we can do to prepare for recovery is crucial.
So, when the coronavirus resolves, businesses that buried their heads will come unstuck while companies that maintained their marketing share of voice will come out on top.
If you’d like to explore your digital marketing opportunities to thrive during this hard time, schedule a free consultation call with us!