Going Digital: Balance Structure & Flexibility
What your business does and says during the Coronavirus pandemic will not be forgotten. For big brands with deep pockets, altruism during a crisis can build loyalty that will last a lifetime.
However, many smaller businesses will be focused purely on survival – no matter how much they want to help. To further complicate things, the global crisis is moving so quickly that we often don’t have clear government guidance from one day to the next.
With that in mind, how do you balance the needs of your own business with the problems your customers are facing? The key is to develop a digital marketing strategy which is both structured and flexible. By making the most of digital tools and tactics, your business can navigate the shifting sands, survive and grow during this crisis.
Situational Analysis: Take A Deep Breath & Look Around
Our fight or flight mechanism isn’t always helpful in the modern world. In fact, it generally causes us to lose focus and make bad decisions when we’re under pressure. With that in mind, the best thing to do now is to take a step back and regroup.
You should start by reviewing your resources in order to understand what products or services you can actually offer. The good news is that there has never been a better time to move your business online. WordPress is my preferred tool for most business websites. It’s very affordable and completely flexible. You can start small and scale as your business grows, which is perfect when cashflow is tricky.
WordPress also integrates seamlessly with Woocommerce, allowing you to sell online easily and securely. You can sell physical products, digital downloads, and services. Secure payments can be taken through Stripe, Paypal, Apple Pay, Google Pay and hundreds more providers.
If you provide classes, education or coaching, WordPress integrates with learning platforms so you can still sell your courses remotely. You can even sell appointments and consultations, then make use of software like Zoom to chat face to face.
Next, think about your customers. What challenges will they face over the next one, three and six months? How can you adapt your offer based on what they now need? Consider whether you can change your business to attract a new market. Google Trends is a fantastic free tool for understanding changes in global, national and regional demand.
Then look at what your competitors are doing. Don’t follow the herd if it doesn’t seem right to you. If everyone else shuts down, your voice becomes much louder. Likewise, with fewer advertisers competing for space, rates and costs can drop significantly.
Marketing Strategy: Knowing When to Push and Pull
Once you know where to stand, it’s time to start planning your next move. Understanding the difference between push and pull marketing can have a huge impact on your digital marketing strategy. When people are stressed, scared or angry, it is absolutely essential not to push unwanted marketing on them. But there are still people looking for your products and services, and you need to make the most of that.
Push marketing is exactly what it says on the tin. It involves pushing your message out to people who are not directly asking for it. It’s commonly referred to as brand building or prospecting.
Push Marketing Strategy:
- Continue to build your brand, while others step back.
- Provide extra support to help and retain your customers.
- Share the support and expertise you are offering to attract new customers.
Push Marketing Tactics:
- Social media – behind the scenes footages to show how you are supporting your employees and the community.
- Facebook – run customer webinars and Facebook Live with Q&A sessions. Post video tips and blog articles with advice.
- LinkedIn – share helpful content or reach out to people personally.
- Youtube advertising – post videos answering clients questions and recorded webinars.
Pull marketing involves making your content available for those who are actively searching for it, or those who have already shown interest. These people are more knowledgeable about your products or services, and closer to making a purchase.
Pull Marketing Strategy:
- Continue to serve existing customers and build brand loyalty.
- Capture new customers who are actively searching for relevant terms.
- Target new customers who are planning long term for post-pandemic.
- Work on long term projects to improve your performance for when demand returns.
- SEO and blogging – audit your site, improve your SEO, create new content which serves your target market.
- Google Ads – serve your ads to people who are searching. Lower competition could provide better performance at a lower cost.
- Facebook Ads – re-market to customers who have shown interest but haven’t bought. Lead generation for those not ready to purchase.
- Website CRO & UX – improve the design, layout and usability of your site. Improving conversion rates can offset reduced web traffic.
Marketing Messages: Have Some Empathy
Most people will be familiar with the concept of a marketing funnel. It breaks down your marketing into stages based on the readiness of consumers to make a purchase from Awareness > Consideration > Conversion.
However, as with many common mistakes in marketing, this approach focuses on your sales rather than your customers’ needs. So how do we change that? Have some empathy!
If you really want to get your customers to pay attention and take action, you need to understand what drives them. Almost all consumers buy something to solve a problem. Focus on this problem-solving approach, and your marketing will instantly become more effective:
- Problem Aware – consumers have a problem, but they aren’t sure what to do. How can you help?
- Solution Aware – they know businesses like yours can help. But why choose you instead of your competitors?
- Product Aware – they want your product. But why should they buy now?
During a global crisis, this problem-solving approach becomes even more important. Shift your mindset and think about the following:
- What new problems are your customers facing?
- Are there new groups of people you can help?
- What specific ways can your product or service help in current circumstances?
- What can your do to help customers who can’t afford to pay right now?
Tactics: Keep Calm & Carry On (Advertising)
One of the biggest mistakes many companies make during crises is to cut their advertising budget entirely.
As tempting as it may be to batten down the hatches, now is not the time to go into hiding. Customers may start to question your financial security and ability to deliver. Others may simply forget you exist and switch to a more visible competitor.
You certainly do not want to exploit the situation. In fact, Google and Facebook are actively blocking anyone running ads to exploit the situation. However, you need to remain visible to existing and prospective customers.
According to a data from Twitter Insiders March 2020:
- 77% of Twitter users say brands should continue selling their products as normal.
- 69% agree that companies need to do so to keep themselves afloat.
Furthermore, with many people stuck at home, the use of digital channels is going through the roof. 67% of Twitter users are spending more time on their phones, and 22% of people are doing more online shopping.
Changing customer behaviour isn’t the only reason to keep advertising. If you are in a market which is still in demand, there has never been a better time to advertise online. Wordstream’s Financial Search Ad performance shows that Accountants are currently enjoying 30% higher click through rates at 19% lower cost per click. Similar opportunities are being seen for beauty, personal care, healthcare, home entertainment and more.
Controls: Throw Your KPIs Out The Window
The final consideration for your digital marketing strategy is to be realistic with your expectations. The targets you set for this quarter and year are no longer relevant.
There are so many unknowns that it may prove very difficult to know what’s achievable and realistic moving forward. You cannot control a shrinking market due to the global crisis. Many people will be under severe financial pressures; others will only buy what they deem essential to survive.
However, you can control the quality of your digital marketing, your website, your products and your service.
- For Push Marketing, focus on maximising engagement, video views, estimated ad recall and branded search traffic.
- For Pull Marketing, focus on impression share, click through rates and quality scores. Conversions are out of your control, but your copy, creative and targeting are not.
- Measure the effectiveness of your website content, design and UX through Google Analytics bounce rates and session durations.
- Work on your Conversion Rate Optimisation to maximise your returns from your website traffic. Test different text and imagery on your landing pages to see what works best.
- Finally, customer retention and lifetime value are more important than ever. Don’t undo all the hard work with sloppy service or a poor product.
Suggested Next Steps
There are going to be winners and losers at the end of the Coronavirus pandemic. Some businesses will make a lot of money. Others, sadly, will not survive.
However, every business has the choice to be proactive and do their best to mitigate the threat we are all facing. The tactics to focus on now are as follows:
- Continue sharing content and communicating on Facebook and LinkedIn.
- If you haven’t advertised before on LinkedIn, claim their £50 offer.
- Consider creating a case study on the support being offered to existing customers and your employees.
- Consider virtual/online event(s): Q&As, networking, informal catch-ups
- Promote your newsletter as a free helpful resource during the crisis
- Prioritise SEO and blogging. Re-write previous blogs if they didn’t perform.
- Improve website UX & CRO. Gather feedback from existing customers and ask what they want to see.
- Make use of Google Ads and receive a free £75 coupon if you haven’t used it before.
- Review search queries and keywords to understand how interest is changing. Monitor Auction Insights to gauge competition.
Finding the right balance between push and pull will depend on your industry and particular business. If you get it right, you will weather this storm far better than those who sit back and curse their luck.
If you have any questions at all about your digital marketing and website, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also book a free consultation to discuss your business, with no obligations and no hard sell.