While no one knows what the post-coronavirus reality will look like for marketers, one thing is certain: In an environment where physical interaction is expected to be reduced for an extended period, digital channels are now more important than ever.
Learning from the country’s most severely affected by the pandemic so far, online channels will play an increasingly crucial role as more people are required to seclude themselves at home. In Italy, where the overwhelming number of cases has necessitated a complete lockdown, Internet traffic has been on the rise. During the early stages of the response to the coronavirus, Internet traffic in Italy increased by between 8% and 20%. Once the government ordered quarantines across the country in mid-March, online traffic soared 30 percent above regular levels.
This is where marketers can make a difference. When it comes to providing consumers with personalized, relevant and current information online, marketing technologies will play a key role. The same applies to responding with empathy to a new set of needs and constraints imposed on consumers.
Brands and companies are rushing to change their marketing strategies to meet business objectives in this new environment. To help marketers make the right decisions, we offer the following 5 Changes to the Digital Marketing Strategy during the Coronavirus pandemic:
1. Redefine your business goals
An altered landscape requires a deep reassessment in terms of marketing strategy and overall business goals. Marketers can use their work-from-home time to reflect on their brand purpose and define a new set of messages.
Start you’re brainstorming process with questions like: What do your customers expect from you at a time like this? What do they need to hear? Can you make life easier for them by offering longer pay and return periods? Does your brand satisfy a critical need in these uncertain times?
If so, make your critical contribution the central focus of your messages. If not, will your brand need to redistribute marketing budgets and redirect consumers from physical stores to online stores? So updating your marketing plan and budget allocations is the next step. The funds needed could come, for example, from events, which 41% of US B2B marketers planned to increase in 2020 before the virus spread.
2. Save messages for critical communications
Before sending a coronavirus-related email to your entire database, remember: you are communicating in a highly message-overloaded environment right now. Consumers are overloaded with messages from their employees, doctors, mayors, governors, and schools. They have to install new apps that allow them to work and study at home, so make sure your message counts, and use targeting to your advantage during this time.
Canceling an event, product launch, or service offering? Do you have critical information about product inventory or delivery times? A new policy to aid COVID-19 relief; Of course, a message to all affected consumers will be justified. However, silence is golden when it comes to addressing the pandemic by email right now. It is not a marketing trend or a must have, although many companies are joining.
In that sense, carry out a thorough audit to control the frequency of your regular marketing automation. How much is too much? How often do your clients want to hear from you in a time of crisis? Crossing the line can annoy customers who have to deal with massive disruptions at a rapid pace, perhaps even souring your brand reputation for life. Let them come to you, making sure that consumers can easily find answers to your questions (see 4. Reception)
3. Use Omni channel to your advantage
Redefine your company’s goals and help identify the strengths of your brand’s Omni channel offering. All brands with physical stores are having their hands tied by the current state of mandatory government closings of their stores and have to redirect their customers’ traffic to their online stores. Even before these closures, US shopping malls were already suffering, with 40 percent of consumers avoiding them, so marketers had some time to respond.
Make sure that marketing automation – including geo-fenced triggers – no longer sends push notifications for visits to physical stores. Instead, create campaigns to reward online purchases, for example by doubling reward points on digital purchases or creating discounts and BOGO offers. Do you have the key data to identify your most loyal customers outside the network? If so, how can you specifically convert them into online customers?
While people wait at home for the situation to be resolved, a little personal recognition goes a long way. Using consumer data from profiles on your customer data platforms (CDP), offer personalized experiences across channels and devices. Although the actual shopping experience is difficult to replicate online, individualized product recommendations created with AI engines and delivered at scale or special offers will make your message stand out from the rest.
4. Put your inbound marketing to the test
Considering the expected increase in online traffic, are you prepared for more consumers to proactively find your business? Or come indirectly through the magic of SEO and SEM? Take the guesswork out of testing all of your inbound marketing strategies – including websites, chatbots, resources, videos, how-to content, brochures, and more. For a wide range of search journeys;
Has your geographic marketing been updated to redirect localized searches to your online store instead of physical locations? Do your stories and video blogs offer answers and strategies to the current questions? And what about voice search?
Bearing in mind the above, keep in mind that it is a good time to update the frequently asked questions on your website, which also benefits your positioning in voice search, with new information regarding COVID-19 and the current one; Discontinuation of the sale in physical stores. Use data from web sessions and customer service centers (see 5. Data) to see what your consumers need specifically at this time;
5. Analyze and measure everything
In this reality disrupted by COVID-19, new search patterns and trends will emerge almost daily. That’s why data analysis and reporting are more crucial than ever. Knowing which pages your consumers visit and what kind of searches they perform will help you fine-tune your marketing message on the fly (see 1.) and deliver relevant content that resonates.
Ask yourself questions like: Who are your most valuable offline customers and how can you push them towards online conversion? What emails and messages are creating the most engagement right now and can you create more? Do you have locally relevant information for consumers who live in a specific area? Can you identify nurses, doctors, cashiers, police, firefighters and others who keep critical services running while everyone isolates them, and maybe you want to send them a coupon or a token of gratitude?
For us at Selligent Marketing Cloud, having actionable data about consumers is key;
In times like these, it’s about harnessing that power and combining it with smart ideas for specific campaigns based on real-time data. While you’re at it, maybe it would be a good time to make sure you’re up to date when it comes to complying with CCPA, GDPR, and other data privacy regulations (you can always visit our Data Privacy and Security Center).
The coronavirus pandemic is causing alarming levels of uncertainty and frustration for everyone. But marketers are already responding with empathy and creativity. As theaters in the United States close their doors to the public, major movie studios are making the switch from releasing current blockbusters directly to streaming platforms. Live streaming of events and concerts is also underway and new marketing and advertising models will emerge in the process.
On the bright side, we collectively face this crisis in a world that is more digitally connected than ever. Can you imagine how the COVID-19 pandemic would have developed in 1995, when the Internet was in its infancy and critical information traveled much more slowly?
Today we have the tools to understand what consumers need right now and respond with personal relevance on an unprecedented scale. This will be key, as long as consumers physically distance themselves but remain digitally connected, perhaps closer than ever.
In the coming days and weeks we will provide more useful content around the coronavirus (COVID-19) and digital marketing. Also be sure to read our explanation on how Selligent Marketing Cloud is supporting efficient digital communications amid the fallout from COVID-19.