While many businesses have been forced to cut back or halt their marketing efforts this year, now is the time to start thinking about the future. It’s expected a major recession will have an even larger impact on society than the coronavirus itself. If your business is going to survive and thrive in the long run, you need to adapt your marketing strategy so it’s maximally optimized for the new world order.
Here are a few key strategies you can start implementing to help your marketing program recover post-COVID-19:
This is probably the most important piece of advice for marketers post-COVID-19. You can’t go back to business as usual after a global pandemic that’s impacted just about every person in the world. Delivering the same old marketing message would simply come off as insensitive.
If you want to keep your customers happy and content, you need to send out a clear message that elicits care and understanding. You’ve probably seen numerous examples of businesses already doing this. Allstate Insurance started a loan program for customers impacted by the coronavirus. Verizon Wireless live streams a weekly series raising money to help small businesses during the pandemic.
Failing to reach out to your audience to show that you’re there to help can have a serious negative impact as well. At the beginning of the outbreak, when Airbnb started canceling reservations and leaving hosts to deal with the losses, there was outrage. Hosts felt abandoned by the company and it was making global news headlines. Airbnb then quickly launched their Superhost Relief Fund, a program offering small grants to hosts struggling to make ends meet.
While the fund doesn’t help the vast majority of hosts, the gesture was all they needed to avoid negative sentiment towards the brand. So, try to do something, no matter how small, to show your audience that you care.
While most of the advice in this article relates to marketing sentiment, there are also some strategic changes you can make to improve your strategy post-COVID-19. One of the most purposeful tactics is investing in PPC ads. According to WordStream, conversion rates from Google ads decreased drastically after the pandemic began. This makes plenty of sense because most ads relate to businesses and services that simply can’t be used during lockdowns. Many people have also been impacted financially, consequently meaning they will be spending less.
Lots of businesses have paused or cut back their PPC campaigns as a result. This leaves a huge opportunity to win PPC auctions and gain visibility for your ads at a low cost. It might seem counterintuitive to invest more in PPC when conversion rates are down overall, but the truth is the drop in cost-per-click (CPC) is much steeper than the drop in conversions. The post-COVID-19 marketing environment offers a unique opportunity to maximize ad visibility while minimizing costs.
Every industry needs to make major adjustments to how they market online — some more so than others. For highly affected industries (e.g. travel), it makes sense to take a break on promoting ticket sales. At the time of writing this in May, some cruise ship companies are already publishing ads promoting summer trips.
The majority of people think it’s way too early for that, which makes cruise companies look negligent as opposed to caring for their customers. However, there are some ways you can cautiously promote your business given these uncertain times. Airlines wishing to sell tickets could switch to promoting safe business travel instead of targeting vacationers.
Switching focus to long-term lead nurturing is another option as well. Restaurants or vacation rentals shut down by the pandemic could market to their audiences with a reminder to “save up for when things open up.” If you do a good job of nurturing leads during the second half of 2020, then the chances are you’ll get a lot more sales in 2021.
An advertising message that was perfectly acceptable six months ago could be perceived in a negative way today. So before using your old material, take a close look at it through the lens of a global pandemic. Take a look at this Progressive Commercial that showed in March. It features two women having a dull time at a karaoke night:
This commercial wasn’t well-received because it was released at a time when all anybody wanted to do was go out for a fun night with their friends. Now may not be a good time to feature marketing content with people gathering in groups or frolicking outdoors. Even if social distancing measures are being eased in the countries you market to, it’s better to think about the long term. People are going to be cautious about mixing with each other for a long time to come and there’s a very good chance the public may be asked to observe distancing protocols again in the future. The key message is ultimately to make sure your content is sensitive to that before publishing it online.
Advertising platforms like Google have been making changes to help businesses adapt to marketing post-COVID-19. You can take advantage of these to improve the efficiency of your campaigns and drive more conversions. For example, Google has already made it free for US-based businesses to list products on Google Shopping. If you’re in eCommerce or hoping to start, now would be the time to do so. They plan to roll out free Google Shopping listings to other parts of the world later in the year.
Google has also made changes to their Local Inventory Ads so that businesses can highlight curbside pickup. Even after coronavirus passes, people will still feel reassured that they can pick up products in a safe and hygienic way. Start tapping into these features to drive more conversions.
Since a recession is just beginning, it’s important that your sales and marketing strategy work together to reassure potential customers that it’s a good idea to buy from you at this time. Even if they like your products, lots of people are hesitant about buying with an uncertain financial future.
There are changes you can make to quell these fears. For example, if you sell expensive products, you can offer financing or payment plan options to get more people to buy. If you offer software or subscription services, consider giving customers the first month free. Being flexible with payment during a recession can help you drive more sales overall.
These are just a few key strategies that will play an important role for businesses as they look to recover their marketing program post-COVID-19. In the long run, you’ll need to look out for and take advantage of every new opportunity to maximize your marketing performance. Pay attention to consumer sentiment and keep an eye out for new trends, features, and technologies you can use to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your campaigns.