Crisis breeds innovation, COVID19 will change the way we do business forever. The landscape will look very different on the other side. A “great reset” will follow. Scary for some, unprecedented opportunity for the ambitious. It’s not about predicting what might happen, it’s about being prepared.
What should we be posting on social media during COVID-19?
Devise a communications strategy and keep your community informed:
- Are you trading, are you open/closed?
- Do you have amended trading hours?
- What measures have you taken to ensure customer and client safety is paramount?
- Keep customers informed on how you are navigating the current situation.
- Think long term, how you treat your customers in a crisis will pay you back in spades.
Build new campaigns specific to the current climate and test creatives, keep content evergreen. Understand your audience, put yourselves in their shoes and position your product or service as a problem solver.
How to build a sensitive marketing strategy?
Practice responsible marketing.
Devise a communications strategy and keep your community informed:
List of Don’ts:
- Don’t be tone-deaf
- Don’t take advantage of consumers for a short term win
- Don’t be pushy
- Don’t appear desperate
- Avoid heavy discounting of your product or service
In its simplest form, use common sense and build trust and loyalty in these times.
For example at Digital360 we are in a nurturing phase, We aren’t aggressively pitching new business. Focus on adding value to every touchpoint and customer interaction. Stay engaged with your pipeline, those relationships may translate into a future relationship. Position for the long term and be extremely responsive to your customer base.
Post COVID-19 what will the digital marketing landscape look like, and what will the new normal be?
Savvy companies will take the opportunity to increase their market share.
Others will reduce, pause or go into prolonged marketing hibernation as they await a clearer picture to emerge.
Those who choose to hibernate will find it increasingly difficult to recapture lost market share as competitors accelerate their efforts and budgets in a quieter market.
Companies who choose to accelerate their efforts will increase their market share, allowing them to gain a significant slice of the market for costs substantially lower than pre-COVID-19 market conditions.
Google Adwords impression share data, cost per click data and Google Trends can provide you with excellent statistics of how market dynamics have changed and continue to change.
76% of companies have picked up new habits, behaviours and changed elements of how they operate in light of COVID, adapt your marketing strategy to suit the new normal.
Should we tailor anything differently or pivot to attract and maintain a client base?
For customer acquisition focus your messaging and campaigns to show your prospect that you see the world through their lens, understand their challenges and how you can solve their problems. They are now facing new challenges they have not had to encounter before. Your marketing message should reflect understanding and problem-solving.
Maintaining a client relationship is the easier of the two, they know you, they already trust you. Focus on brand loyalty.
Is there going to be a delay in processing an order? Be upfront, don’t shy away, communicate and get on the front foot.
The human spirit shines bright in times of adversity, customers will be forgiving in these times. Communicate and brand loyalty you will build is priceless.
Developing a user-generated content strategy to drive customer engagement levels is a cost-effective method of driving new business and maintaining existing relationships, the sense of community helps others feel they are not isolated and part of something making a difference.
There are potentially lots of businesses coming out of this, how to get ahead of the competition.
From a business perspective, take the opportunity to get your house in order. Identify inefficiencies and areas of your business that are underperforming and make decisions.
Improve the product delivery of your solution, stand out from the crowd. We have been hard at work internally reviewing every facet of our business. How can you gain a competitive advantage?
From a digital perspective, invest in CRO and test, test, test. Can you improve your conversion rates by 1%? Small changes and improvements compound into substantial wins.
For example, you generate 10,000 sessions per month, your conversion rate to sale is 3% and your average yield is $1,000 per sale. Increasing your conversion rate to sale by 1% will generate an additional 100 sales per month which equate to an additional $1.2 million in revenue per year.
Ensure your content strategy is helping customers skip through the marketing funnel. Customers are lingering in the consideration phase of the funnel, researching now and buying later. Quick converters are taking more time before committing to a purchase. Quality content answering questions at each stage of the funnel will provide you with the greatest opportunity to convert prospects to a sale.
Justifying the spend on digital marketing during the current climate.
It can be a difficult decision, the immediate instinct may be to cut costs ASAP. Revenue is falling, the pipeline is shot and holding onto cash becomes priority number one.
Now the initial panic of COVID has subsided, the question turns to growth. If your business has been affected by COVID what’s your plan to acquire new customers to replace the customers you have lost?
Can you afford not to invest in digital marketing to attract new customers? Invest smarter, understand the ROI of your digital marketing activities and invest in the channels that are providing you with a return.
Many markets and niches are less competitive than pre-COVID. Your spend will get you further, get in front of your prospects and strip market share from your competitors to inherit a larger slice of the market as it rebounds.
At the time of writing, I have seen many industries substantially ramp up their efforts as the race to acquire new customers heats up, resulting in higher bid prices than pre-COVID. The majority of your competitors will spend for the sake of generating activity without doing the maths. Understanding your ROI and LTV (customer lifetime value) will provide you with a competitive advantage to invest more wisely.
How to measure digital marketing effectiveness/ROI when spending needs to be monitored so closely.
Work with a quality digital partner that can provide you with this information, if you are not getting it, find a new provider.
Is your digital partner is showing you flashy reports with graphs of sessions, engagement statistics and conversions? If so, it is difficult to ascertain your lead relevancy percentage, if that lead generated a sale, the value of that sale and the lifetime value of that sale to understand true ROI. (E-commerce excluded)
If your digital partner is unable to provide you with this information, as a minimum ensure call intelligence software with dynamic numbers per marketing source is set up and firing. Ensure goals (such as form fills) are set up in Google Analytics to provide you with accurate conversion data. Ensure events are not set up as goals which pollute your conversion data and reporting.
We are thankful that we have built a platform that provides our clients with end to end marketing attribution so we can show our non-e-commerce clients true ROI on all their marketing investment. If you’re not getting it, work with us?
The other platform which can help highlight lead to sale is HubSpot. Work with a quality implementation specialist to ensure you are getting the best insights from your installation.
Alternatively, many long hours building spreadsheets, normalising data across various sources is another option. Cross-referencing lead and customer lists in your CRM with invoices in your accounting system can provide you with vital insights but is time-consuming and difficult to scale.
There are some great BI platforms that can be custom-built for your business if you have the budget and patience.
What markets are performing, which markets aren’t performing and what are my competitors doing?
- Tourism, Hospitality, Events Providers, Bricks and Mortar Retailers
- Food & Grocery, Homewares, DIY, Professional Services, Trades and Aged Care
Those experiencing difficulties have experienced up to a 70% drop in organic sessions and 90% in revenue. There have been some rebounds from those lows in most industries as consumer confidence increases. Industries fortunate to be in verticals which have benefited from COVID have seen increases in organic sessions as high as 275% in a matter of days and weeks. Revenue increases have also been at record highs for businesses able to facilitate the high increase in transactions over a short period of time.
70% of companies over 500 people, reduced or paused their marketing spend since mid-February. 16% are still to determine what their future budgets will look like. It’s quite a staggering statistic.
Thankfully we haven’t found it to be quite as extreme in the SME space as most companies on a temporary pause or reduced programs have re-engaged to previous retainers as they look to capitalize on quieter market conditions.
Which marketing channel is driving the greatest return?
For new customer acquisition, we have found intent-based marketing, ie. SEO and Google Ads are providing the greatest ROI in this period.
For customers with an existing database of active and inactive customers at their disposal, running email and or SMS campaigns provides an extremely cost-effective method of generating a return vs new customer acquisition. Ideally, a marketing strategy utilizing a combination of both will drive you the greatest returns.
Social platforms currently represent value for money with lower CPM’s however we haven’t seen the same levels of return as intent-based channels.
Is my market expected to grow or contract?
This is a common question we get asked, keen to understand what’s happening in their market.
The initial shock and awe of COVID subsided mid-April and lasted approximately 4-6 weeks before the signs of recovery appeared.
For markets that have contracted I expect these to remain softer as COVID affects our economy in the coming months and potentially years to come. For competitive industries that have experienced a contraction, we expect to see a rush back to the market as companies attempt to recoup losses, however, this will not be sustainable. True market size indicators should be monitored carefully in the coming months.
For markets experiencing growth, I expect many of these to normalise to pre-COVID levels as we embark on the new normal. The best example of this is our supermarkets.
Excitingly, new industries and verticals will emerge. For example, work from home specialists providing turnkey equipment packages for home office spaces, renovation companies as workers repurpose their homes for permanent working from home will all be lucrative opportunities as the workforce adopts a permanent setup or home/office split.
Market activity across the board will be dictated by discretionary spend, unemployment figures and migration.
The longer the borders remain closed the tougher it will be for Victorian and Australian businesses to grow as population growth grinds to a halt.
This increase in population has provided a fertile ground for business growth in the last 20 years. A new playground has now been formed, the best will thrive and the weak who slowly embrace change or have a substandard product offering will not survive.
Is there an opportunity in my market to pivot?
For smaller companies, it’s easier to pivot as they often have the nimble infrastructure to adapt to change quickly. Mid and large size firms are stuck in a series of meetings trying to make a decision, presenting an opportunity for smaller operators.
We have consulted with many of our clients to execute a successful market pivot. Many have adopted a partial e-commerce model or online consultation model in light of their businesses unable to trade in the short term. Many of these pivots will be permanent additions to the business, opening up new revenue channels they never thought possible or realistic to penetrate.
My advice would be not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, pivot to survive but also take this opportunity to work on your product or solution. Those who are investing time and money into these activities be further ahead as the dust continues to settle.
Internally our UX team is hard at work scrutinizing, going deep into a battery of user tests to improve our platform to help us generate a competitive advantage as we adapt our go-to-market strategy.
How have a customer’s behaviours changed online? In lockdown are they are searching more/less in my industry?
Research and buying cycles in many have doubled or tripled upon review.
We are seeing users visit 10+ pages on a website, returning multiple times before making the decision to enquire or purchase.
User experience is so very underrated and I cannot stress the importance of it enough!
More downtime on users hands has allowed them to delve deep into researching the market before making a buying decision as companies compete for customers and consumers spend their hard-earned money in an unpredictable economic climate.
High-quality digital assets, evergreen content and a well-researched content strategy will provide you with the best opportunity to re-engage your dormant database or attract new customers.
How quickly can we build an e-commerce store?
This is probably my favourite question I get. Building a store is often a knee jerk reaction. There is an assumption that building an e-commerce store is a licence to print money. My existing customers will just shop online with me instead of coming into the store, right?
The best short term success with new store launches is marketing to existing customer databases to generate sales and provide your customer base with an alternative, seamless buying experience. On the flip side, we have seen many others in the industry quickly open stores that generate no sales and scratching their heads as to why? Many of these were not digital adopters prior to COVID and are quickly trying to adapt and figure out how e-tailing is a different game to traditional retail.
In bricks and mortar retail, you pay a premium to Chadstone to generate customers and foot traffic. Online stores are no different, digital marketing generates you new targeted audiences and store visits. Instead of paying a landlord for the privilege of that traffic, we need to pay the Gods of Google, Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin.
If your guiding your customers on transitioning to e-commerce, ensure budgets are available for short and long term marketing strategies and the business is geared in the back end to facilitate online orders.
Is now a bad time to start a new business?
Recessions are tough and there will always be naysayers who tell you starting a business is a bad idea. Throw in a pandemic and social distancing and people will think you’re nuts.
There is never a bad time to start a good business. Businesses such as GE, IBM, Disney, HP, Microsoft, EA Sports all started in the midst of a recession. Google weathered the dot-com bubble bursting shortly after their founding.
Here is a list of advantages of starting a new business in the midst of a recession:
- You can run a lean model, with few expenses and minimal overheads you will be able to outmaneuver your larger more established competitors
- High-quality talent is on the market and is looking for work
- Negotiating power, as suppliers and vendors scramble for new business, MOQs or business terms are more flexible
- Less competition. Others will hold off until market conditions improve, some established players will disappear and startups less likely to take a risk
- No legacy – build an efficient model free of legacy issues and systems which otherwise would hold you back