Coronavirus Business Survival: Marketing in This New Normal
Coronavirus lockdowns have transformed the way everyone markets their business.
The COVID-19 pandemic has sent waves of change to nearly every industry, all around the world. With stay-at-home orders and the need to adjust business practices to be that much safer— small businesses need to make changes not only to how they conduct business, but how they think about digital marketing.
People are relying more on online connection than ever before, so it’s important for marketing professionals to meet that need and help organizations develop solutions for the challenges they are facing. From focusing more on social and email marketing to dealing with online storefronts— the pandemic is shifting the way we work across the board.
With that in mind, here’s how you can adapt how you’re approaching your marketing and your online presence in this new normal.
Take Stock of What’s Working and What Isn’t
In the wake of COVID-19, it’s a great opportunity to take a step back and really evaluate what approaches are working and what approaches simply aren’t cutting it anymore. According to a Gartner poll of 362 marketing leaders in March, 38% reported that they were using the time to develop “scenarios for planning purposes” to deal with the business disruption of COVID-19.
Every industry has had to think about how it keeps producing profits and keeping customers safe.
It’s important to take a look at your website, what’s happening with your newsletter, and even your social feeds to see what your customers are responding to. We are living in unprecedented times, so it may be a great time to try something wholly new. According to Forbes,
“As millions of people go online for entertainment and more, total internet hits have surged by between 50% and 70%, according to preliminary statistics. Streaming has also jumped by at least 12%, estimates show”
With more people online socializing, learning, and working than ever before, it is paramount to really listen to what your audience is telling you. By taking a look at reports and analytics from various platforms, you can strategize what you can do in the months to come and really optimize everything you’re doing.
Refresh Your Digital Space
Once you take stock of what’s working and what isn’t, it’s also a good time to take a moment to rethink your digital space. From the content on your website to your social media presence, to even how your business looks on Google— it may be time to refresh and re-tool how you’re presenting yourself online.
Updating your digital properties with fresh collateral is an excellent way to keep customers engaged.
Whether this means new images for your website or social media feeds or a total overhaul of content, you can take the time to make sure your online presence is showing what you’re bringing to the table now. You can even take the moment just to update email signatures for the team, so every email has that polish you’re looking for. With more people working from home than ever before, people you haven’t reached before may be finding and interacting with you online. By taking some steps to refresh, you’re ready for this new audience.
Demand can change in the future, so with this digital refresh in place, you’re ready to meet that demand. It’s a good time to try testing out new approaches and potentially experimenting with new campaigns.
Invite Newcomers into Your Ecosystem (With Freebies)
While you’re refreshing and experimenting, it can also be a good time to push invites by offering freebies. Whether it’s an eBook or some assets, by having users sign up for a mailing list for a particular service, you’re adding more people to your audience. While it might seem counterintuitive to offer a product for free, according to a study on free samples, 68% of consumers said the sampling persuaded them to make a purchase and that it can lead to an increase of sales from 600% to 2,000%. This probably because the idea of giving “freebies” ties back into human psychology. As Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist at Duke University, explains in The Atlantic,
“Reciprocity is a very, very strong instinct...If somebody does something for you...you really feel a rather surprisingly strong obligation to do something back for them.”
Just like samples at the grocery store make you more likely to buy pizza bagels, having freebie content can drive customers to your email list and down your marketing funnel. While people are adapting to this new normal, switching it up with new freebies or email campaigns could be just what you need to set up lines of communication and even new leads.
Shake customers our of their uncertainty with a free offer that compels them to engage with you.
Take the Opportunity to Experiment
While we’re sheltering in place, it’s a great time to really experiment with your campaigns. Whether it’s trying new A/B testing, using new pricing strategies, trying new channels, or new technology solutions— think outside the box. Expand the borders of what you typically think the structure of your business can be.
As more people work remotely and businesses have had to completely change how they’re doing operations, it’s become clear that some things pre-COVID are simply not working. This global shift is going to change every type of business permanently and often for the better.
In fact, there have been some shake ups to how customers shop across the board. In a global study by McKinsey it was found that due to supply chain disruptions:
“when consumers couldn’t find their preferred product at their preferred retailer, they changed their shopping behavior: many consumers have tried a different brand or shopped at a different retailer during the crisis. Value, availability, and quality or organic products were the main drivers for consumers trying a different brand”
Just as people change their existing shopping habits, you can change up how your business is working to meet those needs. You can really think to yourself: Is this really working for me or is this the way I’ve been tolds this is supposed to work.
This can be put into place in a variety of ways, whether you’re changing interfaces, how information is being gathered, and even how users experience your service— change it up, get feedback where you can, and grow to meet this new normal. You can take the time to disrupt your processes, reevaluate your customer base, and grow to meet the changing world.
Keep Communication Lines Open
In this new normal, while some businesses have been able to re-open to some extent, such as offering pick-up or carry-out options, many businesses are still unable to open safely. The hospitality industry has particularly been hit hard by these restrictions.
Keeping in constant contact with your audience is critical for maintaining sales in uncertain times.
According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the industry has lost 4.8 million jobs since February, which is more jobs than construction, manufacturing, retail, education, and health services combined. That’s why it’s more important than ever for businesses in the hospitality industry to stay connected to their customers through digital channels. In Atomize’s webinar on global hospitality and Covid-19, they advised that,
“It is imperative to keep up marketing initiatives. This can be on the hotel’s social media accounts, with the help of staff sharing on their own channels or via suitable influencers or media outlets. By finding ways to maintain a public presence and sharing how a property is going through this crisis, both branded and independent hotels can stay at the front of their audience’s mind and get their share of bookings once demand begins to grow again.”
Whether your business is connected to the global hospitality industry or not, it is imperative to stay in contact with your customers via email, social feeds, and other marketing channels so that when they can return, they’ll be first in line.
With more people spending time online than ever, it is also a great opportunity for businesses to strengthen relationships with their existing customers. According to the New York Times, the use of social media and connecting to friends via online channels is only growing, with Facebook traffic increasing 27% and Zoom popularity skyrocketing. The data also reported that people are actually browsing online more so through computers or other online channels rather than smartphones.
Attempting new technology models, pricing strategies—everything should be on the table.
It’s a great idea for small businesses to really focus on cultivating these relationships through email, social, online events. According to a report by Sprout Social, 78% of consumers want brands to help people connect through social and 76% of respondents were more likely to buy from a brand they felt connected to on social media than a competitor.
Doing live streaming events, holding contests, and just prioritizing community management, whether it’s on the comments on your website or on your brand’s social presence, will only boost brand loyalty and even bring more customers into the fold.
With more precautions needed for almost everything, consumers are turning more and more to technology enabled solutions. Whether they’re visiting the doctor or adding groceries to their cart, people are using their phones and computers more for services that are traditionally in person. As USA Today reports,
“Overall online sales have jumped 25% amidst the COVID-19 crisis, while online grocery shopping has seen an over 100% boost in daily sales. Categories related to virus protection products such as gloves, masks and hand sanitizers have surged 807%, the study found. Over-the-counter drug purchases rose 217%.”
Even restaurants that did not traditionally have robust online pickup options are creating online store fronts not only to order ahead, but to sell groceries to consumers as well. In the midst of all of this change, marketing and web professionals need to be able to help businesses face the unique challenges they are facing and create digital solutions for them. Whether it’s running social or email campaigns about a new service to creating a brand new online storefront— it’s important to be flexible and ready to implement technology-enabled solutions. That way marketers and small business owners can really thrive together.
Need Help Getting Started?
These are just a couple ways that you can adjust your marketing efforts in the wake of all of the changes this global pandemic has brought. If you need more help tailoring your solutions, we’re passionate about helping brands find the correct solutions to their unique marketing challenges.
Whether you need to implement new technology-enabled solutions or you’re looking for help with your inbound marketing—we can right-size a solution that works for you.