Let’s not pretend 2020 has been anything close to the expected. From health and politics to travel and culture we’re a long way from where anyone could have predicted.
This has meant very different fortunes for business owners, employees and that includes anyone operating in the digital marketing space. Some businesses such as Zoom have thrived whilst others such as those in tourism and retail have suffered. Due to furlough schemes and unfortunate redundancies our teams may not be at full strength. Due to struggling markets the demand may not be there. Due to political unrest and economic uncertainty consumer confidence is low.
But all is not doom and gloom. Early signs of a recovery are showing their heads. How long this recovery lasts and whether second spikes, or even extended first spikes, are to be seen in late 2020 or even 2021 is very difficult to predict. My personal views are that now more than ever we must protect the people before the economy, but let’s not focus on that for now.
I was recently lucky enough to take part in a live webinar discussion on what you can do now to optimise your strategy with Michelle Carvill of Carvill Creative (you can watch that discussion here). So what should you be considering with regards to digital marketing right now? Here are some core considerations.
1. Seek the gems
You may have been tempted to cease all advertising. However most marketers are reporting that whilst they may have reduced, few have stopped. Advertising can be an expensive game and if the demand is low it can be difficult to justify and easy to cut. However it is certainly the case that in most industries some demands remains. And that demand can be reached for very effective prices. CPCs have been at very low levels on a number of channels and terms. You may be able to reach those still spending for a very effective price. If you don’t, your competitors will.
Also channels such as YouTube and other social channels are seeing significant usage. In fact social media use has been up 30% during the covid-19 crisis. Using these channels to reach your audience can be a great route if you are cutting back on other spend and have the chance to redirect it,
2. Don’t stop the long term essentials
There are many channels and disciplines that take time to show improvements and therefore also take time to show declines. Stopping these areas during a downturn, even one of several months, can cost you on a rebound.
It is vital to keep SEO, organic social media and comms channels such as email, alive. There is a great deal of work that can be done here for little to no cost and they can give you gains if others slow or at least ensure you do no suffer when others recover. It may even give you some long term gains which may mean savings in your paid search strategy when you need it. Do not lose focus on these organic channels.
3. Learn the new normal
One warning I would like everyone to heed is that you may not know what you think you know.
There is no doubt that lives have been changed in the last few months. As a result behaviours have changed. Many of these changes may be permanent. This includes everything from times people use social media, to what they discuss and from online shopping habits to customer service demands.
There is a strong chance that the data you are basing your decisions on, and have always done, is now wrong. Trends are changing so monitor Google Trends, Twitter etc to look for signs and never stop testing. The new normal may be the opposite of what you’ve always optimised for.
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4. Don’t abandon your brand
Brand is always critical but never more so than now. I saw an article today suggesting that brand should try humour to differentiate themselves. I would advise the opposite. This is a very dangerous are to get into. If you get it right it can be fantastic. If you get it wrong it can be brand destroying. And in today’s sensitive environment, the opportunity to get it wrong is high.
Many brands have successfully delivered great initiatives during the crisis. Brewdog is a great example. Using their alcohol to create a hand sanitizer is an excellent brand message, commercial opportunity and one that clearly shows the human side of the business. That company and their leadership is one to follow.
But you mustn’t just jump on the bandwagon. If you can provide something meaningful and useful then get involved. But don’t cynically get involved in the coronavirus story if you have nothing to add. Never have consumers been more astute and more suspicious.
Protect your brand and try and do something new and helpful for those that could do with your help right now.
5. Now is a great time for digital transformation
Finally it is times like this – when there is a chance to focus on things other than pure lead gen – that you can address those items that have been waiting on the sidelines.
Transformation is one of those. getting your MarTech stack right has to be done now. You can;t wait any longer. This has been discussed for many years and anyone who doesn’t have this sorted in the next 12 months will start to get seriously left behind.
Look at Salesforce, Hubspot etc – consider how you can integrate sales, marketing and service. There are some good deals on these platforms right now so the timing couldn’t be better.
But you must also look at the quality of your data. Cleanse and append. Get your processes right. Review your automated messaging, chatbots and reporting. All of this can be done now an put you in a much stronger place to come back to as the recovery picks up.
I hope there is something in here to help shape your strategy. Best of luck with the recovery. But more importantly please look after yourselves and stay safe.