In just a number of weeks almost every aspect of our daily lives has ground to an almighty halt, taking with it our expectations for the months to come. While we all grapple with the realisation of this new normal, we are seeing our personal and work lives being impacted in new ways each week. Amidst concerns over public health, we also have to consider the wellbeing of our businesses during this period of vast uncertainty.
While some marketing activities might seem redundant at the moment or like an unwise use of budget, there remains a real opportunity for brands to grab hold of the reins and steer them into the future that will come beyond lockdown. Look forward and make the most of the marketing channels and activities at your fingertips and realise their potential; how can you leverage these simple tools to your advantage? If ever there was a time to get back to basics, we’re in it. Our Director of Channel Planning, Tala Cook shares her thoughts on how businesses should refocus their attentions during this period:
“At a time when all businesses are looking to trim back costs, invest marketing spend in your organic, owned channels to get more mileage for your budget and keep communication with your audience going, whatever sector you’re in and whether you’ve remained open or not”
We look into the opportunities still afforded to us in the time of COVID-19, through organic channels and owned content.
With a significant portion of the workforce now at home and passing the time online, it is the perfect time to ensure that your online presence is felt more than ever. This can be achieved through focusing your efforts on optimising your email marketing strategy, diversifying and expanding your website content and increasing your brand visibility on social media.
The key benefits of focusing on these organic marketing channels are budget and control. These channels are low in cost to run, at a time when retaining control over budgets and cash flow is a top priority. Additionally, these channels give brands full control over responsiveness and engagement with your audience, attributes more important than ever with the increase in consumers spending time online. You can be fleet-footed and remain on top of trends and consumer communication to adapt as the situation unfolds with the immediate nature of social, email and website marketing.
Focus on email marketing strategy
Though often overlooked or thought of as old-fashioned, during this time email marketing has come to the fore as a key means of customer communication and retention. Increased media spend is not proving as successful as in business-as-usual, meaning that communicating with new consumers is not generating strong ROI, unless your business is one of the very few selling essentials at this time. As such, leveraging your email database of existing customers and contacts is more important than ever. Having previously purchased from, worked with or at the very least interacted with your business, this audience is more likely to convert or take the action you want them to take.
If your business is product-led, email marketing provides you with a prime opportunity to promote offers and discounts during lockdown, one of the most effective techniques we have seen from brands at this time. Free delivery or multi-buys work particularly well as consumers rely on home delivery and look for efficiencies in purchasing from their favourite brands. Consider promoting these offers as exclusives or first-looks; an incentive to reward loyalty and previous purchases to nurture your email audience further.
In the case that your business is service-based, think about what you could offer in the place of product discounts. Is there an opportunity to run a competition for vouchers to be redeemed in future? Discounts on bookings now to be valid for a longer period of time? Not only does this offer reward existing customers, it suggests a forward-thinking and innovative approach on the part of your business which reflects well on your reputation.
Avoid the flurry of “stay safe” style emails – while this may have been the done thing a few weeks ago, the moment has certainly passed. Unless your business operations are impacted to such an extent that it affects your service, such as delivery times or customer service availability, avoid general updates like this and focus on driving action with your audience as they adjust to the new normal.
Don’t take your eye off the ball with social media
Organic social is often the easiest and most effective way of keeping a constant flow of communication between your brand and your audience. It’s the strongest way to display your brand personality and the most relaxed and light-hearted way of engaging with your customer base. While it is always essential to engage with your customers and be responsive on social media, now it is even more so; people have more time on their hands and will greatly appreciate a brand with quick responses to queries. The opposite is also true, with customers opting to select brands that are better at communicating with them.
A good strategy if you’re not typically very active on social media is to ramp up your posts at this time; while trade may be slow, increasing your brand’s presence and visibility guarantees it will remain front and centre in the minds of consumers when everyday life settles into a more normal routine. If you are usually active, don’t let this slip or be tempted to reduce posts because your business isn’t operating as normal – it’s important to maintain the reach and engagement you’ve built up and keep communication with your customers going. Tala highlights the importance of maintaining communication:
“Remember – your audience will still be there after lockdown ends! Make sure they remember to come back to you by using social channels and content to keep engaging”
Social media provides a window into the sentiment and mood of your audience, as well as conversation as this situation develops; continual monitoring of these platforms allows your brand to remain on top of viral content and trending topics. As much as it’s important to capitalise on these trends, don’t be afraid to start your own! Think outside the box and identify your own opportunities to lead trends. Scrolling through social feeds can become incredibly same-y for users- try to create content that will ensure your brand leaps off the screen!
Take a second look at your website
Often website updates are deprioritised behind the day-to-day, but during a more quiet business period you have the chance to make sure that your web content; copy, visuals and call-to-actions are all in perfect condition. This ensures that when business picks up again, you can really hit the ground running.
During this time, launching a blog series or updating existing long-form content can help to boost your SEO performance and make sure that consumers find you online. These blogs can be promoted as part of your social media strategy and help to drive more traffic to your site. It is important to keep the tone of your blogs light and neutral and focus on your business or the interests and mindset of your consumers at this time. Politics should be steered clear of completely, so as not to polarise your audience.
These are trying times certainly, but by recognising opportunities for your brand through owned channels, we can make the best of a difficult situation. There is a chance here to create real and meaningful engagement with our communities and to give back to our customers, in a time of general strangeness.
For queries or advice on how to make the best of your business’ organic channels during COVID-19, please don’t hesitate to Contact Us here or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.