5 Marketing Tactics to Employ While the Pandemic Continues
If you look at most economic forecasts for the coming year, 2021 is likely to be another one filled with more disruption. Covid-19 winners such as Zoom are already seeing growth slowing as companies start planning to get back to work in offices. Meanwhile, it’s unclear whether some airlines and movie theaters devastated by the pandemic will even survive. And if you’re a small business, chances are you are experienced one extreme or another, or fell somewhere in the middle.
Vaccines are coming, yes. And everyone wants to get back to normal. But that doesn’t mean business will immediately rebound to the way it used to be. In our webinar from November 12 on “The 5 Marketing Skills You Should Hire For in 2020,” we discussed some of the issues facing marketing today, including the continued lack of new consumer demand in many areas, as well as more limited lead generation and conversion opportunities across both B2B and B2C industries.
For some companies, that reduced spending by businesses and individuals has translated into them folding on their marketing operations, potentially harming long-term viability of those organizations. But at this critical time, we’d argue good marketing is perhaps more important than ever right now if a company is to grow its way out when the pandemic subsides. With that in mind, we’ve come up with these 5 digital marketing tactics for any business to employ while the current environment persists:
- Shore up your SEO fundamentals.
We can’t emphasize enough the importance of thinking long-term as a business. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a great example. Invest in SEO improvements today, and it will pay off tomorrow (well, in 6 to 12 months). If you think about the time frame for vaccines to eventually take hold, a 6-to-12-month window fits perfectly with the forecasts for when most businesses start returning to normal. Why not then, put some effort into improving your search ranking so that when demand returns, you can capitalize on it? Try this: tackle 15 to 25 key pages in the next few months and do the following:
- Apply on-page optimizations. Are your high-value keywords reflected in your URL? Your page headlines? The title tag? The image alt text? The body copy? Are those keywords typographically emphasized? Does the link text on the page reflect those keywords? If not, make adjustments to ensure they are. It just takes work but we think you’ll find that just doing a little bit can pay off for you in terms of ranking.
- Do some link building. Already have other sites mentioning your or your company? Why not reach out and have them link to an actual page? The other possibility is you can reach out to those same companies and offer to exchange links on pages, helping each other’s SEO.
- Give more love and attention to your existing customers.
It’s interesting. In our quest to grow, we focus so much on new business that we sometimes forget about the existing customers we have. With the pandemic slowing new customer demand and spending in many industries, why not turn your attention to your existing client base? Here are a few things you can do:
- Provide a discount to your best customers to make additional purchases. Or provide them some sort of incentive to share with their friends or businesses who they can influence to make a purchase with you.
- Ask them for testimonials and/or case studies. Don’t underestimate the power of testimonials for those who are in the consideration phase of the buying journey. A great testimonial from a current or past customer can go a long way to encouraging a new purchase from those potentially on the fence.
- Have them take a survey, focusing on challenges or psychographics. It’s important to make sure a research professional does this, but it’s critical to find out more about your current customer base so you can incorporate more of this into your marketing. Why not send out a survey or two focusing on challenges or pain points, or learning more about what drives them (their ambitions, fears, goals, aspirations). With that data, you can look for patterns and similarities among your current audience, and then, when the market starts to open back up, target similar “lookalikes” in social and search, for example.
- Tell a better story about your brand.
Do your customers know your brand story? Or what you stand for as a company? How you help them? Think of it this way: Do you they understand how your brand fits with their needs when it comes to thinking about their buying decisions? In other words, why do they choose you? A lot has been made recently of the importance of telling your story, but many organizations still don’t do it. The pandemic is actually a perfect time to talk about where you stand, allowing you to show real empathy for your customers and helping cement their feelings about you. What can you do?
- Think about brushing off or updating your brand video. Tell the story of who you are, discuss your company’s history of dealing with challenges, your mission and history, perhaps your inclusive approach to diversity in hiring, and/or your responsibility to the community or the wider environment. Those are all things that you can easily do in video, sometimes needing only images and a post-production editor.
- Update your website pages to focus on the customer story/journey. We often see company website pages that are all focused on selling and product features. Those are certainly important, but telling a better story can help you move customers down your purchase funnel. That means focusing pages more on their challenges and journey, not just what you offer. Having them see where your brand fits in that story can make the difference in your converting them when demand comes back.
- Help your customers solve problems.
We say it often, but one of the goals of marketing is to help customers. You help them not just by having them buy your product or service, but actually become the brand that answers their questions, or assists them solving their challenges or helping them reach their goals. In particular, this is where the research on your existing customers comes into play (see above). Where do you find the questions if you haven’t done that more formal research? Think about doing some social listening and reading about what individuals are saying about your products and services on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) review sites (such as Yelp, Google My Business or the Yellow Pages), in the App Store (if you have a mobile app). Once you have it, a few things you can do here:
- Develop content that addresses those customer challenges and goals. This could come in the form of how-to videos or blogs, thought leadership in terms of podcasts or webinars, or demos that better illuminate questions around a product or service.
- Develop FAQs so customers get easy answers. It doesn’t matter what product or service you’re talking about, customers always have questions. Collect the common ones and make sure to do a FAQ on your website where answers can easily be found. Doing this now, while new demand might be lower can be critical to helping your business once customers open their pockets back up.
- Start using social media to answer customer questions. Many large organizations already do this, with their customer service teams answering questions on Twitter or other platforms. Even if you don’t have a dedicated individual, it’s always a good plan to respond to any customer inquiries whether they’re on your site or not.
- Optimize your e-commerce or lead generation process.
One of the areas where we often see a big opportunity to improve from a digital marketing standpoint comes with improving the experience for those who demonstrate an intent to purchase. Optimizing the process flow (reducing the number of steps in an e-commerce process or making it easy to contact a salesperson if it’s demand generation) are certainly big aspects of this. But there are other critical areas you can improve in here to set up processes to maximize conversions with those who are currently showing interest. Here are a few things to consider:
- Set up retargeting in search, social, and display. Customers who come to your site, already know your brand and most likely, your products and services. In general, retargeted ads perform about 10x better in terms of ad click throughs rates as a result. If you haven’t yet, set up retargeting by embedding the various ad pixels from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google etc. on your site. If you already have it set up, think about optimizing your retargeting campaigns by adding layers to it – additional criteria you add on top of the fact that they visit – if you believe some of them may not be in market. An example might be layering ads based on job title or other behavior shown by the customer.
- Add abandoned cart emails. With this one, we’re likely to sound like a broken record. But working with your development team to add to your existing abandoned cart emails can make a big difference in customer purchasing. Think about it: If a customer puts your product or service in a shopping cart, they were showing some intent to buy. Many organizations simply send one abandoned cart email and call it a day. But why not adjust that process so that you provide additional follow ups. Don’t forget to run a script here in between emails that looks for any purchases that have occurred, but that’s easy for your development team to do.
- Work out a better data exchange between your CRM and your marketing automation system. One of areas that always needs work is the relationship between marketing and sales in a demand generation process. During the pandemic, why not take the time to work out the exact flow between the marketing end, and the sales end, as well as the data you can transfer back and forth between your CRM and your marketing automation platform. If you can get on the same page, you can work out the right cadence to connect with customers – which emails might come from marketing, which might be follow ups from the sales team. When are they being sent? What data from the marketing automation system would be helpful for sales to know? Similarly, what data from the CRM could be used in marketing? An example here might be a re-engagement email to a customer that hasn’t responded after a particular period of time. The more data you can share back and forth between the two systems, the better you’ll make both the marketing and the sales efforts.
We know the current pandemic is challenging for everyone, regardless of the business you’re in. We hope that, by providing these few marketing tips of what you can do today, you’ll be able to prosper whenever your business opens back up. We wish you the best of luck in all your marketing endeavors.