Preparing your marketing plans for the Coronavirus downturn
April 06, 2020George Economides
The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis.
Our businesses are all facing challenging times as the economic impact of Coronavirus starts to bite. And when faced with challenges like this, it's time to turn to The Godfather for that inimitable advice:
“Go to the mattresses.”
In other words, prepare your business for the long haul. Get your metaphorical mattresses ready for your company soldiers to sleep on while they wait for the battle.
We need to work smarter, and be ready to tackle the challenges ahead.
Here are five steps you can take to prepare your marketing activity during this Coronovirus downturn:
- Work smart to retain your existing customer base
- Get even more visible in front of your target market
- Focus on driving conversions
- Measure, measure, measure
- Test, learn, test
Five digital marketing techniques for powering through Corona
Businesses are looking more carefully at budgets, making sure we can squeeze every penny of profit out of our investments, and looking for the most cost-effective way to deliver products and services.
Marketing budgets may appear to be a soft target for businesses looking to make budget cuts. But a cut in marketing activity is a short term fix that is sure to have long term consequences. Maintaining visibility in your market is essential for long term profitability and continued investment.
And our customers are also watching the pennies, but they are still spending money. They may be spending less, but we need to figure out what they’re spending their money on. They don’t want to risk wasting a penny; they want to buy the right products from companies they can trust.
1. Work smart to retain your existing customer base
Out of sight means out of mind. You need to keep in touch with your customers or you risk losing them. It's always cheaper to retain an existing customer than acquire a new one.
Marketing automation is the lowest cost, easiest, and most effective way of keeping in touch with your customers. I’m not talking sending automated email marketing spam, nor am I talking about broadcasting cold calling messages to get new customers. You need to be sending out personalised, contextualised, targeted messages to existing customers who want to hear your news. You need to be keeping in touch with your customers at every touch point in their digital journey through social channels, through exploring the web. And doing this systematically and automatically will ensure the job gets done, and will free up your more expensive human talents to deliver creative campaigns that will add even more ROI.
Content production is an essential ingredient for your tactical marketing campaigns and for keeping in touch with your existing customers. Share the innovations that you are currently making that differentiates your offering from your competitors, and promote your good news stories in terms of awards and client wins. If you need inspiration for a B2B content marketing campaign, take a look here.
Getting more social means engaging in conversations with your existing customers. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook - these are places where you customers are reviewing your products, discussing their purchasing decisions, exchanging views on your business. Create a low cost plan for reaching customers at every point in the social media funnel. Use these tools to listen to your customers, hear what they’re talking about, learn more about your market. And remember, it isn’t about advertising – your contributions to the conversation needs to be valuable and appropriate.
2. Get even more visible in front of your potential clients
You have to build your brand awareness and get more visibility, which means driving visitors to your website to make the sales. And one of the best times to get found by potential clients is when they’re searching for what you’re selling. You need to get found at every stage of the purchasing lifecycle, from exploring new suppliers to evaluating specific offerings.
The Mere Exposure Effect is the marketing phenomenon by which consumers develop a preference for your products or services merely because they are familiar with them. Now is the time to explore low cost techniques that will keep your brand visible in front of potential clients on a steady basis. It may feel counter-intuitive, but setting aside an advertising budget for keeping your brand visible will deliver long term benefits. Focus on creating high quality content that is going to get shared, and reduce your budget for generating low value, low impact content.
Update your evergreen content. Your business has an archive of perennially relevant, interesting content that does not become dated and is still of value to your customers… and the search engines. Revisit your content, update it, give it a spring clean, with the objective of improving your rankings in the search engines. What other people say about your is more important than what you say about yourself. Another low cost way of getting visible in front of a larger pool of potential clients is to leverage the authority of other respected experts.
3. Focus on driving conversions
A low cost, high impact digital marketing technique to focus on is conversion rate optimisation. Small incremental changes to the user journey will turn more of your website visitors into customers.
- Social proof and post positive stories about your business. Revisit how you are using your cases studies, recommendations and reviews at every touchpoint in your marketing, and take the time to weave this content throughout your website and share actively on social media. Customer experience is king. Invest in your website to ensure you are giving a fast, personalised experience. And in terms of keeping costs down, remember that small changes on your website will have an outweighed impact on the final results.
- Leverage artificial intelligence. Now is the time to get up to speed on the latest developments in machine learning and artificial intelligence that will give your business competitive advantage and access to the right prospective customers at the right time. Taking advantage of current developments in AI will drive down your cost per acquisition of new clients by ensuring you are getting the right message to the right person at the right time, and reducing waste.
4. Measure, measure, measure
If you don’t measure, then you can’t manage. And if you’re not managing, then you could be pouring money down the drain.
Measuring means accountability for your marketing spend. You need to be measuring against your success criteria. You may want to measure sales, numbers of lead generated, upsells, or referrals. Now is the time to ensure you have defined your key performance indicators.
- Configure your Google Analytics correctly. Ensure you are covering all the basics and that you are using the data to drive your marketing efficiencies. Do you have goals set up correctly? Have you connected your Search Console? Have you defined what you are measuring? Are you taking advantage of all the free data that Google Analytics provides to you that can shape your strategy?
- Measure your social media ROI. When budgets get tight, you may need to make tough decisions on how you are going to spend your resources. One soft option might be to put the breaks on your social media activity. Social media can appear to be very time consuming and an optional non-essential activity. But before you make that decision, ensure you have explored how social media is contributing to your bottom line in terms of engagement, visibility, and profitability.
If marketing budgets are tight, then knowing what works makes it easier to make the decisions of where to invest your cash.
5. Test, learn, test
And finally, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the digital marketing puzzle.
You will need to be nimble and creative. Measure your success, and learn from the experiment. Here are some parting tips:
- Experiments should be quick, cheap, and easy to deliver.
- If it works, then well done, and more of the same, please.
- And if it doesn’t work so well, then kill the experiment and move on. No harm done. Be quick and be ruthless. You will have tested something, learned from it, allowing you to move on and test something new.