With a global pandemic on our hands and no true end date in sight, we’re all adjusting to a ‘new normal’. Brands are needing to adapt and re-think their marketing strategy faster than they ever have.
For many, significant business decisions have to be made, and for those looking to cut costs, marketing is one of the first things to go. However, if you are able to, stay on, navigate smartly and sensitively and there is an opportunity to thrive, not just survive.
We’ve produced guidance for the hospitality and retail sectors specifically, and in this article we’re looking at how you can maximise your marketing spend in any industry during the next few months, no matter how uncertain they may be.
START with search behaviour
Search behaviour is a good starting point for understanding what consumers are thinking, feeling and ultimately in-market for. Simple research around search trends and volume can inform what you should be focusing on here and now, as well as what you need to be thinking about in the coming days and weeks.
The fast-paced nature of the COVID19 crisis by country and on a global scale means search behaviour is altering just as quickly and the needs and desires of consumers are quickly shifting. Take the home and garden industry, very early lockdown trends showed people needed to invest pretty quickly in improving their home office space as a huge wave of workers suddenly found themselves fully remote. These same people are now considering whether they need a comfier sofa to binge Netflix or a garden set to enjoy any fair weather.
A range of freely available tools such as Google Trends and the Keyword Planner can give a great head start on understanding search behaviour.
Carefully craft your messaging
The question many businesses are now facing is ‘how do I talk to my current and prospective customers during this crisis?’.
Global Web Index’s latest wave of research demonstrates that consumers are receptive to brands engaging in some level of marketing activity, with almost 90% approving of brands providing practical information and tips which help people deal with the situation. Consumers were less receptive, but not hugely disapproving, of brands running normal ad campaigns not related to coronavirus (20% of consumers felt this way).
The research shows that there is a place for ‘business as usual’, but as this is an evolving and very sensitive situation, any brand messaging needs to be carefully considered, inclusive and timely. Some brands have already found themselves in hot water, appearing profiteering or simply insensitive in their communications.
Let’s not forget that many people are bored and looking for inspiration. There’s an argument for every brand being a little more Joe Wicks with his daily PE classes keeping not just children, but people of all ages entertained and exercised. Using #pewithjoe and streaming live on YouTube, he’s had 32 million streams and is donating profits from the series to the NHS.
Consider whether your ad spend could go further
With at home media consumption increasing and some brands switching off advertising campaigns, there’s an opportunity for increased reach at lower costs. On top of that, Mckinsey’s analysis suggests that investing in activities like sales and marketing can aid a business in recovery. Analysing past performance, we’ve also seen that many that continued with marketing expenditure during previous recessions, emerged stronger.
Across a range of industries and ad networks we’re seeing costs decrease in the form of lower CPMs and CPCs, as many brands pull back advertising spend in a panic and competition decreases. Whether it is through acquisition activity or brand build, there is an opportunity to harness lower costs in the advertising space.
If you are considering lowering media spend, Google and Facebook are providing ad grants to a number of small and medium-sized businesses. For those who might be eligible, explore how that spend could support your business in the immediate term.
Prepare for recovery
Whilst CPM’s are as much as 40% lower on Facebook according to Gupta Media (via Search Engine Journal), conversion rates from paid activity might be lower for many brands at this time. This presents an opportunity to focus advertising further up in the funnel, building your brand and introducing brand new customers.
Another way to prepare for COVID-19 recovery, is to consider those marketing channels where results aren’t always instantaneous or take longer to implement, such as CRO and SEO.
When customers can purchase through your site again, make sure that journey is as easy as possible for them. A simple UX audit of your website and a basic CRO programme can do wonders for conversion rates and potentially drive up other key metrics such as Average Order Value.
Marketers often talk about the long-term value of SEO, it can take a number of months to see a return meaning it presents a vast opportunity for brands to make improvements now and see the returns when hopefully things begin to return to some sense of normality.
You can get started pretty quickly ensuring your site is technically up to scratch, can be crawled and indexed by a search engine, then moving onto keyword research and content planning and creation. There is a huge audience online with very little do, is there any content you could create that will inspire, support and engage?
Adopt a new way of working
Last but by no means least, with an entire workforce suddenly finding themselves remote, it’s important that your marketing and digital teams are set up to be reactive to early search-trends, pro-active with media spend and working collaboratively to achieve sales and marketing goals.
Breaking down into small, nimble teams can enable larger marketing teams to take action before the moment passes. With daily announcements from the government, content can be quickly out of date.
Daily stand-ups aren’t everyone’s idea of how the day should start but getting teams together for 15-30 minutes at the start of each day sets the tone, highlights any blockers or challenges being felt as well as minimising the need for lots of internal meetings throughout the day. Bring the coffee!
While this is undoubtedly a difficult and uneasy time for so many brands, we would urge those affected to take this time to brand-build, innovate, experiment and plan for a post-crisis future.