How To Get Your Digital Marketing Back On Track – After Covid-19
The pandemic has given every business a shake-up with regards to digital marketing. With shops and showrooms closing their doors, disrupted supply chains and strict limitations on customers allowed in stores, adopting a digital-only approach has been vital for many. Others have cut their marketing spending entirely while they wait for business to resume.
With restrictions easing across the country, you might be thinking about how to get yourself up and running again – especially if you’re a bricks and mortar store that’s had to close its doors.
While it’s difficult to know what life and business will look like as we emerge from the pandemic, it’s important to start planning ahead and think about how you’re going to adapt your marketing strategy.
You might have wound activity down throughout the lockdown, or perhaps you shifted your focus to brand awareness in response to a drop in demand. Now, as lockdown measures ease, it’s likely that things will change again – and it makes good business sense to be as prepared as possible.
The pandemic has had a big effect on marketing efforts, with 94% of businesses changing their brand and content strategies (Image Source).
Being prepared now will set you ahead of your competitors who may not have started to think about changing their digital marketing plans. It also means you’ll be poised to take advantage of opportunities while making the most of your marketing budgets.
To help you stay ahead of the pack, we’ve put together a few ideas to help guide you plan for the post-pandemic ramp-up.
Update your info online
A quick Twitter search of local SMEs revealed one surprising thing: few have updated their bios to reflect a change in business. This means customers have to do the legwork themselves – and who wants to do that?
Updating your bio on all your social media accounts means customers can find the information they need, fast. Also make sure you also change your business listings on services like Yelp, Google Maps, and Foursquare, letting people know your updated opening hours.
Re-engage on social
Many businesses wound down their marketing efforts over lockdown – especially those that have had to close their doors or pause trading. As things begin to ramp up again, think about how you’re going to get noticed again.
It might sound obvious, but just letting your customers know you’re back open for business is really important. Make sure you do this across all channels so no-one misses the memo – not forgetting in-person things too, like adding signage to your door, and making sure there’s someone on-hand to answer phone calls.
A simple post (ideally paired with a photo or video) lets people know you’re open. It’s also a good opportunity to thank customers for their continued support, and let them know you’re looking forward to seeing or hearing from them. It’s a small, personal touch that strengthens ties between customer and business.
You may also have made use of the downtime to give your store or showroom a facelift. Now is the perfect time to show it off and entice customers to see it for themselves – a social post like the one below is a good way to drum up excitement.
Alongside new photos, you may want to think about shooting a video. It’s a great way to engage viewers and let them know you’ve reopened.
It allows you to put a face to your brand and show off your store/showroom and stock in a more engaging way. In fact, after analysing more than 16 million social media posts, Buffer discovered that video gets a lot more engagement than other types of posts, including photos, links, and plain text posts. Furthermore, according to Rocketium:
- 78% marketers have boosted traffic thanks to video content.
- 80% increased conversion rate for landing pages with videos.
Client Case Study, G3 Vehicle auctions
How have our clients used digital marketing to get their business back on track? See our case study from G3 Vehicle Auctions Director, Gareth Jones.
Over the last 15 months, G3 as a business have offered 100% online-only for our vehicle auctions, with customers only permitted to attend our site via a ‘click & collect’ service for their purchases. In January 2021 we opened a new £12m 14-acre vehicle marketplace and whilst the plan was to launch with a physical sale on the 5th January, this was of course restricted the night before by the introduction of a new national lockdown. We continued to migrate to our new site, but kept it exclusively online.
As lockdown requirements eased on the 12th of March, we took the decision to open our auction hall to physical attendees for the first time, with a week of launch events lined up. In the weeks running up to the event we invested in a significant direct mail, telesales and PPC campaign in order to re-activate interest in attending our launch events.
PPC played a key-part in managing the message of ‘we are opening the doors’ from both a brand and non-brand angle, with the key CTA to ‘register interest’ in attending the sale. Ask part of our pre-launch planning we invited Wakefield Council to audit our site, to create a code of conduct to ensure the safety of both staff and visitors.
Measures included enforcing mask wearing across the site at all times and issuing G3 masks those who arrive without one, highlighting our branded hand sanitisation units across the site and creating safe budding zones for buyers to stay a clear 2-meter distance from each other. We also took the business decision to manage the numbers on site at any one time and therefore required all visitors to pre-register via our online booking system.
The nature of the direct mail and PPC campaign was to reaffirm this message and direct potential buyers to the registration form well ahead of the sale events in order for us to create a ‘guestlist’ for the day.
The results led to over 1,000 applicants for our 3 sales in the launch week, including over 40% of new account applications supported by the prospecting and competitor-brand campaigns managed by Logica across both Google and social media.
It’s now 6-weeks since we launched and we are still using this pre-register system and benefiting from this approach and are now discussing the next phase of marketing to prospect for new buyers with further PPC investment social.
Share the important information
Life isn’t likely to return to anything like normal for a while, so you should adapt your social media and content updates accordingly. Stay reactive in relation to changes to current guidelines or the general public mood and needs. Meanwhile, sharing inspiring or useful content around the current situation is a great way to stay relevant and sensitive.
Tell customers how you’re adapting to the current situation, and whether there will be any delays to delivery or after sale service. It’s also a good idea to let them know of any issues you’re still having that might prevent normal service – this will help minimise complaints or problems later on.
Make sure your messaging addresses the following things (if relevant)
- Information about how you’ll serve customers safely and protect staff while maintaining social distancing
- Plans for closing and cleaning for if a customer or member of staff tests positive for COVID-19
- Advice on mask-wearing, and rules within your business for customers and staff
- Revised schedules and opening/closing times
- Information about how the pandemic has affected supply and stock
- A statement telling customers how you’ll comply with regulations set by local governments (as shown in the example below).
Top tip: Whether you’re writing an email or Tweeting some news, make sure your messaging is sensitive to the pandemic. It’s been a tough few months, and making sure you sound understanding is vital. While you won’t be able to predict your customers’ attitude exactly, being polite, compassionate, and helpful will go a long way when it comes to rebuilding loyalty. Even things like sharing your goals for ensuring customer safety shows you care about their wellbeing and will shine through.
Review your paid advertising efforts
You may also want to consider paid social media. It’s a great way to jump-start engagement and connect with existing and new audiences. You should also get your organic social media efforts back up to full speed, resuming schedules in-line with demand.
If you already use paid posts, you may have paused or reduced spend in response to the lockdown. This may be because you’re saving on marketing spend, or you are focusing your own or the marketing team’s time on other activities.
If you’re switching campaigns back on, roll them out in phases (keep notes of dates). This will allow you to keep track of campaigns that are working, as well as those that aren’t performing so well. Armed with this information, you can then track paid search ROI decide whether you want to roll back efforts, or alter to suit current demand/performance.
Listen to your feedback
Do you know how customers feel about your brand? Social monitoring is an important part of running a business. You can monitor mentions and engagement on Twitter and Facebook and respond. This not only builds rapport with the individual in question – it lets your followers see you’re receptive, helpful, and there when they need you.
It’s also a good way to find out the general mood of your customer base and can provide you with tips on how to re-engage. For example, if you spot a customer Tweeting about how much they loved their new flooring (for example), you might want to run a mini campaign around this specific product.
If, on the other hand, you don’t have many mentions on social, you may want to consider paid advertising to fire up the engagement. Or, you could make the first move yourself and reach out to customers, asking them their opinion – either on social media, or via email. This is a good approach for a number of reasons: it ignites a conversation, it gives you insight into what it is your customers want – and it gives you real-world comments you can share with your audience to drum up excitement.
Top tip: if the mention is a complaint, suggest the conversation moves offline or into the DMs to minimise the impact of negative comments.
Create a short-term forecast/plan
Over the next few weeks and months, it’s likely that consumer habits and needs will continue to change as the situation changes. It’s important to be able to react fast to take advantage – which is where a short-term plan can help.
At this point, it’s important not to rely on year on year performance when forecasting or allocating your budget. Why? Because performance throughout the lockdown period is likely to be skewed. Just think about the big loo roll panic when the first lockdown was announced: manufacturers saw a massive leap in sales, but this was a blip and didn’t represent true trends.
As the situation continues to change, you should keep an eye on analytics for all of your digital marketing channels. This will allow you to see which campaigns are working and which may need adjusting. Your successful pre-lockdown campaigns may not work as well as they did before, so pausing them or altering them is the best approach.
It may also be a good time to consider new sales and marketing channels. Amazon has seen its revenue through advertising increase by 44%, which suggests that more retailers are turning to the e-commerce giant to sell their products. In addition to the increase in ad spend on Amazon, Google has rolled out free product listing ads. This opens us a huge opportunity for e-commerce sites to drive traffic based on relevant product searches.
As everything is still so uncertain, it’s difficult to plan over the long term so making sure you’re successful over the short term will help you once business returns to normal.
Keep track of demand
The demand for your products may be affected by ongoing economic or political circumstances, so it’s important to be aware of changes in demand and your customer’s behaviour and needs. Check and review bids on any of your seasonal products. Demand for certain categories may have changed, and your budget could be better spent elsewhere.
Staying ahead of what your customers want and the current demands for your products will also allow you to optimise your spend for the best results. As lockdown is eased, these demands will continue to change so you may need to keep a closer eye on your campaigns than usual.
Review your SEO and digital marketing strategy
Sales might be slow at the moment and, if they are, now is the perfect time to review your SEO and digital marketing strategy and make sure your brand’s visible when demand returns to normal (or the ‘new normal’).
Complete a full review of your content, looking for any gaps in copy that could be valuable to the user (and search engines). Work keywords into your content, update old blog posts so they’re relevant, and take the time to hunt down any errors or bugs that need attention.
While SEO is a long-term strategy and changes will not have an immediate effect, you should adjust your overall goals to reflect the current circumstances. You can update your FAQ pages with information on how you’re dealing with changes in your market and how your delivery/service times may be different.
Review your website content
Depending on your business and the products or services you sell, seasonal content may no longer be relevant. Review your content plan and look at the copy or blog articles that could be changed to suit current demands. Is there anything useful you can offer to customers? This will be essential to building trust in a post-lockdown world.
Re-engagement checklist: How to use each channel
It’s important to consider each channel when engaging with existing and new customers. Here are some tips:
- Email: remind customers that you’re open, and share deals to remind them of your product range. Make it personal, timely, and specific (e.g. use the customer’s name, and talk about seasonal deals they may want to take advantage of).
- Paid ads: shine a spotlight on your most popular products to remind people what they love about your business.
- Newsletters: let people know what you’ve been up to during the pandemic. This is a great place to talk about shop refurbs and new staff hires.
- Organic and paid social posts: sharing updates, opening times, deals, and news. Many customers will wonder whether their favourite stores survived – and having an inactive social media presence might confirm their fears (even if it’s not true). Most will just head to the next available option.
- Chat and phone: Have staff on hand to respond to enquiries over the phone, via social media, or on live chat.
You may have had to pause some of your marketing activity during the lockdown but, as it’s eased, we will start to see changes in the market again. As these changes evolve, it’s important to be ready and to react in order to stay ahead of your competition.
If you’d like help with getting your digital marketing strategy back on track after lockdown, call Logica Digital team to discuss your post-lockdown marketing goals.