By David Tomas, on 4 June 2020
The Covid-19 crisis has affected our lives at every level, and digital marketing has certainly felt the change. Business resources are declining and budgets are smaller, forcing a change in objectives and tactics.
But it's not all bad news. The crisis also presents a unique opportunity to rethink your strategy and take advantage of new opportunities that are emerging. Marketing during a crisis is possible with proper planning and by setting new expectations.
1. Re-examine your metrics
In times of crisis and budget reduction, we need to reassess what we're doing and pass it through a “results filter”. If an action does not produce measurable or impactful results, we can't afford it right now.
This means we need to ensure that we have the right information and monitor it constantly. Here are three ways you can re-examine your metrics and manage them going forward:
Choose the metrics you're going to monitor
In the world of digital marketing, we can track a lot of information coming from a lot of different sources about even the tiniest details. It's easy to drown in an ocean of data, so the first thing you must do is decide which metrics are the most important.
My recommendation in this case is stay simple. Don’t choose overly complicated metrics - instead, stick with highly relevant and controllable metrics. 3 or 4 can be sufficient. Analyze which ones may be the most relevant for your brand at the time: the conversion rate, the cost of acquiring a customer, the traffic by source…
Create Your Dashboard
When you determine what metrics you're going to focus on, the next thing is to see how you can monitor them in real time through a scorecard.
Now is the time for your IT or marketing department to put their powers together to assemble a centralized dashboard with Data Studio or another solution, that is as automated as possible.
In a situation characterized by constant changes and uncertainty, it is important to be able to follow the data in real time to anticipate the changes. If there is a drop in the response, you will have to take action in real time, not a week later.
I also recommend conducting a review of all the digital marketing campaigns you had planned for the year.
Because the environment has changed radically, many of the actions you planned may no longer be relevant or appropriate. So it's time to sit down and review your plans, and ask yourself if they will be able to positively and effectively impact your bottom line. Many plans may no longer be a good idea, but that means that you can direct the budget toward more effective initiatives.
2. Understand Your Buyer Persona
Understanding your buyer persona is critical to understanding how to adapt to them in times of crisis. You need to find out what their needs are now in this new environment and align your entire team around them.
During Covid-19, the changes in the market have been significant. Two months ago we understood our target customer very well, but now things are different. We will not know when our new normal will return, and yet there will be nuances and changes to which we will have to adapt. Here are two ways you can begin:
Conduct keyword research weekly
Typically, keyword research is only considered in the early stages of an SEO or SEM strategy, but I recommend staying on top of it weekly to see how customer behavior changes throughout the crisis. See how trends and needs are evolving overtime.
A very clear example is online sales of sporting goods: The demand for things to exercise with at home has skyrocketed to run out of stock. And of course, brands have had to adapt their campaigns to it.
Do keyword research once a week and compare the data with web analytics and Google Search Console to begin to identify these changes and topics of interest.
Call or survey customers for feedback
The best way to know what customers want... is to ask them! Communicating with customers on a regular basis is important in times of crisis because it lets you understand where they are, what they need, and how you can help them and continue to deliver value.
This tactic is especially useful for B2B, as there is usually closer contact with customers. But if your brand is B2C, utilize surveys, whether by phone or online, and social media to connect with and understand your customers.
Meet daily and weekly with your colleagues
Now it is very important to keep in touch often, not only because we are remote, but because we have to coordinate information about activities without being able to quickly walk over to someone’s desk anymore.
I think it is imperative to have a daily meeting to set priorities, evaluate the evolution of metrics or potential obstacles, and track information we are collecting from customers. I also recommend having a weekly meeting that is focused on the most important pieces of information of the week, what customers are telling you, and how you can help them.
3. Redistribute your investment
New times, new priorities. When you have to manage a reduced budget, knowing how to prioritize correctly is crucial.
To manage it properly, you must first know how much you have to work with. It should be noted that there will be a large number of actions that will no longer happen (travel, trade fairs, etc.) so those budgets can be utilized for other digital marketing activities. Additionally, costs of the major advertising platforms (like Goolge Ads and Facebook Ads) have been significantly reduced, presenting a unique opportunity if your brand can afford it.
At Cyberclick, we follow a methodology based on funnel advertising, in which we distinguish three phases:
- TOFU or top of the funnel: The first contact with potential customers, through actions such as video or display advertising.
- MOFU or middle of the funnel: Actions that can lead to short-to-medium-term conversion, such as email marketing or lead-generating ads.
- BOFU or bottom of the funnel: the closest point to purchase, when the user is ready to convert. Here, actions such as SEM with purchase-oriented keywords or remarketing would enter.
Our general recommendation is to spend around 40% of the budget on the bottom of the funnel and 30% on the other two phases. But in times of crisis, this recommendation changes as we are more interested in prioritizing immediate results.
Therefore during this time, the advice is to continue to spend the same investment on the bottom of the funnel and to alter the proportions of the rest. If you have 50% of your previous budget, spend 80% on the bottom of the funnel and the rest on the middle of the funnel. If you have something else, continue to allocate a part to the top. This will result in lower acquisition costs in the short term.
Remember that this strategy should only be used for marketing during a crisis. I do not recommend using this for more than one or two months.
4. Double your content creation
Cyberclick’s philosophy has always been heavily supported by inbound marketing and content creation. Although many companies use this approach, there are still so many others who have not taken the step. But with this crisis, the need to prioritize digital content and bring value to customers has only increased.
Many brands have been forced to bet on digital and invest in their content. Now, positioning here as a leader in this aspect is more complicated than ever.
And that's where my flagship recommendation in content marketing comes: Double what you did before.
If your plan included 15 articles, 2 videos and one podcast a month, during these times of crisis I recommend publishing 30 articles, 4 videos and 2 podcasts. But, do not do this at the cost of quality.
The key to making this investment profitable is being able to link these content with other actions that will bring an ROI. Many brands will know how to create content to generate notoriety, but not so many will be able to bring new users to the bottom of the funnel.
Content must therefore be understood as part of a larger "map". Its goal is to draw the attention of users to introduce them into one of your workflows. For example, we can lead people to a landing page from a YouTube video and encourage them to give their data (on a form) to become leads. Take care to ensure all of the actions are connected and interwoven.
To be able to take convert new visitors into valuable leads, I recommend that you follow these three tips:
- Define the buyer journey or customer journey: Understand the different stages that a customer will go through; from detecting a need related to your products and services to becoming brand loyal.
- Create a lead scoring algorithm that allows you to identify how similar a lead is to your ideal customer and how closely they are to converting.
- Develop a lead nurturing strategy, creating customer contact moments that bring you closer to conversion. Ideally, all this work should be automated: When the user leaves their data, they are assigned a classification with the lead scoring algorithm and based on it they enter into a workflow so that he or she receives messages appropriate to his or her circumstances.
5. Take advantage of new opportunities
Crises change the world, and many of these changes present opportunities. Many companies are moving from physical to digital channels, and web traffic has increased 40% in Spain during confinement. For digital marketers, this means we can learn and improve.
The only thing we know for sure at this time is that change is coming, but we still do not know 100% how it will be: Who is our new customer, how will habits be changed, what products will now be in high demand…
This is why the situation needs to be continuously studied so that new markets and needs are quickly identified. My recommendation is to devote part of the weekly meeting to answering this question: What are the new markets I can serve or the new products I can create?
We need to open our minds to new ways to bring value to the customer. For example, if demand for a product has fallen, we can look for alternative or complementary options to create growth, revenue, and customers. We can also study what happened in other crises to find out what types of products were created and why they were successful.
In addition to responding to needs with products and services, the crisis is also a good opportunity to rethink the channels through which we communicate with customers.
Also, in these past weeks we have seen a real boom of Instagram Lives and video conferences in Zoom, as well as increased podcast popularity. It goes to show that in these times of uncertainty, there is one thing that is very clear: In times of crisis, we want to stay connected.