Brands are suffering in this period of coronavirus crisis. Quarantine restrictions are limiting customers from visiting local retail stores, logistical issues are diminishing e-commerce sales and manufacturing closures. The ongoing crisis is ramping up the pressure on marketers who are expected to ride this crisis wave. While some companies have high demand and relevancy for their products and services, others are struggling to get sales. This means you need to rethink your marketing efforts to make them more relevant.
As publicists, brand marketers, and agency owners, many of us are not prepared for such a crisis that affects the market on a global scale. Most of us have never lived during a pandemic, let alone personally experienced one. But we must prepare for an ongoing crisis. As marketers, we should not get bogged down.
In the agency world, how marketers handle this crisis will separate the pros from the noobs. Remember when everyone thought they could buy social media services for a few bucks because their kid in college could do it? Now this will reset the playing field.
This will be a time when it will suddenly become evident as to why some agencies charge a premium for their services. The bottom funnel marketers will keep on marketing through this as if nothing is going on. Their posts will be out of tune. Their scheduled tweets and pre-written content for campaigns will continue as if we were still living in a pre-pandemic online environment.
Strategy not only means knowing to post and when but also when to stay silent. Clients will pester and poke. They will ask the obvious, “Why should I pay you if you are not going to post anything?” But they should know that they are paying you because you know that shouting while nobody is interested is not going to work.
Coronavirus will impact every sector and industry, including marketing, public relations, and social media.
Here are some ideas which can bridge the gap in this period of crisis:
- Use Social Media to connect with your Audience
Every one of us is tackling this crisis in our own way and most of us are locked in our homes with our whole family. We are not allowed to do anything, especially things that most of us love to do viz, meeting up with our buddies, going for movies, eating at our favorite food joints, etc. This might seem unimportant but this actually takes a heavy toll on all our minds. So as a brand it is time to step up and show empathy instead of pushing products and services and bothering about sales only. More people are on social media now while stuck at home, scanning for updates, and trying to stay connected. It is a great time to show initiative as a brand and use your business to contribute to the needed and assist the helpless. Leverage your deeds in the correct manner on social media and promote your brand effectively.
- Being Online is the key now more than ever
It’s quite evident that search traffic and social media login times have surged significantly in the past few weeks. This trend is destined to continue because people are glued to their phones, tablets, laptops, and other gadgets constantly looking for updates and also crunching through online content like never before as they look for ways to pass time and keep their minds occupied as they are forced to stay at home. Anything online right now will be consumed more than ever before. This is the time to step up and not be hidden in the online landscape. It’s the perfect time to leverage search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to climb to the top of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs)so that your business gets the maximum exposure online.
- It’s time to put a tick on pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
PPC marketing can enable you to gain a competitive advantage as a brand as more and more people are at home with their eyes scanning everything online. Also to add a cherry on top of that cake, on an average CPC, has decreased by 5-6% across all sectors for the past two weeks. So it will let you gain a considerable market share without breaking the bank. Also word is CPC will continue to fall in the weeks to come.
- It’s time to leapfrog your competition
Nothing pays like staying on the front page of SERPs. It increases organic traffic to your website and helps your target audience to steer clear of your competitors. Climbing to the top of the list on the front page of SERPs is a time taking process. You need to incorporate strategic SEO techniques to quickly shift gears and move up the list. This is of utmost importance because you don’t want your customers to search with certain keywords and call up your competitors for the products or services that you are also offering. It is advisable that you continue to optimize your website and content on a daily basis and also not abandon your SEO efforts else a pause in these will result in you losing turf in terms of search results and end up losing a lot of business.
- Is your business ready for the long run?
TheCoronavirus outbreak will be a distant memory soon after a few months. After this phase goes away and the normal way of life returns, consumers will also surface with their normal purchasing behaviors. So pausing your marketing efforts especially SEO will have a compounded impact on your business in the long run. SEO is a long-term strategy that needs months if not years of disciplined efforts to fetch results. Theoretically speaking, the steps you take in SEO today will show results after 2-3 months. Thus pausing your SEO campaign now will result in your business losing valuable ranks in SERPs and you are destined to take a hit in terms of organic search traffic after things go back to how it was before.
The marketing and advertising world has also come to a standstill with the spread of COVID-19. The recent outbreak created a massive impact on both the real and the digital world. The majority of businesses and firms have shut down all over the world. Many people are suffering from the drawbacks of this situation.
Freelancers and agencies have suffered huge losses and many businesses have pulled the plug on their advertising campaigns. It is time for advertisers to adapt to the situation and be more creative and understanding without losing their cool. We have put together a list of things which you can do to manage your PPC better in this period of time:
- Reiterate messaging and values to align with the current situation: Companies have to shift to promoting those products and services which have higher demand right now. The main trends that are hot in this hour are:
- Working from Home
- Social Distancing
- Family Time
- Essential and Medical Services
- Online tutoring or HomeSchooling
- Streaming services and VoDs
Ifyour product or service be can be associated with or can be modified to fit into one of these areas, shift into a temporary plan to promote these initiatives.
Businesses may also try and shift into virtual services or virtual consulting and provide online workshops or webinars.
All active campaigns must be reviewed and see if the messaging still fits the current environment, for example:
- Review CTAs like “Visit us in-store” and revise
- Display and social ads images which promote people in groups or touching
- Add outdoor pickup information
- Include detailed shipping information with benefits like free, fast, etc
- Hours of operation and any deviation from the normal services
- Your company’s response to the virus – a quote or messaging
Though it is fruitful to use some of these messaging in the primary ad copy, we also recommend that you shouldn’t forget to fully utilize Ad extensions such as site links and call-outs to convey the information.
Retaining a minimum brand presence is crucial and continue to feed the upper funnel because it may be harder to recover later after losing momentum. Though it is evident that the situation needs to be acknowledged and a softer sales approach is recommended.
- Change in Search Behavior: Though people are staying at home and maintaining social distancing they are more active online. They are still searching and researching their areas of interest, making purchase decisions and they continue to live their lives online for the time being. Communication about services that can be delivered virtually and delivery schedules for the same is very important. Ad copies orAd extensions communicating benefits like free delivery, door to door pick-up, contactless drop-off, etc. should be used.
- Negative Keywords: You are likely to see major or minor shifts in search queries triggering your Ads irrespective of the industry. The following approaches are feasible:
- Review all search terms and display campaign placements in real-time for keywords and content related to COVID-19
- Try and predict searches that may trigger your ads and create a consolidated negative keyword lists that can be shared among all campaigns and easily updated
Try and excludes keywords related to COVID-19 like:
Google trends are the best tool which can provide you with the latest information on search behavior
- Revise Budgets and spending: Take a look at your budget vs. spend and shift it towards products or services that have more popularity and relevance now.
Depending on the platform, instead of setting up daily budgets try experimenting with monthly or lifetime budgets. This will save a lot of valuable time for other important account management tasks. It is advisable to really focus on improvising and finding a balance between multiple campaigns so that you can identify gaps and allocate budgets that have not been utilized throughout the year and apply it to the important ones.
- Focus on the right channels: With the current lockdown and #stayhome trending people are spending most of their leisure time on social media. People are engaging more with content like news and videos.
Facebook and WhatsApp have reported an increase in usage of their messaging, voice, and video calling services.
As mentioned earlier, many businesses have stopped or rather paused their marketing initiatives. This means there is an opportunity for advertisers because they will now face less competition and increase market share easily without making any changes to their current budgets. This is the moment to reach and connect with people at the top of the funnel through PPC and paid ads on social media.
Some opportunities worth mentioning are given below:
- In-video ads and YouTube Ads
- Pinterest for those groups who are discovering new products for purchase
- Expansion of display ads on the Google Display Network and Microsoft Audience Network
- Twitter is also a great option but there are repercussions with brand reputation issues arising from negative feedback and activities
Search Behaviors and keyword trends have gone for a toss in the past week. Social distancing and home quarantine have resulted in irregularities in click behaviors across all sectors. Grocers, Restaurants, Hotels, Productivity sites, and E-commerce are the spaces that have seen the most action (or the least in some cases).
If we take a glance at Google Trends the growth swings are quite evident. Most of the surges in search volume has been around representative search terms in the bulk, grocery, and online productivity categories. Social distancing and lockdown measures have forced people to turn their attention solely towards the internet for most of their activities ‘at home’. People are forced to prepare food at home since restaurants and online food delivery services are temporarily closed. The keyword “groceries” saw a whopping 446% increase in terms of search volume for the week ending March 21compared to the same period in 2019 as per Google Trends data. “Online groceries” and “grocery delivery” are the closest related keywords which saw a similar growth pattern.
To avoid gatherings and in-person events many conferences have moved online and travel plans have been postponed. Most of the companies around the world has shifted their employees to work from home scenario. These factors led to a surge in the usage of many online peers to peer work platforms and video conferencing apps.
Trends data clearly shows an increase in search patterns for Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Skype. All of these platforms saw their highest search interest with YoY growth ranging from 270% for Skype to1057% for Zoom.
On the contrary, keywords like “hotels”, “restaurants” and other local businesses have seen a significantly low amount of search interest which is normal in the current scenario.
This is an unforeseen situation and all types of businesses are being affected as a result of this. It is advisable for all businesses to hold on and try to adapt to the situation in order to accommodate the new set of customers’ needs and also to find new solutions for their workforces who are working remotely. Nobody knows for how long this situation will last, it might continue for several weeks, if not months.
Search behavior is a reflection of the users’ preferences and it’s clear that people are now more focused on tackling their new way of life and preparing themselves for the long run. They are less likely to concentrate on leisure activities for the time being.
In the recent wake of Coronavirus outbreak a lot of precautionary measures are being taken to contain the spreading of this disease. Many businesses have been affected by the virus outbreak.
If your business has been affected by COVID-19 we suggest that you update the same on your Google My Business listing. Google recently placed a notice as a header on its Google My Business support pages. It read as follows – “If your business is affected by COVID-19, update your profile to provide the most accurate info. Learn more.”
Google is asking all businesses to update their description in Google My Business listings if they are affected by COVID-19. Google in its help document has suggested that businesses should update their business hours, phone numbers, business descriptions and they may also use Google Posts to share more helpful insights with their customers.
So you should update your business hours preferably if you are closing early. Change your phone number if you want customers to reach out to your home number instead of your business number. You may also add other necessary details to your description like precautionary measures that you are taking inside your business premises and if you would like your customers to follow certain guidelines before stepping into your store, etc.
The updates that you make will show on your Business Profile on Google SERP and Maps as well.