Businesses all over the world were caught off guard when the coronavirus pandemic reached its peak and hit the global market. Even big brands like J.Crew and Art Van Furniture weren’t able to survive the health crisis as they both filed for bankruptcy in April. So what are brand to do for their digital marketing campaigns?
The total lockdown on many areas across the globe also caused bad news for many companies that relied on external advertising. With fewer people traveling, billboards and other types of off-screen advertising will be deemed useless.
During the first quarter of 2020, the Myers Report predicted a potential $1 billion to $3 billion loss in advertising spending in 2020 and an additional $1 billion to $3 billion in 2021 due to coronavirus (COVID-19) realities. In the Philippines alone, an estimated P1.1 trillion in the agriculture, industry and services sectors during the first 45 days of the COVID-19 lockdown, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda). Business moguls in the US saw that total marketing communications budgets could decline by $3 billion to $11 billion in each year, which will eventually lead to mass layoffs. As the coronavirus cases around the world continue to skyrocket, huge losses are predicted for the next three years.
But the field that is most affected based on percent of lost is experiential and event marketing, which The Myers Report predicts will lose 9.6 percent of anticipated growth, representing more than $2 billion. Along with event marketing are direct mail/marketing (-7.4 percent), cinema advertising (-7.2 percent), and mobile and apps advertising (-5.9 percent). Least impacted by changing business conditions are newspaper advertising (+5.7 percent comparing pre- and post-coronavirus forecasts), content marketing (+6.7 percent), public relations (+6.5 percent), broadcast network TV (+4.1 percent), and advanced TV (+2.9 percent).
However, this is not yet the end of the road for entrepreneurs who are willing to put up a fight against this economic recession. The initial step is to reassess your digital marketing strategy and budget in light of the uncertain financial situation.
It is predicted that there will be a huge increase in digital advertisements especially with ongoing lockdown protocols in many countries across the globe. As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the next few months are crucial as consumers will naturally be spending more time surfing the internet, especially online shops with wide-range delivery. According to data released by Dentsu Aegis Network, with 155 clients and client leaders surveyed, around 14% said they were moving budget online from offline media.
With more people on their phones, trying to keep their mental health in place amidst self-isolation, social media and online markets will become a daily routine not only to stay updated with the news, but to give them some sense of community at a time where physical communication could be deadly.
It’s therefore thought that social media spending will rise by 22.2% as a result of the quarantine protocols. Think tanks have already seen a huge jump in influencer marketing engagement, with a recent study finding a 76% increase in daily accumulated likes on Instagram #ad posts over the past two weeks.
Indeed, these are extraordinary times which call for extraordinary measures. Good thing we’ve come up with a list of tips on how both small and large businesses can strategize to survive this virus outbreak:
1. Analyze present web usage
Due to the global lockdown, people are stuck in the comforts of their home — spending more time on the internet browsing new updates on COVID-19. But take note: these people are not just surfing the net for news updates, they are also consumers looking for products which can easily be delivered to their place. As a matter of fact, web usage increased by 19.7% between January and March – a huge jump mainly caused by quarantine protocols.
Business owners should not look at this as an unfortunate situation but an opportunity to shift from a traditional digital marketing scheme to an up-to-date, online-centric digital strategy.
Online shopping became handy and at the same time, a huge hit for those who are stuck at home. According to recent Google reports, internet users spend the majority of their time online browsing for home clothes like loungewear and pyjamas, and even gaming devices like xBox and PS4 which are usually played at home. While some of businesses that offer products like travel clothes and perishable foods see themselves slowly getting buried with bankruptcy, shifting to a more practical and apt approach is never too late.
It is also important to highlight that marketers should be aware that any ads that contain COVID-19, PPEs, or other health-related terms will be suppressed by Google. The best place on the web to place ads on would be on the top three popular social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Social Media strategy
At this point, men and women across all ages turn to social media to stay updated with the current news during quarantine. Latest data by GlobalWebIndex has found a 27% increase in social media use among Gen Z, 30% among Millennials, 29% among Gen X and 15% among Boomers. Facebook finds itself at the center of social media and saw a 70% increase in usage across its family of apps since the crisis has started.
Various social media platforms also took the liberty to implement preventive measures on the increased number of fake news which monetizes on spreading false information. Due to the growing public unrest, Facebook and Twitter decided to manually review all new ads and all ad copy changes in case propagandists try to manipulate public opinion in this pandemic.
It’s also time for brands to get creative and utilize influencer marketing to create more content and generate buzz about their brand. In the Philippines, Cream Silk was able to serve fresh content with the help of local influencers in their “Stay In, Stand Out” campaign.
2. Effective communication
Don’t get lost with revenue generation alone; it should also be accompanied with efforts to put forward a certain level of brand awareness that can tap a wide range of audience. Think about it, what do customers expect from their favorite brand in this pandemic? While consumers nowadays think twice before purchasing any item, it will eventually subside as businesses are still adjusting to the new normal. The key is to feed the target audience with something positive, something to look forward to besides bad news on the internet.
Social distancing might be the new norm, but businesses should still think of new ways to reach out to their clients. There are many options on how to easily contact them, but it usually depends on how you utilize communication platforms. For instance, gyms and studios took the time to stay indoors to put up free online classes and free tutorials for bored individuals who want to be productive and fit. Creative brands like Crayola also offered free coloring tutorials for children, which is a big help for parents who are looking for platforms to keep their kids happy at home. For businesses who are trying out ways on how to give back to the community, they may opt to lend their spaces as quarantine facilities.
For B2C brands, changing email marketing content to send positive news into inboxes is enough to make clients feel that they are not alone. However, it is necessary to tread carefully especially in this situation where people are already stressed out, so only giving information that is relevant to the product or service as news on global viruses can be overwhelming to some.
3. Revamp advertising strategy
Lower conversion rates, budget cuts, and unstable market prices–the coronavirus posed as an advertising nightmare for both startups and already established companies. Besides cutting back expenses and pausing big marketing projects, an increase in agility and creativity is a must to sustain a productive marketing management.
Reinvesting present budgets into channels with longstanding revenue is a great way to sustain a business amidst crisis. CRO, SEO and advertising on YouTube are three good examples of this:
Conversion Rate Optimization
Getting a good kick on the conversion rate optimization is a great step to update every business website while giving a touch of creativity to generate more leads.
Paid activity may not be the best option in this economic environment, but there are available test variations of site pages inclusive of high organic traffic.
Using alternative copy and creatives for landing pages and ads is also a great option, especially if cutting back on unnecessary expenses is a priority.
Grab this unique opportunity where the majority of people are at home and online. Gather remote feedback from users to better understand their needs and how to
update your brand design based on their preferences.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization is not the type of knowledge which you can acquire overnight. With the fact that COVID-19 will eat up most of the year 2020, coming up with a long-term SEO strategy is the smartest move. Most landing pages are optimized to convert customers, therefore creating educational content to provide information to your target audience can lead to successful remarketing opportunities for regular customers.
Point to consider:
• When it comes to technical SEO, the site’s ability to be at the first page of search engines is a must.
• On landing page optimization, indexed sites could still be improved in order to increase its rank.
• Keyword research should be focused on new content, not by updating an old one.
• To create a landing page, search for the most common keyword research like ‘COVID-19’, ‘coronavirus’, or ‘pandemic’ and turn it into high quality content that is interesting for your clients.
Running Display ads is highly recommended, especially now that people rarely go outside and spend more time on social media.
The best place to place ads is on YouTube. According to Google reports, most users visit cooking, sports and fitness, and education channels. Uploads of ‘workout at home’ videos have increased by 57% globally, while ‘study with me’ video watch time increased by 52% worldwide as many families adjust to homeschooling. YouTube is best for startups who are still in the process of building up their name in the industry during this downtime.
4. Be inspired by the big brands
While many big businesses are plunging face first on the crisis, many are still able to easily catch up by simply innovating outside their comfort zones.
For example, fashion retailers are now designing PPEs for frontline health workers, far from the summer collection they’ve been planning to release.
Other companies that are able to are finding ingenious ways of helping in the fight against the virus: even Burger King released oversized crowns to maintain social distancing while eating whoppers. With the liquor ban, brands such as BrewDog decided to use their distilleries to make hand sanitiser and other disinfectants.
What these COVID-19 marketing ideas show us is the fact that businesses can easily crumble during an economic recession, but creative digital marketing ideas are unlimited and impossible to destroy. Hopefully, this list of marketing strategies can help not only during the lockdown period, but in any crisis situation in the future.
Just be sure to adjust your strategies and marketing. Consult with customers regularly on how to provide them pro8and service. Find a way to communicate with a wider audience so your business can get a chance to stay afloat.
These are challenging times for everyone, especially to growing businesses. But every business can still get on the right track if they are willing to revamp their marketing style and invest on new ways to expand. Now is the time to come up with new, better options to communicate with loyal customers so everyone needs to step up their game.
It doesn’t matter what industry a business belongs, what’s important is how they deal with the economic restrictions and global crisis creatively without sacrificing their brand.
This will be a very slow period for many, but the crisis will eventually subside. As the ‘new normal’ slowly takes its place in our society, now is the time to adapt these new digital marketing strategies so your business can easily connect to clients. If you need a guide through this ever-changing digital landscape, digital marketing expert Gian Reyes can help you craft the perfect social media strategy for your business and help you improve your digital presence.