‘It is not the Event, but how you React to it, that determines the Outcome’
Recent events around the global pandemic have undoubtedly changed not only the business environment, but the one that we exist in. More than half of humanity is under lockdown and in some form of working from home. That shift in behaviour has meaningful consequences not just to the fact that we are not in the office or do not commute, travel and go out anymore. It has a much bigger impact on how we conduct ourselves, how we search for the products and services that we need and how we engage with retailers and vendors. In other words, as a business your target audience is still there, searching for the same problems that need solving, however, this time in a very different way.
The change is so dramatic that we observe people searching differently, on different devices, at different times and in different ways from a month or two ago. It is high time to ask the question how to conduct business right now. What implications does this have on business?
All of a sudden coronavirus has become the number one search term on Google- greater than weather search, Amazon and even Gmail!
In addition, various types of ‘how to’ and ‘what to’ types of searches related to COVID-19 have emerged. Searches that are trending and look for a direct answer, revealing potential for great content marketing opportunities.
Couple of months ago people had never heard of the term ‘contactless delivery’. Right now, to stay competitive and continue to trade, businesses have to adapt to the safety-first user behaviour and streamline their processes entirely online or deliver a service without direct contact with their customers.
But coronavirus did not only impact the restaurant and retail sectors. Emerging new searches and specific sectors, that have also seen an increasing demand online, are around unemployment benefits, furloughing, accounting services and consulting. Other good examples, of the rapid change observed, are the query ‘is McDonalds still open’ that had a 500% increase, as well as the entertainment, on-demand streaming and gaming industries reaching new highs right now.
The COVID-19 pandemic has spiked such great change that the same repetitive chores from before are also done in a different manner. Imagine having your car checked by the local mechanic you used for years or going to the pharmacy to pick up your prescription meds- things that used to be pretty straight-forward. A couple of months ago you’d just drive to there.
In contrast now, you have to do some research online first and see what the new normal is- check opening hours, if the place is open, if you need to pre-book an appointment and whether it is safe for you to go there at all. A whole set of changes are taking place and businesses are reacting to those changes, as small as they may be. All of the above impacts online search and the type of queries users make online. Those old things we are searching for, we are now searching for in a completely different way, and as a result of that we can observe interesting emerging trends.
Traditionally on a typical day 15% of all Google searches daily are new searches. During the unprecedented times we are in, those new searches have increased to 25%. As a business owner or a marketing manager you have probably figured by now that all these changes provide an opportunity and require changes in the way businesses market themselves too. Here are a few ideas on what you can do to maximise on your online marketing efforts:
1. Revise all marketing content, ad and website copy.
Start by revising your website content and ad copy. Sadly, we still see ads online such as ‘Perfect to wear out on a match day or casual dinner with friends’. Seriously? If anything, ad copy like that will alienate your audience rather than get people to buy from you. Your website content should also sound current and responding to the recent events. As an online marketing agency, Local Fame sees a lot of websites and businesses that still try to advertise that same offer from before the crisis. Languages used are now completely different and you can easily see when ads and offers are valid or out-dated. It is not business as usual and pretending it is will not help you sell.
2. Buyer persona
Buyer personas have now changed too. It is still the working parent who you are trying to appeal to, but they now have a lot of other concerns such as:
- trying to work from home with kids at home too
- bringing someone home to deliver a service or a product
- health and safety considerations
- the time the conversion/ buying is made is now different
Businesses should reimagine the same old buyer persona but in a COVID-19 world where they are not able to travel or move freely, are sensitive to physical proximity and time and have health concerns. Address the new needs of your old buyer personas with your product offering and marketing messages.
The benefits of your business right now also differ a lot from your competitors’. Can you still do 24/7 delivery? 2-day or even 7-day delivery means a lot more now that Amazon cannot fulfil their promise and usual offering and only delivers goods of utmost priority. Your business staying open or accepting online payments might be the difference that makes the difference when it matters. But all of this has to be communicated clearly to your audience- through all possible online channels- Google My Business, your website content, current promotions, ad copy and even your sales agents, who should be able to communicate it in their sales pitch. Think about how you stand out from your competitors now and how your USPs have changed. Are you doing anything differently? Then make some noise about it.
4. Mobile first vs. COVID world
In the last few years in the digital space we have heard the term mobile first at least a few hundreds, if not thousands, of times. Well, guess what? Coronavirus came and drastically changed the rules of the game here too. While mobile searches, on average, still have a greater share, stats show that they have decreased by 25% compared to desktop ones. This calls for a whole new (or old) focus on desktop audiences and changes to your marketing messaging. If your ads had a phone number in them as you were facilitating calls from a mobile device previously, perhaps now your desktop audience will feel more comfortable to book an appointment online or download a white paper, for example. Re-think and rewrite those call-to-actions depending on who you are trying to cater for.
5. More for your buck.
If you have put the break on all your advertising campaigns, regardless whether that’s Google or social media channels, consider the following- your competitors have probably done the same. Big brands such as McDonalds that had to stay closed have eased off on their marketing and advertising spending too. In an auction world, such as online advertising, this automatically means lower bids and cost-per-click and better results for what was seemingly too low budget previously. A majority of Local Fame pay-per-click clients have seen 200%+ increase in major KPIs such as impressions, clicks and even conversions for exactly the same budgets as before.
6. Maintain an open dialogue with your audience.
Even if you had to close the business completely and cannot trade at the moment, use the opportunity to engage with your existing clients and your potential leads in the pipeline. Although conversion might happen later, keeping them in your database is important. Open dialogue is essential to keep the relationship going until normalcy returns. Restaurants that do not even offer take away keep maintaining their blogs and social media profiles and post recipes for home cooking, so that they can attract people to start visiting them when ‘normal’ returns. The same goes for gyms and yoga studios that do free online workout classes. All of this does not go unnoticed and helps build loyalty and brand awareness.
The worst thing you can do is to fold hands, sit and wait for the world to get back to normal to do marketing again. Even if you cannot sell now, you would still need to build some leads and traffic for your pipeline, so that when the world does get back to normal, or whatever the new normal will be, for your sales team to be able to start closing those leads. It is very dangerous to wait and only start planning and preparing campaigns when the quarantine is lifted and try to re-engage with your audience then. Chances are that some of your competitors will already have a head start.
7. Time to pivot.
Last but not least, the COVID-19 crisis has provided a great opportunity for businesses to pivot and adjust their value offering to the new normalcy and needs of the audience. Breweries have started producing hand sanitizers, luxury apparel brands have started sewing masks and cleaners have started offering grocery shopping and running errands. What can your business do to change and meet those emerging demands?
If you have not considered an online strategy now, this is THE TIME to do so, as there is no shortage of internet usage, on the contrary, it is now 50% up. Amazon is failing to fulfil its promise, local searches have peaked and how businesses go about engaging with the local community becomes increasingly important. Innovate and create more value to your brand. The customers you acquire today are far likely to be more loyal than the ones you usually acquire. The outcome depends entirely and solemnly on your (re)actions.
Local Fame is a digital marketing agency that works with global clients from all marketing verticals. If you have found this article helpful, please sign up to our mailing list here. All the data, if unreferenced, is based on the management of hundreds of client online marketing campaigns including, but not limited to SEM, pay-per-click advertising, search engine optimisation and content marketing. For any questions or media opportunities, please contact [email protected]