As the U.S. coronavirus and economic situation continue to worsen, brands are taking a closer look at their marketing strategies. Specifically, should businesses continue to advertise (yes), and what is the best way to connect with consumers?
Based on past experience with global crises and the trends that we’ve seen so far in 2020, COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on the marketing industry. Here are several ways that COVID-19 marketing has changed so far this year and a few ways that it has remained the same.
4 Ways COVID-19 Marketing Has Shifted Brand Priorities
It’s interesting how quickly things can change. One minute you have a reservation for the next big marketing conference in 2020, and the next, you’re quarantined in your home watching Netflix and conferencing with clients on Zoom at all hours of the day.
Here are just a few ways that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how brands approach marketing:
1. Re-Examing Buyer Personas
You might have had a clear picture of your ideal customer in the past, but many brands are finding that things have changed. For example, businesses are finding new buyers for their products and services. Consider all the people who now use Zoom that didn’t even know it existed four months ago.
The question for businesses should be how they can create new opportunities in the current climate. Many brands have pivoted successfully in just a short period. Whether you pursue a different business model or re-examine your buyer personas, your business will need to shift its marketing message to take advantage of the moment.
2. Delivering Helpful and Human Content
Consumers have come to value honesty and empathy during this pandemic. The brands that are most successful are those that make an effort to “be human” and speak to consumers without the salesy pitch.
Many consumers are fed up with hearing about COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to start ignoring it. In one recent survey, 77% of consumers said they want content from brands to show “how your brand is helpful in this new everyday life.” Some of the goals for your content might include:
- Building long-term trust
- Helping and supporting consumers through these changing times
- Educating consumers about your industry
- Finding creative ways to engage your audience
- Entertaining your audience
3. Focusing on Revenue Marketing
Recessions are called in the rearview mirror, but economists have already declared that the U.S. is in the midst of a serious economic crisis. But, before you cancel all of your marketing initiatives for the coming year, consider the historical perspective.
According to a Harvard Business Review study of three recessions prior to 2008, 80% of businesses regained their pre-recession growth rate within three years after the recession. And 9% even outperformed competitors by achieving 10% or more profit growth.
Armed with this information, many brands will prioritize marketing that delivers the greatest return to bottom-line results. Some examples are campaigns that increase digital engagement and reduce the cost of travel or in-person meetings.
And, economically, it makes sense to continue advertising and even increase your efforts. More people are online than ever before. And CNBC reports that paid advertising is now cheaper than ever.
4. Resetting the Button on Martech
There is an astounding number of marketing technology (martech) tools and vendors - more than 8,000 at last count. This is far too many, and it’s costly if your business is attracted to the latest shiny platform or app.
First, brands will discover which martech tools they use and which aren’t helping them achieve their goals. Second, many businesses will learn to leverage new tools to streamline their digital marketing efforts and increase results. Some examples might include HubSpot and Drift to boost engagement.
3 Ways Inbound Marketing Hasn’t Changed in 2020
Even though the industry has shifted drastically, there is a lot in the marketing world that remains relatively consistent. Before you toss your strategies out the window, here are a few ways inbound marketing has remained the same so far this year.
1. Consumers Still Respond to Ads
According to Kantar’s COVID-19 Baramoter survey, just 8% of consumers believe that brands should stop advertising. While some marketers are concerned about offending consumers by advertising during a global pandemic, consumers are overwhelmingly saying it’s “fine.”
The overwhelming consensus is that there is still a demand for products and services, and the ads give a sense of normalcy to a world that has been severely disrupted. Even more, they are a distraction or escape from some of the more disturbing things that might be happening.
That said, consumers would prefer that brands not exploit the COVID-19 pandemic for financial gain. The more human and empathetic approach will garner greater brand recognition and loyalty.
2. Marketing Remains Data-Driven
Digital marketing efforts are just as data-driven now as they were in the past. If your brand isn’t using data to drive and validate its digital marketing strategies, it is likely leaving money on the table as well as missing valuable opportunities.
Businesses can collect data to create buyer personas and create powerful digital marketing campaigns using social media, paid ads, and content. They can measure results for each campaign to double-down on the approaches that are working and make adjustments to those that aren’t getting the desired results.
3. Prioritizing the Customer Experience
Marketers that use the phrase, “in these difficult times” in their ad copy are not standing out from the crowd. Consumers have become blind to these statements and no longer believe that companies uttering these words necessarily care about their experience.
The ones that are most memorable are those that continue to place the customer experience first. Consumers already know they are in a pandemic and economic crisis. As before, you can help them best and stand out from the crowd by delivering helpful and engaging content. Finally, they’re looking to you for a reason, so you can help them solve their pressing issues.
Even if your brand’s inbound marketing strategy has changed, it’s still vital that you remain visible across digital channels. The current pandemic and economic situation might have shifted the landscape, but it has also created opportunities for brands that effectively reach and engage with consumers at different stages of the buying journey.
Whether your business wants to revamp its website, create new content, launch a social media marketing campaign, or leverage conversational marketing through tools like Drift, Connection Model can help. We deliver results-driven digital marketing solutions to small businesses and welcome a conversation about how we can help yours.
Written By: David Carpenter