COVID-19 has caused an unprecedented disruption of business operations. In such uncertain times, it can be difficult to know what is the best way to move forward.
But as US president John F Kennedy once observed “The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis. ‘ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger–but recognize the opportunity.”
The coronavirus has certainly created serious danger for both the health of individuals and businesses. But it also creates opportunities for businesses that are able to invest their time, energy, and budget in the right direction. Here are the six marketing channels to prioritize right now.
#1 Google Ads
One of the most immediate effects of COVID-19 was a massive drop in digital ad spend. Experts have predicted as much as a 50% drop in ad spend across all channels. (1) A big decrease in ad spend makes plenty of intuitive sense. If you are an airline that can no longer take passengers or a salon that can’t cut hair, then you aren’t going to spend any money on acquiring customers.
However, there is a big “but” to this argument. It is only really true for those industries that are completely incapable of providing their products or services to their customers. Many industries from office supplies to on-demand entertainment have seen their return on advertising spend sharply increase.
In situations like COVID-19, a natural reaction is to panic and freeze all advertising spend. If your competitors have made incorrect assumptions about consumers’ willingness to buy in the current environment, then this may just be a great time to be using Google Ads. This will be particularly true as we move into a post-COVID-19 world. Many businesses will be initially slow to react, even as consumers start to shop again.
As ad budgets are slashed and companies reduce their bids, the price of running Google Ads falls. This means you may be able to run your Google Ad campaigns at a much lower CPC than in a pre-COVID-19 world.
The key to success in such an environment is watching ROI and ad expenditure extremely closely. Pre Covid-19 it may have been alright to keep mediocre campaigns. Now it is time to cut the fat and focus on your winners. Watch those winners closely and make sure you are measuring their actual return on investment. You want to know exactly how much business those ads are bringing in.
Lastly, be ready to reach quickly. This is an uncharted territory that is evolving rapidly. Your Google Ad strategy should be to looking for both new opportunities and identifying potential dangers.
According to a study by InsideSales, 73% of marketers found webinars to be one of the best ways of generating high-quality leads. (2) COVID-19 has made that even more true. One of the ways that the coronavirus has most affected businesses, is the inability to meet clients, hold presentations, or attend conferences.
All of that activity has had to move online. While there may be no exact replacement for the experience of presenting in person, webinars are arguably the best virtual substitute. Webinars are effective for many of the same reasons as an in-person presentation. You have the fixed attention of your prospect for a sustained period of time.
Webinars allow you to educate your prospect on how they can solve the problems they are currently facing. During this process, you are able to present your product or service as the best way for the prospect to achieve their desired outcome. Because of the format that this content is delivered, you are able to build trust and establish expertise. Both of these factors are highly correlated with the prospect of making a buying decision.
Webinars also have advantages that an in-person presentation lacks. With a webinar, you are potentially able to reach a much larger audience. That audience can be located anywhere on the planet. And with recorded webinars, you can reuse the same presentation in the future to convert prospects into buyers.
COVID-19 has been incredibly disruptive to normal business operations. For many brick and mortar businesses, this means that they have had no choice but to shut up shop. The silver lining to this grey cloud is that there is now potentially more time for marketing activities.
One activity that is often neglected due to lack of time is blogging. Building up a content-rich website with useful information for your prospect is a fantastic asset for any business. Writing blog articles doesn’t typically require anything more than an investment in time. In a period where you may not have the cash to spend, but time on your hands, blogging is perfect.
Blogging is an excellent long term marketing channel, because a blog written today, can deliver readers and prospects for many years to come. Invest in your blog now while you can’t conduct normal business, and produce a lead generating asset for your future.
#4 Email marketing
Email marketing has long been considered one of the best performing forms of marketing. According to an eMarketer study, the ROI on email is as high as 122%. If your business is not seriously leveraging this marketing channel, then now is the time to get started. If your business is already using email marketing, then now is the time to get started.
Email marketing is typically significantly less expensive to run than physical mail, flyers, or out-of-home advertising. If your business has to tighten its advertising spend because of COVID-19, then email marketing is likely to be one of your most cost-effective options.
The fundamentals that work before the pandemic, is what will deliver successful campaigns in this environment as well. Make sure that you are segmenting your mailing list so that the recipients are receiving targeted, relevant, and personalized email messages. Use drip campaigns to move your prospects along the buyer’s journey. Provide helpful emails in the form of educational information and tips, so that you stay on top of mind.
#5 Video marketing
Studies have shown that businesses who use video for marketing, grow revenue 49% faster than those that do not. (3) It is also the perfect medium for reaching your prospective customers when you can’t conduct business face to face.
Videos allow customers to see your and / or your employees creating a more personalized relationship. People buy from businesses that they trust and video can be the means to engender this trust.
Another reason that video is well suited to our COVID-19 environment is cost. The cost of recording video has fallen massively over the past decade. Most smartphones are now able to capture high-quality video footage. Platforms like YouTube make it free to host and distribute your video content.
Finally, video is an incredibly diverse marketing channel. You can use it to create everything from case studies, advertisements, testimonials, demonstrations, and more.
Like any crisis, COVID-19 will create winners and losers. One area where this is likely to be most obvious is SEO. Research has shown that 91% of all webpages on the internet, never receive any organic traffic from Google. (4) While estimates vary, the top three search results will constitute between 40 – 60% of all traffic for that keyword.
What this means is that it is more important than ever before to have your website rank highly. Businesses need to be competing aggressively for those top rankings. Most websites have relatively simple to fix issues that could earn their more search engine traffics. Fixing these issues does require an investment of time, which makes it well suited to a period where normal operations are disrupted.
Use a free tool like Screaming Frog to identify potential problems. Look for inaccurate or missing meta-tiles and meta-descriptions. See if the content could be expanded or better targeted to relevant keywords. Spend time linking between related pages to create an improved internal linking structure.
As we exit lockdown and move into an enter a post-COVID-19 period of “new normal”, the businesses that survive and thrive will be those that make smart, strategic choices with their marketing budget.