Digital Marketing Strategies for Business Recovery

What are the digital marketing strategies for coronavirus pandemic recovery?  If you are like most business owners, you must find new leads to replace the sales that didn’t happen in March, April and May.

Do you have any chance to meet your revenue targets in 2020? The answer can be yes, if you rapidly pivot your digital marketing strategy.

If you are like many other business owners and managers, you’re now evaluating the damage to the business caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Do you seek ways to finish the 2020 fiscal year with minimal damage to your business affairs?

Be mindful that there is an equal opportunity to identify the opportunities at hand, and capitalize on them. Putting this into perspective as a marketer, it is exactly during a crisis, fear, uncertainty and disorder that there is also an opportunity to strengthen your marketing efforts.

This is a great time to rework your business development and marketing tactics.

Digital marketing for pandemic recovery means capitalizing on the best current opportunities at hand. Sales may be down at the moment, reflecting cancellation or postponement of business. But demand is not gone. It’s latent, and will present later.

Whether those dormant sales opportunities come to you will be defined by how well you prepare for them now. What are you doing to make sure that delayed demand flows to you?

“Recessionary periods provide fertile grounds for marketers to grow their brand’s market share if they’re prepared to think long-term”  (Mark Ritson award winning columnist and brand consultant)

Pandemic and Consumer Behaviour Today

There has been a monumental impact on consumer behaviour.  We’ve witnessed the surge in demand for food and household items.  What has happened to our media consumption?

Here are survey data from  Comscore and eMarketer, two leading sources media measurement, as the lockdown started in mid March 2020:

We Are Consuming More News

People Want To Stay Connected

People more connected than ever

We Are On Social Media More

These surveys tell us what we already suspect. We are consuming more news. We are spending more time reading email and messaging each other. The big winner is Social Media, with an increase of 36% in time spent on the social platforms.

As marketers, are we processing this statistic? This is the best time for your brand to be on social, with content that is context and tone-appropriate. This is the best time for your brand to display its brand values (integrity, empathy, trustworthiness) on your best social channels.

Ad Spending is Down, But Not Paid Search

Advertising expenditures are down overall, with less money being spent on display ads, paid social, and TV. However paid search has not seen a similar decline. Businesses are continuing to leave their PPC advertising campaigns in place, choosing to bid and compete for active online sales opportunities.

Marketing During A Pandemic

1)  Focus on Customer Retention

Your customers have made an investment in you. This is a time to develop communications strategies and marketing programs to maintain, build and grow these customer relationships.  The first step is revisiting how you are communicating with them.

Pushing sales risks your brand appearing tone deaf in the light of the pandemic. 

Revise your current campaigns, implementing significant revisions to reassure your customers, communicate empathy and focus on building trust in your brand.

Successful Strategy:

LA Fitness was obliged to close their doors in March. With rapid-fire speed, they issued an announcement on March 16th that they were closing all their clubs to keep everyone safe, and were maintaining the cleaning staff for member peace of mind when the doors re-opened and suspended billings.

In early April, when it became apparent that they would not be able to re-open their doors for a while, they recognized that some members’ billing period caused them to be billed for time the gym was closed. They offered a membership extension to cover the paid and unused period PLUS other benefits. In other words they made their members “whole” and more.

LA Fitness understood people’s fears and frustrations, and showed empathy and accountability. And their actions strengthened their brand equity.

Strategy Blunder:

Regus offers short-term rental office spaces, and co-working spaces to businesses and professionals who need the amenities of a professional working space, without the commitment and lease cost of a large commercial office space.

Their bread and butter are small businesses, solo-preneurs and start-ups. They have maintained a business as usual policy, enforcing the 30-day notice on contract cancellations. At a time when the large majority of their customers were facing lay-offs, the loss of business and associated financial peril, Regus has continued to bill everyone who did not see the Pandemic coming and submit a request to cancel their contracts prior to March 13th when social distancing measures were taken by the province.

They are not deemed an essential service, yet they remain open, and continue to bill their customers credit cards into April. Regus has been silent on the pandemic, behaving seemingly like it’s not happening.

Regus missed an opportunity to build brand equity by offering their clients options similar to LA Fitness.

Strategy to Survive an Extended Closure:

The pandemic may have wiped out face-to-face meetings. But it certainly hasn’t eliminated customer engagement. In fact, it’s even more important to connect with your customers.

By staying engaged, you can develop an alternate stream of revenue or, more importantly, to gain a significant advantage when businesses re-open.

Just like you, your customers are going through a tough period. They are looking for people who can be trusted, make their situation better and can keep their promises. You can take this opportunity to turn those customers into raving fans. Their word of mouth referrals can bring new customers to you too.

For example, Gusto is a payroll startup that serves small businesses. They knew that their clients had to move to an online environment and have many issues. So they held regular virtual meetings to answer their clients’ questions and concerns. Essentially, they became a reliable resource for payroll related problems.

Digital Marketing Strategy for Re-opening:

As you know, re-opening will be in phases. Depending on your region, the exact dates will differ.

The first step for any company is to determine the exact date when you’re allowed to re-open. Once you have a date, put a message on your website and social media channels announcing your re-opening date. Email your customer list to keep them up to date. And update your business hours on Google My Business listing.

The topic on everyone’s mind right now is safety. If customers were to visit your business, they want to know they are protected. So it’s essential to keep a good communication line with your customers. Let them know what measures are in place for their safety. Making a video to show the safety measures would help your business stand out.

For some businesses, re-opening means having to meet a backlog of demand. Most people don’t think about having too many customers as a problem. But imagine if there are too many people rushing through your business’s doors.

If reopening means long wait times, your customers may not have a good experience, and you may violate safe distancing measures. A better strategy to consider is inviting customers to a re-opening in waves. Is there a way to prioritize your customers? Perhaps in terms of their loyalty, the urgency of their need, their past purchase history, their interest in a new product or promo? Employ your knowledge about your customer base, their needs, and other considerations to welcome them back, make them feel special. And don’t forget to invite social media content creation opportunities!

On the other hand, if lineups at your door upon opening is not something you’re worried about it’s time to engage your customer list. Send them an email and post on social media to let them know you’re open for business. You might consider offering a special offer to entice them.

2) Revise your New Business Development Strategy

If you have not done so already, the time is overdue to arm your sales reps with virtual tools such as video conferencing for normally in-person presentations and meetings.

It’s the closest thing to a face-to-face meeting. You can see each other, so you’ll know if the prospect is confused. Most communication tools have recording built-in. You could replay it if you missed what your prospect said or review it to make improvements.

With video conferences in the comfort of your own home, the time savings is priceless. Your sales team can schedule back to back meetings. And you don’t need to pay for travel expenses. If you’re adventurous, you might even consider expanding your reach to other geographic areas.

If you have products or services that could be ordered online, this is the perfect time to get e-commerce implemented or upgraded on your website.

Your products and services will be displayed online. This means your customers can place the order on their own at any time. Imagine how much time your team will save, especially if you deal with many repeat orders from existing customers.

There are a growing number of Virtual Reality solutions for many industries. The architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry is moving rapidly to employ VR tools.  VR has become a valuable design review tool and coordination resource that saves large firms both time and money. In a recent survey of larger AEC firms, of those responding, they report that 73% of their teams are using VR for design review and presentations.

3) Develop a Delayed Demand Sales Strategy 

Many businesses have seen the cancellation or postponement of sales contracts.  Think of the recovery period that is coming as when delayed demand will finally flow in. But in a competitive environment, what are the things you can be doing now to garner your fair share, and more, of that delayed demand?

This is where a creative new landing page, and promotional offers crafted for this period can help you stand out from the crowd. The messaging has to be relevant to the ‘new normal’.

One of the most powerful things you can do is to maintain a strong presence on social media.  Social ads with a targeted offer can help you connect and grow your online follower base, and build your leads pipeline.

Leads generally don’t buy right away. They take time to nurture. That’s why now is the best time for lead acquisition and nurturing.

Engage with your leads by continually sending them valuable information. It’s crucial to arouse their interest so they will keep reading your messages and clicking your links.

Nurturing leads is not only about keeping in touch with them. It’s also an excellent opportunity to learn more about your prospect which we’ll discuss more in the next section. When they’re ready to buy, you’ll be in a great position to get the sale.

4) Revise your Communications Strategy

We have seen a glut of pandemic related emails and content, and much of it is “ho-hum”.  Your communications strategy will benefit from an intensive overhaul, including pulling out those marketing persona and re-imagining their world now. The quality of this creative analysis then sets the framework for your new content.

One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is assuming they don’t need to revisit their ideal client persona. The truth is that your customer’s needs are constantly changing. During uncertain times, their priorities and problems have shifted.

Now is a great time to get in touch with your existing clients and ask about their concerns. It will help you to craft your communications strategy to attract new clients by positioning your brand as the solution to their problems.

5) Increase your Social Media Presence

The increase we see in time that people are spending on social media now means you have an audience just waiting for something worth their time…from you.

Now is the time to go big on social with relevant, shareable content that delivers value to your follower base.

Many people are on social media to escape the news and look for entertainment. That’s why it’s a great time to add social media to your digital marketing strategies. And to ramp it up if you’re already using it.

Video is a great way to engage your audience. You can show behind the scenes of your business. Or you can share stories about your business or your staff.

Many people are on social media to escape the news and look for entertainment. Video is a great way to engage your audience.

You can show behind the scenes of your business. Or you can share stories about your business or your staff.

6) Maintain or increase your advertising

As signs of the pandemic slowing down are appearing, numerous countries have begun opening up the economy. Pent up demand has become evident during the time of the lockdown and it’s showing the likelihood of a surge in business in multiple sectors. There are many compelling reasons why you must begin to organize in order to capture that delayed demand now.

While sales may have slowed or stopped, your online presence should not. What is the one thing that businesses do when there is an economic downturn: cut their marketing budget. This is your opportunity to advance and gain market share.

The drop in advertising spend means that some ad inventory is less expensive right now. But if you recall, more people are spending time online now.

That means you can reach more people and generate more leads at a lower cost. Keep in mind that they may not be ready to buy right away. So it’s critical that you have a follow up sequence to build a relationship with your leads.

Position Your Business For The Long Game Win

While businesses are either closed, or striving to bring in whatever sales they can right now, this is also the right time to look inward.

Prepare and organise for the recovery with better marketing now, coupled with capacity building strategies to not only improve your chances to survive the pandemic, indeed to come out of it stronger than ever, ready to capture significant marketing share gains. Now doesn’t that make you feel better?