It has been widely reported that the uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic has led many companies to make drastic cuts to marketing budgets, a move that could stir up a feeling of pessimism and hopelessness among marketing professionals.
But while nobody knows what the next month, quarter or year may bring, one thing is certain for marketers: digital channels are now more important than ever. And it is where marketers can make a difference.
Consumers’ priorities have undoubtedly changed but there remains a need for brands to deliver personalised, relevant and empathetic messages. To help marketers make the right decisions in this new environment, here are three key digital marketing strategies to keep brands thriving during the pandemic.
Redefine your business goals
The disrupted marketing landscape requires a thorough reassessment of an organisation’s goals against its supporting marketing strategy. Is brand purpose and messaging still relevant? As the pandemic situation evolves, continue to keep asking questions like: what do customers want now? What do they need to hear?
Assuming your brand can fulfill customers’ current needs, make your critical contribution the central focus of marketing messaging. If not, does your brand require a redistribution of marketing budgets, and will consumers need to be directed from physical to digital storefronts? Updating your marketing mix and budget allocations is the next step. Funds could be drawn from, for example, in-person event marketing to support here.
Use omnichannel to your advantage
While “all shops selling ‘non-essential’ goods have been ordered to close, online retail is still open and encouraged. Therefore, redefining your brand’s business goals will help identify the strong points in your omnichannel offering.
Ensuring marketing automation no longer nudges physical store visits is important, too. Rather, formulate campaigns that reward online shopping (e.g. rewards on digital purchases). Moreover, if you can identify your most loyal offline customers, use that information to encourage online conversion.
As people wait for the current situation to get better, a little personal acknowledgement goes a long way and customer data should be maximised to serve personalised experiences across channels and devices. Although the shopping experience is hard to replicate online, individualised product recommendations – created with AI engines and delivered at scale – can make your message stand out.
Analyse and measure everything
During this pandemic, new search trends will emerge almost daily. That’s why data analysis and reporting are crucial. Learning what pages consumers visit and what searches they perform can help fine-tune marketing messages on the go and deliver relevant content.
Ask questions like: Who are my most valuable offline customers? How can I nudge them towards online conversion? Which messages create the most engagement now, and can I create more? Do I have relevant information for consumers living in a specific area? Can I identify key workers and offer a token of gratitude?
Owning actionable data about consumers is key, and marketing automation technology typically offers this capability. In times like these, it is about using that power and combining it with smart ideas for targeted campaigns based on real-time data. Today we have the tools to gain insights on what consumers need in the moment and respond with personal relevance at an unprecedented scale. Taking advantage of this will be key while consumers are distancing themselves physically, but remain connected digitally, perhaps closer than ever.
Niki Hall is chief marketing officer at Selligent