15 Ideas to Improve Your Marketing during the Pandemic

Webapper doesn’t profess to have all the answers for navigating such turbulent times. As we reflect on what we see in the market and review our own situation, we seek clarity. We hope we can help others handle their businesses more effectively in this challenging period. Here are some ideas to jump start your efforts for marketing during the pandemic.

MANAGEMENT

Look at short AND long-term ways to adapt your products and services.

Price cutting is the first idea that pops into many minds when economies slow down. In fact, this may be one of the worst practices. Lower prices tend to stick, and it often commoditizes your offering. Perhaps a better approach is to repackage what you do. Can you create a bundle? Is there something you can add, like a guarantee or optional service, to increase the perceived value and increase the long-term benefits to a customer? You may need to adjust your business practices, like wearing masks, social distancing, curbside pickup, working remotely, or changing business hours. Consider if these tactics are short term or long term — they may make sense going forward. Evaluate each option for its ‘term and termination’ provision, setting criteria for retaining or stopping the practice.

Look at your numbers, especially YOY.

We’re huge fans of regularly reviewing metrics, from Google Analytics of the website, to email open rates in Constant Contact or MailChimp, to Page & Domain Authority in Moz. Trends matter. We’re excited when we show growth, and we’re dissecting issues when we see doldrums or declines. But trends can be deceiving. So look at your numbers in a variety of ways. Is August usually a slow month for new business? Look at year over year (YOY) patterns. How are you doing year to date? What pages have been driving the most traffic? Is the blog worth the time invested? Where are users coming from? Are your conversion forms working? Follow the data to guide your strategy.

Avoid the knee jerk – don’t stop marketing. Less competition.

After many years in both analog & digital marketing, we’ve seen the pattern: cut marketing in a downturn. It’s a silly notion. Why? Because everyone else does. It makes marketing MORE effective. Consider digital ads. Prices go down with less competition in auctions. Sponsorship opportunities are less expensive with less ad money circulating. And you’re showing strength when others reflect weakness. But most importantly, you move up in the mindshare market. Less noise, more brand recognition. When the pandemic recedes, your name resonates.

Consider ways to reshape payment rules.

As stated previously, discounting is a dangerous tactic. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative with money. How about making a payment plan? Add time to the horizon rather than simply discounting. Give a ‘payment pause holiday’ if feasible, but not a free month. Allow suspending your service rather than canceling. Offer customers a lower tier if they’re in financial hardship. You have so many creative options available — think long term on preserving customers. They’ll appreciate your flexibility and show loyalty.

Brainstorm new marketing experiments.

Do you have an experiment backlog? It’s a good idea to keep a list of marketing ideas that you review periodically. We brainstorm ideas for new pages, new products, pricing options, different images, new lead magnets, short form vs. long form content, and dozens more concepts. On a regular basis, we look at our list and pick a new idea or two to try. We use Google Optimize to test variations. Some ideas work, many don’t. We keep trying.

MESSAGING

If pandemic affects your interaction with customers, tell them what you’re doing. Else, DON’T.

We all got too many emails about the pandemic at the beginning of the pandemic. We heard from vendors we don’t even use anymore (unsubscribe!) about their response to COVID. For those businesses where the pandemic affected our day-to-day interaction. YES. In most cases, however, it was a waste. We strongly advise not to play the pandemic card incorrectly. We’ve joked about Toyota’s campaign. BEFORE: “Buy a Toyota.” AFTER: “In these difficult times, buy a Toyota.”

Review current content, scheduled content and editorial calendars.

Another way to upset prospects and customers is with ‘tone deaf’ content. The image of the kid heading off to school now seems like a distant memory of the way things were. The world changed – make sure your content is not insensitive to what’s going on. Look at images, headlines, and calls to action (more on that in a moment). Check existing and scheduled content. And don’t forget your social media pages either.

Focus on how you help your customers and ideally, customers’ customers.

Check your messaging to see if it reflects the reality of how you help your customers. What benefits do you convey? Fast? Reliable? Secure? Easy? What do your customers tell you their reason for buying or using your business is? And if you provide a B2B, you should be focused on helping your customers help THEIR customers. If your customers grow, you grow too.

Be the wave of calm in an ocean of uncertainty.

Yes, this whole thing sucks. We’re drawn, however, to the beacons of light. Shine. Be extra kind and understanding. Go an extra mile. Empathize. Spend a little extra time being human on the customer service desk. Share good advice (hopefully like this article). Customers will remember.

Soften up urgency in CTAs.

BUY NOW! HURRY – OFFER ENDS SOON! These urgent calls to action seem a bit insensitive. We’re all working at a different pace, with less enthusiasm, with more concern. Consider dialing back a bit on timing and pressure, at least for now. We have enough cortisol, thank you very much.

TACTICS

Refresh your content.

We suggested reviewing your content for problems with insensitivity, but is it time for a more serious update? Is your blog active? Have you updated images and value propositions in the past six months? Keep it fresh. Make it exciting. Mix it up.

Conduct a survey to see where you stand.

When is the last time you asked your customers for feedback? Have you done an NPS survey this year, this quarter? We recently worked with a customer who has to reduce customer occupancy, creating a direct impact on revenue of the business. The survey we sent asked about the tradeoff of increasing prices to offset smaller groups. The survey asked about the last time the customer visited, what they liked best, what they wanted to see in the future. Not only was the data valuable to the short & long term plans, but the number of responses was way above expectation. Customers appreciated the chance to share opinions. It was a small ask, and it gained a big return.

Add some new testimonials.

One of the most effective tools for conversion is social proof. Prospects notice badges, awards, reviews, and testimonials. If you don’t have any online, add some. Refresh older ones with new ones. If you need more, run a campaign on social media and via email.

Make your site faster.

We already wrote about ways to speed up your site, and it has a definitive impact on bounce rate and conversion. It’s worth a look.

Test a new channel.

As you look at what’s working in your numbers, have you thought about something you haven’t tried? You have so many channels at your disposal. Online, you have advertising, SEO, email, social media and linkbuilding. Or you can try press releases, sponsorships, strategic partnerships, or online events. With social distancing, some channels like trade shows and conferences have morphed into new formats, also worth a look.

Marketing during the Pandemic

One size never fits all with online marketing. If you’re already using some of these techniques, we commend you. If you haven’t tried something on our list, let us know if you have questions — we’re happy to share our insights & experience. We have learned over the years to think differently from the herd, which opens more opportunities, especially in a downturn. Marketing during the pandemic can bring new results, and when things return to normal, even better outcomes.

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