Covid-19 and the worldwide challenges it has presented have sent shock waves across the digital marketing industry. But search volumes and spending across many industries has seen a slow but steady increase over the past 3 – 4 weeks. This includes businesses searching for digital marketing services as they plan their return to digital marketing after “going dark”, reducing spend, or require an updated strategy to match their new requirements. One thing’s for sure, digital marketing after Covid will look quite different for a large proportion of businesses.
Many businesses have made cut backs to marketing over the last 2 months due to the Covid lockdown and the restrictions that have been in place. But as we start to see signs of consumers searching and spending more once again, what is your business doing to get going again?
Let’s take a look at some search trends …
As lockdowns were enforced across the world we can see huge changes in search trends, with groceries but also home and DIY products. With people stuck at home, suddenly that wall that needs painting is a REAL eye sore, and they actually have the time to sort it out.
Here are a few of the crazy changes in search behaviour we saw in relation to lockdown:
Searches for essentials and groceries soared as people stopped their usual trips to the supermarket. This has steadily been declining, but it’s likely this uptick of online food shopping will be sticking around and many brands are rising to the challenge.
Other areas are recovering, including none essential items like clothing and jewellery.
After a drop off as consumers focused on staying safe, hoarding toilet paper and saving money in the fear of losing their jobs… less “essential” item searches are starting to recover. Although this doesn’t necessarily translate to the same recovery in sales and conversion rates, it is a positive sign. My own client accounts in retail and fashion have seen a steady increase in revenue during this period as well.
People are beginning to think about trips and holidays again. Although booking and actually making it happen won’t be possible for a while yet, consumers are eager to have something to look forward to after this very difficult time.
So some positive changes are happening, but should you increase your paid ad activity again? The answer: If you can afford it, yes. As soon as you can.
For those who completely paused try to restart as soon as possible.
Marketing after Covid is just as vital as it ever was before, possibly even more so. It has been observed that brands that “go dark” during times of financial depression or major world events can have a harder time climbing back up to their previous position in the market. The unfortunate truth is that consumers need to be reminded of you consistently in order to maintain top of mind awareness. When brands pause marketing, it gives others a chance to take up that position you once held and win custom that was previously yours… possibly for the long term.
Of course, continuing with advertising (even at a lower spend) simply wasn’t an option for some. In this case – don’t despair, but it’s important to review your strategy and get back online as soon as you can to limit the challenges and amount of competition you will have to face on return. Going completely offline is never a good idea and should only be done as a last resort with search engine marketing, because consistency and historic data is key.
Consider the budget you have to work with and how this can be spend most effectively based on the current habits of your target market. The way people are shopping right now is different to before the lock down, so make sure you are offering what consumers need in the here and now and don’t expect your conversion rates to be the same as they were – or at least across all of your offerings.
Make sure messaging is up to date.
Even if you can’t offer exactly the same products or services in the same way you did before the pandemic, offer what you can. And make it clear what you ARE and AREN’T able to do at this time. For example make sure any delays in processing time or shipping are very clear across your site. Display messaging related to how you are dealing with the current challenges and have a page explaining this in more detail if needed.
Users are also understandably still very concerned about safety and will be for a long time to come. So make sure you make it clear what you are doing to keep them and your own team safe while handling orders or providing your services.
Don’t act as if everything is normal… it still isn’t.
Acting as though everything is as usual and not addressing the challenges of Covid with at least a message saying “We are operating as usual during this time” will likely alienate customers. Not responding to such a global issue can cast your brand in a negative light. After all, companies that don’t stay relevant to the times and ever changing needs of consumers are usually those that fade into the background. Don’t be one of those!
This isn’t just the case for ad messaging, but also content marketing after Covid. As people’s lives and routines will be different for a long time to come, so will their needs. Make sure you deliver not only products and services that they need right now but also content that helps them deal with the challenges after Covid and beyond.
Utilise special offers to boost sales.
If you haven’t already been doing this, then you should definitely start if you are still experiencing reduce sales or conversion rates as many businesses are. Although consumer confidence is slowly improving people are still wary and will be more careful with what and where they spend.
However, consumers are also aware that Covid-19 related sales and deals won’t last forever – so make the most of this. Use limited time coupons, deals or free shipping to encourage purchase completion instead of browsing. Make it clear these offers are limited and you should see a lift in conversions.
Utilise audiences and get on top of your remarketing.
A lot of consumers are holding their money closer than usual, meaning re-marketing is especially important to get them to complete that conversion later on. Plus, when lockdowns are lifted more officially there will likely be big surges in spending across a range of products and services. Make the most of all your audience types by organising them well and utilising a range of remarketing campaigns both now and in the months to come as things hopefully continue to improve. Plus, you can help speed up your recovery by utilising lists of your previous converters.
Keep up with competitors and their new offerings.
This tricky time has forced a lot of change in order for businesses to survive, so it’s likely your competitors have started offering new deals, shipping options or even made changes to their sites to keep up with consumer needs. It is essential you keep up with this to remain relevant and offer what users now expect.
In conclusion, remember that paid ads and marketing after Covid is new territory for everyone.
As with all campaigns, don’t expect to switch things back on or dial them up and see a continuously straight upwards line. This is a new territory for everyone, so it is all about measuring, monitoring and adapting accordingly. As long as you continue to report on performance frequently, continue testing and adapt to changing the needs of your audience there is no reason to NOT be advertising your business right now.
In fact, for some brands it could even prove to be one of the most lucrative and transformative times ever. Be the brand that goes the extra mile during a time of difficulty, and you could just gain new customers for years to come.