The COVID-19 pandemic has created unexpected and unique challenges for marketers. If you push the wrong message, or push the message too hard, then you can come off as tone-deaf. However, pulling back your marketing messages can cause a decrease in sales, something that you want to avoid during a global pandemic.
While it can be challenging, it's possible to develop an effective marketing message during the coronavirus pandemic. This requires the winning combination of the right messaging on the best possible channels.
Here are five tactics you should consider utilizing and how to make the most of them:
1. Test conversational marketing
Many people are talking during the pandemic, but few people actually feel heard. It’s easy to feel drowned out in the noise of politics, social media arguments, job loss numbers, and health reports. This means that one of the best things you can do for your brand is to listen. Look for ways to have conversations with customers and listen to their needs.
In the Guide to Conversational Marketing, CEO Jitendra Gidwani explains what conversational marketing is: "Conversational marketing is simply a method of interacting with customers that prioritizes quality feedback. This technique is meant to instantly engage leads, convert them into customers, retain existing clients, and grow a loyal base."
You can do this by investing in AI chatbots, creating content that drives conversation or simply prioritizing real-time communication via social media. The value in this during the COVID-19 crisis can't be underestimated.
As Gidwani explains: "The idea that you can build lasting customer relationships through quality conversation over time isn’t just anecdotal conjecture. Feeling as if they are genuinely heard is the single most likely thing to keep customers devoted to a brand."
Your customers are looking for an ally. Be that support system and use your marketing to stay connected and most importantly, to listen.
2. Invest in real-time video
Zoom is one of the more popular brands to come out of the COVID-19 crisis. Suddenly every meeting and event, from the NFL Draft to your child’s kindergarten classroom, has gone virtual, and Zoom is gladly hosting those digital gatherings. The lesson here is that real-time connection is more necessary than ever—and you can take advantage of that.
For example, now's a great time to test real-time video programming that you can launch through Zoom, Instagram, YouTube Live or Facebook Live. For B2B organizations, this might include product demos and interviews with industry leaders. For B2B companies, this could be an entire conference. Yes, dozens of conferences have gone virtual this year, including Adobe’s annual summit. Adobe even made the 100+ breakout sessions free for the public to watch on their time.
The key is figuring out what your customers want and then leveraging simple and inexpensive video resources to give them that. Remember: starting with a cell phone video is still a start!
3. Add personalized touchpoints
Your customers have more media competing for their attention than ever. Email sending volume increased by 19% in March 2020 compared to January 2020, and the number of accounts sending emails increased by 18%, according to data from MailerLite. Plus, 46-plus million emails have been sent that mention COVID or Corona in the subject line.
Now's not the time for typical, generalized marketing content for a broad audience. If you want to drive leads deeper into the sales funnel then you need to personalize. This means knowing what your customers want and when they want it—and then tailoring your emails to that using your ecommerce or email marketing segmentation features.
If you haven’t invested in real-time customer data tracking and monitoring, use this time to look at your options. You may be able to create better messages that convince customers to convert, now and after the COVID-19 crisis.
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4. Go local
Local SEO and local marketing should be a key focus for any local businesses right now. Knowing which businesses are open and available is more important than ever. Your customers don’t have time to drive to a closed business, and they could increase their risk of infection by visiting multiple places.
In 2018, Google reported that “near me” mobile searches, which also contained a variant of “can I buy” or “to buy,” had grown 500%—and with mobile becoming ubiquitous, these types of searches are only increasing.
Consider short-term and long-term local marketing solutions right now. First, update your Google My Business listing to accurately display hours and options (i.e., delivery, takeout, etc.). Also remember to use local hashtags and geographic post tags when posting on social media so potential customers can find you.
Updating your local SEO is a long-term process, so add these five local SEO solutions to your list of to-dos:
- Create local educational content
- Publish local industry content
- Earn more local links
- Drive local promotion via news stories
- Update all your listings pages (i.e., more reviews, photos, etc.)
5. Improve your customer communication
If there's one marketing tactic you should invest in during the COVID-19 pandemic, let it be communication. This ranges from the development of a crisis communication strategy to managing customer requests in a timely fashion.
Many people have had to work with customer service representatives to cancel vacations, weddings, and other events. They will remember which companies were helpful and which companies were difficult.
Invest in tools to automate the communication process and tune into what your customers need so you can stay in touch and maintain communication throughout the pandemic and beyond.
Now's the time to look at how you’re reaching customers, what you’re saying and how you’re preparing for the post-COVID-19 world. Use these marketing tactics to support your customers now while building long-term brand loyalty.
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