By David McGeough, Director of International Marketing, Wrike
Around the world, businesses are adapting their strategies to reflect the COVID-19 era. For some this means pivoting to a blanket e-commerce approach; for others it has meant creating completely new content hubs and microsites.
Whatever the changes may be, relevancy has never been so important. Your audiences want to know exactly how you are responding to the current challenges and how you will come out the other side.
Now, more than ever, marketing departments are being tested. Previous plans must be replaced, budgets must be cut, and teams must try to maintain the same level of productivity while working remotely.
Stay connected, keep collaborating
Most workforces have now been logging on from home for around nine weeks. During this time, we’ve all had a chance to adapt to our new working routine, finding alternative ways to stay connected with our colleagues.
This has quickly brought to light the importance of collaboration, and how much we take for granted being in close proximity to team members. No longer able to ask someone a question at their desk or get campaign updates in daily face-to-face meetings, we’re relying on technology to bridge the gap. Regardless of where employees are based, marketing teams need to be able to quickly and easily see the status of a task, know the latest developments, and have full visibility of crucial deadlines.
Not only do these tools and platforms need to boost collaboration, they also need to bring every aspect of a campaign or activity under one umbrella. This means should external agencies, freelancers or third-party suppliers be involved, everyone is on the same page and knows what to expect.
With technologies such as work management platforms helping businesses maintain productivity away from the office, many organisations will continue their remote working policies in the future.
A spotlight on ROI
As the pandemic continues to transform the economy, many businesses are experiencing a severe decline in revenue. Inevitably, this has had a knock-on effect internally, with multiple departments taking a hit.
Despite marketing playing a key role in promoting products and services, as well as ensuring the right audiences are being targeted, it’s unsurprising that the vast majority of teams are having to work with reduced budgets. While we’ve seen the same happen as a response to previous recessions – including those in both the 1990s and late 2000s – it has led to certain campaigns being put on hold or cancelled altogether.
It has also resulted in an urgent focus on performance, with a need to understand exactly what activity is having the most impact, and what can no longer afford to be a priority. Marketing teams are using this time to analyse every tactic and platform being used to uncover the return on investment they are getting.
Under close watch, marketers will be forced to transform the way they work in order to find their feet. This will mean getting creative, working with what they already have, and injecting innovation into every activity. This approach won’t just be critical for the current climate, but for those that want to thrive when the economy begins to rebuild.
Preparing for the new normal
While it’s easy to be consumed by the negative impact of the ongoing crisis, this period provides a unique chance for marketing teams to deploy different tactics and learn new skillsets. Employees that usually focus on events, for example, can transfer and develop their skills for digital webinars or conferences. As a result, teams will be better set-up to deal with the changes we are set to see post-pandemic.
If teams are willing to properly analyse the results of their campaign audits under new budget restrictions, they will end up with insights that improve their strategies both now, and in the future. New tactics, tools and ways of working will be replaced by more efficient, streamline and effective methods, without teams having to lose out on the collaboration that is fundamental to marketing success.
Taking a step back could turn out to be extremely positive for innovation. Despite recruitment being on hold, it’s very likely that we will see an increased demand for certain skillsets, such as digital media. The teams that are willing to adapt are the ones that will come out on top, having used this time to rethink product offerings, key audiences and technologies.
Short-term, KPIs and priorities for marketing departments will continue to fluctuate as businesses become more cautious with their money. The longer-term impact will likely be different; however, it is still too early to say how. COVID-19 has forced every marketing team, on a global scale, to consider how they spend and invest their money. Those that have been able to streamline and readjust to the new normal will find it easier as we begin to come out of this.