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pandemic

How to succeed with marketing in a post-pandemic world

The last few months have been tough for businesses; logistical struggles and diminished customer purchase power have seen businesses of all sizes, and across a majority of sectors, feel the financial pinch. In these types of situations, many businesses turn to cut backs in marketing budgets in order to alleviate financial strain, but it’s often great digital marketing strategy which can help to deliver an upturn in business during difficult periods. 

Here Chris Attewell, CEO of leading digital agency Search Laboratory, argues why now is not the time to step back on marketing activity and offers expert advice for businesses looking to achieve success in a post-pandemic world through cohesive digital strategy… 

  1. Know when to press ‘Go’

With things seemingly much more normal in day to day life, a mistake brands need to avoid making right now is to switch their marketing activity on. Despite shops, restaurants and even offices opening back up, the customer journey in many sectors is still far from ‘normal’.

Knowing when to resume activity can be the difference between making and losing money. Too soon, budget is used with little results; too late, and you miss out on the initial flurry. 

Monitoring search impressions via Google Search Console is the quickest way to gauge when your industry is beginning to pick up, as it indicates rising interest in your products. However, as you can expect impressions to fluctuate daily, comparing the average number of daily impressions of the last three days compared to the last ten and twenty-one days will show if there is an upwards trend. 

2. Segment your pixel audiences and CRM lists

The pandemic has resulted in a lengthened sales cycle, meaning consumers are spending more time in the research phase and delaying purchasing. If you were tracking users who engaged with your website before or during the pandemic, use this time to segment them and know what messages you want them to see ready for when the market picks back up.

As lookalike and similar audiences are based on recent data, these lists may be skewed due to a different sales cycle during the pandemic. Instead, segment your pixel audiences or CRM lists to create user groups before and during lockdown and test the difference to identify different audience groups; you can then tailor the messages shown to each group for better performance.

3. Build an online local presence

Although travel restrictions within the UK have been lifted, many consumers are choosing to stay closer to home when it comes to eating out, shopping and undergoing leisure activities. For businesses where customers are required to go instore to complete their purchase, consider narrowing down the geo-targeting for paid campaigns to avoid wasting budget, and use this time to build a strong local SEO presence. Creating or updating your Google My Business listing(s) and getting listed in important local directories can help to boost your online presence for location-based searches, helping to drive more footfall as restrictions ease.

4. Create ‘soft’ conversions

While many businesses are already be seeing an uplift in web traffic and sales already, a return to pre-pandemic levels of sales may be slow. Adjust your expectations and set ‘soft’ conversions based on the current needs of your audience. Doing this allows you to measure success in a climate where customers are not buying as much or as often, and means you can still capture valuable data to inform your digital strategy. Consider how you can provide genuinely useful and engaging content that matches the needs of your customers and can be used to capture data and soft conversions – such as downloadable guides or webinars.

5. Optimise for long-term results 

The immediate future is uncertain, so use this time to focus on improving your long-term success. Ensuring your website is SEO ready now will help to drive organic traffic in the long run. Review your website architecture and speed, and current content and identify where and how you can improve technical elements of the site, and where you can improve or create content to make the site more relevant for your audience’s search queries and needs.

6. Fine tune your Google Analytics 

Google Analytics is a valuable tool which can be used to understand who your customers are, how they are finding you, and what they want from your business. Now is a great time to set up Google Analytics, if you haven’t already, to track customer behaviour and use these insights to develop an effective marketing strategy. Review the metrics you track – do they correlate to your current business goals? Ensure tagging and tracking is set up so you have access to all the data required to make informed business decisions moving forward. 

7. Join up your offline and online data 

Tying up online behaviour (how a user interacts with your business online) with offline behaviour (such ringing up a sales person, attending an event, shopping in-store) helps you to see how your online marketing activity leads to new customer acquisition and vice versa – insights which will help to shape an effective marketing strategy. If you have a CRM system, link it up with Google Analytics so you can track how users behave across the full user journey. Whatever the unique behaviours of your customers are, finding and measuring highly engaged users that have a higher rate of conversion is a relevant way of measuring successful sessions if sales are lower than they usually would be.

For more help with your marketing, download our whitepaper: https://www.searchlaboratory.com/downloads/kick-starting-your-marketing-in-a-post-pandemic-world-whitepaper/

Priorities for marketers amid a global pandemic

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.