COVID-19: Is your digital marketing ready for when lockdown is lifted?

William Julian-Vicary

Strategy & Innovation Director

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We’ve been on lockdown for 2 months and our world as we know it has been turned upside down – business, even online, has been hit hard. But there is some light at the end of the tunnel with lockdown slowly being lifted, we may start to see things return to normal – but are you ready for this?

I’m not going to repeat the rhetoric that is flying around regarding marketing in a recession, I’m sure we’ve all read the Harvard Business Review study. However, brand awareness, at least in the short term, won’t keep the lights on. If you’re one of the very many businesses badly affected, I suspect you’re instead looking to maximise the efficiency of your marketing budgets.

So what can you do to ensure your business is best prepared for the restriction lifting and to maximise the opportunity?

What does the data tell us?

There were some obvious winners with the lockdown, those businesses that can serve consumers in their homes or provide medical PPE were clearly going to fare well and the search demand charts from Google Trends show that impact:

Telecommuting (trend)

Standing Desk

Online Shopping (Trend)

Face masks

For every business that saw demand spike there were many more suffering following lockdown, including a huge number of small companies who don’t have the resources or capability to serve customers online.

However, there is some light at the ends of the tunnel for some of these businesses – we are beginning to see a lift in some market sectors with the easing of lockdown:

Holiday Cottages UK

Engagement Rings

Hairdressers

Sadly, there are some industries that are going to take longer than others to see demand lifts, those that are simply unable to provide social distancing and/or where restriction lift dates are still unclear (such as out of home entertainment, public transport or overseas holidays):

Cinemas

Spain Holidays

Trains

The new normal?

There has understandably been an explosive use of digital technology by businesses and consumers following the lockdown measures. This includes consumers that may have never ordered online before, people that either didn’t understand or trust digital have had to become digital converts. Office based businesses that have never offered remote working are suddenly realising that remote working is not just possible, they’re already doing it. Facebook, for example, has already committed to a 50% working from home workforce over the next decade. Here at 3WhiteHats our mindset has similarly shifted.

It is far too early to predict the long term impact of this on consumer and business trends, but it would be shortsighted to believe at least some of this change won’t have a lasting impact. And if you’re a predominantly offline business, now is a good time to double down on your digital efforts.

The opportunity

If you’re in the position where you’re serving a market sector that has exploded in demand, you already understand the opportunity – your customer base has spiked in size and serving that demand and retaining those customers is an obvious priority.

However if you’re one of the many businesses negatively impacted, there are some short term opportunities that, if carefully timed, could lead to quick wins.

  • Closely monitor your market trends, if demand starts to lift you want to be a part of the conversation as consumer demand peaks.
  • Capitalise on lower advertising costs – cost per clicks for adverts on Google and Bing costs are lower than usual, Social Ad inventory is very effective right now and experiencing lower CPM costs.
  • Your competitors are likely holding back too, being first to the mark could mean you get in early with those customers in the research phase.
  • Ensuring your SEO is in order and your rankings are strong in time for lockdown easing will mean you’re visible when demand in your market sector lifts.
  • Improving your data collection – ensure you’ve got data you can trust so you can be agile in your decision making.

Preparing for the demand

Your existing and prospective customers are either itching to get back to normal or have already started making plans for later in the year. Once lockdown eases further, this will no doubt result in a spike in demand but your marketing efforts are usually not quite so easy to switch on and off.

Now is the time to ensure your digital marketing is ready so that, when the time is right, you can switch back on and capitalise on the opportunity. At worst, you’ll prepare too early and have to tweak some of your effort, but the opportunity cost is high if you miss the boat. It is like that your team members are lighter on work than usual too – it’s a good time to do all those marketing jobs you always put off when busy!

Adjust your marketing plans (so much for the 2020 marketing plan eh?), prime your creatives, identify your (new?) target audience, identify a trigger point to switch your ads back on, ready your email campaigns, align your strategy across your marketing channels, draft your website and ad copy – the list goes on, put simply, make sure you’ve got your marketing prepared.

There are a lot of actions you can/should already be doing, the long term activity that will grow your digital performance when lockdown eases; Is your SEO in order – are you ranking well? Can your website experience be improved? Do you have data that you trust? Is your CRM working for you? Is your website performance optimised?

Bottom line, consumer/business demand is coming and, to quote Benjamin Franklin: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

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