Times have changed. Customer behaviors are rapidly changing along with them.
So much, in fact, that AI doesn’t know who we are as humans anymore, analytic insights from last week should be considered 2-3 months old, and algorithms for search engines are basically ancient because they weren’t built for this rapid change.
Welcome to the wild ride that is being a business during a pandemic and trying to navigate your way through it. The upside? All of us are in the same boat.
What does this mean for your business, and how can you adapt?
We participated in a recent HubSpot webinar with experts from Google, Facebook and the Wunderman Thompson global digital agency to get their input.
Should you be advertising right now?
We touched on this in our marketing during a crisis blog, but the short answer is “yes.” If people are looking for your value and you’re nowhere to be found, that will hurt you in the long run.
The key is to be empathetic and tactical about what your company is advertising in these times. Are your products or services relevant right now? Can you help in some way? These are vital factors to consider before you craft the approach to your messages.
According to Maya Abinakad, IQ Marketing Lead at Facebook, 62% of people agree that what businesses are putting out now will affect how customers think of your brand later. We are all going through something, together, and offering something of value has never been more important.
Considering Your Messaging During COVID-19
If your value is providing an essential product or service, like grocery delivery services, these are obvious messages to market so people know they are available.
But what about businesses whose services are having to take a back seat while people stay at home? In this case, the most valuable thing you have to offer right now is emotional support, which we all desperately need.
A great example of being present while offering emotional support is Uber’s ‘Thank You For Not Riding’ commercial.
Uber knows that people will use them when they have to. By saying “thank you” to those staying home and not using their services, they were able to provide a beautiful message to the world and be top of mind, without actually selling anything.
Not Everyone Needs to Do a COVID Spot
We cannot stress this enough. Relevance is critical in the decision to do an advertisement that features COVID-specific messages.
Fab Dolan, Head of Marketing for Google Canada, cites that you are actually more likely to get a brand recall if you do a COVID spot but are not relevant. “Always be asking yourself ‘Is this relevant? How are we relevant right now?’ and resist the urge to do a COVID spot [just to do one].”
The key here is that industries will differ. If a gaming company had a campaign planned months ago that announced a new game they were releasing, their messaging will most likely stay the same and should not be COVID-specific.
A restaurant, on the other hand, which has had its entire delivery system changed is a different story. Do they have online order options now if they didn’t before? What are their procedures for curbside pickup? They would benefit from advertising these changes, so their customers are informed.
What should you consider across your marketing platforms?
Be consistent with your messaging. Who are you targeting and how are you targeting them? This is not a COVID-specific process, but rather something that your marketing strategy needs on a constant basis.
Always monitor how your audience consumes data and change your marketing to adapt to that. “Stick to true fundamentals of analyzing consumption of content and recommendations for adaptations come naturally,” says Managing Director at Wunderman Thompson, Jeremy Dowdy.
Organic traffic is always something to be watching, but right now another helpful tool is to be using paid search to test things out. With this, Dolan had some additional tips to consider during these quickly changing times we’re in.
Limit ad spend pre-buying – things are changing too fast right now to be purchasing too far ahead of yourself. Stay flexible – don’t lock campaigns in for 2-3 months; things could change in 2-3 weeks that would change your messaging and tactics.
Rethink contextual signals. Algorithms are ancient right now because consumer behavior is not in sync with how they were built to function. Use tools built into your ad manager, like Dynamic Creative and Automated Bidding, to help you efficiently and effectively reach your changing audience.
Consider metrics like geo-location, which previously may not have told you much; with approaches to this pandemic changing from state to state and city to city, this metric has become much more valuable right now.
Right now, customers are thinking in terms of ‘how do I get through the day?’ Meet them where they are with the value you have to offer, whether that is products or, more often, support of some kind.
Abinakad confirms that the highest-performing content on Facebook right now has these three things in common:
- Leading with empathy – be sensitive to how people are consuming content and empathetic in your messaging.
- Unique voice – what is it about your business that sets you apart? Everyone can say ‘we’re here for you’, but what is unique about your business right now?
- Adding value – offering practical or emotional support to the world is key in these times.
She adds that businesses should always be testing. “Metrics are really important to be watching right now to see what is getting the most engagement and what people are connecting with,” says Abinakad.
All of the experts agreed that video is having “a bit of a moment” right now, even more than usual. The week prior to March 13th, video consumption across all platforms averaged 6.4 trillion views per day. Throughout the remainder of March and into April, this skyrocketed to over 25-30 trillion views and has continued to grow during quarantine.
As more video is consumed, this is the best time to build unique content, and branded videos offer the opportunity to deliver good messages at an effective rate while hitting all of our senses (visual, sound, text, etc.).
Marketing in these uncertain times, while it may look different, is still an essential part of your business’s growth and bottom line. Additionally, now is the best time to try new things. People understand that we’re all in this together and are more forgiving during this unprecedented journey.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed about where to go, we understand. And we’re here for you. If you need help getting started, reach out to see how we can be of service to you.