Marketing During COVID-19

by | Apr 2, 2020


Marketing During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the global economy like a bullet-train and we haven’t even begun to see the lasting impact this will have on businesses.

While this COVID thing is likely to stick around for a while yet, it is important to be quick with adapting your marketing and communications strategy so you’re not getting left behind.

Your Original 2020 Marketing Plans Have Likely Gone Out The Window

First of all, don’t panic!

There is a future for business beyond this crisis even if it’s in a way you had never envisioned.

Until such time that the world actually collapses, you need to act like it’s going to keep spinning. 

The key for you is to adapt.

The Corona crisis will likely expand entirely new markets. Think of the fitness industry. There will likely be a large share of the market that will want to continue exercising from home.

But that’s the future.

During this time of uncertainty, we’ve tried shedding a bit of light on what you should be doing with your marketing during this Coronavirus pandemic.

Because we love a good wrap up so you can skip to the good bits, here’s what we’re discussing today:

  1. Adapting to Change – Innovation & Getting Online
  2. Search Engine Optimisation & Content
  3. Polishing Your Website
  4. Looking After Your Social Media
  5. Your Communications Strategy

Before we get started it’s important to note that the views expressed here is generic advice and based on opinions only. Before you take any action on your marketing you should consider if the advice is right for you, and quite possibly talk to your marketing team or consultant.

Going forward, we’re assuming your business doesn’t make or sell toilet paper.

Why You Should Be Marketing Right Now

Studies have suggested that the marketing dollars spent during a crisis tend to generate more of a return on investment (ROI) than marketing dollars spent any other time.

While you could look at this cynically and think that that’s because people “reduce their spending to what they know works”, and while that could be true, you also tend to be marketing during a time when the competition is awfully quiet.

Or too panicked to be thinking straight. Pressure gets to people.

If you can be innovative with your marketing, and are a little dynamic with your business, you could not only do exceptionally well right now, but future proof yourself beyond this crisis.

Even if you’re not in a position to adapt, use this quiet time, so once this is over, you can hit the ground running with those amazing ideas you’ve had sitting in the back of your mind for so long.

Business will begin to return to a semi-normal state, way before the government will announce this thing as officially over.

Don’t miss that wave. People have stimulus dollars to spend.

How to Market Your Business During Coronavirus Pandemic

It’s been suggested that Facebook and Google could be looking to lose around $44b in advertising revenue due to Coronavirus.

Like many businesses you’ve probably already hit pause on your paid advertising.

You’re probably not wrong to do so, right now.

Across the board we have seen both organic website traffic drop and website conversions.

Paid website traffic is down, while advertising costs have remained the same across our data set.

What you’ll want to be ready for is when the initial panic stops. Government stimulus packages are kicking in, designed to keep businesses going. 

That means, people spending money.

So while your advertising is taking a break and hopefully putting a bit less strain on your already stretched marketing budget, let’s have a look at the things you can be doing to market your business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Adapting to Change – Innovation & Getting Online

Innovation has been at the core of profitable and long-standing businesses forever.

If you want your business to survive this mess, it’s time for you to innovate and adapt to these changes.

Likely the easiest and cheapest route for you will probably be commercialising your business online in some way.

We’re seeing gyms offering online video classes. Coffee and food places adapting with deliveries.

One of the greatest businesses to come about in our lifetime is UberEats who took pizza delivery and expanded it across all types of food. They came about due to a simple need in the market.

Why didn’t we think of that?

Now is the time for you to follow in their footsteps.

If you’re able to take your business online, through an eCommerce store, or by offering consultation or teaching services virtually, you should be looking to do so ASAP.

We don’t know what the future of working people will look like after this. 

As people have started working from home and getting used to taking meetings online, you might find that virtual meetings and social distancing stick with us through COVID, especially during flu season.

We predict the demand of online services to remain significantly high. There will likely be a sizeable chunk of the fitness market who’ve discovered they’d rather work out from home with a video instructor, than go to a studio or a gym.

Where people don’t wipe down their gear. Gross!

You should embrace these changes and see how your business fits in with them.

Think about the unproductive time people spend driving around in their cars. Just to go to meetings! We could be freeing up that time and spend it more productively, or profitably.

We love going to see clients, but we’d much rather spend the time saved by not driving, working on making your marketing campaigns more kickass!

The effort you invest in getting online will serve you for years to come, so if you’ve ever needed a sign to take your business online, this is probably one of the biggest ones you’ll ever get.

2. Search Engine Optimisation & Content

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is about getting your business to rank higher on Google for the purpose of generating organic (non-paid) traffic.

The idea is that the traffic you’re picking up is also your target audience and with a clever funnel you turn these into your customers.

Any honest SEO agency will tell you that sustainable Search Engine Optimisation takes time. It takes time for Google to pick up what you’re doing, and then it takes some more time for people to find you.

So stop wasting time and get cracking.

Content Creation

A big part of great SEO is generating quality online content, usually in the form of blog posts, research papers and other informative written pieces. That’s because Google loves picking up on written, well-structured plain old text, so it’s your chance to prove you know more about the topic at hand than anyone else.

The on-going benefit of content creation is that it will likely be useful to you for a long time, not just during COVID-19 times. We call this evergreen content, which is content that doesn’t go out of date. It’s relevant to readers regardless of news cycle, global event or season.

The time and money it will cost you to put together a decent ad in a magazine with decent circulation and readership, could be invested in content. A magazine gets picked up, read and discarded for the following issue the next day, week, or month.

Online content will always be there. Always present on your site, read to be 24/7 by local, national, and global audiences. 

Backlink Building

We’ve discussed backlinks in the past.

In short, they are links from other websites pointing to yours. In doing so, they pass some of their authority or online credibility onto you.

Obviously, a link from a government or university site would far outweigh the value given when compared to your local fish & chip shop.

You will pick up these links naturally over time as you create quality blog content.

While technically against Google’s terms, active backlink building is a big part of actively managing SEO campaigns.

Whether through working with your current business network, or reaching out in a targeted way, there are things you can do to get more links.

One of the easiest way to get backlinks is from popular directories. Check out our Top 10 Easy Backlinks Every Australian Business Must Have 2020 post. 

Update Google My Business

As you may have already noticed, Google My Business is warning people that opening hours might differ due to COVID-19. 

Google My Business should be updated if you’re temporarily closed or if your service has differed.

If you’ve just embraced an online shop on your website, it’s a good idea to upload your products to it, as well as changing your service range.

In general, you should be posting on Google My Business quite regularly. It’s the social media that nobody reads, yet is one of the most important in existence.

It helps tremendously with getting yourself listed on the local Map Pack results for which you’ll receive the most clicks, calls and directions for mobile phone users.

Particularly those using “near me” queries. 

3. Polishing Your Website

We always say to clients, your website is never finished. It should be an on-going project of continuous improvements and should be dynamically changing in response to current events.

The majority of people will agree with the idea of this, but will rarely act on that knowledge.

We’re sure there are plenty of things you’ve been wanting to do on your website but just haven’t found the time to do so.

For a long time now.

Now that most of us are slowing down our daily operations a little, it’s time for you to attend to these.

Website Audits

We have spoken endlessly about Google Analytics, so we won’t cover much more of it here.

What we will say is that Google Analytics is the crystal ball to your website.

It tells you what’s going on with your site. What people are doing, where they’ve come from, and what pages they like the most.

Very few clients actively monitor their traffic, and we suggest now is the time to do so.

You’ll want to figure out what’s working and what’s not. What do people like? What are they ignoring?

Do you remove the content that isn’t doing anything for your site, or do you rework it into something that will? How about those blog posts from the real early days of your business?

Relook at all of these things now.

Website Rebuilds

Rebuilding your website is a massive task.

While you might already have all of the content there, the idea of rebuilding your site is to improve where you might be lacking.

Even if you had all of your new content and ideas ready to go, the reality is it would take us a minimum of four weeks to get this site out to launch.

Things are never perfect on first draft, so take your time with this.

Right now you have the time.

Website Plugins

If you’re running a WordPress website, you know how awesome and powerful plugins are.

You’ll probably also know that they can pile up really quickly.

What you might not know, is that every plugin you add to your site slows it down a little bit, which harms your Google ranking.

So let’s review some of these plugins and see if any can be removed.

Before you take any of these steps, please make sure you’ve backed up your site.

We follow the “red tag” system when it comes to going through a new client’s website to determine whether a plugin needs removing or not.

Removing WordPress Plugins the Proper Way – The Red Tag System

  1. Delete any inactive plugins
  2. Update any plugins that require it
  3. Disable plugins one by one that you don’t think are being used
  4. Once disabled visit your website using a new browser or incognito mode
  5. If nothing is broken leave the plugin disabled
  6. The inactivated plugin is now retagged
  7. Rinse and repeat
  8. Leave redtagged plugins disabled for 1 month
  9. You now have 1 month to see if you really needed the plugin
  10. Delete after 1 month

Once you’ve deleted your redundant ones and want an awesome list of plugins that we use for ourselves and our clients, check out our post on the Best WordPress Plugins 2020 for small business websites.

4. Social Media During COVID-19

We’ve seen social media usage blow up in recent weeks, and as further lockdown measurements are rolled out and people are spending more time at home, we’re going to see these social platforms blow up.

You’ll want to make sure that what you’re posting up is also up to date. Right now posts are aging like milk because things are developing so quickly.

Don’t feel pressured to make your content around COVID-19 though, as long as you’ve communicated your COVID-19 strategy or response plan, feel free to return to normal content.

People will likely thank you for the refreshing break in their media filled days.

Social Media Profiles

If you’re like most people, you set up your social media profiles and started posting.

Your information has likely not been updated recently, or you might have missed a few new features, like the “Services Provided” section on LinkedIn released recently to certain profiles.

Revisit these profiles and polish them up.

Social Accounts

You no doubt have social media accounts of some form, but how many do you have and are you present on the right ones?

We’re often asked which platforms clients should be present on and focus their content creation around.

The key is to look at what sort of people is using which platform, and whether they match up with your target audience.

Revisit your accounts and see where you’re spending your effort.

Most platforms offer you insights and analytics to your account, so see where you’re getting traction from.

You’re probably going to want to pull back from Twitter, but possibly spend more time on LinkedIn. Or maybe smash out a few Tiktok videos?

5. Your Communications Strategy

You’ll want to be the voice of calm, reasoning during this time. Try not to be a part of the big hype, or constantly hammer home those COVID messages that instill fear and anxiety in people.

Instead try to be somebody helping your audience navigate through this time of uncertainty, even if that’s just with some awesome memes.

Be Creative, Don’t Exploit

While it hasn’t been crazy, we have seen a few campaigns rolling out that are around Coronavirus.

You will want to be very careful with how you’re posting it as both Google and Facebook have taken an extremely harsh stance on COVID-19 advertising.

Even if genuine, we’ve seen accounts get temporarily suspended, and it normally takes a Facebook/Google employee to undo that.

The problem? Lots of them aren’t at work right now so you don’t know when you’re going to get seen to.

Be very careful not to seen as taking advantage of the situation, or you’re going to need a very good Public Relations firm to help you weather that storm.

Stay Relevant

Things are moving quickly and you will need to as well. If you’re working on stuff, get it out there, or by the time you do it’s dated.

With news on the situation unfolding on an hourly basis, you will have to stay sharp if you want to keep up.

People are also panicking right now, so you’ll want to be looking for ways to put your audience’s needs before your own. Address their concerns and try to be a helping voice in this chaos.

Look For Ways To Help

People are desperate for all of the basics right now, so if you’re in a position to help out do so.

Can your business spare food for your local community? Could your manufacturing make genuine PPE gear needed by medical staff?

Are the elderly in your area needing anything?

It’s always a good time to be getting involved in the community, respecting social distancing of course.

That’s A Wrap

The idea is for you to keep communicating with your audience as you roll out new incentives that will allow you to future proof your business and to overcome this COVID-19 crisis.

There are so many challenges you’ve already overcome in business, you’ll have to overcome this one too.

Spend your marketing dollars wisely, but don’t stop spending. People need to know you’re still around and that life goes on.

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About the Author - 3am Ideas

3am Ideas is digital marketing agency focussing on providing data-driven services that get measurable and trackable results.

Based in Perth, Western Australia, we've been looking after small and medium-sized businesses since 2014, having worked with clients all over the country.

Our aim is to adopt the role of Virtual Marketing Officer for you, becoming part of your team, sharing in the successes, the blood, sweat and tears.

We're here for you. Let's get the job done!