By now there is no denying the impact that COVID 19 will have on South Africa and the World. We are all looking to the safety of our families, friends, staff and colleagues and trying to ensure we navigate through this period with as little long term impact to our lives and businesses as possible.
The global economy has been hard hit and the impact will be felt for some time to come, and to try to combat its economic impact, marketers and business owners are assessing strategies and planning for lean times.
The reality is we can survive in difficult times if we are savvy with our business and marketing strategies. In this post, I will unpack some ideas that you can use in planning your marketing efforts over the coming weeks and months. These thoughts and ideas will hopefully guide you in setting your digital strategy to hold market share and maybe even grow it over these difficult times.
1. Focus on high ROI marketing techniques
Cashflow is key for any business in hard times. In light of this its key that all marketing efforts and strategies focus on this over the coming weeks and months. Apart from Email marketing, the highest ROI driving marketing technique is Search Engine Marketing. Search Engine Marketing (both paid and organic) is a “PULL” strategy, meaning we are reaching consumers when they are looking for our products/services and have a need rather than a “PUSH” strategy where we are trying to force our message in front of consumers.
The key takeaway here is that we are in front of consumers when they have a need. The restrictions in the physical space caused by social distancing and containment will likely increase this need and digital traffic will likely rise in the short term. Our Search Engine Marketing strategies will need to take this into account and we need to help customers with their fears and needs. Our messaging needs to talk to safe deliveries and accessibility to the products and services they need but may not be able to get in the physical/retail space.
Sales may be lower than normal in the short term, but through careful tactics, you can help ensure that you dominate market share in the digital space, this has 2 benefits.
- You will get the lions share of the currently available sales, and although times will be hard, be able to generate cash and weather the storm
- You will be in a strong position when the virus has passed and economic activity picks up again
2. Use your Data and be Agile
In tough times, reality is that budgets will need to be trimmed. Marketing data should be used to guide us in this decision and if you have had a broad, top of the funnel strategy it likely makes sense that the focus should rather be put on targeting consumers with more immediate buying intent.
In order to do this effectively the data, you have from your campaigns becomes critical and the approach should be to move fast on areas that are not performing. In the Search Engine Marketing this can be achieved by analysing performance daily and shifting budget to campaigns that are driving a stronger ROI or on areas where the data shows a higher buyer intent. In this space, you can almost see in real-time if your budget is working for you.
Every Rand will be key over the next few months, so make sure it’s effective when spent.
3. High Demand Drives Search
We have seen the impact COVID 19 has had on people and their buying behaviour and when goods/services become hard to access consumers will turn to digital channels to get what they need. Companies ranking well for an until recently banal search result such as “toilet paper” are likely seeing massive returns for their efforts.
If you combine this thinking with a strategy that speaks to your consumers need (as we identified in point 1) then you are on the right track. In the ‘toilet paper’ example Pick n Pay do this well, they have invested in optimising their site to rank for this term and have brought the consumers’ needs/requirements into their metadata and strategy.
Eventually, things will return to normal and stability will return to our day to day activity. Those companies that have built their strategies around agile, data-led, return on investment-driven marketing tactics will have weathered the tough times and will find themselves ahead of their competitors. It won’t be easy but it is definitely possible to guide your business through the next few months. Hold your market share and prepare for growth in a post-COVID 19 world.
Article Author : Graeme Stiles