The Norm After The Storm

The coronavirus has changed the way businesses operate and put some businesses out of commission. We are already about 5 months into this pandemic and yet the uncertainty remains. With questions like “How long more is this going to last?”, “Has the virus peaked yet?” and “When can my company get back to business as usual?”. These questions are most likely going to remain practically unanswerable.

What we do know for certain however is that there will be an end to this pandemic, the storm will eventually pass, and business as usual will be back in time to come. However, the impact of this pandemic will last and businesses must adapt in order to nurse themselves back to life.

Analysts are coining the term “The New Normal” to describe how drastically things would change in terms of way businesses handle their operations after the pandemic. The transformations undertaken by some companies to adapt to the norms of the current COVID-19 predicament will result in a shift in consumer behavior and habits.

For businesses to quickly bounce back and return to scale post-COVID-19, they would have to plan ahead. Reimagining and reinventing their own companies based on what this new normal means for their operations.

The signs of what the new normal is, point to going digital. A Nielsen research conducted in Asia has shown that consumers who shopped online the first time during the pandemic are very likely to continue to shop online in the next 12 months. Ecommerce and online sales have long been a thing and were always seen as the potential culprit in killing off traditional brick-and-mortar retail. Now, the once-rising industry has transformed to become a part of everyone’s lives, being the only way for businesses to reach out to their customers in these trying times.

This is exactly why businesses would require a digital strategy now more than ever. Crafting a digital strategy is a daunting task, especially for businesses that haven’t primarily engaged in any of their online channels prior to this crisis. But fret not, because this article is here to help. We will be discussing digital marketing tips and ways that businesses affected by this pandemic could use to help them gain a spring in their bounce back into the new norm.

Adding Value to Your Customers with Your Digital Strategy

Having people stay at home and not go out for social activities would mean more time to be productive. People have more free time now to invest in finding ways to upgrade themselves and their skillsets. This is evident from a quick Google Trends search on the search term “Online Courses”.

Google Search Trends for Online Courses have been on the rise

We could clearly see in the graph shown by Google Trends that there is a spike in the search term around the Mid-March period where many countries were going into a full-blown lockdown. Other search terms like “Online courses during lockdown” and “Free Online Courses During Coronavirus” are also rising search terms.

This is a fantastic opportunity for businesses to tap on.

Some of the industries that were hit the hardest by this Coronavirus pandemic are apparel and non-food retail sector. The rising trend of online courses can be utilized by these businesses. Businesses operating in these sectors could offer quality online courses that integrate their company’s products into the course’s content to attract new customers. For example, apparel businesses can come up with online styling courses or manuals that use their company’s upcoming product catalog as part of their styling references. This creates excitement and generates hype for the company’s upcoming and existing products.

Having quality content is also another way to boost your brand’s image. By creating online courses that enrich your existing and potential customers’ lives, your business will be seen as competent front-runners in your domain. This helps to perfectly prime you for business right after the pandemic!

Offer Free Courses for Your Customers, Like Moz did! (Source: Moz)

Courses are of course one way of offering informative content to your potential customers, there is a whole range of methods that you can also utilize to add value to people’s lives like Infographics and how-to videos. Just remember that as a part of your digital strategy, Google Trends will come in handy in helping you to spot and identify the types of content that people are looking for in this period.

Find New Means of Marketing

video marketing for covid-19

As a business, adapting to the new norm would mean re-thinking the ways that your business has been delivering its marketing messages

Media and content consumption has been increased due to this pandemic. GlobalWebIndex’s Media Consumption report has shown that 76% of U.S. online video watchers say that they plan to consume just as much of online video content after the outbreak as they did during the outbreak.

The increase in online video consumption presents itself as an opportunity for businesses. Brands are capitalizing on the hike in media consumption by creating video content to entice their customers, adding to their repertoire of methods in reaching out to customers.

As retail businesses cease to operate during the mandated lockdown periods in countries all over the world, companies look toward creative mediums to reach out to their consumers.

One emerging trend that retailers are employing during this period is the use of livestreams to sell their products. This is akin to the popular early 2000s infomercials on television where products would be promoted with their benefits being shown. Livestreams are evidently a well-received source of entertainment during the COVID-19 period, with Chinese eCommerce giants Taobao’s showing double the sessions on their livestream platform.

Similarly, the events industry which has taken just a big of a blow as retail with cancellations due to government mandates, have also taken to video streaming as a means of continuing engagement with customers.

With the likelihood of media consumption remaining about the same post-COVID-19 based on surveys, it is safe to say that your company should start expanding your digital strategy to include livestreams and video content. The new normal that we’re about to head into may be one that is dominated by video content and by preparing to content to properly market on these channels ahead of your competitors is what will help you bounce back after the dust has settled.

Advertising Ahead For The New Normal

Another strategy that companies can employ is to advertise ahead and market promotions that will begin after the pandemic.

An industry that could utilize such a strategy would be the travel industry. Neil Patel’s blog article on web search traffic amidst the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the travel industry’s search traffic has seen the greatest decline. This may seem like an alarming trend that should force agencies to hit the panic button and pull out of their marketing efforts. However, companies must remember that there is still a market to capture after the pandemic. Traveling will be one of the things that is on many people’s to-do list after the pandemic.

According to research by Acquisio, click through rates going down and cost per click going up for the travel industry during COVID-19. It may seem sub-optimal to continue advertising on digital paid advertising channels. But, businesses must remember, with the number of companies pulling out of their paid ads, it also means lesser competition and a larger market share waiting for you to capture.

Instead of pulling out of paid advertisements, we would recommend for companies in industries like travel and hospitality to actually continue with these advertisements. After all, you’re only paying upon clicks from potential customers. It would be advisable to carry on with these paid advertisements, but of course, it has to be done with some tweaks.

Flight Cancellation Search Volume During COVID-19 (Source: TowardsDataScience)

For a start, search volume for cancellations of flight, hotel booking, travel restrictions are sky high at this point in time. This is sub-optimal for your paid ads campaign. To counteract this and be more effective with your paid ads, look to add negative keywords relating to cancellations, COVID-19 and travel advisory. You should also be looking to promote on your paid ads, promotions and deals that can be used after the end of this pandemic.

Continuing to keep your ads up will help your business with regaining momentum post-COVID-19 as it would help give it continued exposure to potential customers, granting you the opportunity to cater to them after the pandemic. With some adjustments, your ad spending will become more optimized, helping you weather through this storm while preparing for the new norm.

You may not see immediate results, but remember, this is the long term that we are planning for!

Optimizing Your Webpages

The lockdown in many countries resulted in a spike in consumer online shopping. Whether is it food orders, groceries or daily essentials, many businesses have adapted their business delivery means so that they can continue to operate.

Post COVID-19, consumers that were once wary of purchasing their products online may become more open to buying online. The act of online purchases may become more ingrained into people’s lives as they get used to it.

The effects of the consumer online purchasing behavior may last and now’s a better time than any to be looking at optimizing your own business’s site to gain more exposure and traffic. For a start, you could look to improve your website’s user experience (UX). Start by asking questions like: “Is my website easy to navigate?”, “Would I be able to find what I want as a consumer?”.  Improvements to the UX of your website can help greatly in this period as it could drive more conversions by lessening frustrated customers that churn due to a bad UX. You can further improve your customer’s UX by quickening your webpage’s load speed as well – which, might we add, is also a crucial ranking factor in Google’s search engine algorithm. Other things that you can do would be to publish valuable content related to your products and industry. These would help you rank better in the results page. For more methods on helping your site rank better on Google, check out our article on actionable SEO tips.

Optimizing of your website for the search engine during this time would be one of those good long term investments that you’re making for your company. By ranking higher during this period can help you gain new customers and maintain top of the mind awareness from your potential customers, which translates to more business when we transition into the new normal.

Consistent Engagement on Social Media Channels

To prepare for what happens after the whole pandemic, your business must retain existing customers! The best way to do so is to tap on your existing social media channels to engage them.

We have a global crisis on our hands currently and consumers are looking for companies that they can rely on and trust in tough times. This is an opportunity for you to prove to them that your brand’s reliability.

Give constant updates on changes in business delivery methods as well as operating hours during the outbreak period. Your customers want to hear from you and would be interested to find out the preventive measures your business is taking.

Engagement on social media is also another way to show customers that you care. Think of ways to run promotions or product trials and demos during this period to help ease some of the financial burdens that some people are facing. Discounts and trials will help present your company as a company that is making a conscious effort towards those affected by the virus.

There are other means to constantly engage your customers in this period outside of social media, but it is imperative that you have a digital strategy to plan out engagement touchpoints and execute them during this period. This helps you to have a consistent stream of engagement with customers, allowing for retention, increased trust and potential new customers after the lockdown period.

Wrapping it Up

Preparing for what comes after the storm now is crucial. You don’t want to be heading into the post-COVID-19 period, clueless about what the new business norms are. Take this time to understand what your consumers are looking for and prepare for what the new normal is.

Today’s article has highlighted the importance of having a digital strategy during the COVID-19 period and how it will help your business recover as we transition into a new normal following the outbreak.

Here’s a quick round-up of the tips we’ve covered today

  • Publish Valuable Content to Increase Your Brand’s Image of Competence
  • Find New Marketing Channels and Means to Market Your Products Online
  • Advertise Ahead for the Post COVID-19 period
  • Optimize Your Site for Exposure
  • Consistently Engage to Gain Trust

All these tips should help prepare your company as we head into a more digital normal – based on consumer behavior signals and surveys. If your company requires consulting from a digital marketing agency, MarketingGuru is here to help!

We are offering free SEO audits and consultancy for companies looking to transform their marketing strategy into a more digital one.

Stay safe, practice these tips and your company will come out of this storm stronger than ever.