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Practical Ways to Compete Online in Times of Crisis

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Companies are weathering an unprecedented marketing storm at the moment, plus consumers are looking for new, and changing support from businesses.

When social and economic environments fluctuate default marketing approaches can frequently be to pause, reduce, or terminate activity, however, in most cases this is not the best strategy to take.

In this post, I explore a few of the priority practical steps that organizations can take to steady marketing results in difficult situations.

Increased Focus on Audience Understanding

Your audience’s pains, wants, and needs are changing rapidly.

The help, support, and communications from companies that people are looking for today are very different from their requirements 3 weeks ago.

Globally people are in a state of flux, and there is a credible opportunity for companies to reposition themselves as a valued resource to assist their consumer base.

At present people are commercially looking to:

  • Minimize excessive spend
  • Prioritize essential purchases
  • Make the right financial choices
  • Postpone, delay and change planned expenditure
  • Future book and plan ahead
  • Make savings through special offers, deals, and promotions

All of these items can be supported effectively with the right marketing activities.

For businesses, there is a financial opportunity to future fill traditional quiet periods and common seasonality through postponed action taken by customers, as well as book purchases future forward into 2021.

Brands can promote and prioritize products and services most required now, as well as ensure they are flexible with refunds, returns, and altering purchase dates.

There is added importance on clarification on opening times, business delivery, and related business as usual (BAU) customer support and purchase handling.

For consumers, they are able to make confident purchase choices knowing that their money is safe and that timeframes can be changed, should they need to adjust things.

Shifting Paid Media Spend for Optimum Returns

Search trends are shifting daily and paid media spend management has gone from daily key account checks and tweaks to hourly.

Those ablest to identify and act on the changes in search demands fastest will receive the greatest gains from them.

Added to this situation is the fact that many organizations are pausing or reducing paid advertising, which is lowering cost per click (CPC), cost per acquisition (CPA), and in many cases making gains in return on advertising spend (ROAS).

Agile marketing specialists will be taking increased control over their paid media spend and making it work much harder.

In times of instability with consumers and businesses some of the important paid media spend actions to undertake include:

  • Maximizing brand spends. CPC is lower and conversion rates are substantially higher on brand terms
  • Pinpoint targeting on high ROI and ROAS keywords and campaigns
  • Scaling back on any areas of media spend wastage including closer working with Organic Search specialists to dovetail paid and organic cumulative success
  • Experimenting on daily trend changes specific to internal and external factors. Leveraging every new opportunity as it appears (and likely disappears over shorter than standard timeframes)
  • Moving some of the media budgets towards other marketing channels. There is a resurgence happening with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and this is mainly due to people looking to move some paid spend media budget wastage into ‘always on’ organic areas

Venturing into new Content Creation

Now is not a time for marketing to be ‘business as usual’.

Companies need to understand that things have changed, and it is likely that this change will have some long-lasting effect.

People are expecting more from the companies they trust than simply standard service delivery, product offering, and baseline support.

The content that companies venture towards during periods of instability and buyer insecurity, will either make or break company success during an economic downturn as well as bounce back revenue once buying settles down towards a new normal.

The type of content required will differ based on many factors (such as industry, audience, value proposition, influencer status, perceived brand scale, and more), however, there are some commonalities to consider.

At this time companies should be prioritizing content such as:

  • Audience aware value-led content. Anything that demonstrates the level at which your company truly understands the people you serve, and can bring added value to them at a time when they likely need your support the most
  • Community inclusion content. Any business which can have a positive physical impact on the local community should embrace this now. There is a fantastic chance to show the real-world human face of your brand and reinforce to the local community that you care. There are many marketing advantages to this tactic, but I will not list them as the intention should be based on genuinely wanting to help
  • Expertise, authoritative and trustworthiness content. Using your unique data sets, expertise and deeper understanding of your service, industry, and position within the market as an influencer to educate, inform and guide people to the best outcomes. Now is the time to place your team and company brand at the forefront of informational seeking users looking for guidance
  • Visual, audio content and storyfication. More then ever people need to associate with others. This includes comparing circumstances, situations, and desired outcomes. When users are digesting content they want to do so easily and with minimal disruption to other things they are doing. When there are times of limited external social interaction, these types of content embed more with the audience and replace some of the lost human interaction that all people seek. It’s also an opportunity (when done tactfully) to bring people to the front of the brand and provide some intermittent lightheartedness to difficult times
  • Evaluation and comparison content. Searchers need to know they are making the right choice. In many cases, audiences will be taking longer to assess buying choices and take time reviewing more granular elements of a purchasing decision before making any final commitment to buy. Practically speak for websites this will mean increasing the depth, completeness and topical breadth of coverage for everything including product-level content on an e-commerce website, through to guides, white papers and case studies on an informational website. Now is the time to bulk up your website copy, boost the informational value of everything that matters to the business and its community, and fill all the gaps in your topical coverage relevant to your business and brand

Summary

Online marketing faces ever-evolving challenges and when faced with global economical downturns these potential barriers to success can seem insurmountable in the short term.

Despite a very genuine human reaction that many key company decision-makers may have to pause, reduce, or completely stop marketing investment, it is necessary to take stock of the situation and seek objective advice.

There are practical actions that can be taken to solidify and succeed in these demanding periods, a few of which I’ve shared in this post.

Post from Lee Wilson

Originally published at State of Digital SEO

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