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Digital Marketing in Times of Crisis – A Practical Guide

Crisis is not necessarily a time when companies should cut their marketing efforts, but there is no one-size-fit-all solution as industries are affected differently by one crisis or another.

Today the world is facing coronavirus – a severe viral infection, spreading at a pace no medical system is prepared for. In result the population retreated in their homes, the countries locked down cities and closed country frontiers. The Black Swan of 2020 is like nothing the world has been prepared for and the consequences measured in human lives and economic recession are unpredictable. The industries where companies are on the brink of bankruptcy include travel, hospitality, real estate, restaurants, culture, entertainment with some exceptions, manufacturing companies and others.  The small and mid-size business is endangered especially in the poorer countries. Companies struggling to keep afloat, pay their monthly expenditure, salaries and bank loans have serious problems to solve and digital marketing is not one of them.

However the companies that are not so severely affected and can afford to continue running operations should not stop their marketing efforts.

Focus on the most effective activities and channels and stop everything else.

Create your crisis digital marketing strategy

Start with these questions when crafting your crisis marketing strategy. We’ll dig into each one in details further in the article.

Q #1: Are we in a position to expect an increase in sales, leads or subscribers? Is there a demand for our product/service right now?
A:  The answer of this question is directly related to the extent to which your business is affected by the crisis. If there is a demand for your product use digital advertising and create new content.

Q #2: The interest in our product has decreased because everyone is cutting non-essential expenditure, but we want to prepare for the post-crisis period. What should we do?
A: Keep creating new content and optimize the existing content. Nurture your prospects and clients.

Q #3: Should we participate in the coronavirus conversation? Should we change our content marketing plan and how?
A:  Join the conversation if you can contribute in a meaningful way. Do not try to freeride the subject hoping for traffic and attention – it’s unethical and ineffective.
The video format is bigger than ever. Users are getting more used to this format and you should become more comfortable creating it.

Q #4: Should I use digital advertising?
A: Yes, if there is active search for your product or service. Or if you have budget. Companies already decreased their ad spending. It will be easier and cheaper to reach your target audience.

Q #5: Should I lower my prices?
A: There isn’t a universal answer to this question. I would rephrase it to “How can I show empathy to my users without threatening my survival?

Our main focus during times like these should be on nurturing our relationship with clients and prospects. We’re investing in the post-crisis period.

Content Creation

Create content which has potential to turn into traffic generator. Content is a major instrument for increasing the organic traffic, which is the best converting channel. If you succeed to increase your organic traffic it means that you are reaching more and more people who are actively searching for a product or service like yours.
Don’t forget that even if your sales have dropped, your efforts target the future moment – when the demand will recover and you want your users to remember you.

What if the users do not care about my product right now?

First of all check if this is just an assumption or a fact. Check the monthly search volume for your major keywords. The monthly search volume reflects directly the interest for your product online.

Let’s see how the events from the past months have affected the search online of certain keywords in US.

Digital marketing training

digital marketing training 1024x360 - Digital Marketing in Times of Crisis - A Practical Guide

Financial tips

financial tips 1024x358 - Digital Marketing in Times of Crisis - A Practical Guide

You can make this check with this free tool: https://neilpatel.com/ubersuggest/

This infographic complied by Stackline shows the growing and declining categories in e-commerce in US.

Growing businesses in coronavirus pandemia

Should I join the coronavirus conversation?

Yes, if you can contribute to solving some of the problems created by the crisis. These are a few of the challenges people and businesses struggle with today:

  • Working from home poses various challenges
  • Increasing need for video conference calls and streaming, but users need tips and tricks about the pro and cons of different tools
  • There is a need for synthesized and structured information in the sea of coronavirus related content
  • People feel confused, insecure and some may develop more serious emotional problems
  • People need to see doctors for non-coronavirus related health problems, which right now is almost impossible

If you have knowledge and experience share it. Here are a few examples.

Jason Fried is the founder of Basecamp, the author of Rework, supporter of the radical idea that the office is not the best place to work and one of the pioneers of the remote work culture. He did a free webinar on the challenges of remote work.

basecamp - Digital Marketing in Times of Crisis - A Practical Guide

Loom, the screen and video recording platform, is offering a completely free license until July 1 in response to the increased need of users for video communication.

loom - Digital Marketing in Times of Crisis - A Practical Guide

Need and demand for telemedicine apps, such as Healee, is increasing and their content is relevant.

Healee telemedicine app

Video Format

Users consume more video content than ever because it’s the best alternative to physical communication that we have.  It’s a good moment to add the video to your arsenal of communication tools.
Most physical events can happen online and reach a wider audience. We held an online career event for the Digital Marketing Program at Telerik Academy a few weeks ago and it reached 13 times more people than the physical one we did for the previous edition.
Yoga and sports instructors have been using the video channel for a long time. Now they use Facebook live and even Zoom for live sessions, so that they can keep in touch with their followers.
Psychotherapists are organizing free group sessions for their clients to help them with the anxiety the social isolation causes them.

Working video formats and instruments

Goal: to keep in touch with the audience

  • A Video recorded with your phone, using good lighting and possibly a tripod is great option as long as you have good content. Don’t forget that it’s better to upload the video on each social media platform vs. upload on one of them and share it and use the landscape format.
  • The benefits of Facebook live vs. pre-recorded video: your fan base gets a notification that you’re live, reminding them either to join or save it for later; better statistics; it makes your users expect your event and creates a feeling of being together which people miss today.

Goal: a closed video session for paying users
Tool: Zoom

Goal: a free webinar
Tool: Zoom with YouTube or Facebook live streaming

Goal: training video including screencapture
Tool: Loom

Digital Advertising

Use digital advertising if there is some active search for your product or service, or you have budget. Many companies already minimized or cut their advertising spend and CPC dropped. The advertising is cheaper and the space less crowded.

Which formats should I use?

  • Use remarketing if you’re experiencing a significant drop in search volume. A simple Facebook post boost is a good way to stay in touch with your users.
  • If the users are actively searching for your product use Google ads, Facebook and Instagram ads targeting interests and affinity interests.

Show Empathy to Your Clients

Think if you can offer help to your customers?
If they cannot afford you right nowcan you create free, valuable content helping them minimize the loss they’ll suffer by not working with you? If they can still afford you can you provide additional value?

Now is not a time to freeze. It’s a time to nurture and invest.

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