The current landscape that businesses find themselves in demands that companies go back to the drawing board and rehash their marketing strategy, brand messaging and manage their brand image to address the needs and expectations of customers in “the new world”. It is essential that companies tread carefully during these hard times. I have noticed two kinds of brands in crisis: those who are waiting and watching, and those who are viewing the scenario and realigning their strategies to reach their audience.
Traditional media and face-to-face interactions with customers are not an option any more. Research shows that more than 50% of marketing budgets are now focused on digital channels. Let’s explore how digitization has changed with the crisis and what brands can do to build and sustain customer loyalty and a strong brand image.
The role of social media
Social media is no longer an exclusive field of entertainment or simply to track photos posted by the Kardashians. Forward-thinking brands had already been using social channels as an extension of physical interactions with customers prior to the crisis. In the past few months however, it has taken on much greater importance. I can hear you thinking, nothing will take the place of face-to-face customer interaction in the long-run, but I believe social will be a close second. Simply put, if a channel has a captive audience, don’t just spend your ad dollars on it, but use it to reimagine your brand communication strategy and to build new revenue channels.
So what do you do with all the ad dollars? According to IAB, 70% of buyers have already adjusted or paused their planned ad spend, while 16% are still determining their next steps. Part of these budgets will move to audience targeting and over-the-top (OTT) platforms for the third and fourth quarters of 2020 and even some part of 2021. Also, marketing messaging is moving to cause-related and mission-based marketing.
What organizations need more than ever is to stay connected and sustain customer confidence. Marketing automation will create the difference between the haves and the have nots in the times to come. Bands that have a customer nurturing process in place without overheating their marketing engine will be well positioned to win.
Make your content stand out
Next, look at your brand’s content strategy. This is not just a tactic for crisis management, this is hygiene. In the UK, people were spending an average of 4 hours a day online following the crisis, a significant increase on 2019 levels. We saw similar trends in the US and other countries. Mobile engagement across the globe shows no sign of slowing down. It has become more important than ever that brands create a content plan and can detect and measure what works. For those organizations that don’t have the in-house resources or expertise to create compelling content, third parties can provide an attractive option. In the era where there is an ocean of content on every subject, focus on interactive content versus static content to stay relevant and outperform the competition. With ever-changing search engine algorithms, it’s time to tirelessly work on SEO to keep your content ranking high.
Lastly, but most importantly, let data drive your decision-making. Track, track, and track how your audience is interacting with your brand. Companies that don’t know their customer behavior are shooting in the dark – and risk losing market share to those who have data-driven marketing strategies in place. Let data show the strengths and weaknesses of your brand and predict the future behavior of your audience.
Many businesses will experience difficult times as a result of the pandemic. The more you do to retain your brand presence now, the quicker your brand will recover and bounce back as the world adjusts to our new normal. Spend this time to build and sustain long-term relationships with your customers.