We understand that in these uncertain times, there has been a turbulent change in the business landscape. As we move into a phased exit out of lockdown, we have pulled together a few tips and advice on how to continue to navigate the current global crisis and come out the other side stronger, resilient and ready to embrace a new reality.
# Niamh’s Business Tip [CEO]
Seriously think about your online legacy.
Think about what you want people to remember how you were online during this.
When we emerge from the Covid-19 crisis, the world will feel very different. People will have changed but they will also remember those who responded well to the crisis. I want Digital Twenty Four to be remembered for a few things:
- Our generosity in delivering free webinars to over 1000 local small business owners throughout Ireland. To date we have presented on ‘Social Media’, ‘Google Ads’, ‘Video marketing’, ‘Instagram For Business’, ‘Getting Found Online’, ‘Is Your Website Delivering For You’, ‘Marketing For Post Covid-19’ to name a few. Sharing all our knowledge and know-how. No scarcity complex over here.
- Over-servicing the clients who stuck by us and delivering some exceptional results for them so they could continue to trade.
- For those clients who simply couldn’t continue to work with us because their businesses were shut – giving them grace on their payment terms.
- Offering free advice and support – and a shoulder to cry on – to the many businesses who contacted us wanting to run something by us.
Simply knowing how much all of this means to other humans going through the same as us, gives us a sense of community over profit and competition. By thinking contribution rather than conversion, we believe it will eventually pay dividends for us. My hope is that it will leave a lasting impression. By doing the above we have maintained visibility with our content through a content marketing crisis. I reckon we got the content marketing side of things right to date. Did you? Think long and hard about what you will be remembered for? How are you contributing? It’s never too late to change.
# Carolyn’s Digital Strategy & Influencer Marketing Tips [Director of Digital]
Define and develop your overall Digital Marketing Strategy
Keep your brand top of mind
Brand awareness is still extremely important in ensuring that your business is kept top of mind during these unprecedented times. Take this opportunity to focus on your core brand values, add personality and make sure that your web content, your advertising, your social media, indeed all of your channels sing from the same hymn sheet.
The co-founders of Spectrum Collections are dedicating this time to reinforcing their message that they are vegan and cruelty free, caring about the welfare of animals, by raising money for the Aspinall foundationwhich provides food for endangered species.
Research & Engage your customer
Now is the time to do the things that you didn’t get the opportunity to before. Conduct market research, run Q&As and polls on your Instagram stories. Try out a new way of communicating to your customers and brand advocates. Test video content on IGTV or try out Tik Tok. Think of a creative way of bringing personality to your content, that’s fun, entertaining and engaging. People are consuming a huge amount of content right now; ensure that your content stands out with something new and novel.
Become a data nerd
Do you have google analytics installed? Are you monitoring your Facebook insights? If you tend to give data a wide berth, think again. Data is your friend, it gives you transparency into what is working for your brand and business and what’s costing you money, but not converting. Analyse your customer journey, are there pages that are letting you down and not converting as well as hoped? Set up alerts that will notify you of any unusual website activity, big drop offs in traffic, increases in visits from different geo locations and of course differences in enquiries or sales.
Influencer outreach still delivers
Bite sized content wins
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will know that Tik Tok is the latest social media networking craze with over 800 million active users worldwide and the most downloaded app on the apple store. People are readily consuming this bite sized content and creating their own skits, songs and dances. Celebrities are jumping on board to help boost their profile and a new generation of influencers have grown solely from this platform. If you haven’t joined tik tok, you should do so now and uncover a new realm of influencers that could be extremely helpful for your brand.
Live video and story content is also winning, so make sure that you focus on this. Keep your feed up to date, but pay special attention to stories as this is where the activity and engagement is right now.
Micro and nano influencers
Whilst working with high profile influencers will bring you reach and awareness, micro and nano influencers will yield authenticity and trust. For any influencer outreach campaign, we recommend working with a number of influencers who you deem to be the right fit for your brand. Micro influencers have a following of 40,000 or less whilst Nano influencers have a following of 5,000 or less, small but dedicated and loyal audiences. Their engagement rates are, on average, seven times higher than those of more prominent Instagram users, and the relationships they build are more solid.
The best way to cultivate a list of influencers that you would like to target is through manual discovery. You can click the downward arrow link on Instagram to find other suggested influencers, or you could type in hashtags such as #fbloggersuk or simply by looking at who your favourite influencers follow and engage with. If you don’t have the time, there are plenty of platforms that can help by lifting the manual labour and doing the work for you, including upfluence and famebit.
The Facebook brand collaborations manager has a search function which allows you to type in country, audience demographics and the content category, pulling up influencer pages along with their engagement rate, brands they’ve collaborated with and insights into their fanbase.
#Meghan’s Google Ads & SEO TIP [Head Of Digital]
Although Google Ads results have remained fairly stable comparative to other PPC platforms for click through rate and conversion rate across multiple industries, buyer and search behaviour on this PPC platform has not been immune to the widespread impact of this global pandemic. Stability currently is particularly true for low cost e-commerce products and some luxury entertainment items.
The majority of the downturn on Google can be attributed towards the downfall of specific industries during lockdown.
Industries hit the hardest on Google Ads include:
- Sports & Fitness
- Building & Construction
- Industrial & Manufacturing
Consumer Needs Are Changing
Always remember that consumer needs are changing right now, as we lose the ability to access certain amenities such as restaurants, salons, hairdressers, workshops, person-to-person training, and more.
Depending on your industry, we all must reassess the messaging within our text ads and how we target with keywords. A beauty retailer, for example, may have exclusively been selling wholesale items to salons and hairdressers previous to covid-19 on keywords such as “salon supplies”, “wholesale shampoo UK”. By realigning keyword targets to support a more generalised customer market through keyword targeting such as “gel nails at home” and “how to cut hair at home” with adverts that promote the brand as providing salon quality at home as well as helpful content for consumers driven to attempting at-home solutions, this retailer can continue to make sales with Google Ads.
Use Google Trends to assess the popularity of your current keyword targeting and seek timely alternatives that are trending.
Trends in beauty & hair (May 2020) – consumers look towards at-home solutions to previously salon-offered services such as haircuts, gel nails, skincare and more.
Trends in health & fitness (May 2020) – consumers looking away from research gyms on Google and more towards at-home fitness content and e-commerce.
Trends in Building & Construction retail (May 2020) – popularity of DIY projects soar over hiring construction workers.
If you are looking to get started with Google Ads, be sure to keep track of Google’s offerings for small businesses advertising. Currently, Google is offering $340 million in free ad credit globally to support small businesses and crisis response. Click here to find out more and discover how to apply for free ad credit.
As we previously mentioned in our Google Ads section, search behaviour has changed drastically over the last few months. This change in search behaviour won’t only affect your business offerings and how you develop your advertising, but also expectations of organic traffic and the trends occurring globally for search.
Local SEO (Google My Business)
First and foremost, it’s imperative that we keep our consumers informed about the functioning of our business.
On March 23rd, Google My Business (GMB) announced the following updates to their Google My Business policyin light of covid 19 including:
- GMB support will prioritise processing edits to listings for critical health-related businesses, as well as new listings, claims, and verifications for these businesses
- Any edits to opening and closing hours, special hours, temporary closures and business descriptions will be prioritised
- Reviews and Q&A functions have been disabled
Google My Business is also offering the ability to create an automated post about your business regarding Covid-19 (see below).
Our top piece of advice for your Google My Business is to ensure you are updating your opening hours to reduce confusion with your consumers and creating relevant content to ensure all users searching for your business are in-the-know.
If you have closed your headquarters, but are still taking online orders or food deliveries, be sure to make this clear on your Google My Business page. If you are a restaurant or hospitality establishment currently delivering, be sure to link your deliveries services with Google. See how Boojum has done this below:
Optimise for SEO Shopping (free!) ads
Google has rolled out free shopping ads to the USAwith sights to roll this out worldwide by the end of the year. If you are currently selling items in the USA or would like to prepare your store for organic sales to the UK come the worldwide rollout, you can become eligible for these ads by creating a Google Merchant Center account and uploading a product feed.
Under the “Growth” section, you will find “Manage programmes” where you will find information regarding the Surfaces across Google programmes offering free advertising.
Optimise SEO content creation during Covid 19
Due to the changes in search traffic and demands, more users are consuming content over services. Industries most heavily affected by this trend include:
- Food & hospitality – growing trend towards recipes and cooking
- Health & fitness – growing trend towards at-home workout content
- Beauty & fashion – growing trends towards at-home how to videos on salon procedures
We highly recommend businesses look towards building their content around keywords that offer help for consumers during this time. Do not tell users you are there for them, show them.
This change in consumer search trends was embraced by Wagamama, who had to close all stores globally during the outbreak. The company released their famous recipes online for consumers in April 2020 and received a large amount of press coverage from the event.
Wagamama not only released their recipes in written form, they also began releasing home-made videos of them demonstrating their videos in a series called “Wok From Home”, taking greater advantage of the growing importance of video in SEO.
Wagamama have embraced trends towards helpful content during Covid 19, not only to help them rank on currently trending keywords, but also to garner a supporting audience that will help put them in a better position post-lockdown.
Use Google Trends to discover growing trends within your industry and develop your content around these topics.
Optimise SEO Schema Markup & Structured Data for rich results
Schema markup is key for effective and attractive search engine results that gives Google extra information about your website and products. Schema markup can help your website generate rich results and include more information about your services and products, for example pricing. On this same note, structured data can enable your results to pull key pages out and display on your organic listing for a larger rich result.
Here is an example of a business (PureGym), generating rich results. Note that they have added a “Coronavirus” section as structured data:
If you want to add structured data to generate rich search results for your business but don’t have access to a developer, you can use Google’s structured data tool to tell Google which pages or elements you would like to feature on search results.
There have been updates to Schema Markup since lockdown began. Schema.org announced schema for COVID-19, including “SpecialAnnouncement” and “eventAttendanceMode” markups. These can be useful when looking to provide date-stamped updates for things like travel bans and school closures, as well as to indicate if an event has been cancelled, or moved online.
Google have offered the following examples of of special announcements:
- Closure notice (for example, closing a school or public transportation)
- Announcement of government benefits (for example, unemployment support, paid leave, or one-time payments)
- Quarantine guidelines
- Travel restrictions
- Announcement of an event transitioning from offline to online, or cancellation
- Announcement of revised hours and shopping restrictions
Google offers further insight into adding Special Announcement Schema Markup to your website here.
#Stuart’s Paid Social Advertising IP [Senior Digital Strategist]
Simplify your strategy & Intensify your attention
Reduce confusion to yourself and to your audience. Focus on the better performing campaigns that convert well. Running tests, having fun, trying new creative, or attempting risky strategies may not prove fruitful. Untested campaigns and strategies could prove a costly exercise, at a time when cash flow and ROI is very important. Simplify your approach, analyse what has worked well historically and what is currently working, increase your attention to these campaigns – don’t let any spend go to waste on poor performing campaigns, if you see creative, ads , audiences or whole campaigns not working, or not generating a successful return – pause them or at the very least analyse comprehensively. Ensure your budget is being spent in the right areas with minimal waste – really intensify your level of monitoring, management, optimisation.
Update Your Messaging
As you’ve probably all seen across many brands and businesses, updating messaging to let consumers know that your brand is not only up to date with the latest ways to stay safe but is also sympathetic to those dealing with COVID-19 is the way to go. Customers are much more likely to continue engaging and purchasing your business if they know what you’re doing to keep your staff, store & products safe. A simple addition or adjustment to your ad copy, creative or website will reassure your customers that you are adapting, innovating and approaching the COVID19 situation in a safe and professional manner.
Analyse the Competition
Many of your competitors could be pausing their campaigns. The first reaction of many business owners in a time of disruption or panic, is to lower ad spend or pause their ad campaigns, with a view to restarting them again once the situation dies down or blows over. For this reason, and if you can afford to, you should keep your Facebook Ads going.
With many of your competitors out of the picture, your shared customer base will be ripe for the taking. More impressions are available due to the surge in usage, and with competition for this audience now lower than before, you could inevitably see lower operating costs (CPC, CPMs) as well, thus making your spend even more impactful and improving your ROAS.
For those competitors that remain in the market space – analyse their strategy, take a look at their website, messaging, their offerings, and how they are dealing with the COVID19 situation. You may find inspiration, new USPs, a change in pricing, free delivery, or the opposite – poor marketing, false advertising, higher prices, stock issues, delays with shipping & more. Competitor information is very valuable – it helps you develop & improve your own strategy, to find that edge, whilst remaining respectful & avoiding conflicts, and ultimately drives that passion to stay 1 step ahead where possible.
#Cara’s Social Media Marketing TIP [Social Media & Content Executive]
Talk to your customers in a new way
Now is a perfect time to reach out to your target market and start a conversation. What does your company want your customers to see? Forrester researchsuggests that although consumer spending energy is low right now, they are expecting something exciting to fill their time up during social distancing.
Many organisations have already approached their clientele to let them know how they can help — this can look very different depending on what sector you are working in:
- As we are all in lockdown, businesses are trying to find creative solutions to keep their customers engaged. For example, gyms are now hosting free online classes through channels like Facebook & Instagram, which is a creative way to promote their classes and keep their audience fit and healthy during this uncertain time. Joe Wix also offers free PE classes for children across the globe on Youtube!
- There has been a shift more recently to support local delivery services. During lockdown, restaurants and food retailers can still stay open. With birthdays still taking place and consumers with certain cravings, small businesses are giving back to their community by working during the pandemic to deliver goods door to door.
- As well as this, many B2C brands are changing their email marketing to send positive news to their customers.
93% of marketersagreed that interactive content is effective in educating its buyers versus just 70% for static content. Every piece of interactive content is a call-to-action in itself and is extremely shareable, which in turn increases brand awareness. Therefore, interactive content is going to be big all through 2020.
There is nothing better than giving people the opportunity to connect with your brand via interactive posts such as 360 video, AR/VR, Shoppable posts, Quizzes and Polls. The great thing about this, is that channels like Facebook & Instagram already have these built in features like 360 video and polls, making it easier for you!
Smart marketers have managed to combine two popular avenues (ecommerce and social media) together and made social commerce the norm.
Brands are now selling their products directly on their social platforms via shoppable stories and posts (such as Instagram swipe up links), as well as the newly announced facebook shops, Social commerce plugins and apps and ads on social media with call to actions for ecommerce websites.
#Dan’s Blogging/Web Content Marketing TIP [Senior Digital Marketing Executive]
Unless your business has helped provide some relief for people affected by COVID-19, or needs to update customers on vital changes, then you first need to ask yourself if your content should be addressing the subject of the virus directly at all. If readers sense that your business is at all attempting to capitalise on the situation with poorly concocted ideas there could be a huge backlash.
The short-term aim of your content should be to offer answers for those seeking them, and not be expecting clicks to bring instant sales. This should be echoed in your overall tone and wording. Especially in headlines, avoid terms like “contagious” which carry a more serious meaning in the world now, and ensure that your writing is well-intentioned, sincere and doesn’t come off as tone deaf.
Research the right topics
You may be fortunate enough to be selling a product or service which has seen an increase in demand as a result of the pandemic. For most though there will be a bit more digging required in order to understand the new needs of their target audience and how then they can plan and optimise blog posts for what people are searching for now.
If you have an archive of content already then you could look at your website stats since March and see which articles have already been gaining more traffic. You could make these more prominently displayed on your website and update the content from an SEO perspective, so that users have a better chance of discovering them organically, while hiding anything that no longer strikes the right note.
When it comes to planning new blog posts, it’s crucial that you revise your SEO strategy. Due to the ever-changing nature of COVID-19, it can be difficult to forecast months ahead, and you don’t want to invest too much on content that could become quickly outdated. In your keyword research, look for evergreen topics relevant to your industry which are popular now and prioritise those. Use tools like Google Trendsand Exploding Topicsto gain better insight and with some creative thinking you could have a calendar of sensible ideas in no time.
Double check for accuracy
Never before has the wider population had so much time available to read information online, and publishers are racing to churn out more and more content to drive clicks. But in recent years the public have also become increasingly cautious of misconstrued headlines and false or biased news reporting. When there are so many conflicting messages around COVID-19 it’s critical anything you publish be factually correct, or you risk losing the trust of readers completely.
In general, you should always check credible sources to make sure what you’re sharing is accurate, but in the case of the COVID-19 where something that was right yesterday could be wrong today, any content that centres around the developing situation should refer to the latest information from trusted sources. Two to keep bookmarked are the World Health Organisation and Factcheck.org’s Coronavirus Coverage Guide
There you have it. That’s an overview from a few of the team at Digital 24 on preparing your marketing for exit from Covid-19 lockdown. Are you ready?