COVID-19 Recovery: Your New 2021 Marketing Plan
As recovery from COVID-19 continues and businesses reopen, consumerism won’t look the same. Priorities have shifted and marketing practices need to reflect that change. Gaining a competitive edge in the post-COVID-19 world will require fine-tuning your marketing strategy as you relaunch your business.
A successful rebound from COVID-19 will mean using data-driven targeting to deliver relevant content to create powerful connections with your audience. Find them with data, use hyper-targeting to get their attention and put the information they are seeking at their fingertips.
The coronavirus has changed the way we act, boosting our tolerance for screen time for everything from remote work to telemedicine to virtual yoga classes. With people spending more time in front of screens, making online purchases and forging digital connections, there are countless opportunities to refresh your business strategy to deliver on your brand promise. As part of your post-COVID-19 marketing strategy, use virtual product demos, videos and engaging online experiences to humanize your brand and speak to your customers’ concerns.
Consumers are being more thoughtful about purchases and that means it will take more than a catchy tagline to get their attention. Companies that were furthest along on the digital transformation journey prior to COVID-19 will be able to rebound and adapt to new customer demands more quickly, as an accelerated shift from in-store purchases to e-commerce continues.
Consider how your business has changed over the past few months and how the landscape of the world has shifted. At the very least, “how” you offer your products and services has evolved. As you reopen, take a holistic approach and review your SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis.
Your competitors have succeeded or failed over the past few months and that will change your market positioning through your strengths, weaknesses and threats. As for opportunities, here you will find an outline of the best marketing practices for your business to get ahead.
Invest in SEO for Your Website
SEO is a powerful way to help your brand recover from COVID-19. It will help your website rank higher in search engine results by driving more traffic to your site and potentially more business. It also will allow your business or association to show up at the right time—when your audience is searching for you.
SEO-generated traffic is more likely to convert at a higher rate than ad-generated traffic, since the person doing the search is actively seeking out information and has a specific want and need.
With many marketing budgets being slashed as a cost-cutting measure, fine-tune your SEO strategy to ensure that your company will be found on search engines, even if your Google ad dollars are eliminated. An integrated strategy will produce leads, pull in new customers and help convert organic traffic.
As part of your post-COVID-19 relaunch plan, update your Google My Business (GMB) listing, making sure your address, phone number, website and hours of operation are accurate. Then look at other directories where your business is listed and update the information accordingly.
Next, review the keywords you want your brand to be found for and build or update content on your website. Then make sure the internal links on your website are not broken, ensuring you don’t have any error codes.
Use SEO to ensure your website is found, but remember, SEO is never finished—it is continuously evolving.
Be Heartfelt in Content Marketing
Content conversion begins with content marketing, which is driven by creating and distributing consistent and quality content to your target audience. Humanizing your content especially as recovery from COVID-19 continues will help customers feel more connected to your brand.
As you reopen, continue to build brand loyalty by adjusting your brand voice so that it reflects what your customers are facing. Think like your customers. Be authentic, heartfelt and relevant in everything you produce.
Though sales or traffic to your physical location may be down, customers are online doing research and seeking relevant, educational content. “Owned” media, which is a great place to build your brand’s image, is more valuable than ever because you control the message. Use owned media, such as your company’s website, blog, social media channels and enewsletter, to improve brand awareness.
With events and conferences cancelled, thoughtful use of content marketing and social media will be key to connecting with your customers as you relaunch. Be especially mindful as you begin to refresh and re-start your sales material. Avoid being overly salesy and striking the wrong tone. The mix between salesy content and brand content should shift as business picks up. But err on the side of your brand.
Assess Your Website
Your website is the center of your company’s marketing universe. Update the content, fine-tune navigation and refresh your brand look and feel to create the brand experience consumers are seeking post-COVID-19. Continue to showcase what your company does best in a way that embraces a sense of community and camaraderie.
Over the last few months, COVID-19 announcements and updates about changes in business operations and services have required regularly updating your website. As you review your website, take a look at the messages on your social media channels or posts in the hello bar, which floats at the top or bottom of a web page. Are they still current and relevant? If you haven’t updated your initial messaging, it’s possible that it contains outdated information about your business practices, local legal restrictions or other details.
Most companies were able to move swiftly to communicate with customers and make the necessary updates, but others were not. Take some time to review and evaluate how quickly and efficiently you were able to react and update your messaging and/or offer customers the ability to make online purchases. If your website or mobile app wasn’t flexible enough to allow you to pivot to meet your customers’ demands, it might be time to think about upgrading those platforms. As you relaunch, use this time to review the customer journey to ensure that your company is prepared in case there is another crisis or a second wave of the coronavirus.
Refresh Your Messaging
Branding is more critical now than ever. As you reboot your business, be transparent and communicate how you are restarting. Continue to communicate with empathy and let your customers know how you are keeping them and employees safe by adhering to new health and safety protocols. This messaging will build trust among your customers, making them feel more comfortable as they return to your physical location.
Your customers need to not only connect with you virtually, but they need to know your brand promises will be kept. Roll out messaging that addresses your audiences’ concerns about safety, as well as new product and service offerings.
Companies that will stay top-of-mind are the ones that have been keeping in touch with customers throughout the pandemic with email, social media or by offering free content. In some ways, the “digital only” realm we have been engaged in has flattened the playing field, and smaller companies are now catching a new audience.
As business resumes, social media is one of the most common ways people are communicating and getting updates about your business’s reopening. Continue to communicate with your target audience to build your following across the platforms they use.
People are spending more time in front of a screen, so delivering helpful and valuable insights on social media has never been more important. Be sure to include posts about new service offerings, changes in business hours or operations. Keep the content updated, relevant and fresh. When you are active on social media by implementing a campaign, posting updates or responding to comments, your brand will gain traction. Remember, social media works in tandem with your SEO strategy, so frequent communication is key.
As you reopen, keep an eye on your notifications during the times updates are posted. It is likely that you will see some comments and questions come through from your audience, and you’ll want to respond promptly. When communicating on social media, remember it is a two-way street. How you respond to inquiries and comments will preserve trust and loyalty among your customers.
Focus PR Efforts on Helping
Helping is the new selling, so being buyer-centric instead of product-centric will help you sell more. In the post-COVID-19 era, everyone needs help in one way or the other. Your customers have problems that your business can solve. If you want to sell, you must first help your customer. Offer discounts, donate to the community and provide better terms on your products and services. Use social media to listen and share solutions.
Make real connections with your customers and prospects. Don’t spam them, instead connect with them and offer a solution. That will help them remember you and reward you in time. Keep them informed not just about your products, but about your solutions for their lives. Tell them how you can help them navigate the post-COVID-19 world.
Following the pandemic, the core tenets of marketing are not changing at all. Provide real solutions and keep your brand promise. You will keep your customers, and they will become your brand evangelists and sell for you.
As you roll out your marketing plans, post-COVID-19, acknowledge the financial toll the pandemic has taken. Don’t expect the same ROI or the same quick return on your marketing spend.
Reevaluate your target markets and product offerings. Does part of your marketing strategy become obsolete post-COVID-19? You may find some market segments are going to be late to get back online. How does this affect your revenue or your product focus? Do you need to offer different products for certain markets, or can you come up with a new product or offering that will be needed as many of us realize we are living in a new era now?
Now is the time to leverage an array of marketing tactics as you rebound from COVID-19. Not sure how to get started? Contact us today.