Riverworks works diligently to keep up on the latest marketing strategies and offerings from key digital marketing platforms in effort to best serve our customers in all circumstances. Below are the three major phases of marketing that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ways we have sought to bolster the success of our varied client base during this time.
Respond & React
When the stay-at-home policy first impacted communities across the United States in mid to late March, the first focus was communicating with customers about whether your business would remain open or closed. If your business remained open, the way you delivered your products most likely changed. Whether it was curbside pickup, or a change in your processes to meet CDC guidelines for a safer customer experience, the new approach to conducting business had to be communicated across various mediums.
During this phase, agile marketing was critical because things were changing very quickly as everyone adjusted to a new normal. Consumers were staying in, and time spent browsing the internet reached an all time high, but search behavior reflected pandemic-related keywords or products that were specific to stay-at-home needs.
Riverworks had several clients who remained open, but majorly changed the way they were conducting business. The most effective marketing strategies we utilized for these customers were:
Email marketing. This medium offered a means to quickly communicate with existing customers about the latest updates regarding service options, new products, and new procedures during the pandemic.
Social media. As advertisers pulled their budgets back, Facebook/Instagram ads became very inexpensive, and a very cost-effective way to reach new and existing customers for businesses that were still advertising.
Google display advertising. With consumers spending more time browsing the internet, and Google Display ad pricing being so incredibly affordable, we worked with several businesses to move a portion of their budget from search ads to display ads that offered successful conversion rates and tremendous brand awareness.
Google My Business. This platform became an increasingly important tool during the initial shelter-in-place orders. Google My Business rolled out new features such as “Take Out” and “Delivery” service offerings for restaurants, “Telehealth” for medical, and COVID-19 business updates for each profile. They pressed pause on new reviews for several weeks during this time, as well. It was important for us to keep up with the changes that were happening daily, and make sure our clients’ listings were updated accordingly.
Reopen & Resume
Many businesses had to close down, and have either reopened in the last few weeks or are planning to reopen in the next week or two – depending on location, and the climate within their specific community. During this phase, you want to let your customers know when you are reopening, the details of your operations, and the measures you’re implementing to ensure they feel comfortable visiting your business.
Social media campaigns and email marketing campaigns are no-brainers, as mentioned above, but below are some additional things you may consider during this next phase.
COVID-19 Message on your website. It is important for businesses to inform customers of procedures put in place in effort to provide a safe consumer experience, whether this is a landing page on your website listing your customer-facing procedures and behind the scenes process, or a brief message on your home page (i.e. We follow CDC guidelines for the safety of our customers and employees). Let the people know how you’re handling the circumstances, and help make sure they feel comfortable doing business with you.
Google Ads. Google searches have rebounded to 89% of the level they showed in February, with similar conversion rates. This is a fast and healthy rebound. Also, display ads and videos are still very inexpensive buys. Mobile searches are increasing, but desktop searches are still higher than they were pre-pandemic. In effort to capitalize on that, we are evaluating each clients’ individual campaigns and offering recommendations on a good balance between search and display ads so each gets the most bang for their buck. In addition, Google is offering free ad credits to customers who advertised 10 out of 12 months in 2019, and in January or February of 2020. These credits are starting to appear in customer accounts, and can be applied by the end of 2020.
Free Google Shopping Ads. If you have items you sell online, Google Ads is also offering free shopping ads right now. Our team at Riverworks is happy to assist with the setup, if needed.
Google My Business. This platform continues to make changes that render it even more important for small, local businesses. For example, a few weeks ago they started allowing some accounts to get support from their customers, and feature a gift card link or GoFundMe link. Your Account Manager at Riverworks will keep you posted on all of the new features as they are applicable to your specific business and industry.
During this phase, your business is open, and you are focused on advancing your business as much as possible with the new guidelines. We are fortunate to work with some companies that thrived during this time, and others that have a “new normal” they have to make work for them in creative ways. At this time, we are past the day-to-day reactive marketing, and the weekly game plan. As such, we can redshift our focus to making solid plans for the upcoming season or quarter.
That being said, consumers are not fully comfortable going out into public spaces. Initially, 65% of consumers were still staying home after the restrictions had been lifted. That will most likely relax as time goes on, and things feel more normal. Even so, it’s important to continue to showcase the specific things your business is doing to create a safe experience for your customers, as well as offer options for those who aren’t willing or able to be out in the community at this time.
Our team at Riverworks strives always to find creative, results-driven ways to serve our clients. Contact us if you’d like to discuss your current marketing plan, or if you want our team to help create a custom marketing plan for your business. Let’s advance together!