The impact of COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges for many businesses over the past few weeks. The closure of physical stores and the disappearance of face-to-face sales has led many to adapt to a new life online. For others, it has meant an adjustment in strategy to meet the biggest sudden change in buyer behaviour most of us will ever see.

The role of marketers during the pandemic is to help ensure brands are able to maintain market share, retain customers, and come out energised and ready to pick up where they left off.

Marketing budgets will be tighter than ever over the next few months. But the brands that invest in maintaining or increasing their presence will be the ones best placed to reap the rewards when the current crisis is over. Cutting marketing investment altogether will harm a business’s ability to grow in the long-term.

With that in mind, what should your digital marketing priorities be over the coming months? Luckily, we’re on hand to help advise on the best way to refocus your SEO, pivot your PPC and re-imagine your social media.

Preserving your organic visibility

Organic traffic has been impacted in different ways by the current situation for many brands. Ranking positions have maintained, but a change in consumer behaviour has led to a decline in traffic.

A recent study has shown that this decline has been most seen in transactional keyword terms. However, keywords that focus on awareness and informational content have received a boost.

Brands should adapt to this trend by creating informational upper-funnel content that capitalises on new and emerging keywords using Google Trends or other keyword tools for guidance. Those that do will benefit from all of the new searches taking place right now, increasing their own brand recognition and creating new customers.

For example, while everyone’s access to their favourite gym has become limited, searches for how to work out at home have seen a big jump. Businesses in this niche would be smart to capitalise on this trend with content that matches these popular search queries.

Much like during the 2008 financial downturn, now is also a great opportunity to invest time into conducting site hygiene checks and structural SEO activities such as technical audits, site speed audits, content audits and backlink audits. Or simply review your analytics set up to ensure that your reporting is in great shape. These are often SEO tactics that can be overlooked but can achieve big returns when time is taken to tackle each one thoroughly.

As SEO is a long-term tactic, brands that focus on it now will be in a better position than their competitors later in the year when the current crisis will (hopefully!) be over.

Managing your advertising strategy

Many sectors have been hit hard by the events of recent weeks and this has led to many brands pausing campaigns and even pulling spending from PPC activity altogether. But is this the right response?

For brands that have continued with their PPC campaigns, a lack of competitors leaves a lot of available impression share and cheaper clicks and traffic. Great for smaller brands that have traditionally struggled to match the ad spend of their much bigger competitors. This might not be suitable for brands in every vertical, but it does present a way to maximise returns on what could be a limited budget at this time.

With so much uncertainty at the moment, there’s no denying that conversion paths are going to be longer for most products and services as people are slightly less willing to spend their money on non-essential items.

Social distancing has seen a spike in traffic across the web, particularly entertaining streaming services like YouTube

This creates a great opportunity to pivot towards more upper-funnel activity such as display advertising. A captive audience across Europe has led YouTube to default to standard definition streaming to ease internet usage in a clear sign that the site is saturated with potential

customers. There has never been a better time to utilise channels like YouTube to build or maintain brand awareness.

Part of this strategy will also be to use it as an opportunity to build remarketing lists of people who are spending time researching products and services. Brands will then be able to stay top-of-mind when consumers are more inclined to buy later in the year.

Staying Current on Social Media

With everyone switching to spending more time indoors a huge increase in social media usage should come as no surprise. With this change in lifestyle brands are well poised to add value to their social media output to provide support while finding new customers and keeping the conversation going with existing ones.

As we’re truly all in this together, brands should utilise social media to humanise their business by communicating honestly with their followers about how they’re navigating through the current crisis. Social media is a great channel to provide customers with key updates and press releases to keep them up to date while they spend more time working from home.

Although times are tough, consumers are still looking for engagement, inspiration, aspiration and enriched experiences more than ever. Social media is the perfect way for brands to deliver this and create a much-needed sense of community.

Citizen M, a lifestyle hotel brand, has closed their doors worldwide and is now focussing their attention on creating relevant content for their 100k followers based on the key lifestyle pillars they stand for. Playlists to get you through isolation, unique pieces of art from around their hotels and interior design Q&A sessions.

Much like with pivoting PPC ad spend into upper-funnel tactics, maintaining brand awareness through social media means that brands won’t have to fight so hard for attention once demand returns as they’ll have an engaged audience ready to convert.

Final Thoughts

Outwith maintaining traffic and brand awareness it will be imperative for brands to consistently rethink messaging throughout this period to make it clear that they’re still able to do business online regardless of how the situation changes in the coming weeks.

There is no single digital marketing strategy that will work for every sector at the moment, but all brands must be ready to meet the coming return of consumer confidence when life starts again.

If you'd like advice on how to manage your SEO, PPC or social media marketing strategy get in touch with us.