In a climate where more people than ever are spending an increasing amount of time online, Twitter are unexpectedly projecting an operating loss as advertisers suspend their online activity whilst they try to work out how to manage their brands digital presence during the COVID 19 pandemic. The reduction in ad spend has not been limited to digital platforms either, it is being seen across all forms of media. So in these uncertain times can we predict what the new normal for advertisers is going to look like?
Many more people usual are using social media and some for the very first time, in order to stay in touch with family and friends. GlobalWebindex recently reported a 27% increase in social media use among Gen Z, 30% amongst millennials, 29% among Gen X and 15% among Boomers and Facebook are reporting a 70% increase in usage across its family of Apps.
Online Marketing Strategy During and After Lockdown
It’s highly likely that your online marketing has been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, it may be that you are seeing an increase in sales online due to the type of products you sell, or you may have seen a decrease in activity due to more users researching instead of purchasing.
It doesn’t seem logical that during the pandemic we are seeing new users emerge online at the same time that advertisers are reducing their spend. The reality is that despite the extra activity on line these new users are browsing for entertainment and information and many are not in a buying frame of mind. Advertisers know this and many sectors can’t operate right now and so advertising has become temporarily redundant. This has revealed that a surprising proportion of online ad spend was being used to drive online users to offline activities, holidays, events, in store purchases etc….. Combined with another big investor in online advertising – the sports and gambling sector which has all but closed down as little or no sport is being played accounts in a large part for what Twitter are preparing for – a reduction in advertising spend.
But is turning off your online marketing the right thing to do?
Many other product sectors remain relevant during the lockdown and are having to change their messaging to fit in with a ‘stay at home’ world, but this certainly doesn’t mean they should stop communicating with their customers.
Use this time to plan
Do you know your best performing channel? Best Performing Pages? Best Performing demographics? Use this time to understand your analytics data and build a sales funnel to allow you to better plan your marketing spend when the new normal returns.
Investing in your brand image
In the UK we have seen the nation get behind one man, Capt (Hon Col) Tom Moore and his walk for the NHS, this gives us an indication of the current sentiment of a nation, if your
business can do something for its community, its staff or its customers it will have a positive impact on the brands perception once we return to normal. But what you do has to be genuine and transparent, any attempt to do otherwise will cause untold damage to your brand.
We are witnessing brand after brand rolling out its ‘stay at home’ copy – Urber have gone on mainstream TV with a message thanking people for not using them, Hotels.com have put their brand character Captain Obvious into a social distancing context and is shown using hand-sanitiser before attempting to catch popcorn in his mouth, both campaigns give the public a message and in some cases with a bit of humour. There is research out there that suggests Gen Z are now looking to brands to be moral leaders, and brands need to respond to this. So if you have the time try to be creative and pivot your brand product or message to maintain salience during this difficult time.
Brands need to stay strong – Let Your customers Know you are open
Customers want reassurances before they purchase, they need to know that you are still open and can deliver their products. Google Optimize have released a new feature that lets you quickly add an announcement to the top of your website.
Now might be the right time to consider investing for the longer term, look at your CRO, take the opportunity to make changes to your site, or use the fact that people have a bit more time and try engaging with them through email or consider conducting research to get insights that you can use when things begin to return to normal.
If you aren’t already remarketing to your visitors now is the time to start not only will it increase brand awareness but it will help to drive users back to your website when they are further down the conversion funnel and more likely to make a purchase.
It should come as no surprise that Youtube usage during Covid -19 has increased by 15.3% (New York Times), forcing the online video channel to reduce the quality of its videos from HD to SD. With cooking videos, fitness routines, health and sport categories all seeing an increase (Channel Factory) there is a strong case for certain brands to invest in some brand building display advertising on the platform.
If you’re in the ecommerce world Google have recently announced that soon Google Shopping will display free ads, this is great news for websites and it is planned to come to the UK later in the year. To show in Google Shopping you will need a Google Merchant Centre and Product Feed, use this time to setup a merchant centre and feed if you don’t already have so your website will be eligible for free ads on Google shopping.
Some premium watch brands have held back their 2020 new model launches – knowing that buyers aren’t visiting the shops, but others have gone ahead and launched their new models through online social media channels to a frenzy of interest from a global audience of watch lovers locked inside with very little to do. Whose watches are likely to be the ones sought after when the lockdown ends – only time will tell but brands like Jaeger Le Coultre, Zenith and Glashutte are currently stealing the limelight from some of their bigger brand rivals.
Review Your Website
Did you know that 40% of people will abandon a webpage (source) that takes over 3 seconds to load? That’s a lot of lost traffic, especially if you are paying for it. Small website changes can make a huge difference to your page speed and in turn have a positive impact on your revenue. You can use the Google Page Speed Insights tool for free to find out your website speed and areas that you can improve to make it quicker.
Suffice to say there is a captive audience out there, but they aren’t behaving in a traditional way, brands need to adjust their advertising strategies with this in mind and use this time to show another side to their brand. Meanwhile they should be working in the background to ensure they come out of this period of economic slowdown in the best shape and this means investing in their online presence, reviewing the customer journey, working on their SEO and developing fresh copy.