Online marketing is in a state of change.
During this time of social distancing, people everywhere are spending more hours online, increasingly turning to the internet for news, entertainment, shopping, connecting and general info gathering causing traffic to reach all-time highs. (The Virus Changed the Way We Internet, New York Times, April 7, 2020) And depending on your industry, you’ve probably also seen search volume pits — think travel bookings — and peaks, such as with grocery delivery.
With all this volatility, what’s a digital marketer to do?
For our e-commerce friends and with holiday buying season right around the corner, your strategies will differ. But for the rest of us, now is a good time to invest your marketing dollars in top-of-funnel campaigns that build awareness, relevancy and trust.
Building Awareness, Interest and Understanding
If you haven’t noticed, forward-thinking brands are running image-boosting ad spots. These companies are working hard to build awareness so when we’re ready to spend again, we’ll choose them. They’ve got it right. It is not the time to hold back marketing dollars. Rather, it is the best time to invest in building interest and understanding by creating content that drives top of funnel engagement. Before diving in, take advantage of traffic fluctuations. Review your content strategy and after doing your research change it to target keywords/topics that have seen a recent increase in traffic and interest, then create content around those topics. This content could peddle a product, but it might not. What it should do is speak to new needs. It could inspire creativity, incite a laugh or smile, remind us of shared experiences, add to our knowledge base or offer a new idea or way of thinking. All of which build credibility and brand awareness. For example, marketers in the vacation space might write about “how to travel safe” rather than the “trendiest place to visit this spring break.” This type of content adjustment will still draw searchers to your website and potentially make up for lost search volume around branded keywords. But moreover, it positions your business or brand as a company who understands what searchers really need right now, which leads to relevancy.
Staying relevant during this time of social distance is a challenge, but companies that shift marketing dollars to pay-per-click or paid remarketing campaigns and invest in strategic paid social will remain top of mind. Retool your messaging to be respectful of your customer’s time and possible life changes. Adjust your campaigns to demonstrate what you are doing to help people during these unusual times. Another way to stay relevant is through email marketing, especially if you have an offer that will make someone’s life easier. Be creative and connect with your customers in meaningful ways.
With trending keywords and search volume all over the place, one way to increase trust is to build a sense of community. Social media is best for this. If your brand or company is missing in-person events and connections, try connecting on YouTube or through webinars, for example. One of the most important best practices of marketing is to think about specific audiences and to meet them where they are. Right now, there is a pretty good chance that’s on social media sites like Facebook/Instagram or Twitter (or TikTok, but that’s another blog post). Find out which social media channels your audience is most active on and be there. Even if you did not enter the pandemic with a particularly strong social media following, use these channels now to connect and engage with your internal and external audience.
Quick sidebar regarding your internal audience and trust: These days internal trust is just as critical to your company’s success. In The Truth About Trust we find out that trust is essential to boosting employee engagement, motivation, and candor. Employees are more likely to follow through on goals set by a manager they trust and to be more forthcoming about the challenges they see on their level. Check out our online interview with Nancy Kane if you want to hear more about bringing humanity, empathy and transparency into internal communications. She says when people feel trusted, they’ll trust back. Interestingly, employers are trusted more now over any other source.
The bottom line: search spikes and drop-offs don’t mean you have to stop your digital marketing efforts. Remain cognizant and aware of what consumers are searching and how you can provide them with the information (or product) they need. Think like your customers and then provide the content that gives them what they need or would find useful. These investments now might not provide immediate ROI but will generate future opportunities. So, while it's valuable to do the research and analyze the trends on search volume, it’s just as important right now to work on reputation.
Photo: Adobe Stock
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