Marketing out of lockdown

22.06.2020

We’ve learned a few things about how customer behaviours have changed during lockdown, which has resulted in us pivoting our focus when to comes to digital Marketing. Here are our top tips.

Louise Abbey, Head of Customer Marketing.

Customer behaviours have evolved since the lockdown restrictions came into force in March. Our lifestyles have adapted to fit with the circumstances, and this has had a huge impact on our priorities and preferences as individuals. We’re going out less, or in some cases not at all. Many have been spending less money on material things however online searches and shopping is at an all-time high, and the majority of the population is still working from home.

The doors to non-essential retail stores reopened for business on 15th June, which saw hordes of shoppers queuing to revisit the brands they missed most. The Prime Minister had the revival of the economy in mind, when he actively encouraged the country to ‘shop with confidence’.

Despite the queues, analysts predict that some of the behaviours that were inherited during lockdown are likely to stick around. Many buyers remain cautiously optimistic and hesitant to overspend, for fear of what might come next. The furlough scheme is providing a protective buffer, for now, which means that we may expect to experience the real economic fallout from the pandemic later in the year, rather than today.

There are lot of unknowns and it’s unclear how this will play out in the B2B space over the next few months, as the country works hard to get things back on track. One thing is clear – no business has been unaffected. Brands in certain sectors find themselves in survival mode, and are working through their overheads with a fine-tooth comb. For others, the period during lockdown has given them the space and time they need to reconsider their business operations – many of our Partners are seeing demand from customers who are ready to upgrade their IT and comms infrastructure, to support home working. Other sectors are booming and many have found it hard to meet the demand during lockdown.

By having a considered and customer centric digital Marketing strategy, which looks beyond lockdown, businesses can strike the right tone and be prepared for whatever comes next.

Understand changes in customer behaviour

There was a lot of hesitation and guesswork at the beginning of lockdown around how to market to customers in such difficult and unfamiliar circumstances – now is the time for ‘less talk and more action’. By taking a clear and strategic approach, you can gather hard facts and ensure that you’re getting the maximum ROI for your Marketing spend.

What are your customers searching for? Google Trends can be used to monitor changes in key areas, allowing you to adjust keywords and ads to link with audience searches. Find out what your customers are really searching for, it may encourage you to reconsider the theme of a lot of your messaging.

How is your website performing? – Free tools such as Google Analytics provide a crystal clear view of how hard your website is performing, and which product areas your customers are most interested in learning about. We’ve seen a huge spike in website traffic during lockdown and have repointed our efforts towards content creation for our news pages and blogs.

Are your social media efforts worth the effort? This is a question I hear from Partners all the time. If you’re engaging in social media Marketing, all of the main platforms come with inbuilt reporting tools. Measure your success and use the data to decide whether to ramp up your efforts, or repoint your focus elsewhere. We saw increased engagement on social media during lockdown, but for individual, people based profiles, rather than our company profile – we repointed our efforts to increase our reach.

What’s important to your customers? On a more human level, approach your customers to ask how they are – it sounds simple, but many overlook the importance of a basic interaction, and others say they don’t have the resource to invest the time. For me, there is nothing more important than this. Even if you block out one hour to place five customer calls, you won’t regret it. Try to understand how the pandemic affected their business, so that you can respond in a way that delivers real, pointed value.

Optimise your website

As the lockdown restrictions prohibited shoppers from visiting non-essential retail stores, online spend skyrocketed. According to the Office for National Statistics, online shopping as a proportion of all retail reached a record high of 30.7%.

Those who thrived had slick online presence and the ability to place orders online. While the doors to most shops have reopened, many buyers are still hesitant to visit in person, and the online figures remain high. These behaviours are likely to spill over to the B2B space, as buyers become more expectant of brands to cater for them online.

By introducing SEO to your website, you can draw in more visitors and climb to the top of Google, when buyers are searching for products and services like yours.

If you have already invested time and effort in optimising your website prior to lockdown, it’s important to revisit this, as user behaviours have changed. We are seeing a lot of channel businesses placing effort in this area – so, even if you held the coveted top spot on Google before, you may find that a competitor is now biting at your heels.

Many Partners can be put off by the cost of this, as most digital marketing agencies come with a heavy price tag. Looking at the marketplace, 9 have done some work with digital marketing brand revvd, to deliver digital marketing projects with some of our channel Partners. revvd offer a free website review and their pricing for SEO is affordable, plus our Partners have seen real results.

Focus on brand building, not short term sales

It’s essential to do more than simply ‘keeping the Marketing lights on’. As a popular adage says, “When times are good you should advertise. When times are bad you must advertise.” But it’s not just enough to simply make noise – brands need to be relevant and deliver real long term value, if they want to succeed.

Use this time to build brand awareness. By being front and centre, and providing real value when your customers need you most, you will open the door for sales once buyer confidence returns.

Simply by being present, you create an image of stability which reassures your customers and encourages them to come to you, when they need you.

Audiences gravitate toward content that has meaning and relevance – so your messaging should focus on what’s important today. Give your customers advice and support. Rather than pushing a sales agenda, help existing customers get the most out of the services they have today. This type of support and engagement can be delivered through one to one conversations, online training sessions, live streams, informative white papers and helpful product guides.

Many channel brands are reducing Marketing efforts and spends right now. By placing effort in this space, you can really stand out and have a wider share of voice. Put your customers’ needs at the heart of everything you do today. Be proactive, listen and be prepared to pivot your Marketing focus to adapt to today’s behaviours.

Lean on your service provider

As part of our commitment to our Partners, we have introduced a range of digital Marketing initiatives which aim to support positive customer conversations. We support Partners by providing clear and concise communications which aim to comfort customers, while advising them of the solutions that can support their business. If you’d like to know more, get in touch – hello@9group.co.uk

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