How Marketers can Stay Productive During this Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

Don't worry, this isn't going to be one of your "how to work from home" advice here

With all the recent news of the coronavirus, it's clear that most businesses will continue to struggle for a while. Companies have told employees to expect pay cuts, or have asked them to go on unpaid leave.

Marketers have also started to freeze their spending. While we don't know for sure when this whole pandemic will end, some clients and readers have been asking what we can do on the marketing side of things in such downtime.

Here's what you can do as a marketer.
Personally, for me, I was recently reminded of the Chinese word for crisis, 危机. It's pronounced as "Wei Ji" where "Wei" refers to a time of danger, while "Ji" means opportunity. I'm sure by now you'll get the drift of where I'm going with this.

Wei-Ji-2

In fact, since WHO has declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, e-mail open rates have increased by 13%, probably due to people working from home and widespread social distancing.

It's time to double down on marketing efforts.

Below is a summary of ideas of what we're doing here at Brew and for our clients.

Gather Testimonials

If you have not used testimonials in your marketing, you're missing out on a robust and proven persuasion tool to convert more customers.

One reason why people buy products and services is that they know other people have bought them before, and they take comfort in knowing others have had good experiences with it. In the marketing world, we call this concept, social proof. And testimonials are one of the most effective ways of demonstrating it.

Here at Brew, it's been part of our operating process to build case studies and testimonials throughout the engagement journey with a client. But while we may have a lot of text-based testimonials, video testimonials carry a lot more weight for believability.

And that's what we've done. Here's an example below:



There are many ways to ask for testimonials, but when we do ask, we'd typically ask them these questions below (feel free to edit and use them for yourselves too!)

  1. How did you first hear of our services / get in touch with us?

  2. What made you decide to engage us?

  3. Have you engaged other competitors to support you on [YOUR SOLUTION] before? If yes, what did you feel were some of the differences between what you had experienced before compared to the results and experiences that you had with us?

  4. Were there any significant items/actions that we provided that you felt were value-added service? Please provide specific examples if applicable.

  5. Throughout the entire process, from the first meeting with us until today, what were some of the more memorable examples/events that you observed were reflective of our capability, experience, expertise, professionalism, and trustworthiness?

  6. What kind of results/profits have you been able to get by using our services and following our advice?

E-mail Journeys

Building e-mail journeys are often one of the projects that marketers would bucket under the "Important but not urgent" list of tasks. But given that you might have had your advertising budget frozen, this would be a perfect opportunity to re-look at all your e-mail journeys.

Forrester reports that companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost of acquisition.

From our experience, there are typically a few types of automated e-mail journeys that you can build.

  1. Welcome New Leads - This e-mail journey will be a generic welcome journey for all new leads and subscribers

  2. Nurture Marketing Qualified Leads to Sales Qualified Leads - For most companies that require a salesperson to close the deal, the sales cycle can be anywhere from a handful of weeks, up to 2 years. If you don't have automated e-mail journeys to nurture your leads over time, you could be effectively wasting 50% of your advertising budget

  3. Personalized E-mails - Is your customer acquisition based around a particular milestone? For example, if your business offering is based on dates (such as building completion dates, lease/license expiry dates, expected due delivery dates, or even new financial years), you can create an automated journey for e-mails to be sent out three months before the date automatically.

  4. Re-engagement with cold leads - Oftentimes, there will be a large number of prospects on your list who would have gone inactive by not reading or opening up any of your marketing and sales-related e-mails. It would be worthwhile to run an e-mail re-engagement journey towards these audiences.

  5. Campaign-specific e-mails - If your leads have opted into specific landing pages in the past, and you still intend to promote those campaigns, it would be worthwhile to have e-mail journeys explicitly built around those campaigns too

Drive more leads for the top of the funnel

If your advertising spend isn't frozen, this situation presents a perfect opportunity to acquire leads right at the top of the funnel.

Advertising spend has already been lowered in most verticals, which means lesser competition and cheaper traffic costs for advertisers who are still in the game.

And given that we can expect longer buying cycles for new customer acquisitions during this period, it would be a good idea to attract prospects at the early stage of their customer journey.

This means promoting downloadable content offers where your audiences are asking questions such as the following:

  • Issue: "I'm facing an issue with ____"
  • Troubleshoot: "How to troubleshoot ____"
  • Risks: "What risks are associated with ____"
  • Resolve: "How to resolve ____"
  • Upgrade: "I need to upgrade ____"
  • Optimize: “I need to optimize ____”
  • Prevent: "How to prevent ____"
  • Improve: "How to improve ____"

So if you were to promote downloadable content offers to your intended audiences at this stage, such efforts will very likely pay dividends once this whole coronavirus debacle is over.

Here are some headlines ideas for top of the funnel content offers:

  • X Tips to Improve Strategic Resource Management
  • X Simple Steps for Better Workforce Planning
  • How to Plan and Implement CRM successfully
  • Whitepaper: How to Ace Your Local SEO Game

Drive more backlinks

Ahh, the age-old question of "How long does it take to get ranked on the first page of Google". Based on a study by Ahrefs, it takes on more than two years to get ranked on the first page on Google.

01-age-of-page-days-copy

I'm sure you know by now that it not only takes time to appear within Google's top 10 organic search result page, but one would require plenty of effort as well.

A big part of that effort would include getting other sites to link to yours, which an SEO agency might be able to help.

Alternatively, you can also do it yourself by identifying publications within your industry and offering yourself to contribute articles on their websites.

Start developing relationships with influencers

Influencer marketing is still a cowboys' town. Anyone who has had some experience working with influencers would tell you how time-consuming it might be to manage influencers, even with third party agencies in between them. Yet, influencer marketing remains a powerful way of engaging your audience

In fact, Business Insider reports that brands are set to spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022.

But if you're new to influencer marketing, you don't need to commit a massive budget for now. All it takes to get started is to reach out to influencers who may share the same audiences that you are targeting.

You can begin by developing a relationship with them, and possibly promote an affiliate partnership model. In such times, chances are, they might probably be willing to consider it.


BONUS: Offering Paid Samples


If you're in the online education business, this one's for you. Usually, online courses are long and comprehensive. But you might want to consider taking out specific modules from your entire program and offering it as a paid sample.

But don't just position it as "Get your first session for $X". It would be critical to also position such an offer with clear benefits that your audiences can relate to.

For example, if you typically offer a 3-month program for English improvement, try offering a module specifically around "How to write better", instead of "get your first month for only $X"

Conclusion

Hopefully, this whole tragic episode passes soon, and it won't be impacting that many people's lives. But meanwhile, my wish for you as a reader is that you can also see such times as a time of opportunity as well. To borrow a quote from Warren Buffett, "... be greedy when others are fearful."

This might just be the time now.

Stay safe and indoors!

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