COVID-19 is having an enormous impact on all of our lives, personally and professionally. People and communities are suffering, and many businesses are closing their doors.
Some organizations are hanging on, adapting, trying to weather the storm — even though the landscape is shifting, drastically and quickly. And even top agencies and marketing experts are stumbling, trying to remain agile and find their footing during a time where the marketing ecosystem feels entirely uprooted.
Those who'll survive know that marketing isn’t going away. In fact, it’s more important than ever.
Customers are online (a lot) and looking for help as they navigate this new reality and unfamiliar territory. That means it’s high time to retool those playbooks and learn a new stroke in order to survive this moment of sink-or-swim.
Don’t Abandon Your Inbound Playbook, Rework It
Although the adage “business as usual” falls flat, don’t abandon your inbound marketing machine. In fact, it’s time to lean in — it just needs some recalibration to prove valuable and relevant.
The bedrock of the inbound methodology remains true:
Understand and help solve your target audience’s pain points.
While it can seem like everyone shares the pain point of an invisible contagion that’s destroying normalcy or market predictability, your first play is to understand and help solve your prospects’ pain points amidst this pandemic.
Don’t ignore what’s happening, but allow messaging and outreach to be gentler, kinder, and more helpful.
(Need an Inbound Marketing review? See this guide, Inbound Marketing 101, if you need to freshen up.)
Build Rapport & Trust
A prospective customer might not have the cash flow to buy today, but a trusted resource that provides solutions during this time is much more likely to get the sale once cash flow does come in.
This principle sits at the crux of the inbound methodology, pre- and post- COVID — if the content or communication is not relevant or helpful, don’t do it.
Content Guidelines in the COVID-19 era:
- Respect and understand that people don’t want to be spammed with seemingly irrelevant or trivial content.
- Be positive but transparent. Don’t exploit the situation, and don’t capitalize on people’s fears.
- Send practical updates about how your organization is prioritizing health, safety, and compliance, or ensuring the continuity of essential services. Send sparingly and only as the need arises.
- Stay in your lane. Provide a small solution that is part of or an extension of your existing business services or products.
For example, we’re working with one of our business technology clients on how to help their customers go completely remote with ease and security. Because that’s what their customers and prospects need from resources like them right now.
Every piece of content and communication — from social media, to emails, to blog content — should be genuinely helpful, relevant, and applicable to your audience.
Crank the Content Marketing Machine
The good news for content marketing loyalists is that right now, people are consuming a lot more content. People are social distancing but spending more time at home on social media and in front of screens, and during times of the day that had previously been considered low-consumption hours.
These big shifts in consumer attitude and behavior mean that organic content can go a lot further. As the first step in your content marketing playbook, tighten up your SEO and produce content that is useful and relevant.
Studies have historically shown that B2B marketers typically don’t spend enough time or resources on creating and implementing a successful content marketing strategy, but now’s the time to shift and implement best practices. Pro Tip: your sales team should be proficient in content marketing as well.
Socially Connected, Physically Separate
A smart social media strategy has always been important in building brand awareness and engagement. With a surge in social media traffic, it’s time to double-down on your social content promotion and engagement.
If you have some more time on your hands to engage professionally on social media, LinkedIn put out some great tips that are pertinent for all social platforms including:
- Post about your experiences (this builds relatability and trust)
- Comment on conversations that are relevant to you and your business (this puts you in the thick of the conversation and opens up communication channels)
- Be yourself and offer your unique perspective (you can shape the conversation and build thought leadership)
Even if the context is new and the data is unpredictable, data should not be ignored. We prefer to track digital performance in HubSpot’s platform, but Google Analytics is a free tracking tool as well. Use data to identify where your traffic is coming from, and where on your website/digital platforms they land. If conversions have dropped off, update your conversion paths and calls-to-action accordingly. This is an opportunity to try new things, and track what works.
For example, a call-to-action geared towards immediacy (i.e. Get a Demo Now) might perform poorly right now, as few buyers are in a position to move forward in the sales funnel. But this is actually an opportunity, not a defeat.
Evaluate the existing calls-to-action and conversion paths on your website. What is getting traffic, but the click-through-rate is falling? Consider rephrasing these buttons and graphics to be in line with gentler, kinder, more helpful messaging, or resourceful conversion paths.
Examples of resourceful conversion paths
- A 1-1 sales demo can turn into a discovery session, where a rep learns more about the prospect’s company
- An eBook landing page conversion can become a resource packet and an optional free workshop meeting, where the prospect learns how to use the resources in the packet.
As the pandemic unfolds, data trends will continue to shift. Monitor your industry’s specific trends, and glean valuable data from your HubSpot portal or other CRM.
Regularly reassess knowing that change is guaranteed. Don’t be caught flat-footed because you’re relying on obsolete wisdom that, just weeks or months ago, was true.
Although the marketing landscape and ecosystem is shifting beneath our feet as we speak, agencies must remain agile, creative, and optimistic for themselves and their clients. Upholding the central inbound truth — be helpful in solving your audience’s problems — is more important than ever to help your team weather the storm.