We are living in history right now. The COVID-19 pandemic has left no industry untouched and we can expect it to change everything from the way people shop to how they socialize with each other.
As governments around the world encourage people to stay home a new kind of normal is being embraced. This may feel like a daunting time for businesses, but we must remain flexible and adapt to the changing needs of consumers. With the huge impacts this situation is having on people’s lives they are looking for new, convenient ways to access everyday comforts.
That means a surge in online opportunities to help support.
Recent statistics have shown an increase in the number of companies posting about COVID-19 on LinkedIn, as well as the amount of engagement this content receives. With the pandemic impacting people on a global scale, the desire for relevant information and targeted solutions is only growing.
Now more than ever the demand for online services has become paramount. Digital media is the primary way for people to connect, discover, and make purchases. It is through online channels they can fulfill their needs and find a sense of normalcy.
Customize services to offer solutions during COVID-19
At this time people are turning to technology as a tool for work, communication, and staying in touch with consumers across the globe. As a result, the technology and software as a service industry have experienced a boost in the last several months. According to Priori Data, the global downloads for workplace communication tools, such as Zoom, Houseparty, and Skype saw a 100% surge in March when the initial lockdowns began. Microsoft also announced that their workplace chat application Teams’ daily users grew from 20 million in November 2019 to 44 million by March 18th.
The ability to connect face-to-face while working remotely has become a high commodity. In response, many technology companies are rolling out tools that can help businesses with the transition to working from home. For example, Google is waiving the monthly fee all G Suite and G Suite Education users pay for Hangouts Meet. Similarly, Zoom has lifted the 40-minute limit it had for conference calls through its free Basic plan.
Technology companies are shifting their focus towards providing solutions designed to help people through COVID-19. The aim is to make things as affordable as possible while giving customers the chance to discover the features that are most relevant to their needs. As a business owner, it’s important to figure out how your services can be tailored toward solving today’s challenges.
How to change your marketing strategy:
- Adapt your services to be compatible with remote working environments.
- Consider ways to reduce or eliminate unnecessary fees or registration costs for new customers.
- Utilize virtual solutions for any services that do not require in-person contacts, for example, a virtual tour of your retail store to help consumers look inside the store without visiting. Or a virtual consultation if your services can be consulted online.
Learn to embrace the benefits of online selling
As more people continue to practice social distancing the need for unnecessary trips to the store has reduced. Retailers in the US experienced a dramatic decline in in-store visits as advertisement conversions dropped 90% at the end of March. For businesses, this means a mandatory transition to e-commerce sites and online selling strategies to reach customers.
The CEO of 123 Internet Group, Scott Jones explained that there has been an increase in companies looking to incorporate digital channels into their marketing strategy. This has included a desire to create or update websites, develop new e-commerce channels, and even release social media campaigns around people working from home. Some businesses are also looking to shift their focus towards influencer marketing, and SEO content to reach different audiences.
With everyone looking to become an online retailer, support from existing e-commerce websites is essential. The e-commerce site Shopify is offering a 90-day free trial for all new customers. Besides, they have made $200 million available to small businesses through the Shopify Capital funding page. The company also urges sellers to practice safe social distancing measures by using their local delivery option or arranging in-store/curbside pick-up for online orders.
On the other hand, Amazon has been forced to make changes that restrict the delivery of certain products. After experiencing an enormous influx of online orders in March, the company decided to temporarily stop taking orders for non-essential items being shipped through their fulfillment service. Instead, they shifted their focus towards efficiently shipping the more important items customers needed.
You must remain connected with customers by embracing the benefits of online selling. A small business owner can optimize their website reach through SEO, content marketing, or social media campaigns:
- Consider using SEO content and influencer marketing to reach customers on social media
- Utilize e-commerce options to optimize your website for online purchases
- Leverage lower cost, basic feature plans that customers can customize to meet their current needs
- Transition your current distribution channels to provide contactless delivery/pick-up
Connect with consumers by taking advantage of live content
Businesses are becoming more and more reliant than ever on their digital strategies. A major challenge of this change is developing new channels for hosting live events and conferences, as well as face-to-face business. For B2B companies in particular who rely on trade shows and exhibitions for networking with customers, the shift to online may prove more difficult.
For the events technology agency Buzznation, events often consume 50 to 60 percent of their client’s marketing budgets. In their research, the agency found that in addition to offering immersive 3D virtual events, businesses are looking to improve their use of live social platforms. In today’s current circumstances clients and consumers have begun recognizing the value these types of digital channels have.
In late March, Snapchat’s calling feature, often accompanied by augmented reality experiences, grew by more than 50% compared to February. The company’s technology has made it possible for people to connect more easily, and stay informed by trusted media publishers. As of April 7, 40% of Gen Z users in the United States have used the app’s Discover platform to find content that interests them.
Other social networking sites have also switched their product development focus toward live streaming. The number of users watching live videos on Facebook has increased by 50% since January, prompting the company to accelerate the development of new Facebook Live features. Facebook’s overall marketing strategy is aimed at making live streaming video more accessible, while also improving the potential income for broadcasters.
Video content streaming is in high demand leaving business owners to target consumers through video/YouTube marketing strategy. While capitalizing on the increased demand, these channels can explore potential new avenues for growth.
- Understand the value live streaming platforms have for connecting your business with a wider audience
- Utilize video and digital marketing strategy to share content that interests and informs different target demographics
- Replicate in-person marketing tactics by creating virtual webinars, meet-ups, and/or events
Promote services that can be adapted as at-home essentials
With gyms and other fitness facilities being forced to close, the sale of indoor fitness equipment and services has received a boost. The smart bike app Echelon has already experienced a 40% spike in class attendance. As well, the company has added daily rides designed for children to help promote physical fitness and support customers at home. As the expectations of social distancing become more restrictive, it is recommended people take part in some form of physical activity every day.
Many fitness professionals are joining the transition to digital media by offering virtual workouts and personal training sessions via social media, as well as other video calling platforms. Crunch and Planet Fitness are prime examples, both adapting their services online, and even extending some classes to non-members for free. Personal trainers and Instagram fitness influencers have also followed suit by offering their programming online for free or at a reduced cost. The direct result has been a surge in sales for home gym suppliers. Fitness equipment company Nautilus says they expect an 11% rise in first-quarter net sales as more people turn to home gym solutions.
The best way to shift your positioning during this time is by offering products or services that meet customers’ at-home needs. Two ways you can adjust your marketing strategy is to shift the focus toward products that are considered indoor essentials or consider developing an online platform for some services by providing remote consultations. This will demonstrate a willingness to help customers achieve their at-home goals while creating a new opportunity for online reach and growth.
- Expand your services to offer video fitness training.
- Leverage social media and reach out to people who are willing to adapt the concept of fitness and home and offer your product, training, and consultation online
- Demonstrate how your business can complement fitness training at home at a minimum cost.
Connect with consumers through their devices
Online entertainment serves a vital role in the digital media world. It was expected streaming content would see an increase in users, however, the surprising growth has been in the video game sector. Game ad spending increased 25% at the start of March with predictions that they will reach their revenue peak as a result of COVID-19. In-game advertising, especially through apps, is an often overlooked avenue for acquiring new customers.
During the initial week of quarantine, Verizon reported that the domestic use of video games during peak hours had increased by 75%. Along with the rise in personal video gameplay, it is anticipated that esports will also grow in popularity. The world’s largest video game streaming platform, Twitch, announced its audience grew by up to one-third in March.
People are searching for comfort during these uncertain times, therefore, the easiest way to reach them is through their devices. To improve online positioning, businesses need to consider promoting their products through entertainment channels such as recreational apps and streaming services. It’s time to think outside the box and create relatable content that connects with customers.
- Utilize app marketing services and PPC advertising strategies toward niche online channels, targeting specific audiences through mobile apps and video games
- Develop partnerships with professional gaming influencers who can help promote your content
- Consider optimizing your content for mobile, making products and services easily accessible on smart devices
Today’s digital marketers need to adapt quickly
Right now marketers have to make quick, informed decisions to generate quality leads, increase revenue, and develop strategic content.
Marketing agencies like us offer a wide range of services designed to support businesses. You can get help updating your website, creating an eCommerce platform, creating the software as a solution, developing mobile apps, or even utilizing them for the right marketing strategy to promote your brand at this difficult time.
Together we’re embracing new norms
It is important to recognize how the current global crisis affects more than just the way we do business. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a physical and mental impact on billions of peoples’ lives around the world. During this unprecedented event, we must come together as a community.
At Markovate, our thoughts remain with all those impacted. We have begun working from home to do our part in minimizing the spread and helping flatten the curve.
Throughout all of this, we’ll keep the doors open so that our clients and the industry we serve, can continue their work.
Overall, throughout these uncertain times, we will most likely experience changes in the way we work, interact, communicate, make purchases, and live our lives. With our marketing strategy, we are giving our clients the best support possible to succeed now and in the future is our goal.
Our priority is to do everything we can to make sure all of us get through this safely.
I’m Rajeev Sharma, Co-Founder and CEO of Markovate, an innovative digital product development firm with a focus on AI and Machine Learning. With over a decade in the field, I’ve led key projects for major players like AT&T and IBM, specializing in mobile app development, UX design, and end-to-end product creation. Armed with a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and Scrum Alliance certifications, I continue to drive technological excellence in today’s fast-paced digital landscape.