How COVID-19 is Impacting Marketing Efforts
Luke Smith

The coronavirus pandemic started as a healthcare crisis but has expanded in reach to impact the economy. As billions of people around the world shelter in place, businesses of all sizes are facing the unprecedented challenge of marketing to an uncertain, distanced client base. The way companies and people have been doing business for years may no longer work. Firms will need to adapt to succeed during and after the pandemic. Business owners, digital marketers, and sales teams should consider implementing new marketing measures and techniques.

Craft a New Message

It’s time to adjust your marketing narrative to one that includes your company’s efforts in ensuring the safety of customers, employees, and the community at large during the COVID-19 crisis. Doing business, as usual, can be seen as insensitive or frivolous right now, as millions of people struggle with the illness or the financial repercussions of the economic slowdown.

A few examples of how businesses can react to COVID-19 to promote safety include:

  • Switching to no-contact delivery

  • Allowing non-essential staff to work from home

  • Providing video-chat enabled customer service

  • Ensuring employees and contractors have the proper protective safety equipment available

  • Scaling back hours or shutting down stores

If your marketing department doesn’t have a crisis communication strategy yet, there’s no better time than now to develop and implement one. Meet with key team members, including your company’s marketing and communications team, upper management, and a representative for each department to brainstorm and develop your company’s new safety-minded operations plan.

Once you’ve implemented the changes to your company’s operations, craft a communication strategy that describes what changes your company will be making to address the coronavirus situation. Delegate the broadcasting of the message to your crisis communication team of department heads and upper management to get the word out throughout your company, to partners and suppliers, customers, and the community. Disseminate the message through emails, your website, signage at your headquarters or store locations, and in your ad campaigns.

Tightening up Company Security Measures

Technology plays a more significant role than ever as people use emails, social media, computers, and mobile devices to connect and interact in ways they would have done in person before. This creates a double-edged sword — your company can continue to run with employees working remotely and customers ordering your products and services online but may open itself up to new and unforeseen security vulnerabilities. If your marketing team and other employees are accessing your company databases remotely as they work from home, your company should safeguard sensitive business data.

Focus Your Company’s Marketing on Social Media and Email

Once you’ve adapted your company’s marketing message to include a pandemic-sensitive slant and you’ve ensured your business and marketing channels are secured, it’s time to pivot your company’s marketing efforts to social media and email marketing channels.

A recent report by BounceX found that the email click-through and conversion rate has increased 40-100% in the last month. And Facebook’s traffic increased by more than 50% in some areas. Your customers are spending more time connecting with friends and family through email, texting, and social media. If you can harness these channels, you have a captive audience waiting.

Ramp up your email marketing campaigns now that target customers are more open to hearing what your company has to say. Although the end goal is sales, provide value in your emails to encourage customers to open and share them regularly. Put more effort into your emails by creating a more comprehensive newsletter format that includes human interest stories about your employees or the community, how your company is helping others, and any industry-related news your customers may find useful.

TruEarth and Wild+Wood’s customer email campaigns provide customers advice on navigating the current COVID situation or by offering exclusive discounts that help their customers out during the challenging times.

As for social media, ensure your marketing team is posting regularly and encouraging the audience to interact. Many people are home and feeling lonely. They may be more inclined than ever to join in on your company’s social media conversations to fill the void of daily interactions. Advertise your company’s most popular social media posts with Facebook and Google ads to drive more of your target audience to your social media pages.

Take a look at the following social media accounts for ideas:

  • Changi Airport in Singapore shares its disinfecting efforts on Instagram and asks for thumbs up for the cleaning crews

  • Vodafone Spain shares an infographic on Twitter about sanitizing your phone

  • The New York Times Instagram travel page answers follower questions about travel and COVID-19

Marketing During COVID-19

The world hasn’t experienced a pandemic of this magnitude ever, making it difficult to know how to navigate and position your company to survive. The smartest businesses are in touch with the needs and habits of its customers, so they can reach and connect from a more authentic place. Ensure your company comes from a place of truth and transparency, safeguard the health of your customers and employees, and strengthen your company’s security so you can get through the challenge.