The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way consumers use the internet — namely, increasing the amount of time they spend on digital platforms. Use of social media alone has grown to a full quarter of the time smartphone users spend in apps, according to data from Nielsen. And a Statista report shows respondents all over the world are spending more time on streaming and messaging platforms as well as consuming content from more traditional sources like television and radio.
What does all this mean for your organization? It means you have the opportunity to find new ways to connect with your audience through digital marketing. If consumers are spending more time online, you have more chances to reach them with your messaging. It’s also possible that segments of your audience have discovered new platforms based on their needs during this time, and you just might be able to meet them there.
With your audience spending more time online, now’s not the time to stay the course with your digital marketing strategy. If you want to remain relevant, you need to align your approach with consumers’ new normal. Start planning your digital marketing pivot with these three steps.
Assess your new place in the market.
COVID-19 hasn’t just changed your audience’s online habits. It might have changed your positioning in your market. The first step in your digital marketing pivot must be to determine where you stand. You’ll have to consider a series of questions to find the answer. Your considerations should include the following:
- Has your brand moved from the nice-to-have column to the must-have list or vice versa?
- How do you compare to competitors?
- Do you, perhaps, have fewer competitors now?
- How does your price point feel to customers who might not have the same cash flow they had a few months ago?
- Does the rise in technology usage mean more potential new customers, or does it mean you need to double down on keeping the customer base you have?
The answers you give will help guide you toward the next step in your digital marketing shift and will inform your messaging moving forward.
Meet your customers where they are.
Once you’ve determined your place in the market, you can start to pinpoint the places your audience members are congregating and the best way to reach them. Check out social channels, popular searches, and mobile data for topics related to your business to help identify customer needs and meeting places. For an example of this in action, take a look at how Walgreens and Planet Fitness have made successful pivots to new platforms.
First up, Walgreens shifted its existing “Ask a Pharmacist” initiative to focus on providing consumers with information about COVID-19. It also recognized that it could repurpose creative from an email series for a video ad about its online and delivery services. When the pandemic caused gyms across the country to close, Planet Fitness found its customers on Facebook and turned to Facebook Live to offer “Home Work-Ins” for customers sheltering at home.
Tailor your message to each platform.
You know where you stand, and you know where your customers are engaging online. The last box you need to check is creating a message that will resonate. Sean Cotton, president of media buying company Coegi, recommends shaking up your strategy based on the platform you’re targeting. “Rather than post all marketing content to all platforms, take advantage of the unique possibilities that each platform provides,” Cotton says.
If you’re looking to target Facebook, for example, content that includes links to your site can help drive traffic from top- and mid-funnel customers. LinkedIn is all about authentic, straightforward interactions that build relationships and credibility, so stick to clear CTAs there. Twitter and Instagram both tend to foster a lot of engagement, meaning geography and keyword targeting are good tactics to employ. Finally, don’t forget to adjust your message if you find one strategy isn’t driving as much action as you’d like.
In a crisis, agility is what will help you pull through to the other side. As you make changes to your overall business strategy to address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, don’t forget about your digital marketing strategy. Getting the right message to the right people on the right platform can make a positive impact on your bottom line and build relationships that will outlast the pandemic.
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