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Across Europe, countries are seeing lockdown restrictions lifted and some semblance of ‘normal life’ is starting to resume. What a relief! For many business owners, this means kickstarting your operations and prospecting once more, leaving one vital question to be answered: are you ready and what is your plan?

Currently, gone is any focus on profiteering – instead, companies are connecting with their clients on a more personal level and are genuinely helping those in need. This is something that brands must be careful not to simply snap out of as lockdown is eased – a return to normal too quickly will look at best confusing and at worst completely disingenuous.

Marketing after Covid-19

Have you been hiding? The first thing you must address is your current brand presence. Have you been communicating frequently with your clients, your prospects and your community? Or have you been hiding, not knowing how to react, thus allowing your brand presence to fade as the world copes with this crisis? If you were scared, now is the time to be brave. Ease back into your comms and write your first post now.

With so many businesses facing financial uncertainty, your fans may think that your company has not survived, or may simply have forgotten about you in the chaos. Make sure they know you are still here and how you are approaching the “new normal.”

Beware, this situation changes so fast that without staying informed you can easily end up communicating something that is no longer true. It should go without saying that you don’t want to propagate fake news, so keeping on top of the Covid-19 situation and its effects on your industry should be your number one priority. Breed confidence, but stay truthful and aware.

You also need to remember that coming out the pandemic your clients and customers will be in very different positions. Marketing after Covid-19 doesn’t mean that you must avoid talking about your products – just tread carefully. You could try adding extra value to your normal offering, subtly acknowledging that times have been very tough; why not offer free delivery of your goods, or provide risk-free cancellation on holiday bookings?

Lastly, although lockdown restrictions are starting to ease this is only the beginning, with many set to work from home for months to come and many social establishments such as bars and restaurants reportedly staying closed for the meantime. This means that digital will remain the best way to capture attention and grow your client base – here’s how to do it.

Digital advertising

At our digital marketing agency Relevance, we have seen average cost per click (what you pay to get somebody onto your website) depreciating rapidly since January 2020, falling by around 50% each month from January through to April. After watching Google & co’s CPC pricing escalating over the past 20 years it is welcome news for advertisers to see advertising is actually getting cheaper. Did I just say that? It is not only for search, but it is also for paid social, programmatic and direct buys from publications. We are in a buyer’s market at last.

We have also noticed that advertiser search impression share has been rising at an average of 20% per month since January 2020, for clients who have continued to advertise. If you haven’t already, now is the time to take advantage of this, immediately gaining increased site traffic and conversions without any need to increase budget. If you pulled all ad spend during the outbreak, you still have the chance to benefit and at a great return. Just make sure your ads, and landing pages are providing empathy and of course relevant solutions to their needs.

Companies would be smart to target local during this time, with travel restrictions in many regions meaning that your clients will likely remain within their own country. Granular, location-based targeting in postcode areas is often recommended for brands, but a key change could be that settings on Facebook and LinkedIn are changed from ‘travelling through’ to ‘residing in’, reflecting the fact that many individuals may remain in their own homes for the foreseeable future. However, as restrictions become more relaxed you might bet on the great escape to the countryside, the beach or the mountains.

Most businesses will find it necessary to split campaigns down to country level, as messaging will be different depending on what stage of lockdown each country is in and their specific restrictions. Be sure to run your ads at the most appropriate time for each country – for example, from 6am to 11pm for Europe and adjusting this as needed for specific time zones. On Google Ads, ensure that your call extensions are set to the most local number you have for that country/region.

Many of us are feeling distanced from the world around us, so use your ads as a way to start a conversation with your audience. Instead of simply drawing people to your website, why not invite people to message or video call one of your team? If your company is experiencing unprecedented levels of communication and you don’t have the staff to deal with it, set up a chatbot to answer all FAQS before directing the client to book a call slot if their question cannot be answered online.

Some brands have been nervous to advertise, not to appear too pushy, but those that have dared to be bold have been rewarded with cheaper ads and a larger market share. Marketing after Covid-19 presents a unique opportunity to establish your brand with a high-quality ad score, while there is less competition and get in the minds of yours and your competitor’s customers.

PR and content

Lockdown measures have seen the vast majority of people reading, watching and listening to more online media, with 80% of consumers in the US and UK saying they consume more content since the outbreak. It’s kind of obvious though isn’t it? This has caused news outlets and blog sites to be hungrier than ever for topical, informative articles. Depending on your brand’s tone, it’s an immeasurable opportunity to get published on high domain authority (DA) sites thus getting great referral traffic and helping your SEO.

In terms of communicating with your clients, as mentioned earlier, now is the time to make yourself heard. Send out mailers, write thought leadership articles on LinkedIn, create podcasts – whatever you do, make sure that your content is high quality, as plenty of other brands will have had the same idea. I would even say be a little edgy so you stand out. Your content should be adding value, not providing white noise.

As soon as you can, get video crews out to shoot footage, whether that be a walkaround tour of a new product, that has come to market, a 360 degree video of a property/resort, a boutique product promotion, or perhaps a video demonstrating how you will be sterilising your products or keeping your guests safe. If this is not possible, cut together some pre-existing video footage that you can share in a new way. 

Social media

With 500 million active users globally and more than 1 billion video views per day, TikTok entered the Covid-19 crisis in a strong position and has come out as arguably the most powerful social media platform of 2020. In fact, the video app saw an 18% increase in downloads and was downloaded 2 million times between March 16 and 22, an increase from the previous week's 1.7 million. TikTok also saw a 27% increase in the first 23 days of March compared to February with 6.2 million downloads.

Following widespread influencer success, brands like Burberry and Gucci have embraced this new platform and have been rewarded with high engagement. Despite lockdowns easing around the world, TikTok’s popularity looks to be going nowhere, making it a strong consideration for your digital marketing after Covid-19 strategy, but be aware that your content needs to be young and fresh. The best way to learn what works is to dive in and start testing.

Looking at other platforms, Facebook and Instagram have experienced both growing and decreasing engagement through the pandemic, depending on where in the world users are. A report by Social Bakers states that between March 2019 and 2020, Instagram has seen growth in interactions in countries including Japan (10%), while most of the countries in Europe, North America and the Middle East experienced a decline.

So, depending on where your audiences are, you may either want to boost or limit your efforts for these two channels.

Twitter reported in late March that its total monetisable daily active users jumped 23% to 164 million quarter-to-date, driven by the conversation around Covid-19. Meanwhile, as of the end of April LinkedIn has grown to have 690 million total members, increasing from 675 million back in January and recording a 26% growth in user sessions over this time. These platforms are the perfect place to share your company’s news and of-the-moment topical insights, which done right can help boost your business’ status as an authority. 

As mentioned earlier, online video consumption is on the rise and this is no doubt leading to an increased number of YouTube users, however, the platform has warned its creators that video removals may increase during the Covid-19 pandemic. This is due to fewer staff being on hand to review videos. However, this shouldn’t put brands off from pushing their video content as soon as possible. We know YouTube is fighting hard with IGTV so you will now see videos in premium Google spots, so pushing hard on YouTube will also help your SEO strategy.

WhatsApp reported at the end of March an increase in usage that grew from an initial 27% bump in the earlier days of the pandemic to 41% in the mid-phase. For countries already in the later phase of the pandemic, WhatsApp usage has jumped by 51%. This means that now is a great time to consider building a WhatsApp marketing strategy if you haven’t already. Remember, marketing campaigns on WhatsApp need to feel personal, giving users an opportunity to chat with brands on a truly one-to-one basis.

You shouldn’t need to make significant changes when marketing after Covid-19 in terms of SEO. The big initiatives are in my SEO & Digital Marketing Strategy tips for 2020. This advises on concentrating on video SEO, Google real estate, featured snippets, image SEO, optimised website structure, mobile-first, no-follow backlinks, long-tail keywords, blogging and branded SEO.

One obvious addition to these SEO tips for 2020 is local landing pages - these will be key as populations are forced to shop close to home, so make sure your website isn’t missing those. And make sure your Google My Business Listing is not only up-to-date but also update the news.

There are countless reports showing smartphone use is on the rise, meaning there is no excuse to leave your website unoptimised for mobile. Making your website mobile-friendly will benefit your business even if you are not currently seeing more mobile visitors, ensuring it shows up higher in search results, so there’s no time like the present. Can you really afford to be turning off your clients in this economic climate? Please also understand internal search clients using the internal website search often convert at a much higher rate than other website visitors so make sure they are finding what they are looking for.

Finally, as of writing, Google has confirmed a May 2020 core algorithm update rolling out today, so do stay on your toes and watch those Google patents as they do give you a good idea towards the future of search.

Are you ready?

If you have been hiding behind your logo, not knowing what to do, this needs to end now. As we have seen, there are so many new opportunities across all aspects of digital marketing – from capitalising on the falling cost per click on digital advertising platforms to creating authentic video content that captivates a hungry audience, and from building global brand awareness on TikTok to building a mobile-friendly site that your brand will never stop benefiting from. It wouldn’t just be foolish to ignore this unique window, it could also be dangerous to the future of your business.

Be bold in your marketing strategy. Remember that this is a brave new world we face, but that we face it together. Your clients will appreciate you being by their side through this confusing time, especially if you are providing them with wisdom that they cannot get elsewhere. Don’t give up, even if surviving means adapting your entire marketing strategy. With the right tools and ideas, you can emerge from the Covid-19 crisis stronger than ever before.