As of the 12th of March, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. But even weeks before this announcement, companies worldwide were feeling the whiplash of the new contagion which started in Wuhan, China. Dependent on finished and semi-finished products made in China, many companies found their stocks dwindling and were unable to fulfil orders.
But this was just the beginning of the global crisis. As the highly contagious virus started spreading across all continents, one country after another is imposing strict quarantine and lockdown laws. Travel businesses – from booking agencies, to airlines and hotels – are suffering the biggest hit right now. According to IATA (International Air Transport Association), airline shares have dropped by 25%.
All Digital Marketing Has to Change in the COVID-19 Era
The reality is that all industries and all companies, large or small, are and will be negatively affected by the coronavirus outbreak. To survive in these extremely difficult times, all brands must rethink their communication and digital marketing strategies.
These are times when both consumers and corporate buyers are confused, extremely cautious and wary. Personal and financial safety is fraught with dangers and the decision to buy is governed by dwindling levels of trust.
What Not to Do Now and in the Near Future
To make things simple for everyone, we will start with the don’ts in digital marketing. These are common sense guidelines, but we feel they need to be reinforced for everyone, from big brands to small businesses.
First of all, don’t try to profit from the crisis. Don’t bait consumers with ads and promotions for personal hygiene products. Also, for companies that sell natural remedies, holistic medicine products and therapies, do not promote them as preventive solutions or cures for the COVID-18.
Secondly, don’t try to boost your in-store sales. Move as much as your operations online and create incentive offers for your online store. The keywords here are social distancing and limiting physical contact. So, don’t risk your clients’ health for sales.
Digital Marketing Strategies that Will Help You Keep Your Clients Loyal
After the don’ts, here are some things you can do to keep your business afloat during the coronavirus pandemic:
1. Be Genuinely Helpful
Now is the time to truly prove your clients that you are there for them. Do a brainstorming session and find solutions to help your clients in these difficult times. For example: as restaurants and other public eating places shut down, offer home delivery services.
If you offer digital services, consider making some of your basic services free or find ways to work with public authorities in this respect. Focus your digital marketing services on serving your clients, assisting them, and being there for them.
2. Keep Your Paid Marketing Wholesome
One of the first things you should do if you run Google AdWords or other similar paid ads is to update negative keywords list. Add terms like “virus”, “Covid-19” and “coronavirus” so your ads don’t show for such searches.
However, Google has already announced that all ads containing these keywords and trying to capitalise on the contagion are banned.
3. Be Entertaining
One of the best ways to fight the spreading of the new coronavirus is avoiding direct contact. Thus, a large number of people in many countries are working from home or placed under quarantine.
Now is the time to really mix up your digital marketing strategy with entertaining and inspirational posts that help people keep their spirits up. Be thoughtful, funny, helpful, and educational and reinforce your brand image as something consumers can trust.
4. Adapt to Demand
This goes beyond digital marketing. In this time where the demand for safety and hygiene products is overwhelming, consider adapting your products to what the market needs. Examples are everywhere: giant luxury brand LVMH uses its perfume production facilities to manufacture hand sanitiser. So do small gin distilleries in England.
As a final advice, let us look towards the future with caution, but also with hope. When we emerge from this global crisis, we will certainly look back and wonder at our strength and resilience in surviving it. Stay safe and keep your clients safe!