Pandemic proofing your marketing

Since March 2020, most businesses have faced the effects of various measures put in place by governments to deal with COVID-19. Stay-at-home mandates, minimal travel and restricted amount of physical interaction across populations have required many businesses to allow and adapt to their workforce working remotely. The pandemic has only confirmed that remote working is not all bad and if anything provides the workforce flexibility and focus in most scenarios. With proper planning and robust reporting frameworks, it is proven that working remotely has contributed to increased productivity and output. So when it comes to customer engagement and conversion how can we pandemic proof our marketing to increase the output of our marketing efforts?

The pandemic has bought about drastic changes in customer behaviours. The best way to learn more about the changed behavioural pattern is via empathy. Your marketing needs to evolve with the new normal.

It’s time for empathetic marketing – According to Noah Fenn, despite all the data, empathy is still the greatest tool in a marketer’s toolbox. Empathy is all about stepping into your customer’s shoes, truly understanding your customers’ needs and being genuine in your marketing. Hard sell will not cut it but building authentic connections will. Empathy may often seem immeasurable but has immense value to customers. Building an emotional connect with your customers goes a long way in building trust and loyalty. Gather enough human insight about your customers to build this connect. One of the best ways to do this is to simply ask. It is fundamental to understand your customer’s needs at every point in your marketing campaign. A report by Usertesting has shown that 95% of purchasing decisions are driven by emotions, while 60% of loyal customers use emotional language to describe their favourite brands.

Stop guessing and start understanding – Collect key data points at each stage of your customer journey to truly understand what motivates certain customer behaviour. Gather insight into questions like why are they not filling up a contact form, what triggers them to download a whitepaper, do they need more product information before registering to a webinar etc. Have conversations, listen as well as speak to map out behaviour patterns. This will allow you to develop assets and content that will resonate with these patterns and eventually help move your leads further into the funnel.

Follow these steps before launching marketing campaigns;

Develop your marketing strategy – Check needs and priorities of your buyer personas – probability is they have drastically changed from pre-pandemic days. Adjust your marketing scenario plans – make sure they are tweaked to reflect current consumer behaviour and mannerisms. Have any new personas been added to your list since the pandemic? – carry out a discovery before developing your marketing strategy.

Gather competitive intelligence – Analyse your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses, what has worked as well as not-worked for them. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time. Instead save time, effort, and cost by simply amending what suits your audience better.

Always have a plan B – The pandemic has proven, those who adapt faster and are flexible will evolve to meet the ever changing market needs. Hence, don’t depend on one big campaign – you need a plan B to fall back on in case of major disruptions. Remember, to always build on content/assets that are already in place. The mantra ‘Create once use more’ ensures you will be in a stronger position to execute campaigns quickly even if the scope changes.

Cut out down-funnel marketing activities – Judging from your customer behaviour check if your prospects sitting down funnel are ready for conversion. If your audience is dealing with bigger crises or major disruptions they may not respond to hard sales tactics, offers, and discounts, or similar end-of funnel conversion tactics. Don’t leave them high and dry, instead continue to nurture. They may not be ready to buy just yet, but give them a reason to keep you in mind. Nurture their intent with reassuring marketing. Remember you are here to help not sell. Showing empathy will go a long way at this stage rather than pushing to convert.  

Brand build and be visible – While your audiences adjust to the new normal and new patterns of behaviour set in, remember you don’t want to be out of sight and hence out of mind. Be heard and be seen. Keep a baseline message in the market. Whether it is social media, nurture emails, regular newsletters, blogs, podcasts, or direct mail. Keep in touch and build your brand bit by bit.  

Test. Test. Test – Small changes make big differences. You don’t want to lose the opportunity to present the best version of your campaign to drive conversions. Don’t merely guess, test your campaigns to understand their changing behavioural patterns. Human insight allows marketers to amend their marketing tactics rapidly resulting in optimizing the time, effort and cost spent in executing these campaigns. Further resulting in greater ROI.

Nearly 18 months on, the pandemic has made us all gain a deeper understanding of what it means to adapt. The one thing that has emerged across companies that have continued to stand tall is their fundamental priority to meet customers’ needs. While no one can predict what comes next, putting your customers at the heart of your business will ensure you are ready for whatever is to come.

As written for as a guest blogger.