How To Maintain Digital Efforts During The Coronavirus Outbreak

We will be updating this post and our COVID-19  Resource Hub as new information becomes available. 

Last Updated: April 6, 2020

As we’re facing this global uncertainty and navigating the current reality, there are a lot of questions in the air. This has business owners and marketers wondering what the future will hold for their organizations, and outlets like eMarketer have outlined the possible impacts coronavirus has had already in a few top industries. Our team put together a guide for how marketers can maintain a presence and brand strength during this turbulent time.

First, now is not the time to panic and shut down all efforts completely. Companies shouldn't pretend like the situation we're in doesn't exist and continue on with a "business as usual" attitude. The future is unknown and we don't know when we'll get our old normal back. However, there are plenty of online strategies that can be executed during this time when people aren't in close proximity to each other.

Don’t Pull The Plug On All Online Efforts

Right now a variety of industries are experiencing setbacks and one of the first cuts businesses are making is to their marketing budget. Before you decide to do this, investigate how your efforts have performed and the reactions your company is getting so far then, make adjustments from there.

While some advertising methods will take a hit during this time, we expect social media engagement to stay strong. Engaged users are constantly turning to social media for updates about COVID-19. For example, in the past week, one of our service-based clients has seen 49.8% more social users and a 39.1% increase in organic traffic compared to last year. These gains occurred without any additional spending and while using similar digital marketing efforts. Businesses should take a look at their own analytics to determine the best digital mediums to utilize for their brand. It may not require as much time, money or effort as you might think.

Pivot Your Messaging To Reflect The Current Climate

If your business is currently active on social media, you may need to adjust your efforts. You probably already have social posts ready to roll out for the next month or two, but take a second look and consider altering the verbiage to fit with the times. Businesses that aren't doing this look a little tone-deaf to what's happening in the world. It is important when communicating with customers/clients online to consider tone of voice and be sensitive to what others may be feeling or experiencing right now. 

Businesses and organizations don’t want their customers or clients to think they don’t know how to respond during a crisis. Many companies are using this time to reassure followers they are here to support them and ready to take the necessary precautions. On the flip side, customers are staying loyal to their favorite brands online right now and continually checking in. If you don't have the means to update every single one of your platforms, make sure you're at least pointing your followers to the platforms your are maintaining.  

We'd like to highlight some examples of local organizations in the Des Moines area we think are doing a great job pivoting their message. They are updating their websites and services, keeping customers informed with changes in procedures and even providing new offerings to help people out during this time.

Confluence Brewing  has updated their website, letting their customers looking for information know right away how they can order and still enjoy their products.

confluencebrewing.com

Clive Public Library and the entire City of Clive website has alerts and pop-ups that provide users with helpful information on the latest updates. This lets their community know that events are being postponed and gives them best practices to follow in the meantime.

cityofclive.com/library

Fong's Pizza started offering kits to make their delicious pizzas at home. This provides food and entertainment for parents who are running out of ideas to keep their kids busy.

@fongspizzadesmoines

Orange Theory Fitness in Ankeny is sharing free daily workouts with their trainers through zoom. What a great way to encourage people to stay active at home!

@otfankeny

Iowa DNR is encouraging social distancing best practices along with encouraging people to get out and enjoy the beautiful Iowa weather.

@iowadnr

Exile Brewing made their message clear on their social channels that they're still open for to go orders, and they even attached their menu in the post so followers could browse their options right away.
@exilebrewingco

Be Aware of Your Values & Intentions on Social Media

When users are done reading up on the latest news or if they need a break from the chaos, businesses will want their brand to be there. However, if your business is not currently active on social media platforms, this is not the time to jump on the bandwagon. Some businesses are trying to build their social media followings right now with funny or engaging posts. This won't pay off in the long run if the people you're attracting now won't be interested in your products or the content you post once all this has cleared up, especially if once this is over you change tactics or tone.

A great example of this is the National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma. Right now while they're closed, their security guard is still wandering the halls of the museum and has taken over their Twitter account. While his efforts are entertaining and their account is surely gaining a lot of followers at the moment, they could lose followers if they aren't careful about how they transition their brand after this is over. In the meantime, our team really appreciates this cowboy security guard's updates!


@ncwhm

However, there are some accounts out there, like the @goodnews_movement or @dogsworkingfromhome Instagram profiles, whose purpose is spreading good news or trying to add some smiles to users' feeds during this stressful time. They know that once this is over, they will need to shift their focus.

Increase Digital Brand Presence Using Connected TV (C-TV)

Screen time is at an all-time high right now. With the self-isolation measures in place and individuals spending copious amounts of time at home, their streaming habits are changing. Just a week after the coronavirus spread in China and a quarantine was issued, online app downloads saw a 40% increase.

C-TV gives businesses a digital alternative to traditional television commercials. This route gives advertisers a better idea of how their audience is engaging with their online commercial.  If you're looking for more ways to be creative with your digital marketing during this time, allocating some of your efforts into a connected TV plan could keep your brand top-of-mind during the isolation period. C-TV vendors are also providing discounts due to the strained budgets some businesses may be experiencing.  The vendor we work with, for example, is offering a 25% value add to customers.

Focus On Efforts That Will Provide Long-Term Value

Pay Attention to Changes in Search Habits & Google Updates

Focusing on long-term digital marketing solutions like SEO could be beneficial if you know you’re going to be taking short-term losses. Search engine optimization is something every business needs in order to be found in online search, and it’s continually becoming more prevalent and more competitive. Implementing page optimizations now will help you take advantage of the benefits of good SEO sooner rather than later. Following SEO best practices could mean updating copy on your website, implementing technical schema, keeping your GoogleMyBusiness (GMB) profile up-to-date and so much more. 

Our SEO experts have also noticed big changes in search habits recently. For example, "work from home" if being searched three times more than its average search volume. While this may have been a topic that was released occasionally before, coronavirus is causing new blogs about working from home and remote working tips to be released daily  or even hourly now!

Do some research to see if there are any trends related to your industry you could capitalize on.  Our team wrote a guide for setting up remote learning plans for local schools in our area. Since there was previously no content out there about remote learning, this got picked up immediately as a top result in Google. After less than 30 days, this page is a top-ranked page for many remote learning keywords and has had over 2,500 clicks back to the Blue Compass website.

Google is continually updating their offerings to adapt to situations brought on by the coronavirus. Check if your business needs to be making updates to your GoogleMyBusiness account to reflect new hours or different service offerings. Google is being more lenient with the option to temporarily close businesses since they realize many businesses were forced to close their doors during this time. They are also encouraging restaurants to update their offerings to exclude Dine-In options. Additionally, they are offering small businesses credits in GoogleAds. If you've had a GoogleAds account in use in the past year you could qualify for some savings.

Get Ahead of Web Development Projects

The coronavirus outbreak is proving to everyone that daily work processes in most industries will need to convert to digital efforts very quickly! Major platforms are reacting to this by adding alerts, pop-ups and other features that grab the users’ attention and provide timely information. Even after things settle down, we believe the lessons learned and enhancements developed during this time will drive many businesses forward and into new digital territory.

Start getting ahead of the curve by planning out your next tech-savvy project now! Whether that’s setting up new digital processes within your team, creating an app to make your business more accessible or finally converting your website to a mobile-friendly design, this is the perfect time to tackle an exciting new development project.

Tackle That Work Project You’ve Been Putting Off

Everyone has that ongoing to-do list in the back of their mind - we certainly do! We all think, If only I had more time, I’d get started on…..

If you’re stuck on where to start making improvements for your business while you're working remotely or wondering what to do with limited resources, get a jump-start on that to-do list. You’ll thank yourself later!

Utilize Online Alternatives

Before you skip ahead, this section is not about working from home during the coronavirus pandemic. No, we’re talking about how to make your brand stand out as an industry leader when social distancing is a priority.

Tech conferences and other learning seminars are being cancelled and many businesses are losing valuable exposure and networking opportunities. If you had a live event planned, there are creative ways to get in front of users via digital means. You can start by repurposing a successful presentation you’ve used in the past to create an online event where you act as the moderator. This could be a fruitful tactic to share your expertise with an engaged audience while guiding the discussion. Plus, it gives you and your audience an opportunity for a little human interaction, which you may be craving after just a few days of self-quarantine.

Schema.org just released COVID-19 schema updates to help with the online migration everyone is experiencing. Once you’ve made plans to host a virtual event, don’t forget to put the online event schema in place so people can discover you in search. One of these new markups can be put in place to help search engines recognize and display information about digital events, so users know they can still attend remotely.

Get Creative With Your Lead Generation Tactics

If you’re facing a slow time in your industry, now is the time to rethink how you can personalize your prospective client and recruitment materials. Since brands can’t send a generic template and rely on face-to-face interaction to help them win over a connection right now, use this time to revamp your current marketing collateral to showcase and clarify your business strategies.

Consider what common questions you’ve been getting when interacting with your clients or customers and include additional information on those topics to address any concerns up front. This will help you avoid many follow-up questions and emails, which could lead to finalizing new business leads in a timely manner.

Need Help Adjusting Online Efforts?

Blue Compass doesn’t want organizations to feel as if they’re stuck during a time like this. We want to do our part - if anyone in the community has questions about how to pivot their marketing strategy or is looking for a resource to get started with digital, we want them to reach out! We’ll do our best to deliver an effective online solution for any organizations’ unique needs.