Here’s How Brands Are Using Digital During the Coronavirus Outbreak

See how brands are using the digital during the Coronavirus outbreak. Keep your brand protected against the threat posed by COVID-19 with these digital strategies.

When POLITICO Magazine surveyed macro thinkers in March about the effects of coronavirus to the economy, the consensus comes down to this: “Buckle in. This could be bigger.” And indeed, it is. And while we’re sure that you don’t need us to enumerate just how bad it has become for the economy since the dawn of COVID-19, a question remains etched on marketers’ minds: how can brands make sure that they’re protected against the foreseeable threats that this global pandemic possesses?

According to experts, the answer is a more focused, aggressive use of the digital. In this list, we show you how brands are using digital during the Coronavirus outbreak:

Keep communication lines open through your Social Media channels

Pre-outbreak, social media is already a strong force. With people stuck in their homes, you can just expect that there would be a surge in its usage, too. The good thing about digital is that it’s accessible, so you virtually have no reason not to keep customers informed about operational changes (if any).

UK’s independent digital marketing agency Annica has provided a shortlist of socmed strategies that brands can adapt during this time:

Communicate changes in service or operations

Some governments have imposed stricter measures regarding movements across borders and this in turn affects the movements of goods and services. Delays in delivery are not uncommon, as well as stock shortages. Whatever happens, it’s important that you inform customers of these changes.

Enumerate the measures that your brand is making to keep your employees safe

Another vital thing that can amplify consumers’ affinity with your brand even in the midst of this pandemic is if you give them an idea about how you’re taking care of your people during this health crisis. This also communicates to consumers that changes in your organizational set-up may factor-in on how you’re managing the business operations. Not only that, but this also manages customer expectations better, especially in relation to delays and so on.

Utilise marketing automation

Even before COVID-19, some brands are already using automated replies on their emails, websites, especially social media platforms to maintain a relationship with their customers or their prospects. Marketing automation ups the customer service delivery, and experts maintain that this is crucial especially at this time where high-volume customer service inquiries are coming in.

Aside from social media platforms, you can also send out email blasts. Wherever you want to reach your people, just provide clear, relevant, and timely information about how your brand is dealing with the pandemic.

Tweak website to accommodate changes brought on by the COVID-19 situation

While not all brands and business-types are encouraged to meddle with the pandemic, cultural sensibilities dictate that it’s more damaging for brands to pretend as if the situation does not exist. Do not gloss over the situation. However, if you’re not in an industry directly responding to the pandemic, going over the top is not a solution either.

Here’s how your website can reflect your preparedness better:

Re-write your website’s FAQs page

Brands are encouraged to immediately re-write their FAQs page in order to highlight notices about Coronavirus. Anticipate what your customers will be asking and what scenarios relevant to the current situation will help them decide how to deal with your business properly. Some websites are already adding help lines, many are creating special pages for sharing the newest COVID-19 updates, and others whose products and services deal directly with health are making sure that in-demand products are highlighted better.

Anticipate pre-booking post-COVID

The hospitality industry is taking the most hit from this outbreak. This has led to a rethinking of strategies so that they could be led to a better foreseeable future. The good news is that although bookings for immediate dates are virtually non-existent at this point (for restaurants, travels, and accommodations) consumers are still buying travel and hotel accommodations. So, if you’re part of this “fragile” sector, make sure that your website is clear about your policies regarding rebooking or cancellations.

Remain a familiar force to your consumers as well as prospects through effective content marketing strategies

Yes, consumers may not be actively buying from you right now, but that doesn’t mean they no longer will. The general adage remains, even in this trying times—content is still king, and as such, what you publish must still be relevant to your client’s pressing problems.

Use Content Management Systems (CMS) wisely

Many brands and organisations have allowed their employees to work directly from home. Others have relied on skeletal workforces. Whatever they’ve chosen to do, most operations have remained available online. Thanks to some of the best content management systems. So, you can schedule posts effectively—even remotely—with CMS. What precludes this, however, is clear of communication of the direction that your brand is taking. Decide how you want the business to proceed in light of the situation so that everyone on your team (or whoever has access to the CMS) can craft your messaging clearly.

Focus on Cause Marketing

According to Forrester, brands can increase brand affinity with Cause Marketing during this pandemic. Now’s a good time to build long-term relationships for the next upswing. Through donations and relevant campaigns, brands can give back to the community in this time of need. Many brands are focused on efforts to help front liners and communities. As a proactive approach, focusing on cause marketing helps businesses forge or strengthen both new and old connections.

Be more strategic when it comes to Paid Search

Speaking with Annica, Head of Paid Search Gurpreet Bassi advises brands to do the following in relation to Paid Search:

Re-target campaign and keyword budgets

One of the highlighted advice from Search Engine Land says that if your brand does not cater to “essential needs”, then you may want to rethink and lower-paid spend. There is just a considerable drop in search impressions, but rankings nonetheless stay the same. Conversely, if you’re part of those selling products or services deemed vital at this point, then you may want to maximise ad spending.

Adopt an appropriate ad copy tone and messaging

If your brand is known for its “snarky” and biting tonality (that actually works for your industry), now is maybe a good time to tone it down. In the midst of this pandemic, it’s important that you adjust the language you’re using in a way that complements local, state, and national regulations in place. Adopt a tone relevant to the severity of the situation. Check out our 15 commandments of powerful copywriting.

Relocate sales and events online

There is an influx of sales and events relocating to major social media platforms. As a result, the videoconferencing platform Zoom even became the world’s most important business app overnight. This online relocation is not only true for business operations, however. With people cooped up, marketers have become more confident about the virtual turn out to events and trade shows, so there's more eagerness to join the bandwagon.

While you can’t do business “as usual” at this time, some industries can definitely make use of the digital platform to do the following:

Sell online

...especially if you don't already. Coronavirus is forcing many retailers and brick-and-mortar stores to close, ushering many into an unprecedented warping of the economy. There is a profound behavioral shift in how consumers are shopping in the height of this pandemic. Now, there is a massive increase in online orders in a bid to avoid person-to-person contact. A transition to digital, especially e-commerce, is well underway. Inspire longer-lasting conversions by incorporating e-commerce content marketing approaches to your strategy.

Hold talks or conferences

It's hard to plan talks and conferences. However, the current situation may force the hand of many brands and organisations to cancel. One way of overcoming this is by inviting remote virtual presenters. So, turn collaterals into online materials. Choose a web-streaming platform that works for you best. And finally, test the set-up at least a day before to avoid live glitches.

Tap or continue tapping social media influencers

The power of the influencer is, fortunately, something that brands can still tap. As one of the top digital marketing trends for 2020, influencer marketing provides a more personal approach that consumers would appreciate, especially during this confusing time. So, if you have influencer marketing strategies in place, make sure that you utilise it wisely. Allow the influencers and media partners to get the word out about your trade shows and online pop-ups.

Hold virtual tours with 360 Videos

A growing alternative to open houses that have seen a heightened interest during this pandemic is virtual tours with 360-degree walk-through videos. But realtors are not the only ones benefiting from this creative digital tool; museums, cultural institutions, schools, and even zoos do, too.

Brands are using digital during the Coronavirus outbreak through more focused digital efforts.

A new economic reality is emerging. Shifting strategies to amplify brands' digital usage during this global pandemic is imperative. While proposed as immediate responses to the outbreak, the strategies above may well be permanent fixtures. In an article that delves into the impact of COVID-19 on US brands and retailers, Jason Goldberg of Forbes declares that consumer behaviours during the pandemic may even be permanent.

Brands are using the digital landscape during the Coronavirus outbreak, albeit strategies have evolved. While complete overhaul could be difficult for many, help is never far. Communicate with your expert digital marketing partners and learn how you can foolproof your brand against the threat of COVID-19.

For more information about the latest updates on Coronavirus, visit the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website here.

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