Coronavirus (or COVID-19) is and will continue to cause disruptions in our personal and professional lives for some time to come. How long and to what extent, only time will tell. So at LDA, we’re assuming this is a long term disruption and figured it might be helpful to aggregate ideas and strategies to deal with the new temporary normal. The following are projections only and include contributions from experts we know and respect. We welcome your comments below and will quote and attribute accordingly for all insight contributed.
How Coronavirus Might Effect Consumer Behavior
Safety precautions and government restrictions will likely cause some or all of the following consumer behaviors.
- Reduced in-person purchases
- Increased screen time (including product research)
- Potential of increase in online purchases (balance with longer term economic impact where online purchases only increase for “needs” instead of “wants”
- Social-starvation: Consumers seek additional ways to interact with businesses as social distancing affects moods, etc
General Tips for Marketers During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Don’t Panic: At least not in front of your customers. This is scary for sure, but your fear is not your customers’ problems. They have fears of their own. Be confident, reasonable, and carry on as there will be another side to this rainbow.
- Communicate Clearly: Are you open, closed, now delivering? Let your customers and prospects know with a up-to-date status page on your website, emails, social announcements, etc. Seems basic, but few are doing this right now.
- Think outside the box. You hear this bullshit line all the time, but now you actually have to do it. We’ve never been here before. Step back, look at your business (your client’s business, etc.), and consider what has changed. It’s not time to complain, it’s time to adapt. There’s your motivational comment for the day.
- Rethink KPIs. If the current goals are no longer relevant or feasible, what is feasible? How should marketing and advertising change to drive conversions to new objectives (specific industry examples below).
- Identify Your Key Data Points. Clients in every industry and niche are feeling the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and one of the first places they’ll look to cut expenses is with advertising budget. Be prepared for multiple cuts, pauses, and changes to campaigns by honing in one what data points are the true indicators for the campaign. Try to avoid using things like clicks or sessions, as those will fluctuate wildly with budget restrictions. Instead looks to things like Click Thru Rates and Conversion Rates. (Credit: Thanks to Joe Fortunato with Company Man Studios)
- Start a Change Log: Every digital marketer will end up making changes or adjustments during this time that they normally wouldn’t dream of. Track EVERY change, whether it’s a positive or negative one. Everyone is in scramble mode, so it’s easy to update an account and move on. When you go back next week to look at reports and see a huge drop off or spike, that change log will come in handy. (Credit: Thanks to Joe Fortunato with Company Man Studios)
- Show Your Face: As our customers practice social distancing, they may become socially-starved. Simply switching in person meetings to video based meetings using free services link Google Hangouts and Zoom might have a number of benefits, personally and professionally.
- Be Mindful: People are stressed and may be more sensitive to marketing messaging. Consider your audience more than ever.
- Avoid Overreacting: Our company just had a talk with (a client) to get a picture of which funnels people are actually showing up to appointments. Nothing but bad news! There are a lot of appointment cancellations happening across the board for us, so the knee jerk reaction is moving and adjusting budgets. Blindly doing this based on appointment cancellations. We stopped for a moment and decided was not a consideration for now. Leads are still coming in for the approximate CPL we regularly get, we plan to figure it out from there as this could be a huge spike in conversions in the near future. Overall I think this situation is one that applying a general strategy might cause more harm than good. The time to really think different (Apple slogan really got in my head here) and have an unique plan/strategy is definitely now. (Credit: Thanks to Juan Liriano with Thrive MK)
- Be Mindful of Your Customer: Consider the CDC and WHO recommendations and how guidelines like social distancing could affect how your marketing content is perceived. It’s better to be sensitive to the dynamic situation surrounding COVID-19 than to risk alienating potential or existing customers. (Credit: Thanks to Bill Teubner with THAT Agency)
- Think: Many people are focused on surviving the COVID-19 pandemic. Can your products or services help people either directly or indirectly during this time? For example, a grocery or food delivery service would be a direct help, whereas videoconferencing software would be an indirect help. If you sell products or services unrelated to the current situation, avoid discussing COVID-19 at all – unless you are notifying customers about your business hours, what steps you’re taking to clean and disinfect, or what you’re doing to help out. (Credit: Thanks to Bill Teubner with THAT Agency)
- Be informative: No matter what – stay positive. Right now, using fear as a motivator in your marketing is beyond poor taste. (Credit: Thanks to Bill Teubner with THAT Agency)
Industry-Specific Strategies + Trends
Please use the links below to jump to a specific industry/niche.
Depending on the specialty, doctors and medical providers may see either an uptick or downtick in patient demand as people become more conservative in leaving their homes.
The eCommerce business model has natural defenses against pandemics because in-person interaction with the customer is rare. However, eCommerce businesses still relay on supply chain issues, human resources issues, and logistical issues which may be impacted.
In this section, we’ll review trends and ideas for realtors, developers, construction companies, and more.
Restaurants, food trucks, and other local food-related businesses are going to have to consider both consumer trends and local regulations which will impact business.
Local retailers are being heavily impacted by social distancing measures. Not only from the consumer side, but also from the human resource side.
Rick Maggio brings over 15 years of tactical, hands-on experience managing digital advertising campaigns both small and large. Rick has worked in agency-land and on large in-house marketing teams and loves sharing his extensive experience with the LDA community.