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Preparing your marketing plans for the Coronavirus downturn

By Susan Hallam MBE | Founder

Hallam

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The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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March 18, 2020 | 9 min read

Our businesses are all facing challenging times as the economic impact of Coronavirus starts to bite. And when faced with challenges like this, it's time to turn to The Godfather for that inimitable advice:

Hallam provide a five-point plan for marketers and businesses to adopt throughout Coronavirus pandemic.

Hallam provide a five-point plan for marketers and businesses to adopt throughout Coronavirus pandemic.

“Go to the mattresses.”

In other words, prepare your business for the long haul. Get your metaphorical mattresses ready for your company soldiers to sleep on while they wait for the battle.

We need to work smarter, and be ready to tackle the challenges ahead.

Here are five steps you can take to prepare your marketing activity during this Coronovirus downturn:

  1. Work smart to retain your existing customer base
  2. Get even more visible in front of your target market
  3. Focus on driving conversions
  4. Measure, measure, measure
  5. Test, learn, test

Five digital marketing techniques for powering through Corona

Businesses are looking more carefully at budgets, making sure we can squeeze every penny of profit out of our investments, and looking for the most cost-effective way to deliver products and services.

Marketing budgets may appear to be a soft target for businesses looking to make budget cuts. But a cut in marketing activity is a short term fix that is sure to have long term consequences. Maintaining visibility in your market is essential for long term profitability and continued investment.

And our customers are also watching the pennies, but they are still spending money. They may be spending less, but we need to figure out what they’re spending their money on. They don’t want to risk wasting a penny; they want to buy the right products from companies they can trust.

1. Work smart to retain your existing customer base

Out of sight means out of mind. You need to keep in touch with your customers or you risk losing them. It's always cheaper to retain an existing customer than acquire a new one.

  • Marketing automation is the lowest cost, easiest, and most effective way of keeping in touch with your customers. I’m not talking sending automated email marketing spam, nor am I talking about broadcasting cold calling messages to get new customers. You need to be sending out personalised, contextualised, targeted messages to existing customers who want to hear your news. You need to be keeping in touch with your customers at every touch point in their digital journey through social channels, through exploring the web. And doing this systematically and automatically will ensure the job gets done, and will free up your more expensive human talents to deliver creative campaigns that will add even more ROI.
  • Content production is an essential ingredient for your tactical marketing campaigns and for keeping in touch with your existing customers. Share the innovations that you are currently making that differentiates your offering from your competitors, and promote your good news stories in terms of awards and client wins. If you need inspiration for a B2B content marketing campaign, take a look here.
  • Getting more social means engaging in conversations with your existing customers. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook - these are places where you customers are reviewing your products, discussing their purchasing decisions, exchanging views on your business. Create a low cost plan for reaching customers at every point in the social media funnel. Use these tools to listen to your customers, hear what they’re talking about, learn more about your market. And remember, it isn’t about advertising – your contributions to the conversation needs to be valuable and appropriate.

2. Get even more visible in front of your potential clients

You have to build your brand awareness and get more visibility, which means driving visitors to your website to make the sales. And one of the best times to get found by potential clients is when they’re searching for what you’re selling. You need to get found at every stage of the purchasing lifecycle, from exploring new suppliers to evaluating specific offerings.

  • The Mere Exposure Effect is the marketing phenomenon by which consumers develop a preference for your products or services merely because they are familiar with them. Now is the time to explore low cost techniques that will keep your brand visible in front of potential clients on a steady basis. It may feel counter-intuitive, but setting aside an advertising budget for keeping your brand visible will deliver long term benefits. Focus on creating high quality content that is going to get shared, and reduce your budget for generating low value, low impact content.
  • Update your evergreen content. Your business has an archive of perennially relevant, interesting content that does not become dated and is still of value to your customers… and the search engines. Revisit your content, update it, give it a spring clean, with the objective of improving your rankings in the search engines.
  • What other people say about your is more important than what you say about yourself. Another low cost way of getting visible in front of a larger pool of potential clients is to leverage the authority of other respected experts.

3. Focus on driving conversions

A low cost, high impact digital marketing technique to focus on is conversion rate optimisation. Small incremental changes to the user journey will turn more of your website visitors into customers.

  • Social proof and post positive stories about your business. Revisit how you are using your cases studies, recommendations and reviews at every touchpoint in your marketing, and take the time to weave this content throughout your website and share actively on social media.
  • Customer experience is king. Invest in your website to ensure you are giving a fast, personalised experience. And in terms of keeping costs down, remember that small changes on your website will have an outweighed impact on the final results.
  • Leverage artificial intelligence. Now is the time to get up to speed on the latest developments in machine learning and artificial intelligence that will give your business competitive advantage and access to the right prospective customers at the right time. Taking advantage of current developments in AI will drive down your cost per acquisition of new clients by ensuring you are getting the right message to the right person at the right time, and reducing waste.

4. Measure, measure, measure

If you don’t measure, then you can’t manage. And if you’re not managing, then you could be pouring money down the drain.

Measuring means accountability for your marketing spend. You need to be measuring against your success criteria. You may want to measure sales, numbers of lead generated, upsells, or referrals. Now is the time to ensure you have defined your key performance indicators.

  • Configure your Google Analytics correctly. Ensure you are covering all the basics and that you are using the data to drive your marketing efficiencies. Do you have goals set up correctly? Have you connected your Search Console? Have you defined what you are measuring? Are you taking advantage of all the free data that Google Analytics provides to you that can shape your strategy?
  • Measure your social media ROI. When budgets get tight, you may need to make tough decisions on how you are going to spend your resources. One soft option might be to put the breaks on your social media activity. Social media can appear to be very time consuming and an optional non-essential activity. But before you make that decision, ensure you have explored how social media is contributing to your bottom line in terms of engagement, visibility, and profitability.

If marketing budgets are tight, then knowing what works makes it easier to make the decisions of where to invest your cash.

5. Test, learn, test

And finally, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the digital marketing puzzle.

You will need to be nimble and creative. Measure your success, and learn from the experiment. Here are some parting tips:

  • Experiments should be quick, cheap, and easy to deliver.
  • If it works, then well done, and more of the same, please.
  • And if it doesn’t work so well, then kill the experiment and move on. No harm done. Be quick and be ruthless. You will have tested something, learned from it, allowing you to move on and test something new.

Susan Hallam, founder and CEO at Hallam.

Advertising Digital Advertising World

Content by The Drum Network member:

Hallam

We’re a multi-award winning full-service digital agency based in the UK, and a trusted partner to some of the world’s biggest national and international brands.

Putting digital at the heart of our clients’ future success, we create innovative strategies that deliver significant growth and exceptional results through our integrated web design and development, SEO, PPC, CRO, Social Media and PR services.

We strive to innovate and share expertise and for the second year have organised the Midlands’ biggest digital conference - Nottingham Digital Summit. This event brings together industry experts from the likes of Google, Virgin Media, Jaguar Land Rover and Experian to inspire over 700 local business people with the latest digital trends to grow their companies. What’s more, all proceeds go to support The Nottingham Samaritans.

Our services

As a full-service agency we’re able to use our combined expertise in a range of digital marketing specialisms to create multi-layered campaigns and strategies:

- Our high-impact technical SEO campaigns deliver results that improve client visibility in search engine results pages;

- We create award-winning websites – technically sound, visually stunning, with seamless user experiences;

- Taking paid advertising to the next level, our data-driven insights and highly crafted, bespoke in-house tools deliver business-changing results;

- Tailored PR campaigns have raised clients’ brand awareness and secured top coverage across the digital landscape;

- We have a proven strategy using testing tools and monitoring clients’ online visitors, establishing the greatest impact on CRO and delivering permanent performance improvements;

- Harnessing the true power of social media we build creative, innovative campaigns that truly create a digital buzz.

Bringing together industry-leading expertise, we employ 65 people across core delivery teams from our Nottingham base.

Our clients

We partner with international organisations such as Speedo, The United Nations, Esso, Saint Gobain and Suzuki as well trusted UK brands such as Raleigh, Travis Perkins, The BBC, Jägermeister, TTS Group and Castle Rock Brewery. We consistently deliver transformational results; on average our clients see a 69% rise in organic traffic, 54% increase in ecommerce revenue, and a 65% increase in lead generation.

- Raleigh Bikes’ new website delivered improved conversion rates with a 675% increase in ecommerce revenue year on year, and a 370% increase in their Black Friday sales attributed to our Digital PR campaign;

- We helped Speedo deliver brand consistency across national and international digital channels, streamlining their online user experience;

- Our social media strategy for the United Nations helped them reach more than 15 million users worldwide;

- A bespoke website for Virtual Runner increased their average spend per transaction by 80% with a 57% increase in subscriptions since it’s launch.

“Hallam have delivered above and beyond what we expected, and are an absolute joy to work with.” ~Rikke Hennum, Campaign Coordinator, United Nations Free & Equal Campaign

Our people

Developing our staff, both personally and professionally, is one of our business objectives. We invest heavily in staff training and development, with wellbeing initiatives that include weekly yoga sessions, unlimited home working and mental health training.

We invest a combined 900 hours per month (2 days per employee) on a protected learning time initiative with everyone receiving an annual training budget of £2,000 to use on courses of their choice.

Our awards

We’re incredibly proud of our track record. Our work has been recognised across numerous industry-renowned awards with five trophies at The Drum Recommended Agency Awards, including the Grand Prix - award for overall best digital agency.

Our awards and nominations span all areas of our expertise. It’s just one of the things that pushes us to stay ahead of the curve for our clients and it’s a great feeling when that work gets noticed. Check out a selection of them:

The Drum Recommended Digital Agency Awards

- Grand Prix - Agency of the Year (40-99 Staff) Winner

- Search

- Usability

- Client Service

- Full Digital Service

Google Premier Partner Awards

- 2019 EMEA Winner of the Growing Business Online Award

- 2018 finalists in Shopping Innovation and Display Innovation

DADI Awards

- finalist

UK Digital Experience Awards

- Best Online User Experience B2C - Silver

- Best Agency - Winner

- Shortlisted for three awards in 2019

European Search Awards

- Best Large SEO Agency - Finalist

- Best Large PPC Agency - Finalist

- Shortlisted in five awards in...

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