Marketers: tackle uncertainty from your kitchen table

Marketers: tackle uncertainty from your kitchen table

For many of us, our usual desk has been replaced with the kitchen table. Watercooler chit chat is having to take place over Facetime, and we've had to assume sole responsibility for keeping our coffee cups full.

But there are a few silver linings. Your commute has gotten a whole lot easier. Come lunchtime, you're always at the front of the queue for the microwave. And best of all, this disruption has presented you with the perfect opportunity to take stock and evaluate your marketing activity.

During uncertain times, it's easy to succumb to temptation and wind things down. I'm sure every marketer in the world is tempted to hold fire on campaigns, slash PPC budgets and pause a big chunk of activity while we weather the storm. But we have to resist. You mustn't stop marketing altogether.

In this situation, the worst thing to do is stop. Granted, you can't carry on with 'business as usual', but you must carry on.

Measure twice, cut once

You're likely to have a smaller budget to work with, so you'll have to cut your cloth accordingly. But before you go hacking away, you need to know which activities are driving sales and which aren't.

You need to get on top of your measurement and control. Now's a perfect time. This article on Smart Insight's blog gives some fantastic tips on how to turn your data into actionable analytics. Forensically examine the data you have to understand where your sales are coming from before you make cuts.

Going forward, you'll need to do everything you can to close gaps in your analytics. Nowadays, most marketers are pretty good at tracking online customer journeys, but on average, just 11% of customers can be classed as 'only online'. If you're not tracking the full journey, you've got a huge hole in your data.

Your customers are in the same boat as you – they'll be on tight budgets and they'll want to ask a lot more questions before pushing the button on a purchase. Expect their journey to become more complex and prepare to see a rise in over the phone inquiries. You need to look into solutions like call tracking, which helps marketers bridge the gap between offline and online by linking digital touchpoints to calls – and if you're using a good provider, sales information. If you want to know more about call tracking, check out this explanation that's been created by call tracking provider, ResponseTap.

Plan for the future, not just now

There's no escaping the fact that in the short term, we're all going to experience difficulties – and some will cope better than others. We need to adapt as best we can. But it's important to think past the next few months and use the circumstances to create a long-term advantage.

Although working remotely will no doubt challenge resolve and leave us feeling a little isolated, the distance and head space it creates will give you plenty of time to assess the situation, scan the horizon and amend your marketing plan.

Use the extra time you have now to plan for the future. Weigh up potential risks and determine the level of uncertainty by analysing the strategically relevant information you have access to. Try to identify trends that will help you infer the likely demand for your products or services down the line. By carrying out the right analysis, you can get enough information about certain factors to shape your decision making. Evaluate how technologies are developing and how they can be leveraged. Monitor elasticities of demand – remembering to look at how similar scenarios have affected demand in the past. And, make sure you keep a close eye on your competitors.

Assess all potential scenarios and plan accordingly.

Bolster your arsenal

You don't want to go off the boil while you're out of the office. Keep yourself sharp. Catch up on some professional development and get familiar with the latest best practice.

Check out the Marketo Resource Center – there's a great range of eBooks on there, covering everything from targeting to measurement & control.

Or take the time to become more versed in specific disciplines. If you want to brush up on SEO, you can get the latest updates about crawling, indexing, and ranking from google on their Webmaster Central Blog, and access some brilliant resources for free on the Moz, Yoast and Search Engine Journal blogs.

The official Google Ads Blog and WordStream have some great resources on PPC, and there's some brilliant guides on Social Media Examiner if you're interested in learning more about engaging with customers on Social Media.

The only certainty is uncertainty

The scariest thing about the situation we find ourselves in is that we're in the dark. We don't know when this situation will pass, or exactly what the future holds. We all need to plan more carefully and be more agile than ever before.

Do your best to cope in the short-term – support your customers as best you can. And use the time you have now to prepare for the future.

You're going to have to become even smarter and savvier when it comes to making marketing decisions. Gather as much data as possible. Make sure your choices are informed and considered. Rationalise your spend, but only after you have a solution in place that shows you which activities you can cut without damaging sales.

It's going to be tough. But whatever you do – use the time you have wisely, and don't stop.

Matthew McGillicuddy is content marketing manager at ResponseTap

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