Businesses Can and Will Go on in the Coronavirus Era

Don’t let these times paralyze your business operations. Here are some digital marketing To-Dos that will see you through COVID-19 and poise you to leap forward when the economy roars back.

These are unprecedented times. This isn’t the first time you’ve heard this, and it won’t be the last.  Regardless of the barrage of content about the current pandemic and its ramifications, one point remains: Business must continue. Small and large businesses alike fuel our economic engines and are foundational elements of modern civilization.  Business must continue.  But how? What can we do today?

The digital arena, which gives businesses the best opportunity to continue to function, also affords you the best opportunity to work, to provide, and to grow.  Regardless of the organization or industry in which you work, your goal is to achieve at least one, if not all three, of the following: increase revenue, reduce cost, and/or improve customer loyalty. 

Here’s how we can accomplish these goals in a time when digital marketing may be the only way forward – for now, and certainly into the future.

Increase Revenue

Whether you are looking to increase sales, or simply looking to maintain, or even just salvage what you can, the digital experience is the safest avenue and, in many places, the only way to go.  Therefore, as a business leader, your goal is to either find a way to shift sales to the digital space or maximize your sales in the digital space.  Here are some tips.  And take note, none of the tips involve spending more on advertising. They are all focused on making the most of what you have. They also represent long-term investments into creating a more personalized, targeted online experience for your customers – today and tomorrow.

1) Have a Plan.  When things get crazy, strategy goes out the window. But now more than ever, you need to understand what you are doing and why.  You can’t afford to be wasteful.  This doesn’t mean you won’t fail in some of your choices. To paraphrase Lean Thinking concepts — if you don’t fail, you don’t learn. And right now, you want to be Lean.  A feedback loop of build, measure, and learn can push you forward in meaningful ways as you try to navigate what the best changes are for you and your organization. 

2) Focus on the Experience.  People take the path of least resistance.  They want fast and easy.  While you may be focused on incentivizing them to choose you, that costs you margin that you likely can’t afford to lose.  While offering promos may be a necessary evil, especially in the short term, don’t neglect the basics.  The easier it is for someone to take the action you want them to take, the more likely they will take it.  So, use the tools you have in place to understand where challenges exist.  Look to analytics tools such as Google Analytics 360, Heap, and Adobe Analytics and customer experience tools including SessionCam, Fullstory, and Quantum Metrics.  Or, just begin with free and/or low- cost tools like Google Analytics and Hotjar.  The insights they provide will help optimize your experiences and get people through to purchase.

3) Experiment.  A plan of action (your strategy) and an area of focus (the experience) in mind, you need to know what’s working and what’s not.  This enables you to get the most out of your successes and to quickly learn from and pivot away from your failures.  You can use tools like ABTasty and Optimizely to setup structured experiments on your website or mobile application.  They inform you of not only what works and what doesn’t but also the degree of business success you can expect.

Reduce Costs

While revenue is great, revenue without profitability means your organization will not last. And as profit is a function of revenue and cost, reducing costs should be a part of what you are looking to do.  Here again, the digital space provides you advantages that you can help.  

1) Make the Shift.  From sending out statements and letters to answering simple questions over the phone or in person, your business may do a lot in the physical world.  Why not explore what can be shifted into the digital world?  Can statements or letters be sent digitally?  Can payments be accepted electronically?  Can you provide an FAQ page on the site or online chat?  You may already be doing some or even all of this.  If so, what is your plan to increase adoption across your customer base?  The greater the percentage of people who use these digital channels, the greater your cost savings overall.  Not only does it reduce the need for physical supplies, but it allows you to make better use of your team in other ways to support the business.

2) Experiment.  I know we mentioned this as a way to drive revenue, but it can be equally powerful in reducing costs.  If it’s difficult for people to log-on to a portal to pay a bill or manage their account, their only recourse is to engage you in a more costly way.  So, make it easier.  Improving the customer experience increases the use of your digital tools and drives down costs.  However, you need to make sure your change is a good one, or it can have the opposite effect.  Here again, you need to setup structured experiments to you measure the impact.

Improve Loyalty

It’s highly likely that other organizations sell the same or similar product or service you offer, so if you are facing the challenge of a declining audience of prospects, your goal is to keep your customers returning versus having them go somewhere else.  You have already invested time and resources in getting them as a customer.  Now more than ever, their lifetime value is critical to your survival and success.

1) Create a System.  The friends you are closest to, the ones you are most likely to go out of your way to help, likely have two things in common.  One, they know you well.  And two, your happiness matters to them.  When they combine those two things you have a fantastic relationship.  Whether it is two people, or a person and an organization, the same truths apply.  The key is, you can’t leave this to chance.  You need to have a system in place to gather and organize information about your customers, and a strategy on how you plan to use that information to make them happy. A CRM system such as and a marketing automation system like Salesforce Marketing Cloud or Pardot can work together to accomplish both goals.  

2) Create Evangelists.  If you do #1 your customers’ affection for you will grow.  Help them to show it!  No ad you place and no promotion you run will ever be as powerful as a referral from a friend.  So help them to refer you and encourage them to talk about you. From sharing tools on your website to your presence and engagement on social media, you can help create and empower customers who advertise for you, driving new potential customers at a far lower cost per acquisition and a much greater propensity to buy.  

These are unprecedented times and we’re all navigating unchartered waters.  However, there are strategies and tactics you can use to successfully navigate your business through these times.  You build, you measure, and you learn.  And then you do it again.  Doing nothing is not an option.  So, if you are going to do something, and need to better leverage the digital space in doing it, follow these steps and start moving.  Business can and will continue if you refine your digital strategy today and optimize your customer’s online experience to create a bright sales future.

By Shamir Duverseau, Managing Director/ Smart Panda Labs


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