Tips from PRNEWS.IO, online marketplace for distributing news content, on digital marketing in the time of COVID-19
This guest post about digital marketing for e-resident entrepreneurs is written by Natalia Storozhuk of PRNEWS.IO, an international sponsored content online store and member of the e-Residency Marketplace. Learn more about working in partnership with the e-Residency programme here.
Many areas of business today are faced with the problem of how to prevent serious losses during and after the period of world quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We at content marketing platform PRNEWS.IO have studied the digital marketing strategies and experiences of companies in times of crisis to see what sets apart brands who cope better with crises from others.
It may seem that the simplest thing is to “go to ground” — to minimise advertising costs and just try to survive a difficult period. However, the experience of brands suggests the opposite.
Within the past 2 months, most of our customers have continued to work on their content and digital marketing strategies. The necessity of promoting personal brands, particular for gaming companies and eCommerce firms, has increased in the period of quarantine. PRNEWS.IO supports our clients with the most valuable solutions for reaching their content marketing goals in difficult times, as there is less room to test theories or assumptions in times of crisis.
If you have been told that now is not the time to think about advertising — do not believe it. History has shown that many companies actually strengthened their positions during crises and recessions only due to the fact that they did not reduce advertising budgets.
Why is that?
- “Noise” is reduced, as competitors also reduce advertising costs.
- The cost of advertising also reduces. During the crisis, no one wants to lose customers — a good reason to set an affordable price.
- The credibility of the company grows. If you keep advertising in difficult times, you have the chance to work on long-term brand value instead of short-term targeted campaigns
For example, during the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 and 2009, Amazon did not stop innovating products and sales grew by 28%.
Crisis is an opportunity to experiment with advertising messages and offers. Interest-free loans, stocks, discounts — all this stimulates demand and increases market share.
To be clear, in this blog article we are talking about online media, because nothing much is happening in the print media and outdoor advertising sectors. People are used to getting information online anyway but now that we are confined to our homes, having a clear and well thought out content and digital marketing strategy is more important than ever and could be the difference between a brand value that increases and brand value that fades.
Who is doing digital marketing well?
It’s not all bad for everyone at once. For example, the US ad market in the eCommerce segment is booming. People are buying more online, and local online stores have raised advertising budgets by two times. In just three weeks, in February-March, their advertising costs jumped from $4.8 to $9.6 million.
The labor market helps assess the economic situation of companies. All over the world, delivery companies, grocery chains and drug delivery services are actively hiring employees because they cannot cope with the increased demand for their goods and services.
Just look at the stats for a few top brands in the US:
- Instacart — product delivery service intends to create 300,000 new jobs
- Walmart announced its intention to hire another 150,000 employees
- Amazon intends to hire 100,000 couriers and warehouse workers
- CVS Health, a drug supplier with a network of nearly 7,000 pharmacies in the US, has posted vacancies for 50,000 people
- Albertsons is the second largest supermarket chain in the north of the US that recently announced 30,000 new jobs.
- Lowe’s — a retail network of household goods — another 30,000 jobs
- Pizza Hut — another 30,000 jobs
- 7-Eleven — a network of grocery stores of more than 36,000 branches worldwide posted 20,000 new job offers.
Although this data is from the US, the trend is clear. Today’s crisis has provided companies operating in logistics and trade the opportunity to develop at least on a national level. People who are staying at home are moving their buying habits online for more convenience.
In China online operations have long been at the forefront of any progressive business. Now, more are turning to explore digital marketing opportunities.
Kuaishou heavily promotes its native store while Douyin formed a strategic partnership with Taobao to drive e-commerce traffic there (WalktheChat is still the major platform supporting store creation for overseas companies.)
Weibo launched its own official Weibo Store last week, enabling individuals (Chinese and foreigners), and Chinese companies to create Weibo Stores.
Everything related to video streaming has seriously grown in China. Compared to 2019 — by 10.9%. The share of consumers streaming videos in China reached 60% of the total number of residents of the country.
Other sectors have also moved into the network: real estate advertising, movie premieres, concerts, fashion shows, etc.
What are good digital marketing strategies right now?
To survive the crisis and help your brand thrive in the long term:
- Transform your business (or part of it) — adapt it to new conditions
- Build up the reputation and credibility of your brand
- Generate and publish relevant content
Transform your business
The crisis has provided an opportunity for business to come up with new, unusual solutions. Stores have introduced contactless delivery. Supermarkets have introduced grocery sets, cooperated with delivery service providers, and are offering optimal grocery packages.
Thanks to delivery services, restaurants have saved an average of about 10–12% of capacity.
One brand in the UK, which has more than 75 restaurants, plans to transform its shops into mini supermarkets and to launch a new online platform to allow customers to book a delivery slot a few days in advance.
Many enterprises are now producing protective equipment, which is especially in demand during the pandemic. For example, BMW has adapted part of its production to manufacture face masks in order to be ready to produce several hundred thousand a day.
Be useful. Build your brand reputation
Brewdog, the maker of Punk AF non-alcoholic beer, Dead Pony Club beer and Zombie Cake porter, is helping to deal with the shortage of sanitizers in the UK. The brand is producing them at its factory in Scotland.
Uber and other ride share services around the world take doctors to patients for free. The head of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, donated about a billion dollars or almost a third of his fortune to fight against coronavirus. These are just a few examples of many such activities.
An authentic desire to help and take action will not only contribute to improving the current situation. People will remember those brands that stood up in this crisis and chose to help rather than stay quiet, not help at all, or at worst be opportunistic. Then, when the difficult period is over, consumers will give preference to their products and services.
Generate and publish content
Right now, everyone is staying home and reading the news and consuming content online. Everyone cares about the same topics: coronavirus, quarantine, and the financial and economic consequences of the pandemic. This is where the most traffic is.
Large media companies — The New York Times, Wirecutter, and Future — have noted an increase in attendance and involvement in commercial content: recommendations, lists, and special projects. And all of them somehow relate to COVID-19.
Three categories of topics currently have the highest conversion rates:
- tips on how to avoid infection and take care of your health
- how to organize life and work in quarantine
- what to do during the state of emergency
The increase in traffic entailed an increase in subscriptions. Bloomberg reports an increase in the subscriber base by 3 times. According to Piano, the number of media subscriptions has grown by 63% in the US, and by 267% in Europe.
We have already explained that it is important not to be silent during this pandemic period — if a brand is absent in the media space, competitors may take its share.
What should brands talk about during the lockdown?
- The features of your brand and product. While others are making jokes about masks and food supplies, and some promise to cure coronavirus with a miracle, you should focus on the benefits and value-add of your own brand.
- The future. It is necessary to analyse how the world as a whole and the market in particular will emerge after the crisis. What values will be on “trend”? For example, after the 2008 crisis, concepts such as “conscious consumption” and the “shared economy” appeared, and the number of micro-businesses increased.
- The big ideas. Learn from digital marketing leaders: create stories that not only attract attention but also highlight how unique your brand is. These are the brands that stay memorable for many years.
PRNEWS.IO makes it easy to find specialised media for branded content or native advertisement in 65 countries. Generate more cool content, start working with the media outlets, and reduce the usual costs.
The most important thing to remember for companies that stay active in times of crisis is that everything is recorded on the network and over time influences your image.
It seems that now is the time to shift the focus of your attention and reconsider your attitude to digital marketing. Implement new tools that you did not believe in before. Create collaborations, help each other, speak more about your brand or company. Then you will definitely come out of this crisis and, perhaps, even wrap up the difficulties to your advantage.
None of us knows what lies around the corner, but we can better our chances to withstand this crisis. At a time when the market has slowed down, the active use of marketing tools — SEO optimization, content marketing, email newsletters, targeted advertising, etc. — will be fully justified after the pandemic comes to an end.