If you’re like most professional service firms, the first six-months of 2020 were focused on trying to survive a COVID-19 world and navigate what it meant to “go digital.” But with the tides slowly changing, it’s time to step back and take a serious look at how digital marketing changed the landscape of your business and focus on transforming your digital activities for continued growth well into the new year.
It’s safe to say firms that put digital marketing on the backburner prior to COVID-19 had some difficulties adjusting to a digitally-focused marketing environment during the pandemic, forcing them to take a reactive approach to these efforts. And unfortunately, this shift in the state of marketing is only the tip of the iceberg. The days of overlooking digital marketing are gone and the need for a sound digital marketing strategy is stronger than ever. It’s time to get proactive so that your firm is not only prepared for what’s to come, but can ensure continued growth from digital marketing efforts post-COVID-19 and beyond.
Three ways to do so, include:
- Make effective use of your existing email database
- Accelerate your use of social media
- Continue investing in paid search
#1 – MAKE EFFECTIVE USE OF YOUR EXISTING EMAIL DATABASE
At the onset of the pandemic, as the world struggled to adjust to what would soon become the new norm, many firms completely halted or significantly slowed down their marketing activities. And seeing as the primary growth goal of most firms we work with is lead generation, this decline in activity did not sit well. Some marketing functions were able to quickly re-align their internal strategies and pivot to or firm-up digital activities such as search engine marketing (SEM) and SEO, while others turned to our old faithful friend: email. Marketers often feel discouraged building and nurturing a database for years with little to no return, but times like this is where this database can be most useful and for those with a “the time is now” mindset, saw returns on engagement.
In fact, RSW recently published survey results that suggest 64% of B2B marketers believe garnering business from existing clients has been one of the most effective marketing tactics during the pandemic. You may be wondering how. Well, in the beginning, many firms tackled the topic of a pandemic head on, providing their customer base with important changes related to the industry as a whole or a particular business and/or function, which for the most part, was well-received. However, those who came out ahead, seeing growth in email engagement as time went on, made sure to:
- Only push out value-based information and content designed to help the customer make decisions, whether early in the pandemic or at the downturn, without a clear ask or being too salesy.
- Send targeted, personalized emails to those who proved to be interested in what they had to say. In fact, 74% of marketers have stated that targeted personalized increases overall engagement.
So, take advantage of this time and use it as an opportunity build relationships with those who know you but aren’t engaged. Doing so now will pay off in the future.
#2 – ACCELERATE YOUR USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Pre-pandemic, social media usage was on the rise, but once stay at home orders and lockdowns ensued, usage soared. Unfortunately for some firms, capitalizing on this uptick wasn’t possible due to marketing budget cuts. In fact, nearly 25% of businesses had to pause their social media activities the first six months of 2020 in order to retain employees or focus on other marketing activities deemed more business-critical. But what may have not been realized is the impact social media would have on engagement and conversions. The firms that were successfully able to navigate the use of social before COVID-19 did these four things well:
- Focused on the social platforms most frequented by their target audience rather than all social channels and published frequently
- Pulled information in via social listening and used it to identify opportunities and react to customer needs
- Developed fresh content with messages that resonated during unprecedented times
- Shared compelling information and insights beyond products and services offered by the firm
Social media has not only given firms a platform to showcase who they are and what they know by way of content in the form of videos, but it’s allowed them to build networks based on customer interests and needs. And now, more than ever, people are looking for connection so if your firm has the ability to reach the customer where they’re at in a compelling way, the chances of them leaning into you or your business increases exponentially.
#3 – CONTINUE INVESTING IN PAID SEARCH
For many firms, one of the first marketing activities to submit to a lesser spend or be cut completely at the onset of COVID-19 was paid media, if there was even a budget at all. This in turn created an opportunity for those firms already investing in paid search to maintain or expand their efforts at a lower cost. At the same time it allowed firms without a strong online presence to up their digital visibility fast and inexpensively. And firms that were able to retain funds to start or continue paid efforts saw results. In fact, a recent HubSpot report showed that 68% of marketers stated that paid advertising is “very important” or “extremely important” to their overall marketing strategy.
To be successful in this arena firms must take these three steps when it comes to paid search:
- Set realistic goals based on your audience, budget and timelines
Who you want to target, how and when ultimately affects performance and if your firm doesn’t have the budget to target the right people at the right time, paid efforts can fall flat. Ahead of diving into a campaign, know what it will take to reach these goals so that you’re better equipped to meet them.
- Align these goals to your overall marketing strategy
If the goals set for your paid campaign don’t align with the firm’s macro marketing goals, your ROI may be sub-optimal.
- Continuously optimize your keywords and ad copy for better performance
As the marketing environment continues to shift, your firm’s message will shift and so will how your audience searches. Staying apprised of these changes and adjusting with the times is crucial.
CLOSING THOUGHTS – DON’T GIVE UP ON TRADITIONAL DIGITAL MARKETING, SIMPLY REIMAGINE THEM
How firms are using digital marketing to grow their business is nothing new, but in unprecedented times, marketers have to refine the ways in which digital channels are used and do it well in order to see results.