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How to Sustain Confidence in Digital Marketing During the Covid-19 Pandemic

If you’re anything like me, it has taken the last three full weeks for reality to set in. 

The reality that our “new normal”, as everyone seems to be calling, is one that revolves around kitchen table conference calls, walks around the house, and figuring out how to temper the amount of news I take in daily to keep my spirits high.

What do we do now?

As a Client Services professional dealing with many clients on a daily basis, I see our roles in effective communication with clients becoming even more crucial at a time like this. 

There’s the work side and then there’s the personal side. And it’s important not to lose sight of that as we all figure out how to maneuver our way to the light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel.

Things are changing day by day. But, in order to remain as helpful, valuable, and crucial to your business in the Covid-19 era, you must give leadership the confidence in your marketing efforts! Do they trust that you can weather the coronavirus storm?

Here are some ways I’m working to better my communication around digital marketing tactics with my clients. 

Better Communication Starts with Being Empathetic First

The Client Services or a marketer’s job has always relied heavily on building great relationships with POCs and leadership, proving that what you are doing from a marketing perspective is actually producing revenue! 

Whether your in client services or a marketing role, this comes second nature to you. But in times like these, we really need to remember that our clients and our teams are feeling ALL of the same feelings we are at the moment. 

Confusion, sadness, worry, unsettled nerves, and general uncertainty. 

They have families just like we do. They’re stuck at home just like us, or they might have family or friends who are essential to our fight against COVID-19. I know if I had a loved one out on the front lines as a medical professional or anyone else in essential services, I’d have a bit more emotion and nerves to deal with.

The truth is, you NEED to be empathetic to your clients and teams FIRST. 

Within the last few weeks, almost all of my conversations with clients started off by asking, 

  • “How are you and your family?”
  • “Are you all safe and healthy?” 
  • “What kind of regulations has your state been announcing?”
  • “Have you had a chance to just shut off and go get some fresh air?” 

People just really want to talk about their feelings right now. And it’s an amazing way to build stronger relationships with your clients. 

Check in with your clients and your team on a personal basis often. 

Don’t Just Tell, But Show Your Clients or Leadership How You Can Be of Most Value Right Now

(hint: this conversation needs to be about the client’s or your company’s Customer – as it should always be)

How do we ease the minds of our clients or our leadership right now?

How do we show value during a pandemic like this?

How do we keep them confident in our abilities and drive results with smart digital marketing?

Even more importantly, you may be asking yourself this – How do we get ahead of the “we need to pause marketing” conversation.

Again – many of us are working in uncharted territory never having dealt with retaining and expanding marketing services in such an economic environment. 

Many businesses are in jeopardy of being forced to lay off employees, change their business model to survive, or even worse, close their doors completely. We’re seeing it all unfold right now in industries like, restaurant, travel and hospitality, and many others. 

The key thing to remember here is that marketers may also not know if their jobs are safe. 

My focus on client communication right now, as I mentioned earlier, has been around how they are doing personally. My second focus is business. 

How is it affecting the role of the marketer? What other areas of the business is this affecting? 

We all know that group events are taking the biggest hit. Marketing and Sales teams are being forced to cancel or postpone events which is leaving a big gap in driving potential leads into the sales pipeline. 

This means there is a potentially unused budget now available. But before you ask for it, you need to have a thoughtful plan in place to show why digital marketing is more important than ever

After several conversations with my POCs in marketing, none of them had a consistent or similar response, but I did begin to notice similar trends in how we, as an agency, can support them.

And the trends are very clear:

  1. No one is sure how this is going to affect their business or their role. It’s too soon.
  2. The one area where each of my clients are feeling the most impact is in Sales. Almost all of my conversations with my Marketing POC’s revolves around Sales support.

We need to discuss how we (marketing) can support Sales teams right now. They are at a stand-still. Their events are cancelled, they have no way of getting in front of potential customers. Their customers are all at home. In fact, business calls may not even be getting to them. So how do we help? Let’s get Digital!

How Marketing Enables Sales to Continue Doing Their Job, Digitally

  • Virtual Events – Webinars, Virtual Roundtables, Virtual Summits, Industry specific forums are all ways marketing can help digitize in-person events. There’s a lot of technology out there to help with this. But at their core, they all help potential customers come together to discuss topics that are important to them.
  • Podcasts – now, more than ever, is a great time to get your company’s thought leaders out there speaking on industry relevant podcasts. Look into opportunities for guest speakers. Podcasters are always looking for great thought leaders to interview. 
  • Video – pre-recorded video is always a great option of featuring core solutions and problems your products or solutions solve. It also allows you to showcase customer wins you’ve had. Video is also great for personalizing emails to prospects. 

How Marketing Enables Sales to Make Digital Experiences Personalized

Creating personalized digital experiences for Sales teams is not necessarily a new tactic, but it’s quickly becoming a very crucial tactic to employ right now. 

  • Tools like Uberflip allow us to connect the dots between advertising and content our prospects engage with to send them a personalized stream of content directly. For example, if BDR teams know which accounts have interacted with certain marketing pieces, then tools like Uberflip can offer them custom content experiences on site. This could help BDRs get improved response rates with their outreach.
  • User personalized video messages – Allow sales teams to continue showing their face and smile Tools like Vidyard allow you to personalize video and can also be used to integrate into email.
  • Drift has long been known as a valuable sales enablement tool but can also be used for AI-driven site personalization.
  • Direct mail – Use direct mail to fill in some of the most obvious gaps in not being able to meet potential customers at events – swag, dinner, drinks! If Sales is still taking sales meetings, mailing them swag, gift cards or codes to redeem at restaurants or local businesses near them. OR – have lunch delivered to them during the call! Printfection is perfect for this!

Emphasize the need to take advantage of inbound marketing

Take advantage of your website and make sure to stress the importance of a good content strategy and SEO.  If potential customers are spending their time online, we need to make sure we’re giving them content throughout all stages of the buyers’ journey and optimizing EVERYTHING for search engines. One effective strategy here is to work with Sales teams to create thought leadership material. Articles are an obvious source of inbound marketing and if done well, rank on search engines for research and information-based search queries.

Scale targeting and personalization to key accounts

One of the best ways to do this is to speak with your marketing teams about ABM targeting tactics and creating an overall ABM strategy that supports key customers and accounts that your sales team wants to speak with.

This is even more of an opportunity for B2B digital marketers in the age of coronavirus. Doing ABM the right way often means different things to different marketers. But let’s keep this simple to start so that the barrier to getting sales and marketing on board is low. 

At its core, ABM strategies are supposed to allow sales and marketing to target and eventually speak with accounts that are in-market. There are several data sources out there that help to identify this, Bombora being a well-known source.

But the real opportunity here is to use platforms like 6Sense or Demandbase to narrow in your focus on key accounts. Platforms like these allow you to take your core solutions and services, keywords and URLs, and find companies who are actively searching or researching content online related to those. You then have the ability to layer on other firmographic layers to target them with personalized content.

Essentially you build the same types of buyers’ journeys you do when doing more broad paid media, but you’re personalizing it to key accounts. Combining this with other paid media efforts can help you move key accounts towards the bottom of the funnel to tee up a call for the Sales team.

Double down on Search Advertising

At the end of the day, when people are out there searching for you, that is demand you want to capture as often as you can. With potential customers working remotely and working online for the foreseeable future, asking your marketing teams about how to effectively utilize search budgets during this time is important.

It may be a tough conversation to ask for incremental dollars to make sure impression shares are as high as possible for top performing, priority business terms, but it’s very possible unused field marketing dollars can be used for this!

Align your efforts to bottom line revenue (if you’re not already)

In a time like this, with companies feeling uncertain of the future, being able to tie marketing efforts back to the bottom line is not an option – it’s required. We all should be aligned on true performance marketing and empower ourselves to show the true value of our efforts and how we’ve been able to drive growth in their business.

Don’t Forget to Check in with YOUR Internal Teams

Take the time to check in with your teammates and the people who are helping to produce for you. They are going through the same thing you are. Have some virtual Happy Hours, send some food delivery gift cards, play some virtual games!

Now more than ever we need to keep each other positive, focused on the positive opportunities we can surface, and remember that there is a light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel.

Still not sure if your communicating with your teams or leadership in the right way to ensure they remain confident in your marketing efforts? We have been talking to our clients and offering free 30-minute strategy sessions to many companies in varoius industries to help them build strong plans around communication in the digital marketing space.

If you’d like to take advantage of a free 30-minute strategy session, contact us today! Be sure to mention the top three challenges your facing in the comments section of our form.

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