First, our hearts and well-wishes go out to everyone who’s been affected by COVID-19. In many ways, it’s already touched each of us, as we adapt to personal and business lifestyle changes we couldn’t have envisioned just a few short weeks ago.
What impact will today’s $2 trillion emergency bill have on our economy? What about the new U.S. Digital Dollar proposal? Will we start seeing Flowbee commercials again?
One thing is for sure. COVID-19 has had a catastrophic impact on our global economy. We are all in uncharted waters, and businesses have been forced to rethink existing business strategies in order to survive.
For example, widespread lockdowns and social distancing means no industry trade shows or events that so many companies rely on each year to market their products and services. Salespeople are having to adapt to today’s social distancing, as in-person meetings, demos and networking events aren’t an option.
Huge, national brands have name recognition and word of mouth to lean on. Most businesses don’t have this luxury. With traditional marketing lanes blocked, the alternative requires a tactical shift. If your business relies on traditional sales and marketing channels, and you’re not Nike or Apple what’s your contingency plan?
While the sales and marketing impact of COVID-19 are largely unknown, we do know that more people than ever are sitting in front of their computers. In knowing that, it would seem counterintuitive to remove or reduce the efforts it would take to reach them, wouldn’t it?
In fact, it could be argued that there has never been a worse time to cut spending on digital marketing, if that’s the primary channel to communicate with potential buyers.
Yet many companies are asking themselves at this very moment if they should eliminate digital marketing services (SEO, PPC, Social media marketing, etc.) from the budget.
So what’s the right answer? Do nothing? Stay the course? Cancel all digital marketing services? For those who are struggling to meet payroll, sadly the answer may be yes (at least for the time being).
For others, it means adapting to today’s twilight-zone-like reality. Rather than eliminating marketing altogether, this is the time to really examine your digital marketing efforts.
You might consider fine-tuning your digital marketing strategy by eliminating underperforming tactics, and focusing on those that make sense.
Let’s talk about some of the digital marketing tools that are in wide use today, and how they might be impacted by the COVID-19 economy.
Search engine optimization is a core digital marketing strategy for so many companies. Are you currently investing in SEO services? Has SEO been performing for you? If so, are you prepared to shut off the faucet? If you’re not investing in SEO, is this the time to start?
A knee jerk reaction is to simply pull the plug. This might or might not be the right move for you. Much depends on your current financial situation and your long-term goals.
Again, if you’re concerned about payroll, you have to do whatever you can. If the demand for your product or service has been kicked to the curb during the COVID-19 outbreak, pausing, canceling or continuing your SEO services is a decision you’ll have to make, and canceling may be the best option for now.
If you do throttle back search engine optimization, your organic search rankings will take a hit. How that would impact your business is something you’ll want to consider. How easy will it be to climb back up the rankings at a later date is another consideration.
We WILL recover from this. When that happens, you may find your search engine rankings difficult to regain if you choose to discontinue your SEO services.
For most businesses I’d recommend either staying the course with search engine optimization, or even doubling down. You might consider diverting your paid search budget to SEO, for example. Maybe you have unused tradeshow funds?
Noted digital strategist Nick Eubanks concurs that pulling back your SEO right now will hurt in the long run.
Google reviews are essential to any reputation management strategy. Are you currently investing in Reputation Management Services? If so, you should pull the plug on it for now. Why?
Unfortunately, staff shortages at Google due to Coronavirus have limited their services. As a result, there is a hold on several core GMB (Google My Business) features. This includes Google reviews, replies and all Q&A, for example.
GMB verifications are also temporarily on hold and limited to critical health-related businesses.
Overall search traffic is down. Does that mean you should pause your Google AdWords or paid ads campaign? Maybe.
If your demand is tanking, or you forecast absorbing a significant hit due to COVID-19, I’d definitely consider it. You don’t want to run into a negative ROI scenario.
On the other hand, as more companies cut or eliminate their AdWords budgets, bids are lower than ever. That means more visibility for less. That said, if overall buying is down in your industry, more visibility may not necessarily translate into revenue.
We are seeing clients reallocating their AdWords budget to their search engine optimization campaigns, and making that recommendation in many cases. The great thing about PPC, is unlike SEO you’re able to flip the switch on and off.
Should you still send prospecting or sales emails during the outbreak? COVID-19 doesn’t mean we have to put the brakes on sales efforts. Business goes on, and email is still an effective way to prospect and communicate. You might actually find your audience to be a bit more talkative and receptive.
Email marketing is the most cost effective digital marketing strategy. What’s great is you’re already set up for email marketing, and it won’t hit your marketing budget.
This is a great time for gaining new knowledge and learning new skills. If you’re unfamiliar with marketing automation or email marketing platforms, I recommend researching them and educating yourself.
One of the more popular platforms is Mailchimp, and pricing is free for up to 2000 contacts and 10,000 emails per month. Mailchimp is great, and offers much more than email automation. Check it out!
I’m pretty sure there has been no better time to create content than right now. Does your website have a blog? Are you updating your social media profiles with fresh content?
Think about a product or service that you want to sell more of and write about it. Share a case study, insider knowledge, or provide useful information, such as a how-to.
If you’re ambitious, keep writing! Stockpile your great content and drip them out over time. Using a tool like Hootsuite can help keep you organized and make your life easier. They offer a 30 day free trial, and have plans that start at just $29/month for up to 10 social profiles.
Not a wordsmith or dislike writing? Leverage your at-home employees and ask them to write about their job, a process, or provide industry insight. If that isn’t an option there is no shortage of quality content writers or copyrighting services out there if you search.
With lead activity likely to be down for the foreseeable future, it’s important to maximize each opportunity, including website visits. This is one digital marketing tool that I classify as a no-brainer. It’s cheap, effective, and a great complement to any sales efforts. Yet most companies are still aren’t aware of it.
So what is it?
In a basic sense website visitor tracking a lot like Caller ID for your website. With website visitor tracking in place you’ll gain new insights into your website visitors. WHO is visiting your website? Not just their location, but their company name, potential contact names, emails, social profiles and more.
You can learn what pages they looked at, for how long, and what pages they exited your website on. Using this information allows you to deduce their level of interest, and make perfectly timed sales calls or send well timed emails.
Using the included dashboard, you’re able to share individual leads with the appropriate person, pull historical data, and run reports to share with your executive team.
At only $79.00/month it’s inexpensive, and provides extremely valuable information for your sales efforts.
To Invest or Not Invest?
Is this the right time to be investing in a new website? Does it make better sense to conserve funds, or spend them elsewhere? Many companies are asking these very questions right now.
It doesn’t really need to be said, but your website matters more today than it ever has. Since the COVID19 outbreak, website traffic for many industries has dropped and/or is fluctuating widely.
Whether your industry is seeing an increase or decrease in traffic, it is so important to present the strongest possible image of your company, as the world becomes even more dependent on the internet.
If you have the need and budget for a new website, here’s how you can save a bit of money:
When I say “custom website”, I’m not talking about “unique” websites (EVERY website is unique, right?), but rather websites that have been uniquely coded from the ground up.
This is needless and unnecessary for so many companies. Why?
By leveraging existing frameworks and coding that’s already been developed, you can save thousands. That’s the beauty of WordPress websites.
Are your website needs fairly standard (as in no custom functionality needs, no custom configurator, or features that don’t already exist)? If so don’t fall into the “custom website” trap.
So often web design agencies do a great job making your new website project sound more complex than it actually is (or needs to be), and steer clients down the path of a custom coded website.
True custom built websites often cost 2x, 3x, 4x or more than a more sensible solution, not to mention the added website development time.
Here’s what they’ll tell you: Custom websites perform better. They are better for SEO (search engine optimization). They give you more flexibility than themed websites.
All are mostly false. I won’t go into detail here, but just be wary if your potential website agency floats a $15k number at you for a brochure-style website. Just know that with the right web developer, a themed WordPress website is every bit as flexible.
From experience, I can tell you that many companies who choose this path didn’t need to. They just didn’t know any better and fell for the pitch.
These companies often end up being the least satisfied with their new websites, and spent many times more than they needed to.
One reason for their dissatisfaction is the extremely high cost. Another is the extremely long web development time.
Yet another reason is they often end up with a website that is both limited and difficult to update, and the framework is proprietary to the website company that built it.
At the end of the day, they’re essentially held hostage by the website company, and never really “own” their website.
In fact, we’ve recently rebuilt two perfectly good websites for local Minneapolis companies who had “custom WordPress websites” built for them by known Minneapolis web design companies.
They weren’t dissatisfied with the way their websites looked, but grew frustrated over their inability to easily update their websites, and the limitations placed on what they could update. This led to them wanting to have them rebuilt on a more user friendly platform.
Don’t get me wrong, there are legitimate cases that can be made for true custom website design in certain cases. But not most.
Another way to keep your website development costs low:
This isn’t the place to cut corners or go for the cheapest option, but there are many affordable, talented web designers out there, and not all of them reside with large web design firms. How do you find the good ones?
You can start by asking good questions. Here are a few questions I would ask any website company:
One mistake I see a lot of companies make is falling into the trap of being lured by the most recognizable (and expensive) local website companies. Bigger and more expensive doesn’t mean better when it comes to high quality web design, and a high quality experience.
Give the smaller guys a look! You’ll most likely have a better quality experience and outcome.
If you’ve been sitting on the sidelines until now, and are considering investing in website design services or digital marketing to boost your brand, we uncover average digital marketing budgets broken down by industry, using recent statistics. You can learn more from our blog post “2019 Marketing Budget Calculator“.
Lastly, Stay Safe!
There’s a great deal of uncertainty right now. One thing is for certain, and that is that we’re all in this together and face many unknowns. I wish you the best of health, and prosperity during this incredibly challenging time.
Use this time to plan, evaluate and assess like never before. On the other side of this you’ll be poised for a quick rebound.
Conversations are always free at HyperX Design. If you’re wanting to discuss your digital marketing posture or strategy, we’re only a phone call or Zoom meeting away.
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