Your Old Plan is Not Useless, But it Must be Re-examined
Chances are, you had a marketing plan before COVID-19. If you didn’t, that’s okay too. Whether you’re needing to tweak your marketing strategy or create one entirely from scratch, the following Guide to Marketing After COVID-19 will assist you with key elements to consider when it’s time to start advertising your business again.
User Behavior Has Changed
The world you advertised in before does not exist anymore. People are not going to snap back into the exact same place before Coronavirus. We have been through a trauma and this will affect how we return to daily life. We will continue to go about our lives, but there will be a mindfulness that didn’t exist before and it will change how we behave. Take something as innocent as a birthday party. There will no longer be someone blowing on a cake just before it’s served. We will adapt, however, and continue the tradition. There will be a similar routine with the birthday song and cupcakes. Our lives will return but we will adapt to new circumstances. It’s these nuances that you’ll need to consider when developing your messaging and honing your new strategy.
The experience we have been through and the awareness we now have on how quickly germs can spread will create a deep-seated impact on our daily lives; therefore, every message you send and keyword you bid on must be rethought. During quarantine, we learned new behaviors either by choice or necessity and will bring these new behaviors with us into the new world. The boomer who was skeptical of online shopping is now getting her groceries delivered and enjoys the time savings it allows her. The parent who has never walked their kids around the block before COVID-19 may have found the act therapeutic.
As our behaviors change, the way we search and consume media will also change. When designing your Marketing Plan, you’ll need to re-examine your basics: Price, Product, Place and Promotion. If you’re a restaurant and you found success offering family take-out meals during the quarantine, you should consider keeping that product on your menu. As such, people may continue to search online for “family take-out meals”, so you’ll need to optimize your website for that term and make sure it’s included in your Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign. Don’t have a website or run PPC? You need to take a step to change that, today. In the world we now live in, the average person spends over four hours a day on their smartphones. Your business MUST be accessible to them on that device.
Social Trends Change Even Quicker
With the time we spend online and on social media amplified, trends pop up and gain traction at record speed. If you had an organized social media regimen before COVID-19, where you scheduled content for the week or even month in advance, you’ll need to rethink that or at the very least be flexible.
New trends appear and fade out quicker than ever before. Even though your business isn’t on TikTok, you’ll need to know what’s relevant on that platform this morning because by 11 a.m. it’s all over Instagram, then an hour later on Facebook. Before you know it, the message you had scheduled today at 2 p.m. now comes across as “tone deaf” because there is a taco challenge trending right now and you just posted about burgers.
You can learn to use these trends to your advantage. If there’s a taco challenge trending right now and you sell tacos, then everyone is going to be in the mood to order tacos for dinner. Make a taco special, post about it and boost that post so more people see it. The internet has basically already initiated the desire and brought people into your sales funnel. It’s your turn to make the close.
Riding these trends is sort of like surfing, you get to choose your wave. Go with the flow and let the trend do most of the hard work. While surfing you would never paddle out expecting to catch every single wave. You get into position and wait for the right one. Watch the trends, get into position and choose the right ones for your business to ride.
Social Media is an excellent place to reach new customers and build your business. However, you have to “live and breathe it” to keep up with the trends and keep your messaging relevant. If you still don’t have social media accounts, make that a goal this week.
Speed is Everything
People are looking for information on their phones, and their attention spans have become even shorter. The good news is that publishers such as Google and Facebook understand this and make it easy for you to provide critical information and updates to your customers online.
Make use of the features available to you. Things like “pinning comments” to the top of your Facebook feed or updating your Google listing will make important information about your business easily visible online.
Once your off-site profiles have been updated, take stock of your website. There is no excuse for a slow website; beware of overdesigning. All of the cool animations and huge images can take a toll on how quickly your website loads online. Images are very important for your website but they must be saved in the correct format and have “alt tags” behind them.
With only two months of 2020 under our belts we’ve already seen quite a bit of changes on the SEO front as Google has released and taken back several updates both affecting the way the algorithms evaluate pages and the way the ranked results are displayed to users. Although Google maintains that they have not released any core updates following the January core update, reports suggest that smaller updates have been rolled out and tweaked on an ongoing basis- an approach Google confirmed we will see continue via Twitter:
“Some have asked if we had an update to Google Search last week [in November]. We did, actually several updates, just as we have several updates in any given week on a regular basis.” – Google comments following the November Update.
With many websites throughout the internet feeling the impact of the updates released so far this year, we at Strategic Marketing are stepping back to review the past two months of changes, big and small, in order to adjust our strategies as these small updates shed light on what types of website formatting and content Google shifts are assigning value to.
Shifts:January 13th and Beyond
Following Google’s twitter announcement, there was the usual commotion in the SEO community with experts reporting large swings in traffic. Although there was no consensus on exactly the impact of the update, the fluctuations were observed in the health sectors and on dictionary websites.
January 13th also marked the roll out of the new Search Engine Results Page (SERP) layout which included each website’s favicon and replaced the URL with the page’s breadcrumb.
So two things to note here:
1- Don’t forget to upload a custom favicon
2- Keep your website’s content organized in a way that makes it easy for users, and search engines, to understand.
An obvious tell of a lazy developer is that standard wordpress favicon. You know what I’m talking about. That grey globe-looking thing at the top of your website’s browser tab. Hopefully you didn’t hire one of those lazy developers or your QA process was detailed enough to catch that missed opportunity.
Not to worry lazy developers, on January 24th, Google rolled back the favicon and stated that they are testing different favicon layouts. Although today the SERPs are sans favicon, I suspect the icon will make an appearance and advise that you shouldn’t overlook yours.
As far as the URL being replaced by the breadcrumb, this was long overdue. For years Google has been deenfisizing the use of keywords within the url and placing value on a logical, well organized website taxonomy. If you have been following best practices in this area all along, you have nothing to worry about. However, if you have not put effort into organizing your blog posts and landing pages, well, you better start.
Concurrent to the changes in the organic section, Google tweaked how the paid ads appear by placing a bold “Ad” in front for the web address. Based on feedback from AdWords advertisers, they have since changed this back to the green box with Ad in the middle and are still experimenting with different design variations to delineate these snippets as paid placements.
E-A-T Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthines
No matter the google shifts that occur, following SEO best practices will always work out in the long run. We know mobile usability and page speed are critical but above all, the Google Algorithms seek to reward websites offering the best content possible. Does your content display expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness? If your website experiences a downward shift in traffic, reevaluate the content of your site. A great place to start is Google’s blog on the topic: What webmasters should know about Google’s core updates which offers a list of questions designed to advise you on what exactly quality content means to them.