With extensive COVID-19 lockdowns, business continuity in marketing is even more critical. Team Script shares what it means for your business.
The Coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly disrupted much of our daily activities and jeopardised the business continuity in marketing of companies. Restaurants, retailers, and hotels are among numerous front-facing businesses severely impacted by the lockdown. With people retreating to the safety and comfort of their homes, companies are forced to rethink the way they approach marketing. As life under quarantine becomes our “business as usual”, we have witnessed a significant behavioural shift in customer engagement.
This period of uncertainty has become an unexpected catalyst for digital migration, as we have previously discussed here. Online presence is gaining currency. Now, more than ever, the success of your business lies in how well you can position your brand in the digital sphere.
Despite the easing of restrictions in certain countries, it is still difficult for businesses to operate normally. While governments—like in Singapore—have long advised companies to create a clear business continuity in marketing plan to mitigate business risks, companies tend to overlook the importance of customer communications management. Fortunately, we have discussed and curated some trends in digital marketing, which can give you a few ideas on how to incorporate communications strategies into your business continuity plan.
Business Continuity in Marketing Tip #1: Email marketing engagement in times of COVID-19
The COVID-19 lockdown has shaped up an interesting trend in email engagement. Email and content marketing firm Paved had conducted research over the course of two months on the dynamic engagement rate of more than 600 email newsletters by 150 million subscribers around the world.
The research had found that people under social lockdown now have a higher tendency to open their emails. By contrasting the email activities from the last three weeks of January prior to the outbreak with those of March, Paved saw an increase in global open rates by 15%. Despite this considerable increase, the click-through-rate only experienced a paltry growth of 3.9% and gradually decreased by as much as 28% by the end of March.
Hubspot echoes the results from Paved. The company had found that while open rate increased by as much as 21% in March, customer feedback was on a decline. In comparison to February, the response rate in March decreased by 27%.
Meagre demand leads to a drop in advertising costs
The rise in email open rates coincides with a drop in advertising costs as the eCommerce is currently gripped with market uncertainty. While people spend more time online, they are less enthused about taking higher-value actions in websites that they browse through. The digital markets, thus, are still largely dictated by people’s specific needs to get them through the quarantine.
The Common Thread, an eCommerce agency specialising in growth marketing, corroborates this sentiment. The CPM (Cost-per-Thousand Impressions) and CPC (Cost-per-Click) have dropped 30% and 13% respectively for certain markets despite a surge of 13% in online activities. For instance, the week-on-week sales for medical supplies and household cleaning goods have shot up to more than 400% and 200% respectively amidst the pandemic. In contrast, sales for bags and travel accessories have seen a decline by more than 50%. These contrasting trends underscore that due to lower market demands in some products, certain businesses are incapable of tapping into their digital capabilities to secure sales pipelines.
What your business continuity in marketing plan look like?
These key findings imply that rather than immediate conversions, online businesses need to prioritise long-term strategies to acquire stronger sales cycle. In other words, businesses must utilise their content marketing strategies to drive up engagement and build a loyal following, upon which they can pivot to create conversions once we’ve collectively moved past the global pandemic.
There are two steps you can take to drive better long-term ROI from your email marketing strategy. They are as follows:
1. Delivering consistent value
Every email campaign that you create must aim to convey specific value to your target audience. This is especially crucial during these times as providing your customers with regular updates ensures brand retention, and insofar, your business continuity.
Different audience segments seek different information, so you always need to make sure that you tailor your email appropriately. Long-term engagement, however, would only be attained by providing relevant, consistent messages in your email marketing campaigns.
This goes beyond creating a compelling subject line to maintain high open rates. The email must contain information that can be useful to build brand trust and deliver conversions later on. Every marketer, thus, needs to ask themselves the following questions: do you know who your market consumers are? Have your brand messages addressed your customers’ needs? You must know the answers to those questions before you customise your email marketing campaign.
Successful long-term email marketing strategy is all about mastering the art of subtlety. While, indeed, you need to get the word about your latest product or service out there, it is much more effective if you incorporate the message into popular concepts or trends. This way, you can deliver relevant and interesting content to your audience while still communicating your brand value across.
Business Continuity in Marketing Tip #2: Changes in social media engagements and activities
The social media use among customers has undergone a shake-up since the lockdown period. While the user patterns have differed across social networks, overall, we have seen increased consumption of social media. Sprout Social has found that from March to April alone, incoming engagements have gone up to 44 engagements per day across all platforms and industries. On a daily basis, this amounts to 7.3 engagements per post. Unfortunately, the increased social media engagements aren’t commensurate with the incoming messages to brands. On average, messages that brands received decreased by 19 messages per day across all platforms.
The volumes of social media posts, on the other hand, have remained stagnant. Sprout Social has found that the overall number of posts sent daily experienced dropped by only two-tenths of a post per day. Nevertheless, as we dig deep, the volume changes significantly vary by industries.
Buffering the stay-at-home economies, brands from the media & entertainment sector have increased their post volumes up to 8.9%. This is followed by the healthcare sector by 5.3%. The sports sector have experienced an extreme drop in social media posting as it is down by 8.3%. As expected, travel & tourism and retail also pulled their social media presence back as well, with 4.4% and 3.9% decreases in volumes respectively.
Recalibrating social media as part of business continuity strategy
As the numbers of engagements and volumes change, so do the recommended times for social media outreach. Online-oriented consumers are generally drawn to social media platforms to obtain information and socialise with their friends.
Thus, social media recalibration should also be part of your business continuity plan.
Sprout Social has updated its recommended timings for posting—categorising them according to the platforms.
The recommended times to post on Facebook now have drastically changed from what was previously thought. While Wednesday at 11 a.m. and 1-2 p.m. was the most conducive times to get higher engagements previously, the new research has found that user activity has been consistently high every other weekday. Therefore, the best times to post on Facebook are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during mid-morning from 10-11 a.m.
Just like Facebook, the recommended days for posting on Instagram have expanded since COVID-19. The best days to post on Instagram, currently, are on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. Nevertheless, the daily peak engagements have become much shorter—only an hour for each recommended workday at 11 a.m., with the exception of Tuesday, which gets an additional time slot at 2 p.m. or after your typical office lunch break.
The best times to post on Twitter haven’t changed that much from the previous recommendations, although the intensity for posting has increased slightly. Currently, the best time to post on Twitter is around early morning from 7-9 a.m. on Friday. The new recommendations have indicated that although people are spending more time online, brands can only see significant traction only on the last day of the workweek. This is in contrast to the previous recommended times, which were Wednesday and Friday at 9 a.m.
As compared to other platforms, LinkedIn hasn’t experienced a drastic change in terms of online activities. However, the best timings for engagements throughout the recommended workdays have moved at much later hours. The current best times to post on LinkedIn in a given workweek start on Wednesday at 3 p.m., followed by Thursday at 9-10 a.m., and Friday from 11 a.m. to noon.