During this crazy time of the coronavirus pandemic, are we leveraging all possible marketing tools in our arsenal to keep and win new customers? The question isn’t whether or not COVID-19 is affecting marketing and sales activity, but how it’s forcing marketers to rethink and adjust their marketing strategy. Data has shown that conversions and revenue have declined, BUT there is an increase in web traffic, engagement, and email open rates. Also, inbound marketing appears to be key during this turbulent economic time to get the best results moving forward.
Impact of COVID-19 on Sales and Marketing
COVID-19 has brought about a shift in consumer behavior and how business is conducted. Now we must find ways to adapt to the ever-changing turns that are taking us down new roads. Findings indicate that in March, buyers were still interested and engaged. Stay-at-home orders forced many (otherwise brick and mortar) consumers to seek out and interact with businesses online. HubSpot examined how business metrics are shifting by looking at aggregated data from more than 70,000 of its customers globally. Sales forecasts were impacted by a decline in the number of new deals created and a low number of responses to sales outreach. According to HubSpot’s findings, “The weekly average of deals created decreased globally by 17% the week of March 16, and fell by 23% by the week of March 30, when compared to prior global averages for those weeks.” This created the need for an adjustment of sales strategies and presented an opportunity for businesses to prospect customers online. There are more customers initiating interaction with businesses online now than last year. In fact, HubSpot’s data shows that average monthly website traffic increased by 13% in March, compared to February, with an increase of 5% weekly chat volume via onsite chat and Facebook Messenger after March 16.
A higher number of emails were sent in March by marketing and sales teams, and engagement with marketing emails showed a significant increase. Data revealed that there was a 21% increase in email open rates for the month, but a lower response rate in outreach was recorded, evident in the lower deal volume. Beginning in the first week of March, response rate to emails began decreasing, totaling 27% for the month compared to February. Overall, buyers showed a drop in sales content engagement. This indicates a chance to enhance outreach and take advantage of the right opportunity to engage buyers who are interested in your products or services. Marketing email open rates increased in March by 21% overall. Following weeks of sales decline in March, sales metrics showed signs of recovery in April as deal creation and deal closures bounced back. What can marketers do right now to keep things moving forward?
Leverage Inbound Marketing
An effective response by marketers to the changes brought on by COVID-19 would be to realize the opportunity that increased online activity has created to continue providing value and serving customers. This means changing strategy and leveraging inbound marketing to foster greater engagement with customers. In the current crisis, the emphasis should be on education and nurturing long-term relationships with customers, rather than simply promoting products or services. You want customers to find a reason to be interested in your offerings and be able to pull them in and retain them. Employing inbound marketing to attract, delight, and engage your customers is a strategy that may prove more effective in the current marketing and sales climate. Some of the key elements of inbound marketing that can be impactful for engaging customers and growing your business include:
- Providing valuable content.
- Building relationships through email marketing.
- Disseminating quality information on social media.
While creating new content on a weekly basis is helpful for search engine optimization purposes, quality content is more effective in engaging your audience. Informative and shareable content that answers your audience’s question is far more impactful than post frequency. Create unrivaled and compelling content that positions you as an expert or authority and allow leads to find their way to you without any sales team chase. Furthermore, employ good SEO tactics when creating content.
To keep in touch with leads, nurture customer relationships, and improve retention during this crisis, marketing emails can help to engage the target audience and build a brand’s image. However, you’ll have to do better than just sending an empathetic email that may come off as less than authentic. Emails need to be authentically compassionate, yet informative and helpful. Use email marketing to create new relationships and enhance existing ones with your audience.
Social Media Engagement
Keep your target audience up-to-date and informed on your social media page. In a time when face-to-face interaction is limited, communication via social media is a great way to answer questions, give feedback, and provide support to your followers. Keep your message simple, direct, relevant, and helpful. A delighted customer is one that tends to promote your business, so keep social media interactions engaging and positive.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about rapid and evolving economic changes and marketers must adapt. Previously implemented marketing strategies may be inadequate to meet present consumer behavior and demands. Still, it is not impossible to keep moving forward. Despite a decline in deal creation volume and sales outreach responses, inbound marketing appears to be a way to reach the target audience and weather the storm of this pandemic. For help with implementing an inbound marketing strategy, get in touch with the team at Ironmark. Our marketing experts are ready to help with all of your marketing needs.