Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series that explores the impact the coronavirus crisis is having on the world of ecommerce. Here are additional resources to help you navigate your marketing strategy during this time.
Day by day, the coronavirus crisis continues to change the way we shop, as consumers, and change the way we conduct business, as marketers. For many companies, this means reevaluating a direct-to-consumer (DTC) strategy and relying more heavily on ecommerce or building out an online store for the first time.
As you begin to adjust your marketing strategy, the most effective tactics will be the small, iterative changes you can make to your current setup—and who better to provide tips other than the marketing agencies that are implementing them for their clients every day?
We know that the coronavirus has posed a tough challenge at a critical time for DTC companies, which is why we asked a few of our agency partners to share their top tips for optimizing your marketing strategy to meet online demand.
1 | Retention is king
Sean Clanchy, managing director, Swanky Australia
“Trying to build trust when an audience is in a state of relative chaos is damn near impossible. So within reason, don’t try to acquire new audiences—or if you are, be very vigilant on return on ad spend (ROAS).
Focus on retention—building a loyalty strategy, implementing on-site messaging, leveraging retention tools like email and SMS, making things personal. Now is a great time to speak to your audience using video content—introduce your staff, talk about how you as a group have been affected and how you are protecting your consumers. Show your customers you care about them. You probably won’t have record months, but provided you maintain an open conversation with your consumers, you can survive.”
2 | Managing low inventory
Midge Hazewinkel, customer support specialist, Klaviyo lead, Code
“Some of my clients are running out of stock on essential items for their brand. Because of the coronavirus interrupting supply chains, a delivery with new stock will not be coming soon, but I’m building flows to work around the issue.
We allow customers to purchase their products online, even if one or more items are (soon to be) out of stock. We inform the customer of the expected delivery date during the order process.
On the backend, we tag all orders with low inventory and out-of-stock items. We load these orders into a flow and make the emails within this flow transactional. From then on, we can send informational emails to customers who purchased to ensure transparency while they wait. We can inform customers we’re still working on their order and offer discount codes to incentivize them to order ahead, all the while strengthening our relationship between the brand and customer.”
3 | Rework your email and content calendars
Gina Perrelli, director of CRM, Lunar Solar Group
“Now is the time to decide how you’re going to communicate with customers going forward.
I suggest rebuilding your content calendar from scratch, then roll with your new strategy as you usually would across your typical channels. People are desperate for content now more than ever and this is your time to build a better relationship with them.
It’s not the time to tell people spring dresses are on sale, but you can highlight lounge clothes with messaging around how working from home has never looked, or felt, this good. If you sell jewelry, remind people we’re about to be staring at our hands so we might as well pick a ring that makes us happy to look at.
Another thing you’ll need to do is go through your automation emails or scheduled messages. Make sure there’s nothing in there that has language your customers will find insensitive at this time. Please don’t run ‘spring fever’ creative. Think of other platforms outside of email as well—what other touchpoints do you have and does any of it need a copy tweak? What ads are you running? Adjust automations as needed and make all touchpoints cohesive.
Pick a strategy, make a plan, and talk to your customers. We’re all in this together.”
4 | Build trust with on-site pop-ups
Simon Byrne, head of client strategy, Andzen
“With a website popup, you can create highly-relevant messaging and updates for your customer segments.
For new website visitors, you could let them know that your warehouse is still operational, what your shipping times are, and offer them an incentive like free shipping.
For existing customers, you could welcome them back and reassure them that you’re operating as normal or let them know of any relevant changes to the way you’re fulfilling your orders.
For customers who’ve ordered in the past few days (depending on your shipping times), you could reassure them that their package is on its way and won’t have any delays. You could also prompt customers to contact your support with any other pressing questions.
Here are a few examples of what each form might look like, respectively:
You can also track user engagement with these pop-ups using form analytics to better understand whether or not they’re resonating with different customers.”
5 | Prioritize backend upkeep
Piers Thorogood, co-founder, We Make Websites
Poor performance can have a dramatic impact on conversion rate. Online shoppers are easily frustrated and if a site is taking too long to load or feels slow, they’ll leave and shop elsewhere.
The increase in conversion that you get from performance improvements varies, but a great example is Walmart: they found that every one second improvement in page load time increased conversions by a staggering two percent.
Google also now considers site speed in their ranking algorithm, which means slow sites will be at a massive disadvantage when trying to gain the top spots in SERPs.
For some quick performance wins, consider reducing the size of media, defer loading off-screen content (e.g. lazy-load images), and remove any unnecessary page weight such as plug-ins.”
6 | Adapt to digital marketing
Sophie Tucker, client success director, Overdose Digital
How can you bring face-to-face activities online? If you’re in the wedding or lingerie industry, start offering virtual fittings. For health and wellness brands, a virtual home workout and cooking tutorial will connect you with your loyal database—plus it can drive acquisition.
Additionally, assess how you should pivot marketing spend. If your business is struggling, focus on bottom of the funnel ads and move budget from brand building campaigns. Most importantly, put your customers at ease by ensuring your ads clearly articulate your key messages, for example: ‘Delivered Direct To Your Door.’”
7 | Double down on SEO
Tyler Sickmeyer, CEO, Fidelitas Development
“SEO is an important component of every strategy, but even more so during the coronavirus outbreak.
SEO is a long-term play. The investment you made into SEO last year should be paying dividends now. Likewise, we’re eventually going to bounce back and when your customers open up their wallets again, you’re going to want and need the organic traffic and the sales that will come with it.
If your competitors are slashing their digital budgets, those moving targets your brand has been chasing are suddenly stationary and susceptible. Doubling down on your SEO efforts, even if the initial gains for your brand are diminished, could impact serious long-term results.
Maintaining your search rankings right now could also lead to increased organic traffic, especially if your competitors are relying on Amazon or if you sell a sought-after product for those stuck at home—looking at you, consumer packaged goods (CPG), sporting goods, video games, and toys).”
8 | Consider changing your tech stack
Mac King, managing director, Half Helix
“Ecommerce brands have already had to make some difficult decisions about physical retail. Now it’s time to make some decisions on technology. We’ve had a couple clients decide to prioritize re-platforming their entire ecommerce setup during COVID-19. My advice is to go on the offensive: consider changing your tech stack.
Choose technology that gets you 80 percent of your desired functionality at 20 percent of your current cost. Prioritize time to launch, ease of use, and cost of operation. De-prioritize custom implementations, familiar workflows, and backend integrations.”
9 | Encourage gift cards
Chris Gordon, senior email marketing manager, Noticed
“One of the aspects that makes the COVID-19 situation so difficult to assess is there’s no way to predict how long we’ll need to practice social distancing. I’ve been recommending to clients to encourage purchases with the promise of a future gift card or discount code that’s generous, but valued lower than your site’s AOV.
This will not only help drive sales today, but can help to drive sales a week or two down the line when the gift card or discount code is redeemed. An expiration date can also be applied on the offer to drive urgency for the customer and provide future revenue for your brand throughout this time of uncertainty.”
10 | Refine a product-focused email strategy
Einar Thor, head of digital, Koikoi Agency Iceland
“We decided to focus on a simple but creative approach for The Blue Lagoon Skin Care products.
Our main focus for the three-for-two offer was providing the majority of the information and content through email. We kept the landing site simple and focused on the call to action. To incentivize the consumer even more, we offered a free gift with every purchase.
We made a simple three-series email focused on the offers. This started with a simple message in the first email and then followed up with a mix-and-match of suggestions explaining how to treat yourself with our favorite trios.
Though it may seem odd to offer travel-sized products at a time when we’re seeing travel bans, we knew that many of our customers don’t only use these smaller products for travel but also to sample before investing in the full-size. This makes the offer an ideal way for customers to save money, try out our products, and pamper themselves at home.
We’ve seen great results by experimenting with products and offers that might not seem to be a perfect match. We saw an increase with first-time buyers and a higher AOV during that period.
We believe that this is all about consistency and figuring out a way to deal with the situation simultaneously. It’s important to try different things through our own channels to see what works. In times like these, we believe that we should all aim to create a win-win for our customers and our company.”
11 | Improving the experience after checkout
Justin Ragsdale, director of client services, Imagination Media
One area often overlooked, until now, has been the post-purchase customer journey. We’ve found that one of the quickest ways to stand-out amongst competition in today’s market is by improving the experience after checkout. We’ve asked questions such as, ‘How are customers tracking their purchases? Are they able to easily return without going to a post-office? Are we following up on email and other channels with complementary products and recommendations? And for replenishable products, are we following up and proposing re-orders? Can a customer automatically reorder?’ By focusing on experiences after check-out, our hope is to generate loyalty during and beyond the current crisis.”
12 | Product bundling for higher AOV
Alexa Engelhart, director of content & email strategy, Power Digital Marketing
There’s a reason why you get asked ‘Do you want fries with that?’ every time you go to McDonald’s. It’s called escalation of commitment and it’s something that humans are hardwired to do. Once someone commits to something, they’re more likely to commit to the next thing presented to them.
My tip? Take advantage of this by including discounts and deals on related or complementary products in your checkout process. By purchasing both products, your customer will have a better experience and, as a brand, you remain stickier with them, making it easier to retain them and upsell them.”
Whether you’re relying on ecommerce to help you weather the storm or you plan to further develop your online presence once the crisis has passed, it’s always a good idea to think about what you can do to improve your customers’ experiences with your brand.
By making these adjustments to your owned marketing channels like your website, email marketing program, and mobile marketing, you can not only take advantage of traffic spikes when sales are surging, but you can also nurture customer relationships when times are tough.
Looking for more information to help you adjust your marketing strategies as you navigate the coronavirus crisis? These resources may be helpful.Back to Blog Home