The amount of time being spent online has grown exponentially in the COVID-19 era, with platforms like Facebook seeing messaging increase by 50 percent in countries with stay-at-home orders. And as customers spend more time online, marketers are eager to capture their attention.
But how do you continue to grow your brand at a time when customers may not be ready to buy? And what content can you use to maintain audience engagement — without appearing tone deaf?
Let’s take a look at the new rules of marketing.
Rule 1: Understand What Customers Are Looking For
During a recent BrainStation online panel, marketing leaders weighed in on the challenges now facing brands. They agreed that brands have to really understand their audience’s needs.
“A lot of companies are in a race to dominate your inbox, but you have to be careful about what material you’re putting out there. How can you use your current resources to help?” says Megan Sakakibara, Vice President of Marketing at Unbounce.
Juliet Warkentin, the CMO at Trouva, explains that her company is relying on data to figure out what kind of content would be most impactful.
“From a brand marketing perspective, we’re using our sales, search, and Google data to really make sure we’re as reactive as possible. We changed our homepage and navigation completely to adapt to what people were looking for.”
According to Michael Bouteneff, the Global Marketing Director of Strategic Growth at Mastercard, “it’s all about doubling down and supporting customers through the challenges they face.” Mastercard offered stories, guides, and consultations to simplify client collaboration.
Rule 2: Know What Content is Resonating
Nearly half of advertisers have pulled or delayed a campaign because of COVID-19, according to a survey by Advertiser Perceptions. There’s a good reason for that. Even something as seemingly innocuous as a beer commercial has to be rethought through the lens of the current climate — you don’t want to show a crowded bar when everyone is social distancing. Whitney Bell, Marketing Lead at Lyft, shared that the brand’s “go out and explore” messaging no longer felt right, so instead they focused on spreading awareness and donating to charitable resources.
Some of the biggest brands have also focused on encouraging people to #StayAtHome. Coca Cola’s Times Square ad, for example, delivered a simple social distancing message: “Staying apart is the best way to stay united.” Nike used a similar tactic with its “Play inside, play for the world” campaign.
It helps that these brands also took action. The Coca-Cola Foundation donated $13.5 million to humanitarian organizations responding to the pandemic. Similarly, Nike is designing protective gear for healthcare workers.
Rule 3: Put the Customer First
Given the uncertainty of this unprecedented time, a willingness to adapt is key. Many businesses have already pivoted, with restaurants offering delivery-only and gyms moving online.
The switch to digital has encouraged marketing innovation. For example, CK Mondavi wines are now running virtual educational tastings, ClassPass is streaming live and recorded workouts, and BrainStation transitioned its monthly panels to global online events.
All-in-all, companies need to think about how they can ensure that they are providing value and being genuine in their marketing. The key, as always, will be thinking creatively and having the boldness to make big changes.