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7 Questions We’ve Heard From Our Clients About Marketing in a Pandemic

by Trenton Reed   |   Jun 26, 2020

Without downplaying the reality of the times, it’s safe to say you’ve probably read numerous articles about marketing during uncertain times. And truly, the digital advertising landscape has been interesting to navigate these past couple months.

And while our awesome client services team has been working around the clock to anticipate and respond to market trends, they’ve also paid extra attention to the individual needs of our clients. Perhaps it’s wise to stick with what you know in unprecedented times. Rather than rely exclusively on outside opinions and research, it’s important to look inward.

It’s true that marketing during a health pandemic is unpredictable and ever-changing. You don’t need me to remind you. But I do think it’s helpful to survey your clients and partners about their experiences. That’s why we’ve turned to our clients for insights. Some have asked open-ended inquiries; others may not even know what to ask.

Below are some real-world examples of questions we’ve fielded from our clients.

1. What can we do to make up for lost traffic?

Declines in overall website traffic is a reality during these times—especially for some of our B2B clients. In other cases, these decreases may not even be related to COVID-19. (In some instances, it’s simply too early to tell.) Regardless, we’ve recommended that our clients identify new pages to create that are relevant to their industry and/or company. We’ve also recommended that they identify keywords that have spawned from current events (for example, terms centered around virtual events and telehealth).

Ultimately, we’ve suggested that businesses stay away from creating new pages or content that are only relevant to COVID-19 and have nothing to do with their business or customers. While sharing updates is important, it’s also important to consider both the short- and long-term ramifications of this content.

2. Should we pause campaigns due to slower business on our end?

This question is best answered on a case-by-case basis. Here are just a few examples. For one of our dental clients, for example, we’ve kept active emergency campaigns but have paused everything else. For a non-profit in the travel sector, we paused campaigns where our client was not ranking high enough organically to compete. For a client in the pet service space, we kept active brand and top-converting service line campaigns active. And finally, we paused all campaigns for one of our LASIK practice clients.

3. Should we reduce spend or decrease budgets?

Again, this depends on individual accounts. We’re working directly with each client to determine if it makes sense to reduce budget (as in the case of an ecommerce client that ran into issues fulfilling orders). We’ve also discussed the advantages of having a strong paid presence even in the face of potential drops in efficiency (as is the case with one of our SaaS clients).

One of our financial services clients was seeing strong performance in lead metrics and wanted to identify whether it was merely an extended time to conversion for their B2B audience. In this case, we decided it was best to wait things out, rather than cut budgets immediately. (They eventually reduced after seeing lower win volume over several weeks.)

Ultimately, if clients do need to reduce spend, we’ve recommended replacing upper-funnel campaigns in favor of driving bigger pictures business goals. And to help ensure advertising dollars are focused on our highest-valued conversions for now, we’ve adjusted conversion action sets to align with core business goals.

4. How will things look when we resume our paused ads?

This is a tough one to call across the board. To help answer this question, we’ve chatted with clients to identify competitor activity and analyze any short-term changes in cost per click (CPC).

It’s also important to consider a client’s industry or sector. For one of our clients that deals in nonprofit event management, we took into consideration how, when the U.S. reopens, all postponed events are likely to overlap with those already scheduled for Q3. In this scenario, it’s safe to say that Q4 competition will likely be stiff—and we’ll have to respond accordingly.

5. How do we ensure our ads don't serve COVID-19 content?

Part of responding wisely to a health pandemic is delivering relevant content to your clients. It’s important to avoid delivering any ads that may be misconstrued by your audience or those that may inadvertently capitalize on the crisis. To ensure that ads don’t serve potentially sensitive content, we’re recommending our clients add negative keywords and content exclusions.

6. How do we continue to communicate what we’re doing?

Some of our clients want to ensure their customers know what they’re doing during this time—or what they plan to do moving forward. We’ve suggested changing messaging to be sensitive to the subject (as aforementioned), adding keywords (and negative keywords), and launching campaigns or sitelink extensions linking to temporary COVID-19 pages on their websites.

We also recently shared a video that discusses how website notifications—including sticky bars and popups—can keep customers informed on any important changes or announcements during this time. Ultimately, the main takeaway here is that increased communication about new initiatives in response to the event is crucial. Your customers want to stay in the loop.

7. What can we focus on during this time?

Depending on your industry or sector, there are certain ways to adjust your focus during this time. For example, some of our real estate clients are interested in improving their online experience through virtual house tours. And one of our furniture manufacturing companies has asked us to help promote their COVID-19 response through their Google My Business profile.

For others that may not be impacted directly by the health pandemic, we’ve suggested focusing on evergreen content—or, content that will retain its relevance over the long-term. As we wrote about recently, playing the long game can play off in content marketing. The sooner you publish evergreen content, the sooner it can help contribute to your overarching marketing efforts.

How should you proceed with digital marketing during this time?

Ultimately, our advice will differ slightly depending on your industry. But if past economic downturns are any indicator, those that continue to smartly invest in digital marketing are among the quickest to recover when things improve.

Do you have any questions about marketing during this time? Feel free to drop us a line.

portrait of Trenton Reed

Trenton Reed

Trenton joined the Workshop Digital team in January 2019. After earning his B.A. in English from Virginia Commonwealth University, he moved to Denver, where he explored the Rocky Mountains and built a writing career that spanned the digital marketing, advertising, and journalism realms. Since relocating back to Richmond in late 2017, Trenton has freelanced with local agencies and national nonprofits. As our in-house writer, he’s in charge of maintaining our brand voice across all channels.