How the COVID-19 Pandemic Affects Your Multichannel Marketing Campaigns

  • Categories:

    COVID-19 Response

  • Date:

    March 25, 2020

How the COVID-19 Pandemic Affects Your Multichannel Marketing Campaigns

COVID-19 Response

The COVID-19 pandemic affects all of us — regardless of where we live, what we do for a living or the products we consume. But how should the coronavirus affect your multichannel marketing campaigns?

1. Advertising rates have begun to drop in some places.

For awareness and consideration tactics, this may create an opportunity to take advantage of low rates. However, you should still approach your advertising strategy the same way you normally would, carefully considering each channel as well as your messaging.

2. There is a captive audience sitting at home spending more time with all types of media.

Brands that publish appropriate, timely content may actually experience increased content engagement and online sales. Furthermore, always-on tactics like paid search could help you capitalize on this increased internet usage.

This is not the time to set campaigns and let them run, but it IS the time to consider tactics that leverage suitable content and/or allow for ongoing optimizations and spend adjustments.

3. Many products in the home category have long purchase journeys, so they may feel less of an impact from current events.

For these products and brands, there is no marketing-driven reason to immediately cancel or push back campaigns. In fact, if your customers have a longer purchase cycle, you may actually want to consider maintaining your presence across media to improve brand awareness, interest and perception.

Historically, companies that continue their investments during challenging times rebound more quickly than the competition and win in the long term. On the flip side, competitors that wait until the economy is in full recovery to ramp up will do so at the mercy of better prepared competitors.

4. For brands with shorter purchase cycles, a pause may be in order.

If you fall into this category, you may want to consider pausing paid media and campaigns, especially if government-mandated shutdowns or manufacturing issues are disrupting your supply chain or restricting customers from purchasing your product.

5. Brands that stay flexible could put themselves in better position to ride out the storm.

The first quarter is coming to a close, so chances are, you established annual goals and KPIs months ago. But with so many unknowns, flexibility is critical. Even if you decide to change little, take time to reconsider those goals you established for 2020. Based on your brand and category, you may want to put less emphasis on driving immediate actions and purchases and instead shift some of that emphasis toward long-term goals like building brand equity and consideration.

6. It's critical to view all marketing through the lens of what's happening in the world.

However active you decide to be during the next several months, remember to view your campaigns and marketing activities through the lens of what’s happening right now in the world.

Take a careful look at your messaging. Is it sensitive to current events? Does it consider current supply chain challenges? Brands should pause all advertising and social media posts for products that are in low supply or sold out. Public relations, in particular, is critical. Do you have a communication plan in place?

Think about ways to shift your online content to timely, relevant topics, like how to clean and care for countertops. This may be most critical on social media, where consumers have been quick to pounce on brands that appear out of touch. Consider the tone and content of each post and make decisions platform by platform. For example, Twitter has been overwhelmed with coronavirus chatter, while Instagram has stayed more positive.

Meanwhile, remember to strike a balance with the content you publish. You want to be helpful, but that doesn’t mean you should only share content related to the pandemic. Doing so could put you at risk for audience fatigue, akin to people becoming frustrated with the volume of brands sharing coronavirus-related messages via email.

These are challenging times, but they will get better. As uncertain as the landscape may seem today, there is no systemic risk: Governments are taking measures to stabilize markets, and the private banking sector is very well capitalized (Goldman Sachs).

Furthermore, spending will return. In fact, as quarantines relax in China, luxury shoppers in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore are starting to spend again. And, closer to home, the National Retail Federation expects 80% of U.S. consumers to spend as usual, even if the outbreak gets worse.

Meanwhile, media consumption isn’t dropping. While out-of-home (OOH) and experiential marketing are hurting, media as a whole is rising as consumers find they have more time on their hands due to social distancing and sheltering in place. People are watching more TV, especially local news. Remote workers are leaning into listening. And of course, online shopping is rising.

We will all get through this global pandemic together. And at Wray Ward, we’re here to help brands navigate the business and marketing impacts. While the future is uncertain, the fundamentals haven’t changed. With careful planning and creative solutions, you can help ensure your business stays in front of changing market conditions.

Need help navigating the current landscape and planning for the future? Email me.

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