If “necessity is the mother of invention,” the coronavirus has forced all of us to rethink our daily lives.
Travel bans, school closures, over 2.8 billion people on lockdown, recommendations to not gather in groups, social and geographical isolation, many people have turned to digital for some semblance of normality.
It’s been imperative to digitally transform our places of work and education to be able to operate effectively.
Companies that have been able to use technology well have stayed ahead of the curve.
This digital transformation is here to stay.
Marketing trends in the New Normal
It’s still early days, and no-one knows for sure how our ‘New Normal’ world will look, but certain patterns are beginning to emerge:
- 1 in 3 consumers indicated that the news of coronavirus has already changed their shopping behaviour
- 47.2% of US internet users polled last month said they are currently avoiding shopping centres and malls.
- Retailers offering buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) grew digital revenue by 27 per cent in the first three months of 2020, compared with 13 per cent for sites not offering the service. According to Salesforce, which analysed the activity of more than 1 billion shoppers in over 34 countries.
- Over 60 per cent of US retailers have already implemented or plan to implement buy online, pick up in-store by the end of 2020, with “omnichannel” being one of the top investments among retailers, according to Forrester.
- Marketing channels, such as PPC, have already seen a reduction in budget
- Google search ads lost 7% of their impressions from January 13, 2020, to March 9, 2020
- SEO and content marketing, on the other hand, have seen a renewed focus
- Across all industries, there’s a renewed focus on organic search.
- SEO-focused content is a clear winner for marketers in a challenging business environment: it’s less expensive to produce than other types of marketing initiatives, it builds brand trust and brand equity, and it meets your customers where they are — on their laptops.
Although the impact of COVID-19 on consumer behaviour was immediate, the path forward is anything but clear.
Recent Mckinsly research concluded
Companies that make the right decisions today will survive and thrive in the future.
Companies that made the right decisions yesterday, ones that had a good digital base in place, have been able to weather the storm better than most.
So now your website’s your company’s future, now what?
Companies have had to move quickly to meet this massive shift to digital.
From education to grocery shopping to fitness – everything now has an online equivalent. Our daily lives have shifted online. And as we’re seeing in China, these new habits stick.
We’re demanding and expecting more online. A seamless and contactless experience.
Why have so many brands turned to SEO and inbound marketing?
The demand for SEO has never been greater with over 1.5 million searches for it in April.
Having a strong organic presence is now at the heart of all intelligent marketing strategies.
SEO is cheap and offers great ROI. It also provides a solid long term strategy, one you’ll want to have in place when the market picks up.
Paid search channels have traditionally targeted the ‘I want to buy now’ – lower in the sales funnel traffic. They work best when people’s intent is to buy now.
As spending and demand have dropped, so has the viability of paid search channels. Certain niches are exceptions, and paid social has seen a resurgence, but generally speaking, paid is down.
Organic and inbound channels are longer-term and combine to feed the top of sales funnels. They inform, rather than disrupt.
What is inbound marketing?
At its core, every business hinges upon the idea of solving a consumers’ problems or making their lives easier.
Inbound marketing is the overarching term for attracting eyes to your website and later converting them into leads. I’m using content marketing and inbound marketing interchangeably here.
Inbound marketing focuses on answering the questions that consumers have by bringing relevant, useful information to the forefront.
Unlike outbound, inbound marketing is highly targeted and its main focus is to inform, educate, entertain, and inspire.
The focus isn’t on sales over everything else, so it tends to be far less intrusive and off-putting to consumers.
By the numbers
Research shows that inbound marketing is cost-effective at all stages of the buyer’s funnel, and offers a much better return on investment than other channels.
According to a study done by HubSpot, inbound costs around 61% less per lead than traditional techniques.
Here’s how inbound works:
Attracting customers and generating leads
Effectively implementing inbound into your marketing plan can deliver a 54% increase in leads for your funnel. Tactics such as ebooks and other pieces of long-form content perform exceptionally well at attracting potential leads because of their front-load value.
Well-written calls to action and direct response copywriting, when done correctly, drive consumers to action at a much higher rate than other channels.
Blogs are another key component of a successful inbound marketing campaign. They serve as an excellent champion of your business, enticing potential leads directly to your website.
B2B companies with an active, well-maintained blog generate 67% more leads than their non-blogging counterparts. Conversely, B2C companies enjoy an 88% increase.
Quality over quantity
One of the primary blocks that successful inbound marketing is built upon is giving your audience content that they want to read, watch, and listen to without expecting any sort of payment.
The key here is to play your cards right and not try and sell something too quickly. If somebody visits your website and downloads a free eBook, don’t immediately spam them with product offers and upsells. All this will do is put them off your brand, and once they’re gone they’ll never come back.
Ellie Mirman at HubSpot puts it well:
Instead, slowly build and cultivate these relationships by providing them relevant content at a low (or even free) cost.
Continue to build trust both before and after your first sale.
A delighted customer is far more likely to buy something else in the future. This article by HubSpot does an excellent job articulating the sales cycle.
The compound interest of content marketing
Healthy, long-term relationships with your audience is an investment that will pay dividends for an entire lifetime. There’s a compound interest with content, it gets more cost-effective as more time goes on. There’s also a ‘tipping’ point where the content starts to drive valuable traffic and continues to do so.
As with anything in digital, the results of inbound marketing are measurable, so over time, you’ll be able to see the performance for yourself.
A recent study done by Kapost and Eloqua found that content marketing delivered three times more leads than paid search over a period of 36 months, with a cost-per-lead of $32.25 as opposed to $111.11.
The pandemic has accelerated change. Companies are having to work smarter, with fewer resources and rethink their digital strategy.
The barriers to entry for digital have been high over the last few years. Google’s mobile-first index demands technical perfection, recent core updates place far emphasis on quality, semantics and engagement signals, and as we’ve seen since lockdown, consumer demand is increasingly local.
Smart businesseses are using the current slowdown as an opportunity to redesign, rebrand and rebuilt.
Now, more than ever, does your digital presence matter.