Business-to-business (B2B) marketers say events drive more engagement with customers than search and social efforts, and more than half of them rely on in-person events and trade shows to drive conversions. But with no safe way to gather as the pandemic wears on and with no definitive end in sight, now’s the time they must rethink and retool the foundation of their marketing or revenue strategy. To help, here are other effective channels that can drive customer engagement and conversion in lieu of physical events and four ways B2B marketers can succeed during COVID-19 by getting in front of registered audiences now:
- Consider Digital and Offline Alternatives: With events scrapped for the short term, what should Plan B be? Webinars, according to Demand Gen Report: One-third of marketers found webinars to be one of their most valuable content formats, and nearly two-thirds of consumers are willing to spend 20-60 minutes watching a webinar. Pivot and monetize a digital version of your physical event. But remember – with the influx of live and prerecorded webinars right now and because participants are likely suffering from webinar fatigue, rethink your content delivery beyond the typical webinar format to truly stand out from the crowd. For instance, create backgrounds your participants can use while on a Zoom call (so many types are available, from Hallmark Channel to Star Wars to Disney themes and more!), conduct an interactive demonstration of your product, or do a live stream event to make your presentation more personal. Or reach your intended audience with customized direct mail and use unique, visually appealing formats to grab their attention.
- Repurpose Content: Record your webinars; then use the content later to promote future events across all your advertising channels. Or host webinar recordings on your site to help drive traffic and capture new prospects. Registrants will likely appreciate the flexibility in consuming content – whether it’s attending the live webinar, viewing the recording at their convenience, or scanning their email or scrolling through social media later for your quick takeaways and tips.
- Collect Quality Data: Focus on data collection and your long-term strategy, such as how you plan to put your data to use. Virtual events give you multiple touchpoints (Q&A, polls, quizzes, comments, etc.) to connect with and engage current registered customers, so use this channel to keep registrants up to date and up to speed on your event and your plans. Gathering all this rich data right from the start can benefit you down the line too. For example, you can use the data to create a solid invitee list to use for future in-person events, once they can get back on the calendar again when the pandemic is over.
- Measure, Compare, Contrast: Look at the shift from in-person events to virtual events as an opportunity and measure well. What’s your data telling you? Is your marketing working? Find out how effective in-person events and virtual events are and how they both affect your bottom line. Put key metrics in place to get a pulse on engagement from virtual efforts. Then compare and contrast those results with past in-person events to identify improvement areas and potential cost savings.
Want even more ways to reach and communicate with your audience in these times of uncertainty? To learn all our best practices for working and engaging virtually, check out our free remote work resources, a webpage dedicated to all our remote work webinars, tools, articles, cheat sheets, and more – designed just for you. To discover how to navigate and adapt your marketing strategy to the ever-changing pandemic in both the short and long term, download our Marketer’s Guide to COVID-19. Lastly, to get insightful digital advertising advice and guidance, the latest trends or a helping hand when you need it, reach out to us.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) news is dominating social feeds and generating a huge surge in traffic volume. Yet many brands are pulling back and pausing their paid social media buys due to brand safety concerns, worries which may be unwarranted. Integral Ad Science (IAS) conducted a recent survey and found three out of four consumers said their view of a brand whose ad was adjacent to coronavirus coverage would be unchanged. With that in mind, running paid social media rather than going dark during the pandemic could ultimately pay off. You could meaningfully connect with your audience and prospects and gain more share of voice, all at a lesser cost and with less competition than before. Read on to learn how COVID-19 is impacting paid social media: how it’s affecting U.S. advertising and seven ways to make the greatest social media impact now. How Has COVID-19 Affected Ad Inventory? Take advantage of this window of opportunity to capitalize on high-reach platforms and find positive placements on social platforms at lower-than-normal prices. Here at Goodway Group, we’ve seen a 52% drop in overall CPMs on Facebook and Instagram since February. Similarly, eMarketer reports one agency seeing more than a 22% drop in Facebook and Instagram CPMs in the first two weeks of March alone. How Has COVID-19 Affected Industries? See how your industry is faring. Check out Facebook’s industry-specific playbooks for details or get our quick industry statistics, takeaways and tips below. · Healthcare: While media spend decreased 35% January to March this year, click-through rates (CTRs) increased by 11%, CPCs went down 15% and CPMs dropped 5%. · Restaurant and Food Service: During COVID-19, a lot of traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants have shifted their offerings and messaging to focus on drive-thru services, delivery, pickup options and donations to local food shelters. Many are also offering recipes using restaurant staples in make-at-home meals to help keep the dinner rotation fresh. As we get closer to the end of social distancing restrictions, consider shifting your ad messages to gift cards to encourage dine-in visits but also keep promoting delivery and pickup services, which will likely remain popular once COVID-19 ends. · Retail: With many brands pushing ecommerce purchases in place of brick-and-mortar shopping, implement a seamless user experience. Make sure your creative supports the purchase journey. And when customers want to make purchases online, give them the ability to do so across all device types, especially mobile. Just remember, if you have too many steps, slow load speeds and disjointed messaging, your conversion rate could take a dive. Think about connecting your product feed to Facebook or Pinterest for in-app shopping and streamlined retargeting. But if your business isn’t ecommerce ready, try Facebook and Instagram Live videos to showcase in-stock inventory and offer curbside pickup or free shipping for call-in orders. · Automotive: At Goodway, we saw a 21% dip in CPMs for auto brands from February to March and a 13% decrease from March to April. During that same period, CPCs dropped 11%. Since traditional car sales can be tough to generate during the pandemic, pivot your messaging to provide essential maintenance and repair services and balance these offers with relief- and support-centered messages to maintain brand awareness and long-term customer loyalty. How Can You Make the Greatest Paid Social Media Impact? Though we don’t know when life will return to normal, use this time effectively to adjust your messaging and plan for the second half of 2020. Switch up tactics to continue to reach your audience through new channels such as Instagram and Pinterest. Our best advice? Plan for a variety of scenarios and support your paid media efforts these seven ways. 1) Stay Positive. Social media followers look to brands for answers, solutions and positivity. Since consumers often will mirror behaviors from trusted brands, keep morale high and reward loyal customers for doing the same. Go with messages that thank customers for their continued support and consider showing your appreciation by offering a free gift or discount. 2) Stand Out From the Competition. Listen to what your competitors are doing and what their customers are saying. Then develop a message to fill in the gaps and capture wavering customers from your competition. (For instance, if your competitors are offering free online workout videos for people at home, offer online workouts too, but tailor your videos to benefit essential workers who may need quick stress relief or an energy boost.) To further connect with your audience, be responsive. Comment quickly on social media to provide brand-specific answers at each consumer’s moment of need. 3) Put Your First-Party Data First. Evaluate and update your first-party data and CRM lists. Leverage lead generation social media ads to help build your database and fill in any data gaps on current customers. Review your current data collection processes and your strategy for putting it to use. This will make the most of your data when the virus starts to decline and normal spending resumes. 4) Humanize Your Communications. Use your brand voice to emotionally connect with consumers. As life begins to normalize, people will remember the sense of comfort your brand made them feel. Maintaining share of voice can pay dividends in the long run as some competitors go dark and their customers look for new options. 5) Use All the Tools. Use social media tools like Live and Premiere videos to keep up communication with your audience. Not only will sharing regularly help you build positive brand sentiment for the future, you may be able to repurpose some of your content for future retargeting and brand awareness campaigns. 6) Support Fundraising and Other Awareness Efforts. Run paid social media ads at lower costs and help your ad dollars reach even more people due to lower cost per thousands (CPMs). Scale and increase your charitable organization’s recognition. For instance, within Facebook, a nonprofit can access free fundraising tools, and individuals can raise funds on behalf of a nonprofit. Facebook doesn’t take a percentage either, so all raised funds go to the nonprofit, if it qualifies. 7) Build a Strong Reentry Message. While spending has recently declined as COVID-19 has swept through the U.S., it will likely rebound soon. So use social listening tools now to learn more about your customers and prospects. Find out now how they like hearing from you and how they’ll receive your messages post-COVID-19. People are looking to social media to stay informed, connected and entertained during this unpredictable health crisis. So be there to inspire and offer comfort as you make your social media presence known. And please reach out if we can guide and support you as you build those emotional connections and meaningful relationships with your audience, prospects and customers that will last long after we all come through this together.
COVID-19 is sadly disrupting and quickly changing the competitive landscape. But do you know how to keep your business steady and on solid ground? Follow this 4-step conquesting strategy to use digital advertising to grow your market share and share of voice during the pandemic: Step 1: Do Your Research What are your competitors up to? How are they faring? What’s happening in your industry? Here’s how to get the intel you need to succeed: Look at COVID-19-related updates, articles and research. Check your competitors’ websites regularly and sign up for their newsletters. Use Moat to get the latest display creative and messaging. Or conduct a competitive website analysis with Alexa’s Site Comparisons or SimilarWeb. To review competitive ad spending, try Kantar and Nielsen Ad Intel. Use free Google tools such as Google Search, Google Alerts, Google Trends and Think with Google to understand search activity. (Remember, though, while you’re searching, never Google your brand terms. This could negatively impact your search campaigns.) Or use additional free or paid search tools, such as SpyFu, SEMrush, The Search Monitor, SE Ranking, Moz Local and Serpstat to dig into competitors’ keyword lists and organic rankings. Another smart move? Ask your SEM analyst or partner to do this: · Pull a competitive benchmark to measure impression share. · Pull an auction insights report to understand competitors that are in the auction with you for the same types of keywords. · Use scripts to monitor auction insights. Be sure to also check out your competitors’ social media presence. Manually search all the social platforms for content about them. Use Twitter’s advanced search function, follow or like competitors’ pages and get paid ad insights via Twitter’s Transparency Center or Facebook’s Ad Library. To monitor organic social, share of voice (SOV) and engagement, use Rival IQ. Step 2: Make Your Plan One common conquesting strategy everyone knows is to bid on closing competitors’ content to garner their impression share and win at the brand level. But to truly get a step ahead and keep your competitors’ conquesting efforts at bay, run evergreen and brand campaigns and pivot your messaging and measurement strategy across prime digital channels. Create an omnichannel digital advertising plan to find your desired audience at the right moments to win impressions, gain favor with consumers and build your market share. Before you set up your conquesting efforts across media tactics, consider these channel best practices: Search · Create ad groups with the competitive keywords for each brand you identified to target. · Build out your conquesting campaigns by match type at the campaign level using Exact Match and Broad Match Modifier (BMM). · Negative Match the Exact Match keywords against the BMM campaign. · Start with modest bids and small budgets, with more budget for Exact Match. But note: Your cost per click (CPC) will likely be high and impression share limited because your competitive conquesting keywords have lower quality scores for non-brand owners. · Ensure your ad copy text doesn’t use a competitor’s name, though you can include it in a display URL. · Avoid Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI). Social · Take advantage of your social platform’s targeting capabilities, including brand-type interest and competitive brand name interests/following audience groups. · Tap into purchase behaviors and detailed competitive segments using our partnership with Oracle and import them into Facebook for targeting. · Target similar or competitors’ brand apps with our access to app-based audiences. · Consider using awareness campaigns to deliver ads and optimize toward ad recall lift. · Use reach and frequency objective to daypart ad serving and regulate high-intent times based on competitive engagement research. · Make automatic or manual bid adjustments to ensure competitive impression share. Programmatic · Establish audience segments based on brand interest, intent or affinity toward competitors’ brands. · Target keywords found in URL strings to purchase a unique brand, product or category and layer them on top of shopping reviews or vertical targeting to align with your identified competitors. · Reach frequent purchasers and those loyal to your brand through app ownership audiences. · Uncover real-world behavioral data by creating proximity retargeting to target users by previous in-store visitation and frequency. · Provide an opportunity for in-store comparison shopping by creating geofences surrounding competitors’ physical store locations. · Get the same level of targeting options as programmatic and extend your reach to household level with advanced TV. · Discover which broadcast channels your competitors are buying the most media from and average frequency and heavy up hours of ad exposure leading to in-store visits. · Organize audiences based on ad exposure and layer that with recency to deliver messaging that closely aligns with what competitors are saying. Step 3: Fine-Tune Your Messaging Your messaging matters most in a time of crisis. While your media strategy should center around competitive conquesting efforts, your messaging strategy should center on creating an emotional connection with consumers. To show empathy and provide support while keeping your brand top of mind, polish your messaging like this: · Evaluate current competitive messaging. Do your homework and understand your competitors’ current (and past) focus. Determine what distinct advantage you have over them and communicate that appropriately and effectively. · Know what consumers are saying. Discover what consumers think about your competitors and your brand. For example, if you read significant content about the poor customer service your competitor is providing, tailor your own messaging to address this issue. · Find the right story and tone. Ensure your messaging fits within each media environment to appeal to and interest consumers. Although you want to take advantage of competitors’ closures and win over abandoned customers, maintain your brand authenticity and purpose through it all. · Establish a human connection. Power brand loyalty and longer customer lifetime value by understanding the emotional connection you currently have with your customers and displaying it to potential customers. · Act and do before telling. Plan and implement proper health-related precautions to make customers feel safe and secure. Then build a messaging strategy showcasing all the careful planning you’ve done and continue to do behind the scenes to ensure consumer wellness and safety. Step 4: Measure Well Now that you’ve finalized your media plan, set up a solid measurement plan to find out if your conquesting strategy and campaigns are working. Use this handy campaign dashboard outline to track your media tactics, goals, KPIs and more so you have everything in one place to easily evaluate success. Though the world is facing a challenge we’ve never seen before, now’s the time to not shrink back. Multiple studies, going back as far as 100 years ago, show advertising throughout a weak economy, even increasing ad spend, can lead to increased sales and market share during and after a recession. So do your research, make your plan, fine-tune your messaging and measure well. And as you put your conquesting strategy in play, if you think your paid media efforts are underperforming or you’re concerned about the current state of your paid media accounts, our account teams have specialists on hand from research, strategy and analytics ready to review and discuss your specific business needs. Let us know how we can help you rise to the challenge and thrive and grow during COVID-19 and beyond.