Navigating the New Norm: Preparing Your Efforts in a Post-COVID-19 World Tom Armitage Senior Digital Marketing Team Lead Not to jinx it, but it looks like we’re starting to get closer and closer towards businesses reopening. Just today, our county in New York announced that it successfully met the criteria for reopening and would begin starting on May 15. I think I speak for most of us when I say: “YEAH, BABY!” Though we need to be cautious, these openings will slowly help reignite the economy and start getting sales and dollars flowing again.So where does that put you? It’s time we stop acting reactively and start proactively planning how we will carry out efforts once things return to a “new normal.” Regardless of your state, things will certainly be different in the next few weeks than it has been for the past two months. The time is now. Let’s consider what you can do to start preparing for normalization and how you can be most effective with your outreach efforts.We carried out a simple convenience survey among marketing professionals to gauge where businesses stood as it relates to marketing and COVID-19, and where they will soon focus their efforts.1-in-3 Think They Will Be In Worse Shape Than Before There’s a lot of studies and research out now that gauges consumers’ comfort level with beginning to shop, dine, and patron businesses even after state mandates allow for businesses to open their doors. There’s hesitancy, to say the least. And that means businesses are just as nervous.It makes it even more important than ever to develop a plan, because it still might be a few months (or more) before things fully go back to normal, in terms of shopping/consumer buying habits. A plan will help you make the most of your time and resources now, and help you shift your focus later where it will have a greater impact.Your plan and timeline should indicate your goals, what tactics you are implementing, and when, as well as budgets needed. Break it into two phases. Phase IYou should be focused on the three S’s: set-up, select, and be seen. Set-up your analytics tracking and web channels. If you already have, update, and improve. From there, select the right avenues to focus on and perform advertising there. This should be impression-based advertising to drive visibility and top-of-funnel awareness and traffic. Set-up your pixels so you can slowly populate your remarketing audiences. Establish promotions, pop-ups, and offers that help you build your database. Phase IIYou should be focused on the three C’s: contact, convert, close. You’ll adjust your ads to now be focused on conversions. Change your objectives and also your target audiences. Remember to take advantage of your remarketing lists – both web visitors as well as those who engaged and interacted on your ads from Phase I. Take your segmented database and use email marketing to strike hard. Have sales engage with the hottest leads and start selling. 80% Have Begun Operating Remotely Will it continue? Why shouldn’t it?Remote operations, if your business allows, can offer a tremendous advantage. Not only impacting your team’s ability to be more flexible and agile – coordinating meetings at any time despite travel conditions – but it can offer cost-savings too. The downside, sure, is lack of personal contact, an enormous blow to your talented sales folks who need that human touch. And that shouldn’t end completely. But consider all that we’ve learned, and how much more comfortable we’ve gotten with technology as a result of COVID-19. Most companies have signed-up, set-up, and have regularly been using Google Hangouts, Zoom, or Skype. They have become better about digital calendars, project and task management, and are more productively working from home. This can be the new norm. Technology aside, I think the biggest hurdle that’s been leaped over by sales folks is the ability to successfully sell through this new virtual way. You can…Better prospect with tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator.Convince and nurture leads with digital media – like video, audio recordings and PDFs.Sell better with tools like Prezi and Panda Docs. All from your home. Trade shows and in-person events are great. But the reality is, times have changed right before our eyes in a very short amount of time. By continuing to leverage the tech and learnings we’ve gained through COVID-19, we can be better digital and social sellers and it will pay off in the long run. 40% Are Planning To Adopt More Digital Tactics It isn’t shocking that some businesses are skewing toward more digital efforts. It’s actually more shocking to me that 0% said they will adopt a digital-only strategy. There’s certainly a time and place for some traditional efforts. But what we’ve witnessed is there is truly a digital replacement for everything. Or else every business would have closed at some point within the past 2 months. And they haven’t. Companies are finding ways to adapt. Let’s set aside traditional in-person activities (like trade shows), and focus right now on traditional advertising.Billboards. Newspaper. Terrestrial radio. Magazine and print publications. Bus wraps. I just find it so hard to be convinced these efforts can be justified. Because, even if they may work, it’s incredibly difficult to track – making good decisions around time, placement and spend, nearly impossible to make. Beyond targeting capabilities, the ability to track impressions, clicks, and conversions make digital far superior. Real-time tweaks or updates can be made to optimize and improve campaigns. Plus, if needed, you can stop spending in an instant.There are quite a few options when it comes to digital ads these days. It’s important to select the right platforms that make the most sense for you based on your 1) objective, 2) target, 3) budget. Here are the most popular channels/types of digital ads today:SearchDisplayVideo/AudioSocialGoogle SearchGoogle DisplayOTT (Sling, Vudu, Twitch, Roku)InstagramBing SearchIn-App (AdMob and inMobi) YouTubeSnapChatAmazonProgrammatic DisplayProgrammatic Audio (Google Music, Tune In, SoundCloud)TikTokNative (Outbrain, Taboola)SpotifyFacebookPandoraLinkedInYelpRedditPinterestTwitter3 out of 4 Will Plan Investing In Social Media Post-COVID Most businesses spend time on social media.Most businesses see very little results from social media.Do you know why that is? Because, still in 2020, most businesses still aren’t doing it right.In my experience, what I’ve found is that they are either: Spreading themselves too thin or are not spending money in the right areas.We know that social media takes time. It’s just the very nature of the monster that’s been created by these “always-on,” “always-connected” channels. Because of that, we need to continually create content and continually monitor and engage with patrons or prospects who have questions. It’s more than a full-time job. So what should you do? Here are three tips:Only focus on the channels that make the most sense. Don’t be on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram if you can’t manage it. Pick 1-2, based on your target audience, and excel there. You can’t fail on a channel where you’re not present. Use software to help you improve your processes. Automate where it makes sense (Buffer, chat bots, etc). Canva has great graphic design templates that allow you to create visual posts more quickly. And YouTube is rolling out a video production tool that allows you to create videos and ads quicker. It’s very slick.Be deliberate with your ad spend. Advertise on the right channels, and test first. You want to figure out the best targeting, the best visuals, and the best messaging. Once you run tests (at least 2 weeks for each test), you can feel more confident about your spend. 😮 Only 12% of Businesses Will Spend Time Here… I know. That’s a clickbait headline. But I couldn’t help it. Because this truly is mind-blowing. Beyond social media (at 76%), here were some of the other areas where businesses plan to spend time and resources after COVID-19.60% of businesses: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)60% of businesses: Email marketing42% of businesses: VideoYou know what only got 12%? Reporting got 12%.You know how to determine if your efforts are working or not? By reporting. You know how you don’t know? By not reporting.By not knowing, you will inevitably make poor decisions. Therefore, 78% of you will fail at marketing. That’s not clickbait. You need to make sure that all efforts are tied back to your reports and dashboards. Do this by first setting up your reporting accounts – preferably Google Analytics or a similar tool. Then, set-up your conversions/goals. What are you trying to accomplish? Set-up your goals inside of Google Analytics (or similar tool). This can be successful transactions, phone calls, form fills, demo sign-ups, LiveChat conversations, etc. Set-up your pixel tracking (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc). This is a snippet of code directly from the platforms themselves that allow for conversion-tracking directly inside of the ad platforms. When you review your ads, you can let your conversion data dictate your decisions. What happens after they interact? Make sure you can connect the dots between online actions and sales activities – then you can tie sales data to marketing data.Cheers! You did it right. Now, when you invest in the right efforts: build posts, create content, run ads, etc., and give more love and dollars to the ones that are working. And stop doing what’s not working. For the times they are a‘changing. We’ve experienced something these past few months that we, hopefully, we never experience again. It’s wreaked havoc on both our personal and professional lives. In order to come out better, we need to consider what’s changed, how we’ve adapted, what can be sustained, and where the best areas are to focus on moving forward. It’s important to invest only in what your reports show are working. That will save you time and produce the greatest return in the long-run.