Marketing during the Pandemic: 5 Key Priorities
Learning to adapt to disruptive, unexpected changes, has been the defining challenge of 2020 for small businesses and enterprises alike. While the world has certainly not stopped moving, it has changed quite suddenly and somewhat slowed down from its usual pace.
While the COVID-19 pandemic is a unique and unprecedented situation in human history, drastic and unforeseen changes are not. Adapting to change and surviving in the face of adversity is what we human beings do best. With a plan in mind and the will to push forward, you can keep your business running, and even manage to grow during disruptive times like these. Here are 5 key marketing priorities you need to keep straight during the pandemic:
1) Keep Marketing
When it became obvious that lockdowns and social distancing would be the new normal for 2020, many companies had the immediate reaction to pull back on marketing efforts and budgets to focus on other business areas. While this may make sense to some businesses, it's important to note that marketing is what keeps customers both interested in your brand and aware that you are able to keep your head above water during trying times. In a landscape where other businesses may be defunding marketing efforts, your business may very well have more time and more space to expose your brand to a broader audience. Don't stop marketing during the pandemic; rather, find new ways to adapt your marketing to the current environment and stay relevant in your audiences' minds.
2) Study the niche
Data is a more important business resource than ever before, giving you deep and useful insights into your target audience. Use your data to perform niche market analysis and learn more about buyer behavior, trends, and preferences, so you can take advantage of marketing tactics such as demand generation and social media marketing to reach out to them. Knowing were to reach them, and what message may appeal to them will make it easier for you to draw out an effective and pandemic-ready marketing strategy.
3) Deliver experience
It seems like ages ago that we were insisting on how the experience economy was taking over. This year has been a shakeup, but it doesn't mean that we've stopped living the experience economy. If anything, the fact that we are all spending more time at home, online and on our devices, and having less face-to-face experiences, means that we are more open to the digital experience. What experiences should you be delivering during the pandemic? Saftey, empathy, awareness, and social responsibility are all experiences you should deliver to your audiences to make them feel understood and supported.
4) Use direct marketing
Use niche market analysis to find the audiences you should be targeting and use direct marketing tactics to deliver the experiences they are looking for. PPC, social media advertising and email marketing are all direct marketing tactics that can be effective if correctly targeted. As mentioned above, people are spending more time at home, online, on their devices, meaning they are in a position to be marketed to directly.
5) Track, analyze, and adjust
Data never lies, and data can show you the future. Track everything you do and keep dashboards on important indicators of how your marketing efforts are performing. This will show what you are doing right and what you may need to adjust. For example, when running a PPC campaign, we constantly adjust our budgets for keywords depending on performance; its a game of learning and adaptation. With enough historical data, you'll be able to make projections and study possible future trends, giving you the ability to stay five steps ahead. Track your efforts, track audience behavior, and track your competition; the truth lies in the middle of all those things.
There's no easy answer to what we're going through; we're all having to adapt in real-time against an unprecedented and rapidly-escalating situation. The most important thing we need to do is stay patient and focus on the long-term. Marketing is, in essence, a long-term process, so anything you do right now to adjust to the times should also be viewed within long-term goals and expectations. There are certainly many business opportunities arising despite (and in some instances, because) of the pandemic. Still, it's also important to keep in mind that this will eventually be over, and another period of readaptation will come. Think about an exit strategy for the post-pandemic era where there will likely be an aggressive economic boom; be ready to ride that wave too.
Need help with a pandemic marketing strategy? We're helping all our clients adapt to these unprecedented times. Let's talk!
Content Marketing is the Only Marketing Right Now
Our latest global challenges have changed social interaction and how people work, live, and consume goods and services.
Back in 2008, online business guru and entrepreneur Seth Godin said, "content marketing is the only marketing left." Ever since, this quote has been repeated by online marketers ad nauseum, and it has been over a decade. It was a cool thing to say as marketing models were changing when "online" became the new "mainstream," and technology took over our lives, but our present-day landscape seems to be bringing more truth to the quote than ever.
Social-distancing and remote work are going to become more of a norm rather than an exception for the near future. Businesses everywhere have to try to quickly adapt if they haven't already, and those who've already undergone a process of marketing transformation will have to focus more time, resources, and effort marketing online.
Younger generations rarely consume TV programming, and social-distancing is keeping people from being lured by large billboards or ads on bus shelters. But nearly everyone with internet access is consuming online content. This content can be anything: videos, ads, articles, or even memes. Attention spans may be shorter than ever, but well crafted-content is key to grasp your audiences' interest and keep them engaged with your brand. Content marketing isn't only the best marketing you can do; it very well may be the only one you can do right now.
Check your strategy
It's unlikely that your organization anticipated the events of 2020, so it's entirely possible that you might have to make some adjustments to your overall content strategy. You may have to ramp up how often you post new content as well as make sure you understand what content will be most effective on which platform. You may also need some outside help to bring your content marketing maturity level up to where it should be. You can start by asking yourself a few questions about your content marketing strategy:
- When was the last time we reviewed our strategy?
- How often do we blog?
- How often do we check trending topics for content ideas?
- Do we have other forms of content creation besides publishing articles?
- What kind of content are our audiences consuming most? Do we offer that kind of content?
Putting out anywhere from 4-10 blogs a month can yield great results and improve engagement with your brand. Having more than just blogs (i.e., videos, animations, webinars, downloadable sheets) also improves your content's chances of being consumed. Remember, not everyone has the time or the attention span to read a 600-word article, but a lot of people can easily watch a one-minute video. Revisit and adjust your content strategy to make sure it's aligned with your present needs and goals.
Creating, Curating, and Reusing
New content is the best content you can put out, but if your strategy has you pumping out ten articles a month, chances are you might run out of topics or inspiration at some point, and videos aren't easy to produce frequently. It's important to make sure you take maximum advantage of a given topic and create as much new content from it as possible, but it's equally important to have an archive of old topics and content that you can update and reuse. Curate your content by mapping out topic ideas and revisiting your archives to know what old blogs or videos are relevant to the topic your covering during any given period. This also gives you the flexibility to reuse content if you need to make changes to your strategy because a different topic than the one planned for that week suddenly became relevant.
- Use topic generators or keyword research to find relevant topics
- Compare them with market trends to see what your audience most wants to read about or watch.
- Have an archive of old topics and content to revisit as needed
Targeting, Marketing, and Remarketing
So you have a sound strategy in place and enough trending topics to go with. How do we make sure this content is seen by those most likely to consume and enjoy it? Topics are great hooks, but SEO and social media are how you'll get your audience to find your content. Written content should not only meet SEO minimum requirements, it should be built around keywords that improve your possibilities to reel-in organic traffic and are backed by data that show this. Using keywords lets you target specific audiences as well as show you where you should be investing your ad-campaign funds if you're running a PPC campaign; this will also help you re-market to audiences who have shown interest in your content before.
With a solid keyword strategy to support your content, you'll have better insight on how to market your content and who to target. Keyword research might also reveal what your competitors are targeting both organically and with paid traffic, providing insight into how to better approach content that competes with yours. What are they missing that you might be able to provide? What topics are overlapping, and how can you find a different angle to approach the same topic? This can range from simple tips & tricks articles on how to use software to a highly-specific technical paper on the specifications of a specific integration. Research will reveal what your audience is interested in reading through their searches on Google and other search engines.
- Perform keyword research
- Build SEO-ready content
- Discover what competitors are targeting
- Cater to audience interests and trends
Are you interested in revamping your content marketing approach? At CXGS, our content experts can help with that. Learn more.
4 Ways to Boost your B2B Social Media Marketing
In 2020, the B2B social media economy will become more relevant than ever. Here are a few ways you can improve your approach to take advantage of this dynamic playing field.
Social media channels are constantly flooded with B2C marketing for everything from fried chicken sandwiches to oddball products from Wish. It seems B2C marketing is all too easy on social media, but B2B social media marketing can often seem less straightforward. Longer sales cycles mean that it might prove difficult to find a clear road towards a successful B2B social media strategy.
B2B organizations commonly find themselves struggling with how to use their social media channels. You've probably seen it from some of your LinkedIn connections: aimless, random posts that serve little to no purpose with flat content that doesn't say much. If you feel that is what your organization is doing, here are a few tricks to get out of bad habits immediately:
1. Use paid social media to flaunt your branding
It doesn't make much sense to pay for social media ads if you're not going to make it eye-catching. Make sure that your organic posts and your paid posts are aligned with your branding style guide. This guarantees branding has exposure and also increases the chances for brand association and your organic posts getting attention from people who have already been exposed to your ads.
2. Insert your customers into your narrative
If you aren't using case studies as part of your content marketing strategy, then please start doing so right now. Case studies, success stories, and testimonials add immediate value to your brand and give other potential customers the chance to identify with similar challenges to those highlighted. B2B companies rely on trust, reputation, and recommendations to secure business relationships; inserting your customers into your social marketing narrative strengthens these relationships.
However, you may not want to come off as trying to haggle some kudos from your clients, so give back by sharing their content and success stories on your social media channels as well. Being a "good neighbor" goes a long way in digital B2B marketing. Boast your successes, but highlight your client and showcase them as the hero in your story. This will make it easier to get testimonials from them or permissions to feature their actual brand in a case study instead of having to white label them.
3. Feed your social media strategy with pillar content
It takes quite a bit of effort to create a piece of content such as a blog, an article, a case study, or a calendar of monthly posts. Since you're putting all that effort into it, why not make the most of it?
First, start with creating a valuable piece of content that has plenty of substance. Let's say an article; this one for example. "5 Ways to Boost your B2B Social Media Marketing". This article is posted on the blog on our website, but we're going to use snippets from this article to use in social media. We're also going to derive ideas from this article to post additional tips throughout the month and use those to tie-in to our other services such as content development and PPC. Also, if you created a video, you can use snippets from the video to feed your social media channels over several weeks while also promoting the video itself.
4. Humanize your messaging on social media
Traditional advertising doesn't sound all that human. They use hyperbole and often try to hard to get your attention. We use social media to interact with other humans, so we tend to expect social media to sound more human than a TV or radio ad. Brands nowadays are always looking for that "emotional connection" with their customers; social media gives you a great platform to do that.
There are several ways to humanize your brand's voice on social media. Inserting a certain amount of humor can go a long way, but be careful to not try too hard or you can risk sounding disingenuous. A great way to show how human you are is to show who your humans are; showcase staff and leadership members alike and share their stories. You can also have your CEO personally write out a message to the public each month and post it.
Your organization can also adhere to a cause and make sure that cause gets plenty of attention across social media channels. Aside from the reward that standing up for a good cause already brings in itself, your audience will see that your company does more than just try to make money. Industry research shows that globally, over 60% of consumers prefer to consume products and services from companies they know are doing something good for the world and reflect their own values.
Here at CXGS, we aim to create social media strategies that create value for our clients. It goes beyond keeping your channels busy, there needs to be a purpose and a direction for B2B social media marketing that will lead to a closer connection with your audiences. Learn more about how we can help!
Rebranding: Looking Beyond ROI
Is rebranding worth the investment? The benefits might go much further than just ROI
Rebranding is one of the most significant changes a business can undergo. It represents a major shift in how a company presents itself and how the audience will perceive it from that point forward.
A rebrand can be massively successful, reinvigorating a company and bringing in new generations of customers. However, this can also backfire if it is not carefully planned and executed. Business leaders are often wary of making a large investment if they don't see a rapid turnover, but ROI shouldn't be the only factor to consider when making the decision to rebrand.
The New Coke case
Those old enough to remember Coca-Cola's rebranding to "New Coke" in the '80s know its reputation as a cautionary tale on rebranding. In their rebranding effort, they not only changed their logo, their packaging, and their messaging, they also reformulated the soft drink itself. This led to severe consumer backlash, and ultimately benefited their main competitors, Pepsi.
This story has a reputation as being a warning against rebranding, but the story did not end at New Coke. After their consumer backlash, Coca-Cola rebranded once again to "Coca-Cola Classic", embracing both their vintage image and changing their messaging to reflect their brand as an inseparable part of American culture. We don't need to tell you if that second rebranding was successful; Coca-Cola is the single most recognized brand in the entire world.
So, why rebrand?
Rebranding can have a very large ripple effect that leads to increased brand awareness, increased sales, increased customer loyalty and market share, and even reduced marketing expenses over time. Some business leaders might look at rebranding from a purely ROI perspective, but ROI should not be the leading trigger for a rebranding effort. The New Coke case is an example of why looking to create a rapid ROI lead to a short-sighted rebrand attempt that was ultimately a failure.
If you are a business leader looking to rebrand, you should ask yourself some questions about your company to ensure your rebrand campaign is justified. The first question is, why are you considering this change? Some valid triggers for rebranding include a change in leadership, a change in revenue targets, a merger or purchase, or a product/service launch. Decreasing sales, increasing competition, and a need to refresh an outdated image are also valid triggers to consider a rebrand.
What does rebranding solve?
It's important to note that rebranding is not an end-all, cure-all solution to a business' problems. Putting too much faith in an image change can lead to flawed expectations of the results and problems a rebrand can solve. A rebrand can go a long way in supporting a sales team with an aggressive multi-faceted marketing campaign that spans across many channels. But the rebrand itself won't close sales for your team. So, what specific issues can a rebrand solve?
- Consolidating a confusing and disorganized sense of messaging from the brand (e.g., a company with changing directives and verticals)
- Differentiating a brand from its competitors
- Improving and updating messaging for a well-established brand
- Supporting the marketing and sales team in its efforts to create brand awareness
- Helping employees gain a better sense of purpose, vision, and company goals
- Improving emotional investment in your brand from both customers and employees
As a business leader, you should then ask yourself what you can expect your business to achieve if you can solve these problems. For example, if rebranding can consolidate your messaging and make it easier for your marketing team to create brand awareness, it will, in turn, be easier for your sales team to pitch your brand to leads. This is how rebranding justifies its ROI, but the largest benefit of rebranding is often an overlooked one.
Rebranding forces reassessment
Beyond the changes that a rebrand brings to corporate image and messaging and the monetary benefit, rebranding forces a process that makes you assess your business from every angle. The rebranding process will force your company to look both at what it does right and what it's doing wrong. Simply bringing a rebrand to the table will trigger some tough discussions that can ultimately bring change to the organization across many different branches.
Leading by example
Here at CXGlobals, we have done branding and re-branding work for many of our customers. We believe in our process, and we believe that change is constant. So we are proud to announce that CXGlobals is becoming CXGS. We are glad to welcome 2020 by refreshing our corporate branding as we continue to grow and evolve. Changes have already started, and we should be fully rebranded by the first weeks of December.
To all of our loyal clients and partners, thank you for your support throughout the years! We will continue to provide our service at the very highest of our standards!
Yes, Email Marketing is Still Relevant
With so much going on with social media and PPC campaigns, is marketing via email still an effective tool?
Email marketing is as old as email itself. This thought can often lead us to think that it's a dated, if not obsolete tactic. But just as TV and newspaper ads are still running today, this approach is still quite relevant and highly-effective if executed properly. Email is still widely used, especially in the workplace and in B2B scenarios, so there's a great potential for targeted marketing that your competitors may be ignoring.
Email Marketing has a high ROI
Even today, email marketing has one of the highest yields of ROI among digital tactics, in the range of $38-$44 returned per $1 invested. While there is much to unpack in those figures, they are still very high even in absolute terms. Small investments in email campaigns can make a single dollar go a long way, so they are an easy and cost-effective way to start taking advantage of digital marketing.
Email marketing can beat social media ads
Believe it or not, email campaigns can beat social media ads when it comes to grabbing audience attention. Humans have built up a tolerance to social media ads much like how we tend to ignore most of the physical advertising around us as we drive through a city. Checking your email is a more focused task than surfing through Facebook or Twitter, so your attention span is much more receptive to important information.
At CXGlobals, we work with many companies in the IT solutions industry. Our clients' customer profiles often include C-level execs and IT managers that usually explore their email inbox for work over leisure. This type of audience is way more open to opening an interesting looking email over clicking on social media ad, making this type of marketing an effective tool to communicate with them. Additionally, newsletter campaigns specifically target subscribers. This means that you will be sending information to people who have already been interested in your brand on a previous occasion, increasing your chances of earning a qualified lead.
Email Marketing lets you create an automated journey
One of the advantages of using newsletters and email marketing campaigns is that you can create an automated journey for your potential leads straight into your sales funnel. Sophisticated email design paired with interesting and informative content can easily get a potential lead to go to your website or a landing page within it. From there, a strong website can do the job it's supposed to do: sell your brand.
Email Marketing metrics can be easily tracked
Tracking metrics for email campaigns is both straightforward and very revealing of audience behavior. Nearly every email marketing tool measures open rate, bounce rate, CTR, clicks, and unsubscribes. These metrics can easily be studied and compared to show you what types of headlines are getting more attention, what topics are being most clicked on and how many users are following the automated journey into your website.
So, are you ready to try it out? Read more on our demand generation tactics here.