2020 will undoubtedly be a challenging time for the entire global population, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Understanding what changes to make now to your digital marketing campaigns could help you survive the current crisis and come through the other side, stronger and more relatable than ever before.
The very way people shop, search and browse has changed almost overnight, and their expectations of business ethics have shifted too. Here are five tips for creating a responsible digital marketing plan for your business that will alleviate consumer concerns while improving your brand identity during and after the crisis.
#1. Don’t try to cash in on the crisis
The absolute worst thing any business or brand can do during times of crisis or tragedy is trying to profit from it. It might be tempting to use it to your advantage, but consumers have long memories – especially when they feel they are being manipulated. This is where responsible digital marketing comes into play.
Information is key. How you deliver that information will determine if the door swings open or stays firmly shut. Worldwide, the press has caused irreparable damage by dramatising panic buying, social behaviours, and peddling misinformation; all in the name of getting views and making a profit on the crisis. This is not the way to get people on side!
As an example, let’s say that you’re a pharmaceutical website selling health supplements and medical treatments. From an ethical point of view, there would be a right way and a wrong way to go about things with your digital marketing campaigns.
✅ Provide informative content highlighting how products may help keep people healthy without directly mentioning sickness, death or COVID-19. Not increasing prices or creating a sense of urgency to boost sales. Not misleading consumers with statistics and data that is not backed by independent studies.
❌ Creating content that plays on fear and anxiety by highlighting death, sickness and disease. Instigating discrimination and stigma. Creating panic to increase prices and drive sales. Highlighting questions and concerns without providing answers, only product or service links.
Top Digital Strategy Tip to Take home:
Being mindful and not taking advantage of the situation can see you rewarded once the crisis passes. People don’t forget the negatives as quickly as they do the positives.
#2. Evaluate your brand
The internet is a visual platform, so it makes complete sense to evaluate your brand’s language and imagery. We are currently living in sensitive times, and projecting a factual, understanding and caring image should be a priority.
Governments around the world are working hard to promote social distancing. Therefore, any branding, visuals or text-based content should try to mirror them. Buzzwords such as happy, healthy and improved should be switched out for more sympathetic ones for now. Discussing travel and tourism to make a sale should be postponed. Feed imaginations, don’t drive them to despair.
Try to use visuals that encourage social distancing and good hygiene practices in your digital marketing campaigns. You don’t need to use stock images of health organisation guidelines. But you should ensure your images and visuals respect them.
- Avoid images of large crowds.
- Don’t use family-focussed visuals.
- Leave images of outdoor fun for later.
- Pass on fear-inducing imagery.
- Skip images of viruses and bacteria.
- Avoid visuals representing sickness.
Again, using marketing messages with connotations to close interaction should be avoided in your campaigns for now. Even messaging as simple as ‘working together’, ‘get in touch’, ‘hand-in-hand’ and ‘by your side’ can give the wrong impression. You could try:
- Contact us
- Here for you
- Stronger together
- Happy to help
People are having distancing measures drilled into their minds by the minute. If contact and closeness are seen as unfavourable, using words that relate to them can have the same effect on your identity.
Top Campaigns Tip to Take home:
Aim for positive connotations that point toward strength, compassion and understanding.
#3. Audit your digital content
Take a close look at past, current and upcoming material. Things that you created months or even years ago are still highly visible. Most people don’t look at publishing dates, meaning something said with good intentions last year could be misconstrued today. This is why an audit is so important right now.
An audit lets you see what content to put on hold, what content to deactivate, and what content to go ahead with. Publishing something deemed as insensitive right now could land you and your business in hot water.
If you have a significant brand campaign on the horizon, it’s probably a good idea to push this back and focus your efforts on organic reach. If you’re a new business looking to launch, again, building on your organic content can benefit you while you wait for the right time to go live with campaigns. This has the added benefit of giving your online presence solid foundations and a better chance of future success.
When looking at older content, now is an excellent time to update it to reflect current changes. While the crisis will pass, people’s behaviours will likely be very different from here on in. Perform some detailed on-page SEO to keep things fresh and visible in the SERPs and prioritise people over profits.
Marketing Tip to Take home:
In the short-term, it won’t offer many rewards. In the long-term, it can help you shine in a favourable light.
#4. Be a beacon in the dark
The sole purpose of every brand and business is to provide real value to consumers. Loyal customers will already know about your products and services, so there’s no need to push them further for now. Of course, businesses need to generate revenue and sales are still a priority. It’s how you do it that makes the difference between success and failure.
To begin with, if your brand has a story; now is the time to tell it. You can talk about trials and tribulations, but you also need to follow up with positivity and success. One of the most effective ways to provide hope and value is by producing helpful content that educates, entertains and explores possibilities.
The great thing about the internet is that even if your business or brand has no direct connections to the current situation, you can still provide entertainment and encouragement. As an example, let’s say that you’re a garden tool retailer. Gardening has no direct connection to the current crisis, but it is incredibly therapeutic, and something people can enjoy while on lockdown.
Again, it’s not about pushing an agenda or making sales pitches. It’s about providing valuable information and advice that implants seeds of inspiration into the consumer’s mind.
Top Digital Strategy Tip to Take home:
Nobody needs to know a product is on sale and is perfect for the coronavirus crisis. Do this and people will connect your products or services with fear and misfortune – not ideal for any businesses success.
#5. Stay positive
In times of crisis, people instinctively become uneasy and worrisome. Businesses and brands don’t need to fan the flames of fear and breed additional anxiety with a morbid, grim or negative tone of voice. Now, more than ever, people are looking for a human side to businesses that offer positivity and look to the future.
Certain things you do as a brand can backfire, such as using robotic or ingenuine messages of sympathy and understanding. Whatever you put out there needs to have depth, compassion and personality. We indeed live in a world where everyone is hyper-sensitive or easily offended, but this shouldn’t prevent you from offering good vibes and well wishes.
Done the wrong way, people will find you cold; making it hard to build connections with you. Done the right way, you can ooze positivity, care and look toward a brighter future. Leave the doom and gloom to the newspapers and instead focus on building real connections with real people.
Top Responsible Digital Advertising Tip to Take home:
Consumers appreciate a human face to commercial business. Don’t make them feel like a statistic. Listen, learn and be on their level.
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