Supercharging Your Marketing When Businesses Open Up
Whenever your business re-opens, this month, next month or later, this checklist will help to get your marketing up to speed
For most businesses, we're hoping they have followed good business practices and it’s still business as usual when it comes to marketing this month and next.
Yet for others who have laid off marketing team members, canceled agency contracts or shuttered ad spend, ramping that back up again is going to be critical to jump-starting their business’s sales efforts. When forecasting a business goals, it's a priority to align them with your sales and marketing goals.
If your marketing efforts are delayed, you could kill your chances for your business to recover this summer and sink any attempts to recover in the second quarter. Even worse, if the restart drags on, you might negatively impact your overall 2020 revenue performance.
To prevent that horrible scenario, here’s our checklist for getting your marketing ramped up quickly, efficiently and in the most productive way possible:
- Plan for 30 days and 90 days
- Turbocharge your ad spend
- Move forward with marketing and sales technology
- Make adjustments and upgrades to your website
- Rework your email schedule and topic calendar
- Continue to lean into social media
- Add video to your asset library
- Create new educational content
- Turn on chat (if you haven’t already)
- Meet with sales and arm them with new tools
- Benchmark performance and set new goals
- Adjust your budget accordingly
Here are details on all 12 of our checklist items:
Plan For 30 Days And 90 Days
Start by looking at your goals for the next 90 days. Any further out and there is less certainty related to business and economic conditions. By looking at June, July and August as a collection, you’ll be able to limit any massive uncertainty.
What are your goals over the next 90 days? If, for example, you want to focus on your lead generation to provide sales with enough qualified opportunities to hit their revised quarterly goals, what needs to happen?
- reach out and reconnect with prospects through email and social
- adjust your message on your website to re-engage with website visitors
- update / add video to tell your story
- provide new educational content to drive conversions
- give reps a sales strategy to follow up on and close the best leads quickly
That’s a lofty set of goals and associated tactics.
Now break those up into small milestones. Prioritize work over the next 30 days and start to push work into your second 30-day period. Now you have a list to tackle immediately.
Double Down on Paid Ads By 30%
A lot of companies have reduced or even eliminated paid media spends during the COVID shutdown. Now is the time to turn those ads back on, and if you want to be heard above the noise, consider upping your budget by at least 30%.
Make sure your ads are situation-appropriate, meaning if you haven’t adjusted your messaging since the pandemic started, now is the time to make sure it’s culturally sensitive, timely and appropriate.
Now is also a great time to review your ad strategy and process. If you’ve been sending people to your homepage, fix that by sending them to a landing page. If you’ve been promoting the last step of the buyer journey with special offers, fix that by promoting more educational content.
Now is also a good time to audit your negative keywords, branded keywords, overall keyword strategy, clicks vs. impressions and other ad management components.
Some of your assumptions from a few months ago might have changed, or the auction environment might have changed, too. It’s possible you can get many more clicks for the same budget, so this might not be about spending more but about optimizing your campaign to drive 30% more leads.
Move Forward With Marketing And Sales Technology
If you were thinking of adding marketing automation or sales CRM tools to your marketing toolbox, it's time to take that step. All of your marketing, sales or customer service technology should be reviewed and renegotiated.
First, you’re going to get aggressive discounts and deferred payment terms from almost every software provider.
Next, while things are a little slower, now is the perfect time to replace old or outdated tools with new tools that will allow you to market, sell and service more efficiently and with little effect due to downtime and changeover.
For example, it's unlikely that you will be visiting prospects in person anytime soon. Your sales team won’t be headed off to that big industry trade show either. Your customer service people will be more challenged to keep customers satisfied. All marketing, sales and customer service processes need to be reviewed and modified under the new normal.
Starting to review these processes and implement new tools now so in a few weeks, when business starts to pick up, you’ll already have these tools in place, your team will be using them and they’ll start to pay off big time with efficiencies and improved results across all three areas of your business.
Add Content And Upgrade User Experiences To Your Website
If you’ve added COVID-19 content to your website, it might be time to take it off. While there, revisit your message and make sure it’s direct, motivating and compelling. You only get 10 seconds to make an impression. Does your website do that or do you need to make some changes to your website?
Some things to consider when looking over the website:
- Is educational content strategically deployed across the site?
- Do each page have a conversion point? If not, what is the goal of the page? Is it clear?
- How are your landing pages performing? Do they feed to Lead Generation or funnel to sales pages?
- For what keyword phrase do you want to be found? Which is the ideal page for each keyword phrase? Do you have multiple pages competing for the same keyword phrase that could be combined?
- Are you showing up in searches for your top keywords, phrases and questions? Again, it might be time for a new look at search engine optimization.
- Search has changed, because internet visitors have evolved. Gone are the days of having standalone keyword pages, now you need pillar pages of cornerstone content. Cornerstone content covers all aspects of a topic, as an introduction, with links to more in-depth content in FAQs, Blogs or Case Studies. Your Pillar pages are the college 101 coverage of the topic, and the linked content is the 201. 301, and 401 level of detail. Does your website have any pillar pages? Do they include links to all the detail content posts?
If your website is more than a year and half old, it's a good ideal to review the entire site. If the site looks dated or does not respond to mobile correctly, a website conversion might be required, or a complete site rebuild might be necessary if the content is dated, the user experience (UX) has holes or it hasn't been turning visitors into leads and sales opportunities. Our team is skilled at taking your existing content and incorporating it into a new custom website.
Revise Your Email Marketing Schedule
Email is one form of marketing that has had better response than other channels during this pandemic. Accordingly, you may have ramped up your email frequency during the shut-down. You may also have noticed an increase in the amount of email you’re receiving, same as everyone else. While email has been working better lately, we get desensitized quickly. So now is a good time to take a look at your email marketing campaigns' opt-out rates, open rates and click-through rates.
If you increased the frequency and adjusted your editorial calendar a few months ago, how do you want to change it going forward? Don't go back to your previous calendar of topics and schedules. The world has changed, so your messages should reflect that. While maintaining some COVID focus, push yourself to create emails align with other more positive storylines.
This is also a good time to also look at segmentation. By segmenting your list, you will send fewer emails to each person while the emails you do send have better open rates and click-thru's because they are more targeted and more personal. Need to get your email marketing started? We can set-up your email templates and develop a campaign schedule for you.
Keep Publishing On Social Media
Almost every company has leaned into posting content on social media. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube are exploding with content but Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok are quickly becoming go-to platforms as well. Typical business posts have been highly self-promotional, yet the pandemic has encouraged some companies to use social as it was originally designed — to post educational stories, engage audiences and share updates of relevant content.
In the beginning of using social media, most companies don’t know exactly what to do other than posting blog articles. Prior to the Pandemic, social media was becoming a forgotten channel or a channel flooded with paid advertising.
To continue getting full value from your social media marketing, lean into the idea of conversation starters, in-depth targeted content and educational topics. Take a stand, share an opinion, give your perspective on a topic and work harder to educate your audience.
Add New Videos
You've heard it before, but now you definitely need more video. Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat are all popular for short videos. Short-form videos are influencing how we use videos for business. The pandemic has changed how we make videos.
Previously, a video group would set up at your business, shoot for a half day or full day and produce your desired videos. Now, due to social distancing, businesses need to produce videos in-house and, in some cases, at home.
But there is a lot of good news. The video equipment, apps and editing capabilities available inexpensively today will allow a small business to shoot videos at home and quickly get them on the web and integrated into your marketing campaigns.
What hasn't changed is the planning that happens before shooting your first frame of video. Some questions to answer before picking up the camera include: What questions do you want your videos to answer? Who should act as a subject matter expert - the flag-bearer for your company? Do you have the lighting and tools to shoot the video on your phone? Do you have props, graphics and storyboards to quickly get the videos edited and out?
For more information on how to lock down your video plans, check out this DIY guide to creating killer video content at home by our friends at Square2 Marketing.
Create New And Timely Educational Content
Timely content is constantly evolving. Once we realized the old content was tone deaf to the post-pandemic world, we adjusted our messaging. With businesses opening and people going back to work, we need another adjustment.
We can't go back to the old schedule and topics. While people are beginning to go back to work, there will be issues that take longer to rebound. For example, people won’t be traveling as much, in-person conferences and events will take longer to return, customers will want to feel safe visiting your business and remote working is going to be here to stay.
Your content calendar will need to continue to evolve from some content and toward other content. Keep this calendar flexible by looking at it every 30 days and plan out the content for up to 90 days. As things change, you may have to create content much faster than normal. Schedule resources to create content quickly, publish it timely and track its performance in real time. If you’re missing those capabilities, we can help your regular content development or just for a la carte projects when resources are lean.
Turn On Chat (If You Haven’t Already)
Many website, especially for small businesses, still do not have chat. People are on your site looking for answers, and they want to converse with your company while there. They’re looking for something specific and they want assurances that they have found the right product or service. They need clarification, and you should be able to offer a live and immediate answer.
More importantly, some of them want to speak with a sales rep without having to pick up the phone or wait for an email. They have immediate needs and are looking for immediate help, without giving up their personal information.
Chat helps create leads, generate sales opportunities and accelerate the sales cycle for almost every company. Chat allows an immediate response, without the prospect having to engage in a sales pitch, or risk being bombarded with cold calls and spam email. Chat allows the prospect to engage as much or as little as they want, and can cancel the engagement as they desire.
Chat is very easy to turn on. There are hundreds of add-on enhancements to make the chat experience on your website more personal, but simply offering chat, monitoring it and responding to people who want to use it, can provide a new channel to ramp up your marketing through 2020.
Meet With Sales And Arm Them With New Tools
This is a tough time for sales people. No one is in their office to receive a cold call. In-person visits are out because no one is traveling and everyone is working at home. Networking events and trade shows are canceled. It seems like all company events are canceled. Salespeople are shut out from their most familiar tools.
Some companies quickly shifted from an in-person sales process to a remote, content marketing sales process. Unfortunately the sales process won't return to the old way anytime soon. It’s likely that salespeople will never return to their old methods.
The success of work-from-home means some will never return to their offices. It will be much harder to reach targeted people at key accounts. We are far more sensitive to unsolicited emails, and many email programs have tightened their spam filters.
In-person meetings will likely be one of the last sales tactics to return. It's unclear if or when people will be comfortable hopping on a plane or having a one-on-one meeting with people they don’t know or who have just traveled.
This means marketing and sales are going to have to work much closer going forward. There is no reason to generate leads if sales doesn’t have a sales process designed to qualify and handle them under the new constraints.
Sales will need new sales tools; new conferencing options, new video options, new content offers and new process to qualify prospects. Sales people have always had to decide on which leads to spend their time and energy and are resistant to changing what has worked for them. Before sales people invest time walking new leads through the new touchless sales process, they will need to know what works.
Prior to reopening, schedule discussions with sales to get their buy-in on the new sales process. Ask about how they will reach prospects now, and address their need for new tools and information. Provide sales with the content they need to move people through the buyer journey without meetings. Determine how they will qualify prospects quickly and get prospects to feel assured without having to meet face-to-face and shaking hands.
Benchmark Performance And Set New Goals
This is the one that scares sales, marketing and executives. With any marketing, you need the track-and-measure step. Unfortunately, the world has changed since our budgets and goals were set. It's time to re-examine them.
Traditionally we look to past performance to get a feel for future budgets and goals, but we can't look at last year or the past three months. It's time to take your best guess at where you think you’ll be in May, June and July for leads generated, sales opportunities created, visitors to your website and site-wide conversion rate.
Perhaps May will look similar to April, with perhaps a slight increase. Hopefully these increases continue from June and July as people get back to work and as work returns to normal — whatever that normal is for your customers.
Any traditional seasonality for your business (for example, the summer is historically slower), will need some consideration. It’s quite possible that this summer has more activity than most summers due to pent-up demand. Try to plan accordingly.
Make sure you have key process indicators (KPI) to measure your assumptions. Set milestone numbers to meet those assumptions and review them more frequently than normal. Weekly is probably advised, but some of the KPIs may justify a daily review.
Frequent review of the numbers will allow you to adjust your plans accordingly and give you a better chance to rebuild your business throughout the year.
Adjust Your Budget Accordingly
The budget from the beginning of the year is a distant memory. Almost everyone experienced some degree of budget cutting over the past 90 days.
It's time to establish a budget for the rest of the year. With a new sales process and content marketing, it's possible that your budget needs to return to pre-pandemic levels. At a minimum, a review of the new lower budget is worthwhile.
Don't look at the budget as a way to minimize expenses. Marketing budget need to be aligned with sales expectations. Often lower marketing budgets generally mean fewer campaigns, less conversion points and fewer prospects.
If you want to keep your annual goals by making up for March and April with a strong June and July, then you’re going to need to increase your marketing budget to support those goals.
Set your sales goals to meet the company's goals. Determine what campaigns and activities are needed to connect to the leads to meet those sales goals. Know where you want to spend your budget, and have a solid idea around what more budget means in terms of increased leads, sales opportunities and new customer revenue.
With a checklist for what needs to happen to reopen your marketing, you can go about tackling these items over the next few months.The more you plan to do and the sooner you get it done, the better your results will be in a shorter amount of time.