More Than Maintaining: Transforming Your Digital Marketing In Times Crisis

Published March 20, 2020

As your team works diligently during this time to inform, protect and serve your members, your partners at Edge want you to know that we're here as a resource for you to lean on as well.

To that end, we've assembled a list of considerations for your digital marketing during this time to help inform your strategy as things unfold and adapt to a new reality over the coming months. 

We'll continue to update this post and distribute any new, relevant guidance as it comes in.

If there's any way we can help you just reach out, we'll do our best as always. Together we'll get through this stronger.

9 Ways To Adapt Your Digital Marketing To Better Serve Your Audience In Tough Times

1) Expect Your Digital Branch To Get Busier

Short term: Until the virus peaks we might expect that larger, non-immediate consumer financial decisions to slow down. Search intent is already migrating towards topics of immediate safety and provision…and home office supplies.

During this time we suggest keeping your brand present online. Pausing or stopping budgets altogether is not recommended, as you're likely to lose ground as well as consumer trust by running silent.

Instead, this is the time to remind and encourage your audience that your organization is there for them and has the financial tools they need and…they can all be accessed online. More on this in points #2 and #3 below.

Long term: As your membership adjusts to #quarantinelife, expect even the staunchest technophobes to start moving to online banking and more potential new members to explore services and products online instead of dropping by a branch.

Ad schedules will likely need to be at least temporarily extended to accommodate an expanded work-from-home audience that will behave differently than a primarily commuter audience.

For example, standard commuter hours that we might normally exclude could see upticks in online activity as commuters replace drive time with screen time.

"Perhaps more than ever, PPC pros must make sure brands and organizations are present when people are searching."

Frederick Vallaeys of Optmyzr

In his blog post this week, Frederick Vallaeys of Optmyzr said, "Perhaps more than ever, PPC pros must make sure brands and organizations are present when people are searching. And let’s face it…we’ll undoubtedly have a LOT more searching going on via Google and Bing in the coming weeks as consumers adjust their lives."

Vallaeys goes on to say, "While businesses often knee-jerk their budgets down in times of uncertainty, now may very well be the best time to up the spend on PPC. Social distancing means more people will buy online. It’s essential and responsible to be sure to capture the surge in online shopping."

Developing budgets that are responsive has always key part of healthy digital marketing strategies and budget flexibility is especially crucial at this time. 

We have already seen some spikes in online conversion activities starting at the end of FEB, when the virus got very real in the U.S. Rate fluctuations have also impacted user behavior. 

We're keeping our eyes on patterns as they develop to keep you informed.

Should we continue to see online demand rise as expected you'll want to make sure your brand is present to answer the call whether that be via your digital branch, online banking tools, paid search and display ads and/or call centers.

2) Creative Shifts

Review your current ad, social and landing page creative. Is there anything that should be changed to account for and be sensitive to the current situation?

Don't feel bad if you don't have the means to generate new creative at this time, but if there's an opportunity to pivot and improve than we suggest doing so. 

Edge can also help out here by providing design services to extend your team's capabilities should you find yourselves over taxed.

3) Tone and Transparency

When you communicate to your audience be transparent (this sucks), but temper your messaging with healthy amounts of encouragement (we will get through this). Keep your audiences informed, not overwhelmed. 

Kimberly Dutcher, another Search Engine land author put it this way in a recent article"ensure ad copy and website messaging are in full support of employee and customer wellness. Be aware of people’s reaction to this sensitive issue."

4) Call Center Expansion

We have indeed already seen some of our CU partners convert branches into expanded call centers to accommodate increased volume.

In a CU Times article, Signal Financial President/CEO Francois Verleysen indicated that a majority of the calls they received were members needing help making use of the online tools.

“Most of the calls we received on Friday included requests from members to help them with installing the mobile banking app or how to use our remote deposit service,” Verleysen said. “We are getting members to use those digital services we always had that they never took advantage of.”

Francois Verleysen, Signal Financial President/CEO

5) Create a COVID FAQs Page

According to Greg Sterling at Search Engine Land, "…every consumer-facing business probably needs a COVID FAQs page that addresses common questions the public may be asking about their products or services."

No, this isn't a tactic to increase organic search visibility. It is simply to make sure you are serving your members and potential members as best you can by creating an easy-to-find hub for all your organization's info and updates regarding how COVID-19 is impacting your organization and FOM.

Create a Corona Virus FAQ page and make it a resource hub for your members. Update it often, email it to your members and post a link to it prominently from your homepage.

6) If You Must Temporarily Close Locations

Update your Google My Business profile to "Temporarily Closed". Now might be a good time to review your GMB pages to make sure all your contact info is up to date as well.

If you haven't already, you'll want to update your call center messages to give the most pertinent branch closer updates to callers immediately.

7) Scam Alerts

Continue to monitor and inform your audience against scams that seek to capitalize on turbulent times like Coronavirus-Related Ransomware Sites.

8) Wellness Buddies

No, it's not a cartoon on PBS and I confess to having chuckled when my boss first suggested this, but then she explained it and I was like, "Dang. That's a really good idea. We should always be doing that." 

Wellness buddies…are cross-trained partners within your organization who are able to cover for each other should one become sick or have to take leave to care for someone who's sick.

At Edge, we've been a virtual working environment for going on two decades. Over that time, we've learned that one inadvertent pitfall of the virtual office can be the siloing of expertise.

Create systems for sharing knowledge throughout your organization and you'll not only give your team more depth and flexibility, but also drive new ideas.

"It is the unwanted, unasked for challenges that often spur our best moments of kindness, generosity and innovation."

9) Give Your Team Permission To Do Good

Innovation doesn't always have to be about building better widget. It can also be about building a more compassionate organization by thinking differently about what truly matters.

This week, I got perhaps the most unique email I've ever received from an employer. In it my boss told our teams that we can take paid time off to help our neighbors during this time and even use the company card to help neighbors in an emergency or donate to a charity of our choice. 

She said she trusts us to do the right thing…and in that simple statement gave us permission to be something more than a kick ass marketing agency. 

We know that even the best laid campaigns and strategies are up in the air right now. However, we're confident that business can and will move on, just not business as usual.

It is the unwanted, unasked for challenges that often spur our best moments of kindness, generosity and innovation.

One more quick note…Edge has been a work-from-home company for almost two decades. We've assembled some of our favorite tips and commiserations in the posts below.