The start of 2022 is bleak with the nationwide toll of the fast-spreading Covid-19 Omicron variant in the United States. NBC News reported that as of January 21, the seven-day average was 743,913 cases. Although this decreased by seven percent from the previous week, the number of deaths increased from 1,979 on January 14 to 2,131 on January 21. Experts also warn that more Covid-19 variants can emerge at any time.
Many companies had to rescind their schedules to return to the office to protect their employees from infection. Other businesses need people on-site, though. However, due to the sheer number of people down with Omicron, fights of major airlines were canceled in the thousands, and public transportation in Washington and New York stopped some services.
The Guardian noted that delays in the transportation of goods left supermarket shelves empty, and pharmacies and Covid-19 testing centers had to close. As schools went back to virtual mode, parents who had to stay home also had to miss work.
This scenario is not good for the U.S. economy that is still in recovery. It is also a difficult time for businesses. To survive and succeed, more effort must go into marketing. In this crisis, brands must engage with their market as people and individuals.
Do Not Neglect Marketing Basics
Even in the pandemic, companies still need the solid foundations of marketing. Since the appearance of Covid-19, this means focusing on the digital realm. For instance, basic digital marketing ideas for insurance agents will also work for other sales professionals.
It starts with having a strong online presence through an interactive website with search engine optimization (SEO). One of the basic requirements is for the website to satisfy Google’s core web vitals. These are Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) or complete loading of a page in 2.5 seconds, First Input Delay (FID) or not more than 100 milliseconds for interactivity, and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) or a shift in visual stability of below 0.1. Conforming to these standards will help the website rank high in searches.
Brands must have a dedicated SEO team or hire a professional SEO service to focus solely on this task. This is crucial because, in the absence of a physical office or store, the website must be easily found.
The website must be optimized for all formats, from desktop computers to laptops and, most importantly, smartphones and tablets. While people use their desktops and laptops for work, most use their tablets and smartphones during their personal time to search for items to purchase. A website must also come up on top of visual searches and voice searches. More and more people are using these now.
Go for the Plus
Brands must not be content with just the basics, though. The goal is to stand out against the competition and gain the support and loyalty of the target market. For this, a brand needs to continuously study the pulse of its market and be more creative in responding to it.
With the use of artificial intelligence (AI), the brand’s website can present a customized experience for every visitor. AI uses data gleaned from the visitor’s online activities in the brand’s social media accounts and previous website visits. The guest then sees a version of the website specifically designed according to their needs and preferences.
With the many concerns faced by consumers during the pandemic, brands must be sensitive and add value to their messages by proposing concrete solutions to problems. They must be perceived as providers of support in answer to a need. Products and services offered must truthfully serve such needs.
This brings us to social media marketing. Social media is still a powerful channel for messaging and engagement. A brand must choose the social media platforms largely used by its target market. It must then engage its market actively in these platforms through interactive posts that bring visitors to the website. Real people must manage these social media accounts and respond quickly and appropriately to comments and queries, using the brand’s voice and messaging tone.
The most popular type of post these days is video. TikTok started the trend, and Instagram added Reels. Brands can use video to inform as well as to entertain. Brands can also encourage consumers to post their own videos related to the product or service. Such posts are valuable endorsements by actual users. Podcasting is another popular format.
Brands can tap content creators who are micro-influencers with a loyal following in their target market as brand ambassadors. These micro-influencers create videos or podcasts that their fans closely follow. Brands must be cautious, though, in ensuring that such micro-influencers’ values are aligned with those of the brand.
Consumers will be more likely to trust a brand that is relatable, inclusive, and authentic. This can be achieved through careful messaging and direct virtual interactions with consumers.