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  • April 30, 2020

Speeding Up During a Slowdown

It’s no surprise or secret that businesses and people are struggling right now. Thanks to the global pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus, companies are seeing major drops in revenue, site traffic, and of course, overall profitability. Decorative Illustration While economists debate how long the slowdown will last, now is the time to start planning for a recovery as we begin a return to normalcy over the weeks and months ahead. For businesses that have had budgets cut and initiatives stalled, thinking about a brighter future is welcomed news, but it won’t be easy getting there. So it begs the question: What can businesses be doing now? Moreover, is it possible to take advantage of the current situation to prepare for what’s ahead?

The answer is an emphatic yes. We’ve already seen that online behavior has changed since the start of the pandemic. Beyond making shifts to focus on changing behavior, we believe that businesses can actually speed up during the slowdown. Now more than ever, every dollar that is being spent needs to go further. If marketing budgets have been cut, the focus needs to be on the things that are working and that are generating the best ROI. Some specifics:
  • Max out branded search campaigns: Study after study has shown that branded terms deliver a 35% higher ROI than non-branded terms. Make sure you aren’t leaving valuable impressions on the table by reallocating budget from lower performing campaigns.
  • Focus on cookie pool growth: A site visitor today could be a customer or client tomorrow. Whether you’re driving traffic to your site from paid campaigns or are solely relying on organic traffic, building a pool to remarket to is going to be essential. Open up your cookie window durations from a standard 30 day window to at least 90 days so that you have a sufficient group of users to remarket to when you’re ready to turn campaigns back on as things normalize down the road.
  • Spend time on organic search. There’s nothing more efficient than free traffic, right? Use this time to fine tune your organic SEO strategy. While it may not be possible to embark on massive content generation now, there are still things you can do to improve performance both now and down the road. Run site audits using tools like Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster tools and fix errors that are preventing the spiders from crawling your site as efficiently as possible. You can also look at which search queries the search engines are ranking you well for, but that have low clickthru rates (CTR). For those terms and the pages that they map to, take some time and rewrite your title tags and meta descriptions to be more value-driven and to have a beefier call to action.
  • Focus on measurement. We know that measurement is going to be the key to not only evaluating marketing efforts, but to also getting more budget when it becomes available. Is your analytics implementation up to snuff? Are you measuring microconversion opportunities? Is the data that’s coming into your analytics suite reliable? Spend the time now to dial in your analytics and measurement strategy for the future. As a bonus, expenditures in time and money here can often be capitalized, which your CFO or Finance VP will certainly appreciate!
  • Make sure your attribution model is correct. Though conversion cycles and buyer behavior have undoubtedly changed since the start of the pandemic, the fact of the matter is that most websites are still getting traffic. We know that users go through a decision journey: A visitor today could be a lead or a customer tomorrow as they go through that journey and move from the research phase to the action phase. Make sure the attribution model that you’re using has a sufficiently long lookback period to properly value traffic at this time when you look at performance down the road. Now is as good of a time forever to think critically about model choice, view thru attribution, and channel groupings.
  • Get ready to test. As things normalize in the future, there’s no doubt that consumer behavior is going to continue to evolve and shift. Things that worked prior to the pandemic may no longer work after the pandemic. Start thinking about things that you can A/B and multivariate test both in your digital campaigns as well on your website. Think about ad copy changes, new value propositions, landing page experience changes, and more and start building out those tests. Testing doesn’t need to be expensive. If you don’t have one already, go ahead and create a Google Optimize account – It’s free.

There is no doubt that we’re in a tough time, and that there is still a ton of uncertainty ahead. But that doesn’t need to mean that your digital business comes to a halt. Take advantage of the relative downtime to futureproof your strategy so that you’re ready to propel forward and accelerate as life begins to settle into a new normal as we start to come out of the crisis.

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