How Digital Marketers Can Handle Change During a Crisis

By Jessica Berkowitz, Oracle

During a crisis, marketers must adjust and adapt their marketing strategies to better serve their customers in a dynamic time. Following the steps below can help you identify and implement changes in order to offer your customers some stability and inform them on how your brand can help during a difficult situation. Find out what several successful businesses did and what you can learn from their examples.

Lean on your third-party consultants and marketing technologies

Marketers should already possess the tools needed to stay nimble and current in their communication with their customers. Leaning on your existing consultants and third-party marketing technologies can help you navigate this change. Think about leveraging your A/B testing platform as a CMS (content management system) to:

  • Quickly update company’s messaging,
  • Rearrange site content,
  • Target specific segments of visitors,
  • Stay in compliance with local ordinances,
  • And provide site visitors with peace of mind and much more.

Update necessary messaging immediately

Act swiftly and get necessary messaging live as soon as possible. During the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, many industries faced immediate changes to their operations, procedures, and policies. It is imperative that change is well-articulated to your site visitors.

Listen to analytics and launch monitoring or insights campaigns

It is crucial to keep a close eye on site visitor behavior throughout the full lifecycle of the pandemic. Tracking trends can help you gain a better understanding of how conversion has shifted during this time and your audience sentiment. This will help position you to navigate the current climate and work towards the future. Another way to do this is to utilize your existing A/B testing platform to run monitoring campaigns to glean insights into specific visitor segments. This will assist in identifying over and underperforming segments of visitors, so that you can better target and personalize content as it pertains to an evolving situation. For example, during COVID-19, it can be helpful to filter reports by date ranges that correspond with different phases of the virus. You may see visitor sentiments shift between lockdown and reopening.

Create resources to address questions and concerns

With many call centers at capacity or unable to respond to customers’ inquiries, adding helpful resources to your site can help relieve strain on customer support departments and increase transparency with visitors. Think about adding a FAQ page dedicated to changes in procedure specifically stemming from the crisis you are facing or incorporating new content into existing FAQ pages or resources. This is a great way to promote the positive changes you have made to your procedures or to highlight a recent corporate social responsibility initiative that your business took in response to the crisis.

During COVID-19, many companies provided links and resources to CDC guidelines to eliminate questions around why certain types of change is required. For example, most airlines added a link to a CDC article supporting their new mask-wearing requirement to help educate visitors about why this change is necessary.

Continue communication and A/B testing

It is critical that companies continue to engage with their customers, even those in industries that have been hit hard. Businesses that went radio silent will not be top of mind when the crisis abates, and customers are ready to re-engage. Instead, consider a steady stream of relevant information, inspiration, or appropriate promotions. It can also be very beneficial to continue with A/B testing. Even if the campaign roadmap you had in mind likely no longer makes sense, look to test messaging or other changes that could improve the visitor experience in the current climate.

For example, many retailers who previously did not offer free shipping are now doing so during the COVID-19 crisis. Testing which “Free Shipping” messaging resonates best with your audience could prove to be an easy “win”. Or with travel clients, a fine line might exist between providing just the right amount of reassurance messaging and putting too much information in the reservation booking funnel. Having too much reassurance messaging might hurt the chances of converting even the most carefree traveler just as easily as a funnel with no reassurance messaging could cause a more cautious traveler to think twice before converting. That threshold can be determined by running an A/B or multivariate test.

Pivot and think outside the box

Rethink products or services that don’t really make sense during a crisis. Can these products or services be rebranded or changed to be made relevant to the current sentiment among visitors?

During the current pandemic, we saw hotel chains offer up hotel rooms to those in need, some retailers moved from a buy-one-get-one model to a buy-one-give-one model, and food deliveries have switched  to contactless delivery.  Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and see if your current offerings make sense.  If they don’t, see if they can be made more relevant or if they should be abandoned altogether.

Move forward and plan ahead

Look beyond the current forecast of these trying times and start thinking about creating a strategic roadmap for the next three, six, or twelve months.  Conduct market research, look at current and projected trends, and work with existing business objectives to create a testing and personalization roadmap to aid in the recovery. With shifting visitor behaviors, it is critically important to be able to test which changes resonate with which segments of visitors.

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