The coronavirus pandemic has thrown a wrench in many businesses’ plans for Digital Branding, as well as in-person events, product launches, and in some cases, even production. But in other ways, it’s created new opportunities—especially for digital branding, since most people are spending more time online. A Harris poll conducted in the spring showed US adults were spending 46-51% more time on social media since the Covid lockdowns began. It’s now possible to grab even more of your potential audience’s attention, with many people working from home, and finding online ways to continue their favorite recreational activities.
Because of these new possibilities, I love teaching digital branding during this pandemic time. Many of the people and organizations I work with now have a golden opportunity to build real relationships with current and potential customers, improving word-of-mouth and customer retention for years. So, let’s get started on what you can do right now to improve your digital branding during the pandemic:
Understand How Consumer Needs Have Changed, and How Your Products or Services Fit In
This may be easier for some brands than others, depending on the nature of your product or service. But most organizations can find a way to reach people with something that communicates their brand identity. For example, one of our clients runs a personal training business and quickly realized that many people would love to have a virtual personal trainer to help them stay fit at home. He created videos of some routines that can be done in the average living space to help show people that they could get in shape without going to a gym. This was also a good long-term plan because even after the pandemic ends, working out at home will still save people time and hassle versus driving to a crowded gym.
Meanwhile, Hollywood has experimented with releasing movies meant for a theater on streaming services instead, including Disney’s live-action Mulan. The Metropolitan Opera began offering free live-streaming of some of their operas in March. This move may even have helped them reach people who don’t normally attend live shows—but who might consider seeing one when they resume.
Consumers Are Spending More Time at Home
Think about how your product or service benefits people who may be working at home, or going out less in their spare time. An Accenture study finds that 46% of people who never previously worked from home now plan to do so more often in the future. If your product already fits well with working from or spending more time at home, you may want to point out those features in advertising efforts. If not, you may want to figure out how to adjust your packages offered, delivery options, marketing message or other attributes that might make your product more attractive to consumers spending time at home. Focus on product uses that will be useful in non-pandemic situations, like saving customers time, or effort doing their own shopping, the hassle of shopping in-store, etc.
Understanding the Why
Certain categories of products have seen increases and decreases during the pandemic. Not surprisingly, sales of soaps and disinfecting products have skyrocketed, with Dettol and Lysol seeing sales of disinfectant wipes alone surge more than 100% in the first quarter of 2020. Reckitt Benckiser (owner of Lysol and Dettol) also reported a 50% rise in vitamin and supplement sales in the first half of the year, as consumers make efforts to protect their health.
But other categories have declined, particularly cosmetics, with L’Oreal reporting a 13-14% drop for the beauty market overall. The reasons, in this case, are more nuanced—SPF products suffered double-digit declines because many people canceled their vacations and didn’t spend time outdoors. Meanwhile, makeup sales went down because people don’t wear as much makeup in their homes as they might to the office.
If that’s the case and you happen to sell a makeup or beauty product, what can you do? You might think about shifting your themes for your ad campaigns, focusing on individuality and wearing makeup for yourself, or to achieve a feeling or mood, as opposed to wearing makeup for other people at the office. Some consumers might find it freeing to experiment with new shades or styles of makeup at home, where they don’t have to worry about feeling judged by coworkers or fitting into a business atmosphere. These are the kind of insights you can only have once you understand why buying patterns change.
Consider Changes in How People Buy Your Products
Online shopping is up across most categories. L’Oreal found that their online sales grew 65% even as retail sales lagged, and decided to focus on e-commerce for the rest of the year. If you have products people typically try in a retail setting—makeup, clothes, electronic or household products that sell best with an in-store demo—you’ll need to figure out how to reach people online. Maybe you can get across the in-store demo message in a fun and shareable TikTok video. Or, you could seek user-generated content on other social platforms, asking customers to try on clothes in a virtual closet and upload their favorite looks.
Work on Your Website
For many businesses, their site is now their only storefront. Even if you’re in the retail space, you may, like L’Oreal, be selling more online. Take the time to consider the user experience, and how it can be improved. About 38 percent of people will leave a website in a hurry if they find it unattractive or poorly designed, so you want to make sure it entices people to stick around. You may be able to seek help from current customers or users. Make a poll or survey about your website, asking about different features, and include a comment box where users can make suggestions. To encourage people to take the poll, you might create a contest or giveaway and offer one free entry to each person who fills out the poll.
Let your customers know that you’re taking their feedback seriously by creating single-question polls later, asking about issues that have come to light from your data. For example, “Forty percent of you said you’d really like more content about X on the site. Which topic should we blog about first?”
There’s Never Been a Better Time to Improve SEO
SEO is probably something you’ve thought about before. Often it comes up when you first create your website. You or your web designer may have used Yoast or another plugin to help you improve SEO—or so you thought. These tools work best when used by someone who has experience and knowledge of Google’s algorithms. Unfortunately, the algorithms change quickly, so even if you took a course on SEO a few years ago, you may not have the most up-to-date information. Or, you may be a busy entrepreneur who is highly knowledgeable about your own small business, but you simply don’t have time to become an SEO expert.
Does any of this sound like you? If so, you should consider investing in some SEO cleanup and improvement. At Digital Delane, this is one of many tasks we do to help our clients with digital branding.
Now is the perfect time to improve your digital branding, and make inroads with your target market. As people are spending more time online, and seeking alternatives to many of the things they used to do, opportunities abound in almost every market. Think hard about your target market, what struggles they may be having right now, and what attributes your product or service has that could help them.
Need some help figuring it all out? We’re always here to help at Digital Delane.