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Differentiate During COVID with Digital

From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, marketers have had to rethink their overall marketing strategies, tactics, and budgets. As consumer habits continue to evolve, we will see marketingstrategies advance, as well. Working from home, remote schooling, and different consumption patterns continue to impact how and where businesses will reach their customers.

A recent LinkedIn/Vision Critical survey indicates that 74% of marketers cite budget cuts as a challenge.  34% of marketers are grappling with a changing target audience. These changes have implications for how digital marketing plays into the overall marketing mix. With digital, marketers can seamlessly shift their targeting while also adjusting budgets across platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Google.

As events and experiences in many industries have moved online, marketers have had to modify their plans. According to Marketing Charts, live, in-person events have been hit hardest by budget cuts. The beneficiaries seem to be webinars and digital channels like organic social, paid social, search, and display, all of which have seen an increase in spending.

As marketers find opportunities to reach audiences in new ways and with increased frequency using digital marketing, consumers’ changing expectations continue to unfold. In the early phases of COVID-19, some marketers quickly decreased or pulled their digital budgets to see how the world would adapt. Interestingly, paid search and social are now seeing renewed marketing interest along with budget increases. Additionally, live streaming and dynamic content are even more important for many businesses trying to attract consumers at home, while those consumers engage with a variety of platforms from countless different environments.

Here, we will explore how marketers can differentiate themselves during COVID-19 and beyond, using digital tools.

During the pandemic, Google has created ways to help businesses deliver timely information to their customers. For many businesspeople, a website or Google listing provides an immediate and much-needed way to provide updated details to their stakeholders. For marketers, it is increasingly important to use these tools.

Use the following Google tools during the pandemic for important tasks:

  1. Google Business Listings: Businesses can create, update, and manage a Google business listing while connecting with customers across search, maps, and more.
  2. Google Attributes: Businesses can use attributes to highlight changing service options, including accessibility, activities, hours, schedules, ordering ahead, events, offerings, payments, closures, and much more.
  3. Exposure Notifications: Use Google to alert customers to vital notices concerning contact tracing and exposure.
  4. Use “Special Announcements” structured data from Google for posting COVID-19-specific alerts on your web properties. Here are examples of special announcements:
    a. Shelter-in-place directives
    b. Closure notices (for example, closing a school or public transportation)
    c. Government benefits (for example, unemployment support, paid leave, or one-time payments)
    d. Quarantine guidelines
    e. Travel restrictions
    f. New testing centers
    g. Transitioning from offline to online services, or cancellation of some services
    h. Revised hours and shopping restrictions
    i. Statistics and maps related to disease spread
  5. Enriched Search Results: In addition to rich results, businesses can deliver enhanced and immersive search results with interactive features. Use structured data for enriched search results for events, job postings, and more.
  6. Google Trends: As business dynamics are constantly changing, marketers can identify new ways to communicate with customers based on recent hyper-trends and information. For example, an exploration of coronavirus trends delivers key insights on geographical impact, US interest, symptoms, and shifts in keyword search. Find ways to incorporate emerging topics into your marketing strategy using Google Trends.
  7. Big Picture: Utilize Think with Google to learn how other thought leaders are handling similar business challenges and read about upcoming trends, ideas, and insights for the 2021 marketing year. Consumers’ perceptions, marketing strategies, tools, and resources are available on this rich and up-to-date web resource. Recent topics include Measurement Resolutions and First-Party Data Transparency.

As we all know, 2020 was a year like no other. While there is still uncertainty in the world, marketers can do their best to meet customers where they are in 2021. Many tools empower marketers to provide relevant, essential, and well-timed information to their customers — something which is needed now more than ever. Digital offers several ways for businesses to stand out and differentiate themselves during COVID-19 and beyond.