Tricks of the marketing trade

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Covid-19 and the organic marketing opportunity

In recent weeks, we have all felt the impact of the global pandemic encroaching on both our personal and professional lives. With extensive measures being taken across the globe to enforce social distancing, we are all acclimatising to the new ways of working.

With many marketing budgets under pressure, the challenge is to adapt both paid and organic activity to drive efficiencies that will allow businesses to maximise their potential during the coming weeks and months. In this article, we take a look at some of the steps marketers can consider in relation to their organic marketing activity in particular.

What we know so far

We are seeing a predictable knock-on effect of the social distancing measures on consumer behaviour, with media consumption increasing across all in-home channels, including web browsing (+70% over normal usage rates), traditional TV viewing (+63%), and social media engagement (+61%).

As a result, content is playing a pivotal role in both informing and distracting consumers in ways we have not seen before. Combined with the fact that only 8% of people believe companies should stop advertising altogether, businesses find themselves with a new challenge of engaging these consumers with the right messaging. This could prove to be pivotal in securing the LTV of these consumers when we are on the other side of this pandemic.

The opportunity

Bernard Marr from Forbes said: “In the coming months, businesses are going to become more reliant than ever on their digital strategy. Without wanting to sound too alarmist, in many cases, it will be the deciding factor in whether they make it through the tough times ahead.”

From our observations where we know clients have logistical challenges - from distribution and fulfillment to delivery - rather than focusing on increasing demand, instead this time could prove vital for investing in the backbone of a business’ online footprint - their organic presence.

We’ve seen competitors across different verticals pull back and almost cease trading online, with little to no optimisations being pushed through. Consequently, this presents a unique opportunity to potentially gain significantly in your organic share of voice.

We know that, traditionally, SEO and content changes take around 2-3 months for their impact to be felt. There is no time like the present to review your investment in these channels, particularly if you are scaling back biddable media budgets in the short term. Whilst you may not see a return immediately, when you do, it will continue long after your initial investment.

Ultimately, the actions that businesses take now in relation to their organic footing could be one of the deciding factors in how quickly businesses bounce back following the pandemic. With searches for ‘SEO’ in both the UK and the US on the rise, it’s time to get in on the action - here are some key areas to consider to drive big returns from your organic activity.

Produce content

Just because consumers may not be purchasing right now, it doesn’t mean they’re not researching. Releasing interesting or useful content now that targets upper funnel consumers will breed brand affinity and trust. Winning hearts and minds now will stand you in good stead once recovery has begun and users are ready to purchase again.

Now may also be a good opportunity to thoroughly audit any upcoming campaigns you had planned in. If they’re not completely suitable in the current climate - be it the content or the timing - then think about whether they can be re-purposed or tweaked in any way so that it is more mindful of the present discourse.

Don’t produce content for content’s sake however. Take the time to do your research to ensure that what you are producing has the best chance of landing. What is your target audience asking? What are your competitors doing, and is there a gap in the market?

Speaking of competitors…

Conduct a competitor audit

You must have wondered what drives your competitor’s success, but have you ever properly researched it? Taking a deep dive into the whats, hows, and whys can provide valuable answers and may uncover tactics you hadn’t previously considered.

A competitor analysis may inform you of who your SEO competitors actually are - you may think you know who you’re up against but only a thorough review and analysis of the SERPs will tell the real story.

Overall this should feed into your strategy for keyword targeting, content development and link building, to name but a few, with the end goal of improving your rankings, traffic and conversions to help you compete more effectively.

Proactively maintain your site and improve E-A-T

First things first - if you have an official policy on Covid-19 activity, or your company has changed the way it is doing business - publish it on the site and ensure it’s clearly visible from the homepage to make your visitors aware. How brands respond to this crisis will influence consumer attitudes - 64% of respondents to a recent Edelman survey said that a brand’s response to the crisis will affect their decision about whether or not to purchase form them in the future.

Aside from Covid-19 specifics, It’s not just the big ticket projects or pieces of research such as competitor audits that are going to drive performance. Since July 2018, Google has included E-A-T in their guidelines - expertise, authority and trustworthiness.

Maintaining your online presence right now is important, as outdated or incorrect information may confuse consumers and damage brand reputation. Here are a few easy examples:

●      Make important informational updates to your site where relevant and add Schema to ensure Google is showing the most up-to-date information. Event status schema is useful if you have had to cancel or reschedule upcoming events, and product availability schema is useful for providing ecommerce sites wanting to show real-time stock information.

●      Update your opening hours on any citation listings you have such as Google My Business (GMB), Apple Maps or TripAdvisor. Now might also be a good time to take advantage of GMB’s Posts feature to push carefully selected content to consumers through your listing in SERPs.

●      Maintain your social media profiles and monitor your mentions. Aside from providing important service at a time when your customers may have a lot of questions, social media is a useful tool to gauge trends and consumer opinion, which can inform your content development.

From the Edelman, Special Report: Brand Trust and the Coronavirus Pandemic report: “Around two-thirds (64%) of UK respondents say that how well a company responds to the coronavirus crisis will have a huge impact on their likelihood of buying from it in future.”

Technical improvements

If you have any technical projects that have been put squarely on the back burner for a rainy day - now is the time to do them. Traffic to sites is low in many industries, which reduces the risk of losing users when making such changes - perhaps in the event of broken redirects following a migration, for example. 

Consider your site’s page speed - this is not only a major organic ranking factor but it affects the efficiency of your paid media activity too. Any improvements you can make here will boost your performance across the board.

Conduct a full technical audit to assess the health of your site’s technical SEO and start working on the areas that will bring the biggest improvements. These may include internal redirect chains, problems with XML sitemaps, URL normalisation and Page Title optimisation.

Heather Morris, SEO account manager, Croud

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