In Part 1 of this blog posting, I discussed the topic of why you should still invest in marketing activities during a recession, along with the overall benefits that you can receive as a marketer. Today, I want to focus a little more on the nitty-gritty of it all and dive into the execution piece, which involves leveraging digital platforms. Studies show that during the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are spending significantly more time on digital devices due to quarantining/social distancing. For marketers, this means that increasing your focus in digital is an absolute priority. In my first post, we discussed investing in market research, positive brand value, loyalty tactics, and advertising. Let’s break down how you can use digital marketing in these areas during a recession. 

      1.       Digital Market Research

With the proper market research, you can properly steer your brand and interact with your target market(s) at the right touch-points. Effective market research will provide you the right information to execute, and improve your strategies. This means you can produce better content with strong calls to action (CTAs) that could increase conversion.
All things digital, including SEO, Email, Social, and paid advertising, can and should be used as primary market research. You should be tracking how well all of these campaigns perform and focus on the “Three T’s… and one R”: Test, Track, Tweak, and Repeat. In a nutshell, great SEO will allow your customers to find you easier; a great email campaign can be used in a plethora of ways from loyalty programs to brand information and benefits; social media allows for conversations with your customers along with interactions with your content (and allows you to understand more about who they are and what they value); and paid advertising allows you to reach new customers and present your brand as a market leader. With every campaign run in these categories, you learn more about your customers. Every tweak made will change the performance of your KPI’s so ensure that you pay extremely close attention to the results and always look to find ways to improve.

      2.       Loyalty Tactics within Digital

Great rewards and loyalty programs can become so automatic that a customer can actually forget that they’re part of a program. If an online system can recognize a customer by name, phone number, or payment info, the customer doesn’t need to remember details like punch-cards or codes, and the rewards program is often out of sight and out of mind. This is an area that we’ve all likely dealt with in digital automation as I know I’m not the only person who’s forgotten a password since Apple introduced touch ID.

Using email, apps, and social interaction can be a wonderful way to enhance a loyalty program. DSW launched a personalized email campaign in 2017 to remind their customers about their program by detailing snapshots of points earned and the number of points needed to earn their next $10-off certificate. Starbucks and many other companies tie their loyalty program into their app so they can collect and consolidate their customers’ information. In doing so, they have a database of knowledge, which they can use to personalize specific benefits to the customer. Using social media, Foot Locker ran an incentive for members of their loyalty program where Houston Rockets All-Star guard James Harden challenged Foot Locker “VIP’s” to a game of HORSE. In this program, customers recorded a video of themselves performing a shot and posted it to social media with specific hashtags, and Harden would try to meet or beat their submissions.

There are many ways to enhance a loyalty program using digital tactics. Consider leveraging your own market research to learn about your customers and work on a strategy that complements your brand and your customers’ interests.

      3.       Continue to invest in TV Advertising – For Positive Brand Value

In Part 1 of this blog, I mentioned how local TV stations are getting a surge in viewership during COVID-19; however, the stations aren’t making more money off of the increase since many companies are pulling back advertising. In a nutshell, this means that prices are down for TV spots in a time where you’re likely to reach larger audiences. It’s a buyer’s market out there so if you see an opportunity for local TV and the budget dollars are available, go for it! Even when everything seems to be going digital, TV still works for reach and brand awareness, and it’s also a great opportunity to speak from the heart. Since COVID-19 came to the US, Guinness produced a commercial for St. Patrick’s Day with a heart-warming message to raise each other up; and Verizon made a commercial talking about ensuring that they’re doing their part to help customers stay connected. Right now is a great time to use TV advertising as a way to show off your brand’s goodwill with a wider audience, so consider calling your local TV stations to get your brand on the air. As I mentioned in my last post, your brand is likely to be more noticed and your company could be better off for investing in advertising once normalcy returns.

Marketing during a recession can be a scary time, but solid opportunities exist for your budget investments. As a Marketing sourcing professional with agency and practitioner experience, I recognize that every brand is different and not every tactic presented in this blog series will apply to your overall marketing campaign now or ever. At the end of the day, marketers know their brand better than anyone else. If a new investment makes sense to drive consumer engagement and sales during this time, and outside support is required to execute, Corcentric can help you source a potential new partner, leveraging our market intelligence and knowledge of the dynamic agency landscape. And if you happen to be in cost mitigation mode, as many companies are, we also have the know-how to properly engage marketers and identify the right opportunities to optimize your Marketing budget.   
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Jon Heller

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