Our growth hacking community in Zurich met online for the first time to discuss the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has on businesses, with focus on how businesses can adapt their communication, sales and marketing strategies in this survival mode. We were joined by more than 60 viewers online and we were pleased with the response from the community, with many viewers posting questions and engaging in the conversations.
Here are some of my key takeaways from the session and links that we shared during the talk.
Good & bad
Most businesses are affected badly, but there are some industries that are booming, e.g. some food delivery companies, stores selling video conferencing equipment and software, internal communication tools such as Beekeeper - their sales cycles have shrunk massively and those cold leads are suddenly converting.
A lot of businesses receive a strong kick to go digital, e.g. fitness studios suddenly offer live streaming or video classes. The same trends happen in e-learning, courses that were traditionally only available physically now happen online. Make sure you adjust your pricing when you make this transition - in most cases the value delivered online is limited and you are competing with more businesses online. Good example of a fitness business transitioning to the online business.
Tell your customers how are you affected
Even if there is no impact on your logistics and service delivery - tell customers that you are open for business. If you are running an e-commerce shop post a message on your homepage, product pages and checkout about delivery times. Give customers reassurance and manage their expectations in case you expect delays. This will help you secure orders in those difficult times.
Instead of completely stopping the activity think of the time in 3-6 months, at some point the lockdowns will ease off and you want to be at the front of the mind of your customers. Allocate spend wisely, but don't pause completely.
Use this time to learn and work on your core business
Now is the time to 'sharpen the saw' - many companies offer free resources that usually cost hundreds of dollars (e.g. https://academy.moz.com/) - so instead of Netflix tune in to learn a new skill and make your business more digital.
Being a step ahead and taking advantage of new opportunities
E.g. our linkedin post generated more than 30k free views and although we didn't plan to sell projects, it led to two paid projects, one of them was already delivered and another one is in progress. Think how you can adapt your services offering and help your customers. Markus (Filabe) shared a nice case on how they highlight different product benefits during the crisis - focusing more on hygiene and cleansing features because this is what matters to customers right now. The hygiene campaign blog can be found here. Another good example of a company taking advantage of this situation to help, but also create new business opportunities is Swiss e-commerce shop STEG - their CEO created an authentic video post with an offer to all smaller shops who sit on stock of products, but don't have e-commerce capabilities. STEG is willing to help them sell their products through their existing platform, in other words - STEG is launching their merchant program overnight!
Be opportunistic, but respectful in your communication
Although there are opportunities choose your words carefully to avoid perception that you might want to profit from the outbreak.
Appeal to your customers to support your business
Particularly small shops with a loyal customer base (e.g. bookstores). It's OKAY to ask your customers for support. Lydia shared an awesome example from a local store that appealed to their customers to buy books.
We talked about data and we see that tracking infected cases shows how the virus spreads across the world, patterns repeat in different countries. You can predict how it will impact each country and the reaction of businesses there is typically similar. If you are in a country that hasn't been affected yet there are plenty of learnings from countries that are currently in the lockdown. Also for international businesses in the lockdown, you can also look for opportunities in countries that will be in lockdown soon, but are perhaps still in denial mode.
Looking for insights
Markus made a good point about customer insights, he tries to read reports and posts from people who are affected to figure out their needs, pain points. That's where the inspiration and insights can come from for new content, campaign ideas, products or value proposition.
Lowering / increasing cost of advertising
We didn't really crack this because we don't have the data to support our hypothesis. On one hand, we see that large advertisers are pulling their ads (e.g. less events etc.), which should lower cost of advertising in general. But, since most of our campaigns run on ROAS/CPA bidding we don't care as much about the CPC/CPM. We did observe CPCs on search for example dropping slightly, but we didn't know in the end if it was meaningful.
It's a very good time to produce online content, look for opportunities in keywords, trends, customer demands and create smart content. E.g. we saw an increase in searches for financial planning and are working with a wealth management firm to promote their offering - more people look for security, insurance and safety features in products at the moment.
Trending topics & websites
We see some sites getting more traffic than usual (e.g. news portals) - look for opportunities to advertise on those sites.
Don't forget that some people who have never been online or used online services are now online! This means brand new online audiences - revisit your campaign targeting and look for opportunities.
Pricing and value proposition
Joel shared a good example from Beekeeper preparing a special starter package to businesses affected by the crisis (e.g. including crisis management features in the license). Think of your product and how you can adjust the value proposition and pricing. We saw many companies doing it to help out other businesses - those customers that you onboard now could stay with you after the crises and become paying or full license customers one day. They will value the fact that you helped them in a difficult time.
Please let me know in case I missed something in my notes or if you have other tips that we should share.