Coronavirus pandemic falls on our shoulders suddenly and changes our everyday life… Closed shops and parks, restrictions in trade and in public areas. We don’t need to write about it, been there, done that. This situation we are facing has changed not only our personal life but also the business area. Some businesses, thanks to their experiences and e-marketing specialist care, very quickly found themselves in this new (virtual) reality. It was evident that e-commerce was coping greatly with this unique situation. Representatives of the fitness industry have found their place in the virtual world with surprising ease -everyone is now exercising from home (or only saying they do 😉). The entertainment industry has had a similar experience. But this is only one side of the coin.
Covid-19 and e-marketing
After a few weeks in this new pandemic time, we know that some of our clients struggle with financial problems and start to look after their marketing budgets. Can we, as a business partner, help them? Have we had a chance to convince our clients that their decision to reduce their budget radically or even to give up e-marketing support altogether is a bad idea? What can we offer? Let’s start from the beginning.
If you are working in the e-marketing area, you know about the consequences of giving up PPC or SEO campaigns. That’s great. But are you sure that your client knows about it? Do they understand that the absence of their brand on the Internet can have a massive impact on their business? If you are working with a company which operates basically in a virtual world, their marketing team will know about it. But many of us cooperate with clients that treat e-marketing as something not that important, so that decision about suspending or even cancelling e-marketing support is so easy – and we won’t let that happen! If you need strong arguments for a conversation with your partner, you should ask your team. It’s smart to let them speak because of their experience and thorough knowledge about client business. They really can help you.
The solution to meet your needs
Let’s see what happened with our agency client:
The specificity of the client consists of collecting leads and implementing them in the next calendar year. The threat is that the situation does not allow us to predict whether the next year leads may be successfully closed.
The purpose of this campaign is to collect as many leads as possible – we only account for those raised, not closed. The difficulty for us is that the geopolitical situation affects the amount of lead collected, so we may not achieve the KPIs agreed.
The difficulty for the customer is that in a “normal” situation they know in advance that some of the leads will be not closed. They know that, due to the current world situation, the number of leads will be smaller, and there is a real threat that they would not be closed next year. So they have strong arguments for giving up the leads campaign.
You can respond in two ways:
- Change nothing and continue the campaign – KPI is the number of leads collected, not what the customer has done with them. Maybe if we spend the entire planned budget, the goals set can be achieved.
- Apply a change of strategy and apply small changes that will show that we are a trustworthy partner and want to help.
The first solution can be useful – we implement the campaign as intended. If the KPI is not realized, we could blame it on the pandemic and factors that are beyond our control. We cannot be accused of anything but a lack of proactivity.
The second solution requires more involvement and maybe some concessions to the client, but in the future it can offer inordinately greater benefits. Do you know the experiment in which children can eat a marshmallow immediately or wait a little and eventually get two? This is a similar situation 😊
From decision to action
If you chose solution number two, then where should you start?
At first, think about yourself, i.e. carefully check the provisions of the contract and confirm your options for adjusting the budget. The second thing to confirm are the consequences of not having the campaign results. With this awareness you can go to the next stage – talking to the client.
During the meeting (virtual, of course), the client should receive information about the current situation, the possible threat of KPI implementation, and hear a specific proposal to change the assumptions of the campaign, supported by content-based argumentation.
What can you suggest?
Budget reduction -it is the most obvious step and one that is the most beneficial for the client. Before proposing changes in the number of expenses, it is worth analysing the current situation carefully. In this case, it will be indispensable to support a PPC specialist who will know exactly where you will be able to make cuts and suggest how to do it in a way that is the least detrimental to your main goal, which is collecting leads.
The second solution, also beneficial for the client, and less invasive for the agency, is to transfer the budget to another type of campaign, or to the next month. In this case, you need to demonstrate the ability to anticipate and with each proposal to transfer the budget, provide the most realistic date/situation of its use – of course, for the benefit of our partner’s business. Here, similarly to the first example, you should analyse the case – based on the knowledge and experience of a specialist – and choose the most effective solution.
You can read about practical ways of the PPC campaign budget optimization here.
Another quick change that you can implement can be the launch of a new type of campaign or the use of a new advertising tool. It may turn out that something that did not have a chance to bring the expected leads three months ago, in the face of a pandemic will be worth considering and implementing in the campaign action plan. If, for example, the customer has not used the PLA campaign so far, and we suppose that this campaign may have a positive impact on the sales of their products, then it may be worth offering them help in preparing the feed and preparing a trial campaign. You can also try to persuade them to carry out a campaign using a media platform on which they are not present, but their potential customers are there, e.g., Instagram.
Of course, for all proposals, you should find strong arguments that are appropriate for the product and the target group. After all, the point is to convince the client to invest in something that they have not yet tried – I suggest again here to turn to the team and work out common arguments.
Regardless of which of the above solutions you will choose to implement (you can choose a combination of them), some rules are worth sticking to.
Effective communication with the client and proper research
If you have been working with your partner for a long time, you probably know well what the distribution of forces is in their industry is, and you know their competition inside out. Point to you! However, if the area in which your client operates is new to you, it’s about time to catch up. Take the time to research, learn about direct competition, check what actions they are taking now and whether their decisions are bringing positive results. It can be a valuable tip and help in conversation.
It will be essential to obtain information from the client about the picture of their business and industry during the pandemic. You will undoubtedly agree that it is worth getting this information first hand and sharing it with the team involved in the project. It may require an intensified exchange of e-mails or telephone calls on the my-client and my-team lines, which is why the introduction of regular project statuses can be checked.
Have initiative! Campaign specialists who are working with clients daily will have a lot to say about new campaign targeting options and budget transfers. Communication is key! Talk to the team, share ideas, discuss.
When you are talking to a client, it’s worth being empathic and attentive to all of their comments. A pandemic is definitely a difficult time for their business, and therefore forgetting the extended response time or its briefness will be appreciated.
Let’s return to our client mentioned at the beginning of this text. Are you curious how we behaved in this case? We suggested reducing the monthly budget, assuming that we will use the surplus in the following months when the situation calms down. Based on information from a specialist, the budget has been transferred to the types of campaigns that convert the best. Based on the observations and conclusions drawn from them, and information from the client, campaign targeting is continuously adapted to the situation. The customer is constantly informed about the results of the campaign and knows to what extent KPIs are implemented.
Can the customer be satisfied with this solution? Yes, because, despite the threat of failure to fulfil the KPI, they have the feeling that they are “taken care of” due to the agency knowing the realities, knowing what it is measuring, and can propose solutions tailored to the situation.
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