April 2, 2020

Ten Ways Businesses Have Adapted Their Marketing During the COVID-19 Outbreak

There’s no denying that businesses across the UK are struggling to come to terms with what will become of their respective industries once the lockdowns and social distancing are eventually over. Some might experience a resurgence in interest. Some might not recover at all.

Across marketing news, it’s been reported that large brands such as AirBnB have been pulling ad spend across all paid media platforms, such as PPC and display. Organic traffic for many other business types has also taken a hit at a time when searchers are unwittingly opting out of the market during self-isolation at home.

But that’s not stopping some from transforming their digital marketing offering in an attempt to ride a very turbulent wave. From restaurants to tech companies, and even performing artists, atom42 look at the innovative ways that different industries have adapted their digital platforms during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Support for the NHS

Taking an opportunity to lend a helping hand during an international crisis, many businesses have offered support for the NHS in various ways. With many industries conscious of weighing into the COVID-19 for fear of appearing to exploit a desperate situation, some have opted into the conversation by helping the very people the country is relying on – the NHS.

From huge discounts for NHS staff by food brands, such as Pret a Manger and burger joint Shake Shack, to hotel chains offering up their free rooms for hospital staff working around the clock to tend to a struggling healthcare system.

Supporting the elderly

Another group whose welfare became a huge cause for concern throughout the coronavirus outbreak were the elderly, who were identified as being among the most at risk of severe illness or even death. As a key service, many supermarkets remain open, and have been under increasing pressure to enforce social distancing in their stores.

Spotting an opportunity to protect the vulnerable, supermarkets such as Tesco took to their social channels and even Google Sponsored Promotions (GSP) to share their message that they’d reserved a time in the day specifically for the elderly to visit their stores to stock up on provisions. Asda did the same in an email to customers.

Contact-free delivery

In a move that has now been mimicked across much of the food industry, Deliveroo and Pizza Hut announced across their social media channels (and the latter in a PPC ad) that they would be offering contact-free delivery in a bid to reassure their customers that the risk of contact with their driver would be kept to a minimum.

Instead, eager users would be able to select an option that meant their driver would ring their doorbell/call them once outside, leave the food at the door, and stand a safe distance away until the food was collected. The move offered a way to help consumers feel confident in their services at a time where panic-buying in supermarkets meant groceries were scarce – smart!

Live stream events

Much of the British public were disappointed when events they’d had lined up for the foreseeable future were quickly cancelled. Some were even called off before the ban on mass gatherings was announced, with many events companies taking the moral stance in honouring social distancing recommendations early on.

Instead, musicians and performers of all types quickly adapted the delivery of their shows, instead choosing online streaming such as Twitch and Facebook Live to entertain their fans at home. Some did this for free, whilst others asked for small donations to help see them through the tough months ahead.

Free apps and classes

Whether borne out of kindness or an attempt to foster good relations with potential returning customers, we’ve seen many online apps and masterclasses take to Facebook Live, Youtube channels or Twitch to offer their services free of charge.

Entertainers of all kinds have quickly offered up their services, including fitness guru Joe Wicks. He’s received widespread acclaim for his virtual PE sessions to keep children entertained in the mornings, and has surely earned himself large swathes of fans in the form of grateful parents, alongside millions of YouTube views on each daily video.

Home delivery

Among the first businesses to be forced to close by the UK government were restaurants and cafes. Ranging from huge chains to smaller family-owned outlets, the closures posed a big threat to restaurateurs who would still have to foot the bill for business rates and rent.

Responding quickly, many restaurants who had not previously advertised takeaway options were fast to advertise across their social channels that they now do – all whilst honouring social distancing measures, of course! The call to arms for locals to protect the smaller, independent bars and restaurants in their area is sure to drive footfall once businesses are able to reopen in the future.

Free digital tools

Spotting the opportunity that many working within marketing will be forced to work from home, some industry tools such as Loop11 extended their services and made some add-ons completely free for existing users.

This added value at a time of uncertainty will earn brands the respect of their subscribers, and perhaps earn themselves some new ones in the long run.

Gift cards

In an effort to stem overheads during the crisis, businesses of all types have been encouraging customers to purchase gift cards that will be worth more once the business reopens – for example, the 40ft Brewery said that every £1 spent with them will be worth £2, giving patrons the opportunity to double their money.

Similarly, businesses such as hairdressers, barbers, beauty therapists, and other services have also adopted a gift card or voucher scheme to help ensure there is cashflow to the business at a time when their physical shops are closed.

Social distancing messaging

Spotting opportunities to lean into public sentiment regarding the concept of social distancing, brands were quick to adapt their own slogans and logos to help spread the “stay at home” message across their social channels – even before stringent lockdown measures were put in place.

Audi’s famous four-ring logo was separated out in a GIF on their Instagram channel, accompanied with a message to “keep distance”. The post earned them almost four times their usual engagement, proving that a little social listening can go a long way!

Social media response

Anticipating that many would be taking to social media more often whilst stuck at home during quarantine, most platforms introduced some kind of tool that was related to COVID-19. From Youtube limiting the monetisation of videos relating to coronavirus to prevent the spread of misinformation to Instagram’s “co-watching” feature, it seems most social channels have adapted.

Among these is Snapchat’s Here For You mental health tool. The innovative idea pairs its users with resources that are relevant to them wherever terms such as “depression”, “anxiety”, and “grief” are used. A smart way to respond to the burgeoning dialogue around mental health, particularly during lockdown!

For more insights into adapting your marketing strategy, both paid and organic, following the COVID-19 crisis, head to www.atom42.co.uk