But what about e-commerce? We’re working on that every day, of course, and the solution to what these companies should be doing at this time is much more nuanced and complicated based on what we’ve seen so far.
We don’t have all the answers yet. In this article, however, we document and update tactical and strategic marketing options for e-commerce companies during this coronavirus crisis.
These options are discussed below in relation to the three pillars of e-commerce marketing: SEO, PPC and CRO. We also discuss general tactics and strategies that you can currently consider. Finally, we briefly share what we are doing as an agency for our own business.
However, things change quickly. As our considerations on these issues evolve, we will update this post and log all updates. What you are reading are our latest thoughts on the subject.
Your strategy for digital marketing: Should you make strategic or tactical changes and if so, where?
E-commerce marketing consists of three pillars, which are also our three main services:
We’ll discuss each in the order given above, not as a priority indication, but simply because we believe that SEO and CRO currently have simpler answers. In the meantime, PPC has many nuances, so we’ll discuss it last.
Our thoughts on e-commerce SEO strategy at this time
Based on what we’ve seen with SEO so far, most ecommerce companies don’t need to make drastic changes. As always with SEO, the resources you use for it should not have an immediate impact.
Yes, there may currently be fluctuations in the search volume (which can be positive or negative depending on the industry). But SEO is inherently a long-term game, and that doesn’t change.
What should these SEO activities be? Here are some case studies and resources that we have released that can help:
If you have any questions about SEO changes that you are currently seeing, you can contact us via our consultation form or ask in the comments. We will reply as soon as possible.
Note: We are publishing a free post to report on trends that we will see from all of our customers over the next week.
Our thoughts on the e-commerce CRO strategy at this time
In order for CRO to be successful, you need enough visits to achieve statistical significance in your A / B tests. So If your website continues to generate reasonable traffic, continue. But if it goes down dramatically, You should stop the A / B tests. However, that doesn’t mean you have to stop CRO.
You can continue to make UX improvements to your site or do the following:
Our thoughts on the e-commerce PPC strategy at this time
The strategy becomes more nuanced with PPC. The answer to what strategic changes you should make during this COVID-19 response time depends on the type of business you do.
For example, we work with a company that specializes in medical care. They have halved their PPC advertising spend because they are currently unable to get inventory. Because they can’t ship orders, they had to make some instant cash flow decisions to invest in other parts of their business.
We also have several customers who see a decrease in PPC (and SEO) traffic due to a simple and expected decline in consumer demand during this crisis – for example, baby products, B2B industrial products, fishery products and more.
However, We also have customers who see significant improvements in PPC metrics and ultimately ROAS. One is in the area of nutritional supplements and nutrition, while the other is a paid digital magazine.
How is that possible?
There are, of course, some products and industries that are in high demand during this crisis. However, we currently suspect that others will only see improved (lower) click costs due to less competition, as many large brands are retiring and are on hold. For example, Amazon has already decided to cut some of its spending on Google Shopping and text ads.
What is most important at PPC is a positive ROAS. As long as the ROAS reaches the threshold of your company, it makes financial sense to spend as much as possible.
For further reading, here are two case studies that we have published on ROAS for e-commerce companies:
Track your results over time instead of making rash decisions with your PPC budget. If you get fewer conversions and less traffic, but returns stay the same, stay on track. You may even see a better ROAS than normal, as some of our customers do.
Alternatives for advertising spending when physical retail is a key channel
If distribution through physical retail partners is also a big part of your business, you can be creative with your budget. When your retail partners are open (like grocery stores), there are other options you can spend.
Here are two ideas you can try today:
- Use your advertising budget to direct pedestrian traffic to these retailers.
- Discuss how you can give these retailers a portion of your budget to promote your products. Can you give them your PPC budget so they can run ads that are specific to your products, even if you don’t run ads?
Additional ecommerce marketing tactics that are worth considering
During an economic downturn, it is necessary to experiment. Below are some tactics that some of our e-commerce customers have tried.
Address new customers
Because of the pandemic, your customers may not be able to buy what you are selling. Use this time to determine whether your products are well received by other target groups.
For example, we work with an e-commerce company that is active in the swimming pool accessories B2B business. You remain confident because pools always need to be cleaned. Otherwise, they can suffer damage that will cost owners a lot more money in the long run.
It is possible that the economic downturn will spawn more do-it-yourself pool owners. These would be new B2C customers in relation to their usual target group of pool maintenance companies. To reach new audiences, consider creating more SEO content around DIY maintenance.
Build your existing audience cheaply Now for retargeting Later
At the same time, your customers may not be able to buy your products now. However, this does not mean that they will no longer buy your product in the future.
Keep in mind that other companies may cut their advertising budgets. As a result, the cost per click is likely to decrease in the coming weeks and months. If your company has enough cash, you can use it.
Instead of optimizing for sales, experiment with advertising spending to expand your email list. Maintain relationships with those who sign in by offering high quality content. When the time comes, you have a much larger list of cheaply won customers to focus on again.
Accept repeat orders
Even if you have trouble getting inventory, you may not have to stop selling immediately. Instead, continue to take orders. You can guarantee customers that you will send products later when they are back in stock.
Along with reducing advertising spend, Amazon has discontinued shipping of unnecessary items in stock. So if you are an e-commerce company that does orders yourself, this is good news for you. Consumers who have to buy what you sell have to do so on brand sites like yours instead.
Use your products with a new copy of your ad
Take a close look at your current product offerings. There may be an opportunity to reposition your value in a post-coronavirus world. You can do this by rewriting a copy of the ad that reflects the country’s new conditions, or repositioning existing products in the context of the current situation of consumers around the world.
Here are 3 examples:
- Example 1 – Stickers and badges: A customer we work with sells decorative vinyl skins on cell phones, laptops and other electronics. You will brainstorm to reuse a related product (e.g. stickers) and connect it to a charitable cause in the fight against the corona virus. This would give customers who would like to help people affected by coronavirus the opportunity to do so when purchasing that customer’s products.
- Example 2 – Home furniture: Another customer we work with sells office furniture and has repositioned Copy and Creative to focus on the home office and meet an obvious need.
- Example 3 – Home Furniture: Similarly, here is an example of a recent Crate & Barrel email (no costumer), who sell home office furniture all year round, but simply position it as “WFH inspo” (work from home):
Focus on online events
Some e-commerce companies host live events to market to their customers. With full social distancing, however, these are currently not possible. It has opened the door for companies to experiment with online events.
We work with an e-commerce company that operates in the health and wellness industry. In order to establish an offline presence, they have organized personal yoga classes in the past. But now they are moving more “live” online courses instead. E-commerce brands that sell physical goods could do similar things with regard to product videos on Instagram or Facebook that help consumers use their products at home and solve the current challenges that consumers are facing.
What are we doing today as an agency?
Every e-commerce company we work with must take into account their own circumstances. To help you navigate the current climate, we use the following two-step process.
Step 1: We reach customers one after the other
Before we prescribe solutions, we need to know where each of our customers is. We must first learn something about the problems they have faced since the beginning of this crisis.
We based who we reached first by assessing the underlying risks of each customer. To determine who needs the most one-on-one interviews, we’ve considered the following criteria:
- If the customer’s site has been hit by traffic
- If the customer has already contacted us
- Google Trends
- The customer’s industry
Step 2: We offer our recommendations
As soon as we know the exact circumstances of our customers, we give our advice.
Take, for example, the medical consumables business that we have already mentioned. Cash is not a problem for them, just inventory. We can suggest that they spend it on other strategic levers like SEO, where they can now gain a foothold against competitors who may not be as focused in this area.
Where our business is in the current climate
After all, most of our customers remain committed to our business to work with us despite the events. We have not received a hasty number of cancellations due to the herd mentality related to the panic.
We are fortunate that most of the companies we work with are not debt-driven companies. Many of our customers do not rely on high cash flow.
We can choose to run reduced-ad campaigns for some of our customers. However, the overall workload that we carry does not change.
Like you, what happens next for us at Inflow happens every day. Nevertheless, we remain confident that we can make e-commerce companies successful.
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