COVID-19: The 11 step guide to recovery planning

With lockdown rules due to soften over the next few weeks/months we will slowly move to a new normal. What that looks like is hard to determine. However we do know that all businesses must plan for recovery. That recovery will certainly not be a return to business as usual.

According to Google there are three paths to economic recovery:-

  1. Respond – Where businesses adapt to fast changing consumer behaviour and movement in demand.
  2. Rebuild – Here businesses must plan for recovery – go back to the marketing fundamentals using data to guide their thinking.
  3. Recover/Reframe – Prepare the right tools and strategies to capture new demand and be well positioned for recovery.

In this guide we take a look at 11 ways in which you can start preparing for recovery. They are by no means in order of priority

1. Grow your audience now

With more consumers online due to COVID-19, it is essential you capture this traffic. These potential customers will then become part of your owned audience that you won’t have to keep paying Google to drive back to your website in the future. To find out how you can Grow Your Audience download this guide.

2. Keep engaging, even if you’re not selling

Email marketing isn’t just about selling. If you find yourself in a business that isn’t able to service your customer base because of lockdown, or over demand means that you have shortages in supply, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be communicating with your audience. In fact, this is the time that if you do keep up the conversation, in the right way, your brand will stand head and shoulders above your competitors.

There are many inventive ways this can be achieved, for example:-

  • If you are a wine bar – send emails with how to make your own cocktails at home. Start up a subscription service with supplies and recipes delivered to doorsteps
  • If you are in travel – set up a new newsletter with inspiring stories from across the world
  • For fashion and beauty – Circulate user generated content for top tips and how to wear your products, even team up with other businesses in similar circumstances to bring a unique offer to the audience
  • Hotels – could create content on what goes on behind the scenes

The list could go on, the aim here is creativity and being agile to meet new audience needs.

3. Preparing your communications for recovery

How well a company responds during a crisis will have deep impact on the likelihood of a consumer purchasing from them in the future. How you responded at the beginning and through to recovery needs to also be consistent. Your tone and empathy must remain the same.

According to insights from Zinkler UK consumer confidence is growing slowly over time, however, how you handle your communications at this time is crucial.

These stats, from a recent survey by Endelman, demonstrate the importance of your brand communications:-

  • 21% UK consumers have already convinced other people to stop using a brand they thought were not acting appropriately to the pandemic
  • 53% consumers felt that brands needed to do everything they could to protect their employees even if it meant suffering financial losses
  • 54% say they are not paying attention to new products unless they help with their pandemic related life changes
  • 83% consumers say they want brands to connect people
  • 89% want brands to communicate how they are protecting their staff
  • 84% want brands to focus advertising on the products and services that can help people cope with pandemic related life changes
  • 64% UK consumers want brands to use email as a channel to communicate about the virus and their response to the pandemic



4. Understanding new audience behaviour, in a new world

Whilst we can’t exactly predict what will be the long term behavioural changes, we know there will be an impact. During a crisis humans will revert to becoming more conservative and more risk averse, they will be more worried about health and go back to the bottom of the pyramid of needs – ensuring their safety, well-being and where to get food to survive.

According to Forrester consumers plan to be more cautious when we return to a form of new normal. Will consumers prefer a more simple life? Currently 37% of consumers prefer to satisfy their core needs whilst staying indoors.

Many brands will need to reassess personas and audience segments to get to know them again. Marketers need to take a look at products and services on offer – are they relevant in the new world? Do they make your business profit? To understand this, marketers must go back to the data, they must analyse the old segments and devise new ones. But these segments and understanding must be as agile as the marketing processes, as over time we are in for much change!

5. Re-defining the new customer journey

Just as audiences are changing, so is the customer journey. Analysis of more than 805 marketers conducted by Marketing Week and Econsultancy found that 62% of B2C marketers say COVID-19 has caused a radical change to the customer journey compared with 51% of those working in B2B.

The complete shift to online has led to gaps in the customer experience. 82% marketers say they have learned things about the customer journey that they will use beyond the crisis. Businesses have also had to retrain their marketing teams to deal with new channels.  The study also shows that nearly 30% of businesses have reallocated budget and attention from acquisition to retention.

6. Trust is key

As we saw in the stats earlier from Endelman, consumers are very tuned into brands that are seen to be protecting their employees, customers and others amid the crisis.

The brand tone of voice, how they communicate and who they use to help communicate trust all make a difference to how businesses will be perceived today and into the future.

Recent YouGov data shows brand are starting to suffer or benefit because of their responses during initial stages of Coronavirus

7. A new digital

Not a single business wants to feel the damage of the below headline. Those businesses that didn’t have a digital presence or those whose presence had gaps have either had to transform quickly or fail. Many consumers have increased their consumption of digital technology across all sectors. In a study by the IAB/USC it was found that a huge 32% of online shoppers where making them for the first time. This is a brand new audience, who may never go back to offline.

Digital transformation is now a necessity that all CEO’s will have no choice but to prioritise. And to keep ahead of the competition, this transformation needs to take place wherever you are on the maturity scale.

8. Automation increases efficiency

During and post the virus, as uncertainty remains, marketing teams and budgets may face constraints yet again. This leads to a greater need to automate where possible.

Automation of otherwise human interactions will pop up everywhere from click and scan to Ai driven robots instore or even at your dentist. It is an even more important for marketers to automate as much as possible where teams can be freed from repetitive tasks and businesses can save costs.

Here are 5 reasons why you should be implementing marketing automation amid COVID-19.

  1. Improve the customer experience. The ability to send triggered emails based on behaviour allows brands to deliver a deeper level of personalisation whilst providing consumers with communications that are useful to their every day lives.
  2. Increase the ROI of teams. In the long run marketing automation reduces the amount of time needed to set up campaigns, which in turn means you get a greater efficiency from the team you have
  3. Increased average order value. Product recommendations are one of the most revenue boosting features in the marketing automation arsenal. They are a great way to cross sell and upsell products whilst the consumer is in the buying process.
  4. Recover lost revenue. Ecommerce brands can increase their revenue by an average of 12% by automating forgotten baskets.
  5. Increase customer lifetime value. Automate welcome programs, requests for reviews and feedback. Send exclusive previews to high spending segments, and trigger re-engagement campaigns if your audience starts slipping away.

9. Agility is the new normal

One thing we have learned for sure is that we have the capability to be agile. As marketers, we know the importance of changing messaging and content, however, previously internal processes meant weeks before anything of significance could be changed. During COVID-19 businesses have been forced into a world of fast paced decision making that was unprecedented – this has led to a new agile methodology which must be here to stay.

10. Invest in measuring what matters

It is essential that you are measuring the metrics that drive business results such as revenue growth and profitability.

Ensure these are aligned to your new business objectives.

What data were you seriously lacking at the times of crisis?

How did you prove the business worth of the marketing functions you were looking after?

Once you have identified these metrics, get them approved by the wider leadership team. The next step is to ensure you have the right infrastructure to support this deeper marketing analytics.

11. Assessing current marketing tech stack

Finally, as the old adage says “Failing to plan is planning to fail” – this is the time to reassess your processes, strategies and discover whether you have the right technology stack implemented to capture demand on recovery. Work with the relevant teams in your business to ensure the right infrastructure is in place to meet all business objectives. Then make sure they integrate – this will allow you to understand the data from a customer view rather than by channel or technology.

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