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[Thought Leadership]

It’s the last week of December 2019, you’re enjoying a much-needed break after a busy year. In the back of your head, you’re already scheming for 2020 and imagining what your marketing campaigns are going to look like. Little did you know that everything would quite literally be turned on its head. Who could possibly have planned for a pandemic like COVID-19? The answer to that question is obviously nobody.

There has been a vivid shift in how marketers are thinking about their tactics, and it’s most definitely skewing towards online. An e-commerce project that was tabled for later on in the year, or next financial year, is now a priority. Where digital marketing has received the smaller portion of the marketing budget, it is now seeing bigger gains. Where certain marketing activities have been paused, digital marketing has seen the green light to continue.

There is no need to keep hammering on about digital marketing being important; we all know it is. So what then are the must-haves of digital marketing in the age of COVID-19? What should we prioritise as the items that can no longer be ignored?

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Below are the non-negotiables of digital marketing in 2020.

Your Website

Without a website, you don’t exist. Without a carefully designed website that puts user experience at the heart, you cannot expect users to do business with you. Your website is your greatest tool; it is the one place in the big worldwide web that you get to fully control and start to introduce your audience to who you really are. It is an extension of your business. It is your business. Therefore, take your website seriously. If you don’t take your website seriously, you can’t expect your audience to. Take the time to build thorough user journeys and experiences that bleed into world-class user interface designs. It’s worth it.

Search Engine Optimisation

We all know this already, but everyone starts their buying journey online by searching. If they’re not searching it means they’ve already done the research. When that search query is entered and the search engine results page manifests, you better show up. Otherwise, you don’t exist. The amount of business you could lose because you don’t rank on a search engine results page is almost criminal. It’s a no brainer and definitely one of the smartest tools out there to stand out against your competitors. Search engine optimisation is not merely a task of writing content. It has to do with all the technical aspects of your site; the link building process and the carefully curated messages that are relevant to your audience. Take search engine optimisation seriously; it’s worth investing your time and budget into it.

Direct Marketing

If you have a database of clients that you’ve done work for in the past and you’re not reminding them of your business, then what are you even doing? Now more than ever, the average buyer is looking for certainty. In times of uncertainty they will default to the option they know worked last time. There is no room for error in spending. Therefore, remind your audience that you exist, that you are here for them and that you’re relevant to them. A brilliantly crafted piece of direct marketing sent to the right audience at the right time is more powerful than any advertising campaign. Get those emailers fired up and explore newer technologies like WhatsApp.

Earned Media

Now more than ever your audience is consuming online media forms. It has always been a good idea to have an always-on presence in the media, and right now it’s more important than ever. Those who are seen to be leading the conversation around positivity and the future, especially during the time of COVID, are seen to be the businesses that people will trust. Use the media to seed thought leadership and especially positivity on how your business is relevant. Use influencers if needs be to augment these messages. Earned media is more believable than paid media. It always has been. Now is the time of believability.

Lastly: a wild one, but definitely one to think about; Gaming

How is your business considering video games as a method to drive transformational education both internally and externally? An addictive but simple video game coupled with a targeted message is a powerful tool to build your brand and drive affinity. It may not be something you’re looking to build today, but there definitely is an argument for the rising popularity of simple modular games. People are playing more games, especially now. Take the advice, or leave it.

In closing, what I’ve listed above seems simple enough. It almost seems like a no brainer; why are you even telling us this? However, I’m still amazed at how few businesses (big or small) actually get this right. It’s the basics of digital marketing, the foundation. Now is not the time to focus on the next clever campaign, it’s time to get the house in order and do the basics right. It really is a non-negotiable.