S1:E1 Adapt your marketing strategy for coronavirus life

Updated: Apr 1


Learn more about pandemic consumer purchasing behaviours, dig into the SWOT analysis and learn how to use it plus what we know so far about the May 2020 Google core algorithm update.

And by the way, the movie reference is from Highlander. 😉


Hello, welcome to the very first episode of the first season of The Marketing mindset club podcast. It's super exciting to be here and you're early to the party, which is super awesome. So grab a cuppa, pull up a chair and make it your spot for the season.

Today, we're just getting started, which means sharing what on earth this is all about. You're probably wondering, what does marketing mindset mean Why do I want to be part of a club about it? And you're probably asking yourself, how is listening to you are going to help me achieve my goals. But don't worry, because this is all about you. And there can be only one you. Yes, that is an 80s movie reference for two reasons. One, I'm a child of the 80s and proud! I think you'd get to know something the better you know about their favourite movies. And incidentally, if we don't know which film that's from, you should head over to the Instagram marketing mindset club and find out which film is and go watch it, because I highly recommend it.

So, this podcast is about bringing together marketers from all industries, all levels of expertise, with the aim of helping each other out and learning something new.

And the reason I wanted to start a podcast right now is that work and business and life and everything just feels so unsettled due to the global pandemic. The agency that I work for is having to adapt and change like many others. And marketers everywhere or having to adapt as well. Maybe some of you have got job uncertainty in your work, maybe you're experiencing a reduction in marketing budget. Maybe that means you've got to change strategy to try and make the money go further. And I really hope this isn't the case. But a lot of people have been made redundant as a result of the pandemic. My aim is to build this into a community of like minded marketing folks.

So, that means whether you're an entrepreneur working on your own business, or you're part of a marketing team in an organisation, or maybe you were freelancer, and you're trying to juggle multiple clients, there will be something in this for you. It doesn't matter if you're a career long marketer, or you fell into this career because something about it appealed to you. Or you're even just starting out wondering if marketing could be a thing you're interested in. Doesn't matter how much you think you don't know or how skilled you feel or not, this is the place to learn and grow.

So that's a bit about the journey that we're going on. And I thought I should probably tell you a bit about me as well. I'm the head of digital marketing and strategy for a creative agency. I achieved my masters in digital marketing communications in 2015 and I've taught lectures on digital marketing for undergrads and post grads alongside my day job since 2018.

I've been in digital marketing since about 2008. And I remember the first digital marketing book I ever bought was entitled "How to get into bed with Google", which had all kinds of what we would consider now cringe worthy tactics about SEO. Over the 12 years of my career, so far, I've had successes and challenges and learning opportunities. And I purposely avoid the word failure because I think it's only a fail when you give up trying and I'm not there.

So, how are we going to do this thing? This is season one. And there are going to be eight episodes and all new episodes come out on a Tuesday. So please do subscribe so you don't miss anything.

Each week, we're going to do three bits:

  • a bit on what's happened in the digital news lately, and what matters about the top stories.

  • we're going to tackle a learning bit where I'll deep dive on a tool or technique or strategy that you can use.

  • and I'll share a bit about lessons from real life marketing campaigns.

So let's dive in and get going.

The digital news bit

We're going to talk about the digital news bit for this week. And this is about how lockdown has changed online behaviour.

We're all living in a changed reality at the moment. And those those words such as unprecedented and uncertain times have all become such cliche that now we all just pretty much ignore them. But lockdown started in the UK on March 23, to be exact.

And a recent study found that there were about 21% increase in online orders in March this year versus March 2019. So, if we put that into context, the the pandemic had already been announced, and lockdown started, you know, three quarters of the way through the month so that 20% uplift could be attributed to the lockdown. But since it only happened partway through the month, it's kind of hard to say.

In the same survey, just over 40% of respondents said they were currently shopping online for things they would normally buy in store. So, you know, that adds more weight to the argument that people shifted their behaviours to buying online, because they can go out and they were only allowed to go out for essential items.

But this uplift didn't happen across all categories, and sales of luggage and bags are significantly down, which is contrary to what usually happens this time of year when people are planning their summer holidays and getting ready for their getaways. However, sales of toys and games have almost doubled as parents have undoubtedly found themselves at home with children who can no longer go to school and need occupying. The other top categories that saw growth were food, beverage and tobacco and sporting goods. And if you put that together with toys and games, it all points to a huge captive audience who are experiencing this change reality. They are stuck at home and only key workers can go to work, so it kind of surprises me that home garden only saw a 36% uplift, which is kind of contrary to the reaction that we've seen today. On the o1 June when we're recording this, which is the day that IKEA has opened across the country, there were reports of cues that were causing major traffic jams. Everybody decided they were going to go to IKEA today, presumably because they have been in their houses for such a long time and looking at the different things that they might need to get to improve their environment. So it surprises me even more that those sorts of purchases were not being made online during the lockdown.

And then you've got other brands who were able to take advantage of the captive audience in March. For example, Joe wicks the body coach has been incredibly successful at growing his following during the lockdown he has done free daily live YouTube lessons for kids at home alongside his regular content, which includes fitness and workouts for people of all ages. And when you look at social media usage, daily active users on Twitter is up about 24% for Q1 year on year, which is another indicator of people who have a lot of time on their hands who are either furloughed or maybe working from home or have their mobile with them, when usually they wouldn't if they were working. And that's kind of indicative of internet users worldwide. 44% of all internet users across the globe are spending more time on social media during lockdown.

So what this means for marketers is that we have got a greater audience potential out there. But it does mean being sensitive to the changed reality that they find themselves in the have to think about whether the context will be the same when you're delivering messages through these channels.

There's also an uplift in the usage of streaming services like Netflix as people spend more time at home. Messaging apps such as WhatsApp have seen an increased number of users as people try and stay in touch with their friends. And finally, many of these trends continue into April. And when you compare their buying habits before the pandemic to now, you can see people's priorities have changed before the pandemic, purchasing priorities were quality, price and then brand. Whereas in this current reality that seems to be almost completely switched to people are focusing on availability first, then price and quality. And now this time of recording, many bricks and mortar shops are either not open or opening with social distancing in price. And it's going to be really interesting to see how over the next few weeks people respond to coming out of lockdown and whether what we consider a normal or typical buying behaviours return.

There's also an uplift in the usage of streaming services like Netflix as people spend more time at home. Messaging apps such as WhatsApp have seen an increased number of users as people try and stay in touch with their friends. And finally, many of these trends continue into April. And when you compare their buying habits before the pandemic to now, you can see people's priorities have changed before the pandemic, purchasing priorities were quality, price and then brand. Whereas in this current reality that seems to be almost completely switched to people are focusing on availability first, then price and quality. And now this time of recording, many bricks and mortar shops are either not open or opening with social distancing in price. And it's going to be really interesting to see how over the next few weeks people respond to coming out of lockdown and whether what we consider a normal or typical buying behaviours return.

So my takeaway from this is to go back to the marketing strategy and look at what you're trying to achieve. It might not be possible to continue as you were before, and indeed some people shouldn't be It's not appropriate right now to do that. So what else can you do, you can build your following on any of the channels that you're working on, you can repurpose existing content that you have already either on your site or on your social channels. And you can continue to work on your brand. There's research out there at the moment that suggests brands who can communicate effectively with their followers at this time, are much more likely to rebound quickly at the end of the pandemic when consumer spending starts to pick up.

But however you decide to adapt, it's really important to set new goals and new objectives. So you have a direction of travel and you can measure whether or not you're being successful.

The learning bit

Today we are going to talk about the SWOT analysis. And for anyone who is an experienced marketer or experienced in business you might have used this before you might have heard about it before. So this is going to be a good refresher for anyone who has never used this before and doesn't know what I'm talking about. then by the end of this section, you should be able to draw a simple SWOT analysis which will help you with your marketing planning.

So what does SWOT stands for? It stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and very simply, it's a tool for assessing the current situation of anything you're considering. Applying a marketing approach to.

This is usually a product or service. But it could be applied to a business as a whole or a specific market. It's really up to you how you apply it.

The pros are that it's really quick and easy to use, it's a simple framework and it's really easy just to collate your thoughts on the one grid that I'm going to show you how to lay out in a moment. It's a low cost strategic planning tool can be used by anybody. You don't need any specific experience or qualification in order to use it effectively. It's accessible and it can reveal strategies that you didn't think of before.

The cons are that it can be pretty inflexible and can't be customised for digital-only activities very easily. The outcome relies on you. Your perception as an individual of the factors that you include in each section, so the results can be ambiguous and subjective. It also doesn't take into account any weighting or severity of different factors. So, it's very hard to understand the scale of the factors that you put in into each section.

You'll need something to write on at this point if you want to draw the grid and follow along with it, so feel free to pause the episode if you're not in a position to do that.

Start by drawing out a grid of two rows. two columns. So you should have four squares.

  • the top left is the strength section

  • the top right is weaknesses

  • bottom left is opportunities

  • And bottom right is threats.

So, you should label up those boxes but don't take up too much room because we're going to fill out each of those boxes with different factors.

The beauty of this model is that the labels of each section are fairly self explanatory. So, when you're thinking about strengths, ask yourself in the context of what you're trying to evaluate.

  • What is it that you do well?

  • What is it that the company does well?

  • What unique resources can you draw upon?

  • What are your unique selling points?

  • What is your strengths?

You can include anything here that you think might be a useful positive to carry forward into your strategy.

And then on the flip side of that, we have weaknesses. So try and answer questions such as,

  • What could you improve?

  • Where do you have fewer resources than others?

  • What are others likely to see as weaknesses

Looking at your competitors can sometimes reveal weaknesses that you weren't necessarily aware of, but try and be clear what is a weakness and what is a threat.

So, moving on to the bottom left, we've got opportunity teas and this is very simply what opportunities are available to you. And you can think of the what current trends could you take advantage of? How can you turn your strengths into opportunities? You can also consider internal factors such as what skills within the team do you have that you're not currently making you.

And then on the bottom right, we've got threats. And you should think of things that could harm the business. You could think about things that your competitor are doing that could impact negatively on your business or product. Another question to answer is what threats to your weaknesses expose you to?

You've been through that process and you filled out each of the four boxes. That makes up your SWOT analysis. And that in its simplest form is the SWOT planning tool. However, if you want to up-level it from there, you can combine your strengths and opportunities into an attacking strategy. If that is the direction that you choose to follow. You can combine weaknesses with opportunities in order to build an attacking strategy. So in that section you would counter weaknesses by sporting opportunities. If you think that defensive strategy is the way forward you will leverage your strength in order to minimise threats and if you need to build a defensive strategy you would use counter weaknesses and threats. That's all there is to it. So the best thing that you can do is go out there and practice and figure out if this model is going to work for your situation or not. For instance, I was working on one of these today for a client of mine in the Travel sector and the kind of things that I was Finding in terms of strengths, they have a really strong existing brand they have Have a significant email Marketing list they have good engagement on social and they've managed to adapt throughout the pandemic in order to retain a lot of engagement on their social channels. And they're actually managing to grow their following.

Their website could use some new content, it could use some more in depth content. They're not necessarily the best out multimedia contents that don't have a lot of video available at the moment. In terms of opportunities. Well, the opportunities are pretty big. Although people are not booking holidays at the moment, the the research suggests that bookings for 2021 for foreign holidays are about boom as soon as we come out of lockdown. We've got content opportunities with potential influences. They've also got content opportunities from previous customers. In terms of threats, the macro environmental factors are the biggest threats at the moment. The unknown about when lockdown will finish the unknown about whether we'll be hit with a recession and whether that will be a V, U or W or any other letter shaped. When customers will start spending again when they will, when will they feel confident enough to start booking holidays? These are all these are all threats to the business.

The real-life lessons bit

Now we're moving on to the real life marketing lessons bit. And this is where I just talk a bit about what I've learned recently through being in digital marketing and the successes and challenges as I said earlier, not failures.

So, one of the big things that has impacted us lately is the May 2020. Google core algorithm update. This update began rolling out in early May May the fourth ish and we think it took about two weeks to be fully rolled out. So by the end of the 18th of May, that was done. It looks like it was a really big update. It had an awful lot of impact. Some sites benefited some sites did not. And it's been particularly tricky timing to isolate whether or not a site has been impacted by the core algorithm. update or whether it is whether any changes are a result of changing consumer behaviour as a result of the pandemic.

So it's thought that there might have been five factors surrounding the core update. And none of them are particularly new or groundbreaking. They're all things that Google has been working towards for quite some time. So the first one is relevancy. Google appears to be better at understanding what the searcher is trying to find. It's also looking at expertise. So it's looking for content that has been authored by people who have first hand experience or qualifications in the topic about which they're writing. And this links in really closely with authority and trustworthiness.

We know that EA T is probably a factor. E-A-T stands for expertise, authority and trustworthiness. We know that at signals were probably reassessed as, as is usually the case in a core update. Link quality may also be a factor. Although those sites that have a less than optimal backlink profile probably would have been negatively impacted at some point anyway, this might just have been reviewed as a result of the core update.

So one particular site that I have been working on for about 12 months now in terms of SEO and content creation, has actually seen a bit of an uplift since about mid May. And it's really hard to tell whether it is to do with the algorithm update, like I said, or whether it is just a result of the pandemic but the site in question is a b2b technology supplier, and I've been working with them on their author profiles and getting new content up in the areas of expertise of the team members that they have.

We've also been producing more long form content that gives in depth, resources and analysis of complex issues, giving multiple perspectives. And this content has really started to perform since May in a way that it kind of wasn't before. So this could be one of the results of the algorithm update. If you have seen your organic traffic drop off since the beginning of May, it might be worth considering whether or not you could have been impacted by the algorithm update. And if you conduct a review of your site, just qualitatively looking at is your content adding value to the user? Can it be found? What's your backlink quality? Like you know, just asking those kind of questions and if you have a Google you'll find many, many checklists out there are things that you can look for, but it's worth just having. Having a moment to assess whether or not you have got some work to do in terms of the quality of your site.

Another real life lesson that I've learned recently is specifically related to retargeting ads on LinkedIn. And for those of you who might not know what a retargeting ad is, it is an advert that is shown to somebody who has previously engaged with some of your content or usually your website beforehand. So it's a way of getting your message in front of them again, hence the retargeting title. Now LinkedIn has a piece of JavaScript code called the LinkedIn insight tag. And what you do is implement that on your website. And it gathers information about those people who have accepted to allow cookies and allows you to build that into an audience within the LinkedIn platform. And retargeting ads are quite common. We will all have seen them at some point. It's the same principle as looking at a pair of shoes on the Marks and Spencers website. And then You're seeing that ad in multiple places across the internet, wherever you seem to be browsing. So what I've learned is to challenge my assumption of how valuable that audience is. It might seem obvious to think that everybody who has already been to your website would obviously want to be served a retargeting ad because they're already interested in your brand or your service or your product. But that's not necessarily the case. It recently caused me to think about who else might be visiting a website, who I would not want to target with ads. And that list includes competitors. It might also include students unless the retargeting campaign is about careers or vacancies. It might also include excluding people with certain job titles or from certain businesses who you know already customers.

LinkedIn allows you to filter that retargeting audience so you can exclude people from companies with whom you already do business if it's not appropriate to include them in that retargeting campaign. You could include people who work for your competitors for if there's no need in serving an ad, and it just led me to think there's a huge opportunity here to optimise our marketing spend, and reduce the number of irrelevant impressions of these ads. And I think that learning could apply across multiple platforms where you're able to filter that audience. And just be super specific about who you want to put your message in front of.

And that's all I have for you this week.

Thank you so much for being part of the marketing mindset club. It really means the world to me that you tuned in. If you've enjoyed this episode, there are two more out there right now to discover. Please don't forget to rate review and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts because it really helps me out. And I love reading your thoughts and comments and questions. So head over to Instagram at Marketing Mindset Club to get involved. And if you're still stewing about which 80s film I mentioned earlier, find the answer on the corresponding Instagram post for this episode. I look forward to seeing you next time on the marketing mindset club podcast.

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