It has become clear that Coronavirus will continue to deliver lasting impacts across every digital marketing channel, which is why it is now more important than ever for you to dial in your Analytics strategy.
During times of uncertainty, smart marketers understand that attention to detail and careful adjustments to process are required to track and interpret rapid shifts in data — from geographical trends to auction insights and more.
Here are 10 helpful Analytics strategies to help you stay on top of unpredictable performance trends as you navigate the impacts of Coronavirus.
Understand the COVID-19 Impact on Your Business
Long-term vs. Short-term Expectations
COVID-19 will have a material impact on business performance for many industry verticals.
However, it’s not safe to assume that the impact on all brands will be negative. Some brands have already started to see a net positive impact on performance in the wake of changing consumer behaviors relative to this pandemic.
There’s no way of telling what long term effects will look like because there is still too much uncertainty and too many variables to predict how brands will weather the storm successfully.
What We Know
One only needs to scroll through their social media feeds or tune into NPR to note that consumer behaviors have shifted as people prepare for and adapt to life during a pandemic outbreak. Many business models have shifted to adapt to changing needs fundamentally.
Fine dining establishments have become takeout and delivery only; distilleries have begun to produce hand sanitizer instead of spirits, and manufacturers are now producing masks instead of apparel.
And as the business models shift, the marketing strategy must change as well to keep consumers apprised of how brands are meeting market demands.
10 Helpful Analytics Strategies to Pivot Your Marketing During Coronavirus
1. Keep an Eye on Geographic Trends
As various measures fall into place domestically and globally, there will be varying needs that brands be proactively responsive toward. In geographic areas where the virus is just starting to emerge, media performance may look very different than in areas where the virus has already spread dramatically. Evaluating media data by region will expose opportunities to optimize investments relative to where a particular target market may be on the pandemic timeline.
2. Track Physical Store vs. E-Commerce Performance
With various local governments taking measures to close down non-essential businesses, brick and mortar retail is among the hardest-hit sectors. Pivoting quickly to focus on reporting views and insights on optimizing E-Commerce performance feels like a no-brainer. For some brands, this also means launching campaigns and offers that build awareness for their E-Commerce offerings.
3. Keep Tabs on Auction Insights
One thing that brands shouldn’t overlook amid the Coronavirus crisis are the tools that they already have at their disposal. Marketers who are running search or shopping campaigns with Google Ads have access to Auction Insights, a report that Google provides for advertisers who meet certain activity thresholds. The report allows for comparing your campaign performance to that of other advertisers who are participating in the same auctions. You can evaluate performance by a number of dimensions, including keyword, ad group, time period or device. The Auction Insights reports can expose opportunities to optimize performance by showing where you are leading or lagging in terms of position, ranking, and overlap (how often another participants’ ad received an impression when your ad also received an impression).
4. Review the Impact of Major Announcements to Better Understand Future Shifts
Various credible earned media sources have shared COVID-19 data tracking key milestones related to the outbreak. Evaluating these data points alongside a time series of media performance may serve to contextualize the relationship between virus-related milestones and shifts in paid media trends or audience behaviors. While we cannot establish a causal relationship between these data sets, they can be analyzed to determine if there is any positive correlation from a statistical standpoint.
5. Revise Your Forecasting for a More Accurate Picture During Volatility
Forecasting typically relies on historical data to project out future trends. However, given the volatility of the situation and its impact on performance trends, any projections you may be using will likely need tweaks to account for these confounding factors.
6. Audit Your Existing Messaging and Creative to Avoid Appearing Tone-Deaf Amid COVID-19
Paying close attention to the data is not the only way for marketers to ensure that their brands can weather this storm. This situation also calls for a careful examination of the creative imagery and messaging that marketers are leveraging to reach consumers. Whether we are talking about already-scheduled campaigns or net-new ad creative, brands need to be especially thoughtful about images, offers or messages that could come across as opportunistic, exploitative or generally insensitive to audiences given the gravity of the current circumstances.
7. Consider Pivoting Your Search Strategy for Local Search Terms in Lock-down Areas
Currently, in many regions, the majority of the population has been restricted to traveling only in areas immediately surrounding where they live. A quick shift in search strategy to focus on localized terms is prudent as consumers will be even more reliant on hyper-local businesses to access products and services during this time of prolonged confinement.
8. Set Up an Automated COVID Tracker
There are several different data sources that you can monitor to understand how COVID-19 related events are impacting trends; however, the challenge is that looking at these data points in silos isn’t the most effective way to derive meaningful insights. Consider setting up a COVID tracker as a reporting view that integrates data points from sources like Google Search Trends, web analytics and earned media outlets. For some of our clients, being able to analyze search interest trends for “coronavirus” alongside search interest trends for their brand and other competing brands is invaluable.
9. Pivot Your Strategy to Meet Buying Trends
There are a number of different dimensions that marketers can analyze to understand how Coronavirus has impacted consumer buying trends. As consumer needs shift, so will their interests in products or services. Understanding how audiences are consuming content and buying products or services differently than they did prior to COVID-19 should directly inform your media strategy by exposing areas of over or under-investment.
10. Keep an Eye Open for Opportunities as Consumer Attention Shifts Online
With the closure of non-essential brick and mortar businesses in many geographic areas, brands have become even more dependent on digital touch points as their primary way of communicating with consumers. Now is an excellent time for marketers to optimize strategies that will effectively grow their CRM database. One way to accomplish this is by creating engaging paid and organic content that is meant to attract and capture new audiences in a brand’s digital ecosystem or to thoughtfully re-ignite relationships with customers who had previously churned.
Now is the time to assess your current Analytics processes and adjust accordingly to make the very best of the situation.
It’s critical to recognize that during unpredictable scenarios that a proactive approach is better than a business-as-usual approach.
Be calm, look for new insights, and sharpen your Analytics approach — you may even find new opportunities that previously went unnoticed.