COVID-19: How to optimize your marketing spending

Did the COVID pandemic change how your clients discover your products and services?

Companies that relied heavily on face-to-face marketing and industry events to market themselves have seen their leads pipeline shrink as the pandemic shut down in-person meetings.

In an effort to close new sales, businesses have turned to buying participant lists from previous events and emailing or cold calling them. Others are relying on online and social media to get the word out about their products or services.

But how can you ensure these new ways of marketing your business will be effective?

“You need to take a step back and revisit your customer journey,” Says Rebecca Chan, Senior Business Advisor with BDC Advisory Services “Being able to test new ideas and to pivot; being agile throughout your marketing campaign will ensure you are optimizing your spending.”

Chan share the following advice to help entrepreneurs optimize their marketing spending in the wake of COVID-19.

Focus on the customer journey

Customer journeys come in many forms, but they all have the same goal: Understanding how your customers find, evaluate and purchase your products and services.

Chan says that four steps are particularly important for entrepreneurs:

  1. Awareness—How customers become aware of your brand or company. The goal at this stage is to capture their attention.
  2. Evaluation and consideration—Once prospects are aware of who you are, they’ll need to find out more about your product and services. They’ll also be comparing you against your competitors. You’ll want to draw them in with a solid proposition about why your solution is the best.
  3. Conversion—Clients are getting ready to make a purchase. Think about the last little nudge you can give to ensure they’ll buy from you.
  4. Loyalty or retention—How can you get your customers to come back and purchase from you again? Getting a repeat customer is a lot less expensive than finding and nurturing new clients.

Maximize the number of touchpoints

To use a customer journey, Chan says that you need to put yourself in your customer’s shoes.

“Think about how they shop, how they think and what they do. What do they need to hear at every stage? Then, look at their preferred channels.”

Websites, online searches, radio ads, events, online videos are all channels you can use to reach a customer and move them further through the customer journey, says Chan.

“You may go online first to look it up, then you’ll see an ad on YouTube, then it’s an email piece with a special offer, etc.”

“Research tells us that it takes six to ten touchpoints before a customer takes a decision to buy a product or service,” she adds. “When you increase the number of touchpoints along the journey, you increase the chances of a sale.”

How COVID has changed the customer journey

The COVID pandemic has removed some of the touchpoints that used to exist along the customer journey.

People are spending less time in brick and mortar stores to feel and touch a product, instead preferring to do more research online, for example.

“You now have a virtual experience on a webpage,” says Chan. “The descriptions need to be more descriptive.”

B2B businesses can think about hosting webinars, roundtables or other virtual events. “Spend time together with your clients,” says Chan. “Maybe set another meeting later to talk about the content and stimulate a conversation. Having that connection afterward is still important, even in the virtual world.”

Create alignment between sales and marketing

Moving more of the purchasing journey online is an opportunity for companies to be more efficient in their marketing.

One place to start is to avoid wasted efforts by creating alignment between your marketing and your sales team.

“Let’s say you have an email going,” says Chan. “Your sales team has to be onboard to do a follow-up call.”

Chan says that marketing is always responsible for the first point in the journey where you are creating awareness. The sales team is responsible for building interest, answering customer questions and closing the sale.

“Let’s say you have a special offer of the week,” she says. “You need to have a back and forth between sales and marketing that says this is working on this type of customer and then design campaigns that optimize sales lead generation or conversion rate.”

Optimize your marketing spending with analytics

A good digital marketing campaign will have a clear goal, whether it’s improving brand recognition, boosting the conversion rate of driving more sales. This will determine what needs to be measured.

From there, you should establish a benchmark against which you’ll measure the effectiveness of your ads.

Then, once the campaign is deployed, it needs to be monitored daily to measure its performance.

Chan give the example of creating multiple ads with varying wording or images to compare which version is the most effective.

“Focus on the ad that has the best conversion rate,” she says. “The idea is to be able to adapt you campaign rapidly to maximize your spending.”