The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating brands’ move to digital, and now is the time for marketing leaders to re-evaluate their digital marketing initiatives, according to Gartner, Inc. Amid an economic downturn, marketing leaders are planning to increase investments in digital and social marketing, but pull back spend in areas like paid search and indirect ad buys.
“Due to suppressed consumer demand – a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic – a wide range of industries experienced declines in total desktop traffic in the first quarter,” said Lili Meng, principal in Gartner’s Marketing practice. “To best optimize both short-term objectives and create long-term efficiencies, marketing leaders must first focus on what to put spend behind versus where. Once they settle on what they want to communicate to consumers, they must shift their digital marketing mixes in order to better scale messaging.
“Consumers are no longer clicking through to sites from traditional ad formats, so marketing leaders must now adjust the messaging of ad creatives to enhance advertising effectiveness,” added Ms. Meng. “Leading brands are leaning more on cost-effective alternatives, including direct and organic search traffic, and utilizing more linking strategies to drive traffic from frequented sites.”
When re-evaluating digital marketing mixes, marketing leaders should consider the following:
- Maximize Organic Search Discovery – Monitor performance on search keywords, pulling back from paid search where organic search is the dominant driver of site traffic. To drive more organic search visibility and minimize reliance on search ads over time, optimize webpages for common search queries to increase content relevancy, including adjusting meta tags.
- Adjust Ad Messaging and Spend – Revisit the messaging of advertising creatives prior to making any further changes to advertising spend allocation. Then test different ad formats across channels to pinpoint where it makes sense to invest additional spend.
- Capitalize on Digital Video – Capitalize on video viewership momentum by investing more in ad placements on video-first sites seeing high traction. Maximize the ROI of video ad placements by developing creatives with differentiated messaging (e.g., highlighting relevant services or features in the current environment versus expressing concerns).
- Leverage Partner Sites – Diversify the marketing mix to increase cost-efficiency by pivoting to channels that provide access to audiences on sites seeing momentum in traffic activity, including referral domains and social networks.