How to Optimize Your B2B Marketing Program During COVID

A few weeks back I published a piece on Search Engine Journal titled “What to Do When Clients Push Pause on Your Services.” The post looked at how digital marketing agencies were dealing with the current crisis and what tips they might have to help others weather the storm.

While there were some fantastic feedback and great responses from my industry colleagues, what stood out to me the most was the feedback around flexibility and optimization. For example:

The whole thing got me thinking about businesses in general. What can our clients, and other businesses be doing to optimize their existing digital marketing programs during this time? While there is no one answer, there are a few things to start with.

Use Data to Adjust Budgets

During financial downturns, we know that marketing is often the first to go. We also know that it shouldn’t be. The thing is, all marketing isn’t created equal. What works for one company might not work for another and if we are being honest, what worked for one company last year might not be what works for that same company this year.

However, as marketers, and specifically as digital marketers, we have the data to help us determine what is working and where we should be spending our money. Use it.

In the SEJ article I referenced above, multiple respondents noted instead of cutting budgets, they simply shifted money to the things they knew were working. In some instances, businesses switched email marketing to paid search and in other cases, budgets were shifted from one product line to another.

When evaluating your budget, it pays to be flexible. Take the time to analyze where your money is best spent and move budget there.

Enhance Customer Relationships

The cost of acquiring a new customer can be 6-7x as much as retaining an existing one but I bet if you were to ask any marketer what their goals are, very few would rank customer retention high on the list.

The thing is, now more than ever, people want to feel cared about and small efforts can go a long way.

Companies like Moz are offering free access to their SEO training courses, Unbounce is offering existing customers free one-on-one strategy sessions, and even big companies like Oracle are offering free access to their learning courses and access to their HR tool.

As a business, think about what you can offer to your customers that would help them at this time. It could even be as simple as identifying a common pain point facing customers and creating a resource for them. For example, if budgeting is an issue, create a pillar page with relevant blog posts, ebooks, webinars, etc. that can be sent out via email.

Take Advantage of Extra Time

Businesses are doing everything they can to keep employees active and engaged. But in some cases, there just isn’t enough to do. Or is there?

Marketers are constantly talking about how they don’t have enough time or resources to be successful.

Make a list of the things you need done that you just haven’t had time for and start allocating those items to your team.

Think about the website changes you’ve been wanting to make or the email template you needed created but haven’t had time to do. What about those social media graphics you have always wanted but haven’t been able to prioritize? Now is the time!

This is also a great way to help train and educate your team in areas they may not be as strong.

Talk to them about the areas they want to grow in and see how that fits into your wish list. You might find there is an employee who’s been eager to learn email marketing. Let her jump in there and work on building that template. Not only will you be able to cross items off of your marketing wish list but you’ll also improve employee development at the same time.

Don’t Forget About the Future

One of the biggest challenges with the current climate is the unknown. It seems like things change minute to minute and as a business (and human), it’s tricky to navigate. That being said, it’s important not to forget about the future.

Take for example something as simple as content. A number of clients and colleagues have reached out asking what they should do about their content marketing efforts. Do we keep publishing? Do we pause? What is the right step?

I offered my thoughts to Marketing Land on this exact subject (here) but the gist of it is we still have to think about the future. That post you are writing — it might take three months to gain traction. If you delay publishing, you are only pushing results further down the road.

The same thing applies to your SEO efforts. If you stop optimizing now, you are only hurting yourself in the long run. Can you refocus efforts to ensure you are targeting key business drivers? Absolutely.

I know it’s hard to make decisions when we don’t know what the future will bring but it’s important to remember that there is a future and you want to be as prepared as possible for it.

Final Thoughts

Optimizing your B2B marketing program isn’t a simple task but there are steps you can take during this time to get started. Whether it’s refocusing efforts or asking the team to help you tackle that long-standing marketing wish list, these things can help ensure the marketing team is successful and provide direction in a time where direction is needed.

Wishing everyone the best and if you have any additional ideas on how businesses can optimize their marketing programs, I’d love to hear them.

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