COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has fast-tracked digital operations for every industry, from healthcare to education to retail. With the pandemic pushing internet usage up 70%, and 52% of businesses planning to invest more heavily in digital efforts throughout 2020 and beyond, companies should be taking the time to reevaluate their digital strategies for the duration of the pandemic and beyond.

When the pandemic began, Dura-Seal invested in an increase in digital services by engaging with an agency to run that arm for us. It was something that was out of our wheelhouse, but something that was high-priority to make sure the company stayed top of mind for customers as they shifted to being digital.

During this process, we had some big learnings on which digital investments were most fruitful, how to adjust communications to best resonate with customers, as well as understanding how search trends have shifted.

Which digital investments carry biggest ROI

Paid social and Google Ads have been the two main digital tactics Dura-Seal has invested in during COVID-19. Paid social targets people who are not looking for your product, service, or information and are therefore, they are less likely to convert immediately but these help to build awareness. As a compliment to paid social, Google Ads help target the people that are already looking for your product, service, or information and are therefore, people captured here are more likely to convert immediately.

Incorporating a mix of the two has been a good recipe during COVID-19. You can target both of these ads using email addresses, demographics, and interest of consumers, and both allow you to remarket to people who have visited your website to add an additional touchpoint to people who are familiar with and interested in your brand.

How to adapt digital messaging during COVID-19

Acknowledging that COVID-19 exists, even if subtly, and the limitations that go along with that should be the foundation of your messaging shift during the pandemic. Being transparent with consumers goes a long way; make sure customers know how your operations have shifted as a result of COVID-19, including the precautions you’re taking and how it will affect their service experience.

Digital tools have given us the opportunity to do virtual tours or meetings to still get face-to-face connection while staying safe. Whether that’s tours, webinars, meetings, conferences, product adaptability, make sure both your employees and staff are aware of these updates through shifting your digital messaging on your website, social channels, and ads.

Customers are more apt to be patient if you remind them that the individuals operating your business are human, and that you’re doing the very best you can to transition as quickly as possible throughout the pandemic.

Additionally, make sure that your messaging isn’t too specific. For example, if you’re looking to market a specific event that consumers likely will not know the name of or be familiar with, you’re not likely to see a boost in searchability or conversions.

Understanding how search trends have shifted during the pandemic

When thinking about keyword to use in your ads, understanding how search trends have changed compared to previous years gives businesses a leg up on predicting changes in consumer behavior.

To do this, your business can use free resources like as trends.google.com. Using tools like Google Trends can allow you to see specific insights like how airline searches have changed, or how wedding venue searches fell flat once states put out mass gathering regulations.

Figuring out how search trends have shifted will help to inform the sorts of keywords you should be using in your digital communications, as well as help you to understand whether the key words you’re using aren’t resonating or the entire industry is suffering. If there does happen to be a dip for the entire industry, you can still capture people’s attention, you may just have to pay be more diligent with optimizing key words and being specific with who you’re targeting with your ads with fewer people searching.

There are a variety of digital marketing tactics, including paid social, Google Ads, display advertising, SEO, remarketing testing and so much more. Often times, it is a trial and error process that involves a team that can quickly pivot based on the performance information gathered from backend data or A/B testing.

Regardless of which tactics work for you, digital marketing is here to stay and is becoming an essential investment for companies as we enter this new digital age as a result of the pandemic.

Bob Lester is president and CEO of Columbus, Ohio-based Dura-Seal, a sealcoating, asphalt, and concrete services company. He has worked in the paving industry for over 20 years, leading two buyouts, an acquisition, and the sale of an equipment manufacturing company at Dura-Seal. Prior to joining the company, Bob studied business finance at Otterbein University. Social Media Links: Bob’s LinkedIn,  Dura-Seal’s Facebook, Dura-Seal’s LinkedIn

Digital meeting stock photo by Monster Ztudio/Shutterstock