By Rhett Power
Remember all the meetings you had at the end of last year about what this year’s marketing strategy would look like? It’s time to revisit those plans if you haven’t already and revamp them to match the changing environment in which we find ourselves as we enter the second half of 2020.
In the marketing world, the main change that has occurred in the past six months is, of course, the shift away from experiential marketing as the world moved inside to avoid COVID-19. Instead, many brands are turning to community-building as a focus. That means more digital content to connect with audience members who are spending more time at home and online.
It’s more important now than ever to pursue a virtual marketing strategy that meets customers where they are. Now isn’t the time to stay the course with whatever marketing plan you planned in the fourth quarter of 2019. Consumers’ needs and habits have changed drastically, and your efforts should change with them.
If you want to engage your brand’s audience as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, you need to embrace the benefits of virtual marketing and implement such strategies right away. Need a head start? Jump in with the following three strategies.
1. Use video to speak to each of your audiences.
Using video to engage audiences may seem like a no-brainer, but adding more video to your marketing strategy does require some nuance. ”Video is appealing because you can break some traditional marketing rules and create specific, targeted videos tailored to all of your audiences,” says Nayani Vive, vice president of regional business development at marketing and advertising agency RAPP.
Vive suggests watching trends to determine what type of video would stop your consumers mid-scroll, whether it’s something fun like a mock music video or meaningful like a full brand story. “It’s important to tailor your video efforts to the platform and audience by staying up-to-date on video marketing engagement trends,” Vive says.
2. Encourage user-generated content.
Contests or challenges in which your audience members post photos, comments, or other content — also known as user-generated content, or UGC — can be a great way to engage with people digitally and keep your brand top of mind. Think about your goal for the campaign. Do you want to build your community, or do you want participants to take a particular action, like making a purchase or donating to a cause? The answer to that question will guide the type of campaign you implement.
For examples of successful UGC-based campaigns, look no further than FedEx and Coca-Cola. FedEx rolled out an “Innovation Challenge” for young people, asking them to solve science and math problems, post photos as they completed scavenger hunts, and answer trivia questions, all with the aim of teaching them STEM skills. And Coca-Cola asked members of its global audience to send in photos the brand could use to build a mosaic flag to debut at the FIFA World Cup. Both strategies show that if you cater your calls to action to your audience’s interests and values, they’ll want to play along.
3. Host a virtual event.
Have your in-person activations, conventions, or conferences been canceled for the year? That doesn’t mean you can’t hold an event — it just needs to move to a virtual environment. There are wide-ranging benefits of hosting a virtual event. You can invite as many people as you want no matter where they live, and that goes for guests and audience members alike. And aside from any costs related to the video or streaming platform you choose, you won’t have to worry about renting a location, providing meals, or incurring any other costs associated with a traditional in-person event.
Instead, focus your efforts around the production value of your virtual event. Instead of simply scheduling a video meeting via the teleconference platform of your choice, make it feel like a real event with branded backgrounds, high-quality audio and video, and lots of interactive elements to keep audiences engaged. Ensure your presenters or hosts have plenty of time to prepare for the event, just as you would for an in-person gig. Remember that distractions abound for audience members at home, so your event needs to be energetic and interactive to keep viewers engaged throughout.
Even as some businesses around the world begin to open their doors to the public and consumers venture back to their favourite brick-and-mortar locations, others are prepared to wait several more months before changing their habits. For brands, that means the increased importance of virtual marketing won’t fizzle out over the summer or even into autumn. For the foreseeable future, digital campaigns will be critical — and with these strategies in your toolbox, you’ll be able to continue connecting with your audience virtually the whole time.
Original Article: Forbes