Marketing during COVID-19: How to continue marketing your non-essentials Shopify store

In uncertain times like these, the Government often has to announce extreme measures like lockdowns to contain the situation. While these measures are for our own good, they have disrupted the day-to-day functioning of businesses and thrown a wrench in marketing activities done by brands. A slowdown in the traffic to the site and a massive drop in sales, brands are having to re-strategize how they run their business today. 

But the one thing that this lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic is teaching businesses, is adapting to sudden changes. Especially eCommerce businesses that fall under the non-essentials category. 

In this blog, we’re sharing the one question that all non-essential brands are asking - Should we continue promoting our store, products and deals or is it time to put a halt on these activities?

Should I continue running marketing campaigns?

In such situations, usually the non-essential goods like apparels, tech and the beauty segment are the most affected. From production to marketing and delivery - all areas of these businesses are majorly impacted. It’s only obvious for them to want to optimize their costs of running the business to sustain during this period. 

Usually, as businesses try to cut costs to keep operations going, the first thing to be sacrificed are the marketing efforts. The thought process behind this is simple - If we can't deliver the goods, why burn money on advertising them?

However, this is not the right approach. 

If you take the hasty decision of stopping all your marketing efforts, you abruptly end all ongoing relationships with your existing customers and brand followers. As the days go by these people will start to forget about your brand under all the other highly engaging organic/sponsored content available to them. 

So when things do normalize and you come back to business, you’ll have to start from scratch. 

The answer to whether you should continue running marketing campaigns or not is YES. But the approach you take to market your brand, needs to adapt to the current market scenario. 

6 Revamped Strategies for Marketing During Coronavirus

There’s no one strategy that will fit all business types right now. But there are a few approaches that you can use to revamp how you run your paid campaigns. 

1. Campaigns that target high intent traffic

Continue to run campaigns to target users that are looking for specific products. For instance, if you sell Indian wear, you can target people who are searching for ‘suit sets’, ‘lehengas’ and more through Google Smart Shopping Campaigns. Since the purchaser’s intent to buy is high in each case, they’re more likely to purchase from the other recommendations that show up alongside their specific search. 

But the trick to make this tactic work is to identify the phrases that your target customers commonly use to search for the products you offer. While you’re targeting a broader audience, you do want to remain relevant to their product search to ensure lesser cancellations. 

2. Optimize ad campaigns for low commitment goals

Set up campaigns that build a high intent audience which can be converted via remarketing efforts. Instead of targeting purchase, you can set up ads with upper-level events like getting more product views. This can be done by setting up ad events that target product views instead of purchases. 

For instance, you can run Facebook ad campaigns with View Content or Add To Cart as goals and use catalog ads to attract relevant audiences to your Shopify store. You can also show product prices in the ads to make them more effective. 

You can later retarget to this audience using Facebook’s Dynamic Retargeting Campaigns.

3. Video campaigns on popular platforms

Internet users are viewing more videos right now to keep themselves entertained. Take advantage of this interest by running video ad campaigns. You can use YouTube Shopping Campaigns to drive traffic to your Shopify store and even nudge conversions.



4. Provide offers, discounts & gift cards

Offer special discounts to people who purchase from your store or give them gift cards along with their orders, making their interaction with your store special. 

Such an offer can incentivize shoppers to return to your store to make more purchases. At the same time, it also gives you an opportunity to build a loyal customer base. 

5. Increase engagement through social media

Use your social media channels to the fullest. Provide tips on using your products, educating them about their different features and more. 

If you’re delivering orders in orange and green zones, make sure you create and share a few posts informing your followers about the safety measures you’re following. 

6. Communicate with existing customers 

Since your delivery periods are not the same as they usually are, you need to reassure the customer that their order has been processed and inform them when they will receive it. Being transparent about delays is not a bad idea here!

In fact, it will help your customers plan their other purchases a little better. 

Also read: Short-Term Revenue Strategies for Small Retailers Navigating COVID-19 

Why should you focus on marketing now?   

1. Increase in media consumption  

People are spending more time online, scrolling through social media, reading blogs, and watching video content to spend their days. While some are also working from home, there are others that are looking for means to stay engaged.  

“In fact, staying put in our homes can lead to almost a 60% increase in the amount of content we watch in some cases and potentially more depending on the reasons. Considering that consumers around the globe are already leaning into the growing array of content options and channels, a 60% increase is significant.”

2. Lower advertising costs 

With the quarantine, only a few advertisers are spending on ads. Everyone’s skeptical about not being able to drive as many sales in comparison to the amount they spend on ads. Due to this, the competition on any targeted audience is much lower. 

In fact, due to the restrictions imposed in India, the cost of serving impressions on Facebook ads has reduced by 80% in March. 

So if you have been thinking about turning off your ads, rethink your strategy. Now would be the best time to run paid campaigns. You could set aside a small budget to simply run retargeting and remarketing campaigns instead to keep your existing customers engaged to start with. 

3. Increased usage of technology and social media

With so much free time, a lot more people are signing up on social media platforms, leading to an increase in digital connectivity. This means that businesses have a larger target market to reach out to, engage and acquire as customers. 

While this is a massive opportunity for brands to reach an all-new audience, it’s a good idea to first look into who your ‘ideal customer’ is. You could use data from your previous sales to understand the demographics you’re addressing. 

4. Lower competition

With so many marketers scaling down and even stopping their ads across multiple platforms, the competition is at an all-time low. So where you had to compete for consumer attention with ten other brands, you stand a higher chance to be noticed now! 

But reduced competition doesn’t mean immediate results. The same rules of good advertising apply - make sure your ads don’t seem too pushy. Use this as a chance to tell your brand story or share product highlights instead. You need to tweak and rethink your marketing funnel. 

Typically, the conversion funnel begins with Awareness. At this stage, the user becomes aware of your brand and its products. 

Next comes consideration, when the user engages with your Shopify store or your social media profile to learn about your product. 

Remember, only a small portion of your store’s visitors will turn into customers on their first visit. You need to give them a compelling reason to come back. So at this point, having smart retargeting campaigns to re-engage visitors is a smart strategy. 

In the 3rd stage, Conversion, the consumer is converted into a customer. This is when they make a purchase from your store - so now you know what products they like and what their purchase behaviour looks like. 

But your job does not end here. 

Finally, through different marketing tactics, you will be able to take the consumer through the 4th stage, Loyalty, where they come back to the store for repeat purchases.

Here’s what your funnel should look like right now: 

During a difficult situation when driving conversions may be difficult, the focus should shift to awareness and consideration so that you can acquire your target audience as subscribers and followers, instead of calling off all marketing efforts. 

What’s more? You can actually reap the benefits of using this strategy when the lockdowns open. You’ll have a customer base established already - then it all comes down to telling them that you’re accepting orders.

Tapping into this opportunity to acquire, not sell. 

Despite the challenges and hurdles that may arise, this is the best opportunity to reach out to new audiences and engage them. Once everything settles down, make sure you set up follow up tactics to turn your acquired audience into shoppers:

  1. Set up retargeting campaigns to target users you captured as subscribers and followers to turn them into customers.
  2. Reach out to your existing customers to re-engage them and increase loyalty, to drive more repeat purchases. 
  3. Communicate with purchasers to reassure them that their order will be delivered soon. 

This blog is in collaboration with AdYogi, a SAAS platform for automating Facebook, Instagram and Google Ads. AdYogi is offering free trial and reduced prices for the Shopify app to eCommerce stores.

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