What to do with your digital marketing during a downturn

What to do with your digital marketing during a downturn

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Matthew Ward
Published: 14th April 2020

Schools aren’t functioning normally, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Over 70% of schools are operating to support key workers in the fight against COVID-19, albeit at a reduced capacity.

Our research shows teachers are interacting with marketing from the education sector more now than before the outbreak began, checking their inboxes twice as often.

So, while this grey cloud looms over education businesses, there is evidence of a silver lining.

When the interruption to your business ends, don’t be left behind your competitors in a race to regain lost revenue.

What you do during this period will affect your performance after we come out of this slump.

Position your business for a strong fiscal second half of 2020 to meet your revenue goals.

Here are four things you should be doing now, and any time business slows, to hit the ground running when the economy thaws.

Engage with customers online

With the high street a ghost town, restaurants shut, and all forms of social gathering cancelled, we’ve all been spending more time online, a lot more time, both recreational and work-related.

Combating the virus means staying home, and while many teachers are working hard to care for the children of key workers in schools, there are also some working remotely, and all teachers will be spending their evening and weekends stuck indoors just like the rest of us.

Now is the time to show empathy and gratitude to others, especially toward those people that are working hard to support vital services.

We are all suddenly isolated, spending more time online scanning dreary news and attempting to stay connected with friends and family.

While we must be sensitive and not overly sales-focused – it is the perfect time to build your brand image during a difficult period.

Share your free resources, good deeds, and positive news with teachers and schools through social media and email marketing. Your community is listening and needs support, understanding, education, and resources now more than ever.

Do this, and you’ll be well-remembered and well-regarded on the other side.

Ensure your education business is visible online

If we weren’t glued to our laptops and mobile devices before 2020, we sure are now.

At any given moment in time, there are more people online searching for information, resources, or entertainment than there are walking the streets.

It’s now vitally important that your business is visible online. It’s time to demystify the sorcery of search engine optimisation (SEO), so you can ascend to the top of search engine results pages (SERPs).

Organic traffic typically generates five times as many sales as search ads and Google is the waypoint for 94% of total organic traffic. There are plenty of free resources out there, including free online training from Google on how to use their tools, that will make you SEO-savvy and have your website climbing the SERPs in a matter of weeks.

Don’t be intimidated. You don’t need to understand coding or web development to perform SEO.

You can make changes to your home page, landing pages, product pages, and blogs with a simple understanding of your content management system that can make a difference almost immediately.

If you need somewhere to get started, download our free education SEO guide created to bring your website to the attention of teachers and schools.

Focus on longer-term brand-building activities during an economic decline

The potential success of short-term performance marketing is limited in the current climate. Clever deals and offers are unlikely to stimulate much activity.

Not only are virus-centric sales promotions considered to be in poor taste at the moment, but schools are being encouraged to manage their budgets and resources carefully prioritising the support of pupils, particularly vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

Now is a good time to invest your time and resources in your ‘always-on’ marketing. Shift your focus from short-term campaigns to long-term projects that will grow your brand.

Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Work to improve the visibility of your site and perform an SEO audit.
  • Create persuasive content marketing to broadcast via email.
  • Plan and schedule email campaigns to indoctrinate, engage, and nurture leads.
  • Look for gaps in your customers’ journeys and take advantage of each touchpoint.

Building an ‘always-on’ marketing strategy through content and email marketing will make your business continually visible and persuasive 365 days a year.

Don’t panic and shut down – prepare for a return to business

The economy continues to turn, albeit slowly. It isn’t stopping.

Eventually, children will return to the classroom and schools and teachers will again need all the supplies, resources, and support they required before the outbreak, perhaps more.

Discussing marketing and business growth during an econonmic slump might sound tone-deaf, but now is the time to steal a march on your competitors.

When was the last time your circumstances improved by standing still?

Take advantage of the fact that many businesses will be relaxing their marketing efforts and get ahead.

Research conducted by McKinsey during previous recessions showed that while most companies tend to tighten their belts, the companies that emerge successfully out the other side traded short-term profitability for long-term gain, refocusing their resources rather than cutting back.

In 2020, this means doing the things we discussed.

Refocus your resources, taking the budget you would spend on short-term performance projects, reallocating it to long-term projects that will inform the next business model, and preparing campaigns for before the market rebounds.

One last thing about marketing to schools in uncertain times

Pay attention to how your audience is changing.

We will eventually return to normal, but it will be a new normal.

The behaviours and attitudes of teachers and schools will have changed, and you’ll want to account for this.

That said, we want to share with you what we know so far about the impact of COVID-19 on marketing to schools.

Our education strategy director, John, has already created a report on what we’ve observed so far, you can download that here absolutely free.

Once you’ve glanced at the report, please feel free to schedule a free strategy call with us. We’ll share with you the latest developments and talk about how you’re managing your marketing during this crisis.

We’re here to help.

The success of our business depends on the success of yours.

As a show of support to our valued clients, we’re giving away as much free advice as possible to ensure we see each other on the other side.

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Education Marketing

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