How 10 brands adapted their strategy during the COVID-19 crisis

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It’s been a few months now since we’re feeling the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) on both our personal and professional lives. From a personal point of view, there’s nothing you can do, except respecting the safety measures and keep living. But from a marketing and business perspective, you can make a difference. The question is “how?”, as you can’t just do what you’ve always been doing.

We asked 10 marketing experts to share their COVID-19 experience with us: how they reacted, what changed in their approach and how they continued to engage with their audiences. Here is what they did to make their company stand out, keep growing and come out of the Coronavirus stronger.

Tip #1 Show empathy

“From the beginning of the pandemic, we decided to stop our newsletter temporarily and to keep only our automated birthday emails. Instead of promoting a special offer like we used to do, we simply shared a message of empathy to our travellers, wishing them good health and encouraging them to stay at home. Against all expectations, these “stay at home” birthday emails generated better results and a higher opening rate. Some travellers even shared their emails on social media! Now, we’re gradually resuming communication with inspirational content. We recently shared a Spotify playlist with songs containing names of European cities we serve.”

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Stéphanie Bouty, Digital communication manager @ SNCB/NMBS

Tip #2 Be where your customers are

“COVID-19 has forced us to reinvent ourselves. Our stores were closed, and we had no eShop, so we increased our presence where our customers and prospects were: on social media. We changed our main KPIs, and we focused our efforts on brand awareness, our website traffic and data collection. Firstly, we promoted our downloadable catalogue highlighting our products and our 3D kitchen configurator to help our customers and prospects continue their interior design projects. Secondly, we increased the production of inspirational and playful content on social media. We reactivated our “dream kitchen” swiper campaign, and we launched a survey for our prospects to measure their purchase intentions and be ready for the reopening of our stores. Our website has never had so many visits, and the number of 3D configurations exploded. Staying close to our audiences and maintaining the relationship with them was our best strategy.”

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Geraldine Verbaert, Marketing Coordinator @ èggo kitchen

Tip #3 Connect the right audiences with the relevant message

“Glassdoor’s mission is to help people find a job and a company they love. In a crisis like this, we had to think about new ways to help job seekers, especially those who found themselves unemployed overnight. Beyond writing articles offering advice to job seekers and employers going through these uncertain times, we launched many other initiatives such as a job search resources page, highlighting high-demand jobs and companies that are actively recruiting during COVID-19.”

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Ophélie Marten-Jeanroy, SEO specialist @ Glassdoor

Tip #4 Adapt your communication accordingly on social media

“We usually communicate a lot on social media about parties, festivals, being together and having fun. With the pandemic, we had to completely change the way we communicate to our audience, mainly consisting of people between 18 and 30 years old. We cancelled all our scheduled posts and campaigns, and globally spread the same message: stay strong, stay safe and stay home. For example, to help them stay at home while having fun, we inspired them with cocktails recipe ideas made with products from our different brands.”

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Boy Buijsman, Digital Manager @ Bruggeman

Tip #5 Move your brand online

“We’re closer than ever to our consumers. To engage and inspire them, we created a lot of different impactful digital experiences, like for example, quizzes to test their culinary knowledge. We also organised an egg hunt online during Easter since we couldn’t gather in parks and gardens. And we will continue to move our brand even more online and to communicate regularly to stay connected to our customers.”

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Stéphanie De Groote, CRM Campaign Manager @ Delhaize

Tip #6 Integrate an omnichannel approach into your strategy

“Helping your consumers during difficult times is an obligation. At the same time, it is crucial to prioritise, simplify, and focus on your niche through a more holistic communications approach. For us, it was communicating one message at the right time, across all channels: web, CRM, in-app, social, search, display and YouTube.”

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Oleh Myslinskyy, Digital Activation Manager @ Philips

Tip #7 Bring your community together

“We have a community of over 2,000 hairdressers on Facebook that we engage daily. Since the lockdown, we have received dozens of applications for membership. We wanted to find creative ways to retain this community, keep hairdressers engaged and use their time wisely. To do so, and to meet the growing demand, we relied on digital technology (Facebook lives, e-learning, etc.) and interactive formats (quizzes, contests, animates games, etc.) to be a source of information, learning and entertainment. Our community counts now 3,500 hairdressers.”

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Thibaut Monet, Digital Marketer @ L’Oréal Professionnel

Tip #8 Support your industry and community

Musevent is an agency providing live music performers for weddings and corporate events. Due to COVID-19, all events were cancelled, and many artists from our roster were left with no revenue. To support them, we decided to launch the very first Belgian livestream festival, with a call for donations. The initiative gathered 30 paid artists and 80,000+ viewers, and was extended to the U.S. upon request of the U.S. Embassy!”

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Mehdi Benallal, Founder @ Musevent

Tip #9 Gain the trust and the loyalty of your audience

“During the lockdown, the content we created and the campaigns we launched were exclusively focused on information about our offer and the new safety measures for public transport to fight the pandemic (social distancing, hand washing, face masks, etc.). We tried to reassure travellers by showing them the efforts we were making to keep public transport clean and safe. At the same time, to make our users feel cared for and spread some love, we launched the Voice of Brussels campaign. 136 messages shared to inhabitants across Brussels thanks to our bus. In the long term, our main challenge will be to convince travellers that choosing public transport remains a right and, above all, safe choice.”

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Guy Sablon, Social media coordinator & spokesperson @ STIB/MIVB

Tip #10 Never stop communicating and be ready for the rebound

“At Qualifio, we mobilised all our teams and resources to help our clients in their marketing efforts. All together, we shared examples of easy-to-implement campaigns as well as customer examples to inspire them. For those with limited resources, we helped them shape their campaign, brainstorm and define the best possible action according to their objectives. We showed more flexibility by offering our customers solutions tailored to their situation and needs. In brief, we continued to communicate, to show support to our customers and to help them prepare for the after COVID-19.”

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Antonio Molina Cubero, Head of Marketing @ Qualifio

 

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