5 Website Marketing Tips for COVID-19 (with examples)

I’m not quite sure how to describe the last week… Unusual, unprecedented… a shock to the system?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is churning up normality and spitting out an alternate reality, and for some people, it’s even more serious than that.

Since I’m not an epidemiologist, I don’t want to go too much into my thoughts on the virus and our global response to it, although I do think this is going to take months (years?) to blow over.

What I’d like to do here is be explicit concerning North Shore Digital’s COVID-19 work status, and our ideas on how you should be using your website to communicate with your customers and online communities about your response to it.

North Shore Digital is an agile agency without large overheads so we are in a strong position to weather this storm. We are able to offer full support to our clients during what is a testing period. We are a team happy to work remotely with no need to worry about social distancing. We are ready and able to fulfil current business expectations and take on new projects as needs be.

5 Tips for Coronavirus (COVID-19) & Website Marketing

Here are some ideas for dealing with COVID-19 that are working for some of our clients:

  1. Be Upfront & Inform Your Customers. Build a COVID-19 Page.
  2. Put an Announcement on Your Home Page
  3. Evaluate Google Ads Campaigns
  4. Provide a Useful Resources Page for your Community & Stakeholders.
  5. Use this Time Wisely. Be Mindful, Altruistic & Creative.

Read on for specific examples…

1. Be Upfront & Inform Your Customers. Build a COVID-19 Page.

Provide information on how COVID-19 is affecting your ability to provide your services or products to your customers.

A good example, is this article, which outlines whether we’re able to fulfil current business and take on new clients. (We are).

Provide info about your response to COVID-19 on a separate page that’s easy to find and update. This is a fast-changing situation so keep your community updated as to how it is affecting your business. If we go into full lockdown, what will this mean for your ability to carry on?

The banks are leading by example here. They were the fastest movers and had pages up almost immediately about COVID-19 and how it is affecting branch hours and locations.

Vancity Bank with COVID 19 Announcements on Homepage
Vancity Bank with COVID 19 Announcements on home page. They have a link to a page with info about how it is affecting services and they also have one of the main sliders dedicated to COVID-19 loan deferral program.

One of our clients, Great Canadian Landscaping, had to postpone their community fundraising event, Cultivating Community, and so had to update their landing page with graphics about that. Keep people updated with your latest info.

2. Put an Announcement on Your Home Page

Provide reassurance on what extra steps you are taking if you have to meet clients in person or visit their homes/offices/buildings.

This is especially important for companies that work in the trades (e.g. plumbers, electricians, painters, construction) but even realtors, home inspectors, and landscapers should do this. It could be the difference between a customer using your services over a competitor.

A good example, here, is how one of our clients, Cornerstone Building Inspections, is providing detailed information around the health safety checklist they are using to confirm whether they have symptoms of COVID-19, as well as how they are managing COVID-19 in a professional manner for residential and commercial building inspections.

Important COVID 19 Announcement from Cornerstone Building Inspections homepage
Important COVID 19 Announcement from Cornerstone Building Inspections

Think about current Google Ads campaigns if you have any running and determine what makes most sense… Should you pause, throttle down or even throttle up?

We’ve had about 40-50% of our clients want to pause or reduce spending, and the other half slightly change messaging or even increase spending. This really depends on your industry and situation.

Two tips from Ira Thomson, our Ads & Analytics Director, regarding this include:

A) Review your analytics to decide what to do. Look at your CPC (cost-per-click), conversion rate and cost-per-conversion.

Since competition is down in most industries, we’ve seen some clients get much cheaper average CPC and lower cost-per-conversion. If you’d like Ira to look at your data and offer insights, please call or email him.

See the example below for what to look for…

Key Google Ads Analytics Clicks CTR Conversions Cost per conversion
Example Key Google Ads Analytics (1st to 17th March 2020): Clicks, Click-Through-Rates, Conversions, Cost per Click. Compare before and after COVID-19 struck locally in Vancouver. In this case, our client saw better results in the week during the COVID-19 crisis than the week before. If you look at the lines, you can see clicks are up (blue), conversions are up (yellow), click-through-rate is up (red), average cost-per-click is down (green). All favourable results! This needs to be monitored daily during this period.

B) Include your announcements or information about COVID-19 as sitelinks.

This could be the difference between your ad getting a click versus a competitor. This is front-of-mind with everyone and so if you continue Google Ads, you need to address it and include it in your messaging.

See the below example for more info about sitelinks…

Mr Rooter Google Ad with Sitelink Examples
Mr Rooter Google Ad with Sitelink Examples. This is not one of our clients but it’s a really good example of a Google Ad. It is fully optimized for all the ad extensions: call, reviews, special offer, location. At the bottom are two sitelinks: Hot Water Heaters / Tanks & Drain Services. During COVID-19, you should dedicate one of these links to your COVID-19 info page.

4. Provide a Useful Resources Page for your Community & Stakeholders.

If your site provides useful and valuable information for your industry, it could be a good idea to share a resources page about COVID.

Another of our clients, Actsafe, is doing this. They have a call out section on their homepage that directs users to a dedicated page with resources about COVID-19.

Concerned about COVID 19 Resources CTA from Actsafe
Concerned about COVID 19 Resources CTA from Actsafe

5. Use this Time Wisely. Be Mindful, Altruistic & Creative.

Our final tip is not totally about marketing. It’s about being a human and surviving this crisis together. Who knows how long this will go on? It’s going to be a struggle… For your own sanity, use the time wisely…

On a personal level, this could mean connecting with family members, friends, people you haven’t spoken to in a while… It could also mean helping people in need of financial and emotional support since jobs are being lost left, right and centre.

If you are a business owner, and you’re in a position to focus some of your efforts on your company, this might be the perfect time to get creative and produce some content.

“We have seen a real spike during the last few weeks from companies wishing to create or update websites

Scott Jones, CEO of 123 Internet Group

At North Shore Digital, we’re going to be use this time to go through our business foundations and work on our strategical and financial plans. We may even build a new office for the team in North Vancouver.

Other clients have mentioned doing a revamp of their website or stepping out into the community to provide support e.g. using their vans to run groceries for elderly people in the community.

Whatever you do, keep busy, be useful, be strategic, and most importantly, be human and live the values you want to see succeed in this world once COVID-19 is over.

Stay safe friends.

If you have any comments or questions, please email or leave in the comments below.

Resources on COVID-19

Marketing

Other

  • Vox: How wildlife trade is linked to coronavirus (I found this 8 minute video very informative)
  • Yanis Varoufakis on the economic and political impact of the coronavirus (want to know the macro-economic and geopolitical repercussions due to COVID-19? Yanis will explain in about 15 minutes. Not for the faint hearted.)

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