When a natural disaster, epidemic, or other turbulent and widespread event occurs, things change rapidly, and often events, meetings, and travel, in general, are put on hold or canceled altogether.
As digital marketers, we are able to continue to reach our customers and prospects wherever they are and provide valuable information, insight, and connection.
Here are some ideas about how you can use digital marketing to engage with your customers and prospects, even when the events of the day are tumultuous.
Canceled event? Leverage your digital assets to engage with your audience and look for ways to provide value.
Conferences and trade shows are a big investment and are often one of the first things to get canceled when there is a natural disaster or health concern. The same goes for annual or quarterly company meetings that usually occur on-site and involve people coming in from near and far.
Whether you are an organizer, presenter, or attendee, when something gets unexpectedly canceled, you have to regroup and rethink how to connect with prospects, clients, customers, and colleagues and best utilize the resources you have available.
When the in-person event is shut down, you can pivot and use the digital tools you have in your arsenal, your website, landing pages, email lists, and social media platforms to communicate valuable information to your clients.
Make sure your website is as up-to-date as possible. If you think a cancellation or postponement is a possibility, be in touch with whoever handles your website updates, whether that is an internal IT department, a consultant, or an outsourced digital marketing agency so they are ready for changes.
Draft some potential copy to have ready to publish when things change.
Keep the information on your site relevant to your followers and focused on providing the specific information that will be valuable to them.
Even if there hasn’t yet been a change, it’s a good idea to put up a message that you are monitoring the situation and will share new information as soon as it is available.
People will be checking in often to see what the state of affairs is - provide what they are looking for and make it easy to find.
Use visual elements to make special messages stand out from your usual website copy.
Banners are a great way to grab the attention of your website visitors and relay pertinent information as are buttons or graphic CTAs. Place an obvious message in the header of your website so that no matter what page a visitor is viewing, the necessary information is obvious.
Create a landing page that is specific to the current information you want to convey and link it to banners and CTAs.
Using a landing page has a number of advantages:
- You don’t have to make any major changes to your website pages and you can unpublish a landing page quickly when it is no longer needed.
- Providing all valuable information in one place for visitors is good practice. Put appropriate contact information, links, and even a form for specific questions together in an easily digestible format.
- You can track the landing page and see who accessed it, how successful it was, and what kind of information people clicked on so that, if needed, you can make tweaks to it based on behavior.
Even with website and social media updates implemented, email all of those with a direct tie to your event or meeting immediately when you need to change plans suddenly.
Once everyone has been informed properly, you can continue to use the targeted list with a follow-up email or two. This is a great opportunity to provide information or documents that would have been distributed at the event but could still of value to attendees. Consider also creating some assets that replace what you would have shared in person.
Gather together any Slideshare presentations, create a quick video or infographic, or even a bulleted list that covers pertinent information that would have been shared. Information exchange is a large part of events and meetings, you can still provide it in a different format.
Did you spend time working on print materials that now have no place to go? Create PDFs and share them!
Use your platforms to get the word out and provide important updates. It is an effective, and immediate way to reach a large audience quickly.
Often the first place many people go for news is social media - ensure your posts not only provide valuable, accurate information that is relevant to your business but is also helpful to your followers who are looking for next steps or more detail. Share information that links people back to your website and guides followers to essential information.
It’s important to be cautious with social media, especially during a disaster or crisis. Use it as a way of getting information out to those who need it and are looking for it, but don’t use it as a way to gain more followers or jump on a trend.
One of the basic tenets of digital and inbound marketing is that you can reach your target audience when and where they are. Fortunately, this most often means virtually. Use the tools you have at your disposal to stay connected with your customers, clients, and other members of your target audience to continue providing relevant and valuable information wherever they may be!
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