As businesses are caught in the throes of the COVID-19 impact, Riyaan Shaikh caught up with Biplab Poddar, Founder & CEO of Oxedent, agency that uniquely states through a strapline to its Logo: PPC is all we do’. What resulted was this deep-dive on the COVId-19 – its impact on advertising and marketing industry, and what the digital marketer needs to remember and do now, in the current crisis, and later, when things return to somewhat close to normal.
And much more.
Poddar is a digital marketing professional and entrepreneur with deep understanding of key metrics and marketing insights. He’s a Bachelor in Technology (B.Tech) in Electronics Communications Engineering with a stronghold in digital marketing, and founded Oxedent in 2017, his digital marketing agency that is driven by a focus on client ROI.
Over the close to 3 years since, Oxedent has been bringing around new dimensions for businesses all across the world with regard to their digital advertising spaces.
Biplab, what’s your overall take on how advertising and marketing have been impacted by COVID-19?
Especially at present, and for many years now, the internet has become a part and parcel of our daily routine and as a result, digital marketing has emerged to be a crucial part for any business. Today, about 4.6 billion people around the world are internet subscribers and the number of businesses is increasing day by day who are keen on creating their brand presence online as most of the people are online!
But with this worldwide pandemic Covid-19, maximum industries, businesses and the total economy came to a standstill due to complete lockdowns around the globe.
Social distancing and quarantines resulted in only one reaction amongst people and all decided to wait until this pandemic gets over and things come back to normal.
It’s time for marketers to look beyond the situation and try to achieve a longstanding view of the entire scenario before they start pausing their campaigns
The last four months have been like a nightmare as Coronavirus have had a huge impact on our lives and multiple businesses round the world and advertising spends have paused by most businesses along with numerous online marketing initiatives.
Now it’s time for marketers to look beyond the situation and try to achieve a longstanding view of the entire scenario before they start pausing their campaigns.
Tell us about how COVID-19 has impacted the digital marketing space in particular.
Big companies are finding themselves in tough conditions as they have potentially lost millions of business events and major clientele. The epidemic Covid-19 has had an immense impact on every sector of the industry.
Mobile advertising and marketing is also included in this as companies have started curtailing their marketing spends and will continue to do so until the situation stabilizes a bit, at least.
Recession is on its way up globally and there have been declines in business spends. Surely that will have a remarkable impact on marketing budgets at least during the current quarter
However, due to this pandemic, organic traffic and conversion rates have come to a significant low almost for every industry. Most of the industries have witnessed a huge drop in their traffic during the last few months, with the news and media industry in exception with skyrocketing traffic during this period.
Most notably, costs in PPC are more or less the same even for businesses experiencing massive conversion hits and traffic incoming. There has been a slight drop in the CPC as well but the costs per acquisition have been getting a good rise in spite of the fact that the number of searches by people has had a significant decline.
Travel industry has experienced the maximum drop in terms of business since the Corona virus outbreak.
Ecommerce sites are getting mixed results depending on their product lists- if you are selling face masks, or hand sanitizers or medicines are facing huge rises on their traffic and sales have been soaring high but those sites selling luxury items have seen very few visitors.
If you do not still have a digital strategy, start with one. Integrated digital marketing plans can make your business fully aligned. Digital marketing with strategic approaches is crucial for marketers for getting remarkable results from search, email and social media marketing
How do you think Digital Marketing is likely to pivot to bigger role after the pandemic?
Consumers need to change their lifestyles with the new practices of social distancing, WFH, closed institutions and cancelled tours and events that disrupt the daily routines of human life.
However, stepping further, there would be a shift of online budgets from traditional marketing including print, etcetera to mobile marketing and gradually digital marketing will witness a spike with users mostly being indoors and hence online.
The audience seems to consume content online primarily via laptops, mobile phones or TV during periods of social distancing, work from home concepts becoming the new normal of human lives.
As soon as the earth starts healing, economies will be back and resume normality, and we hope to see businesses recovering — particularly the new-age online businesses that will have major hits with their ad spends and effective digital marketing strategies.
Each challenge brings opportunities so you need to be optimistic about Covid-19 and its outcomes for it will bring compelling need of new ways and new ways of connectivity and digital marketing will get a relook through mobile advertising and marketing approaches for reaching out to the masses, specifically during times of these types of pandemics or natural disasters like cyclones, etc. such as Covid-19 and Amphan. But we can see a huge rise in awareness regarding IoT (Internet of thing) solutions by marketers and digital advertising heads.
What is the role that you play for your clients and how?
Covid-19 is the topic nowadays, everywhere, and it has affected both, small and big businesses. Hence it is the topic for discussion in digital marketing and PPC as well. Businesses seek numerous ways to prevent ad spends in this period of economic crisis and business close-downs. Unfortunately, marketing spends are among the first cuts to be made by people and so in-house marketers now are struggling with their teams to keep up their digital sphere, whereas digital agencies see huge swings in spending from their clients.
Due to this pandemic, physical businesses are gradually rolling down their doors, and hence digital marketing will have a more major role to play.
Even in the long run, marketing strategies will work for the maintenance of the online presence of your brand and make lives easier for people even after this crisis gets over.
Here are a few tips for you on how to play your marketing role for your clients:
- Conversion-focused campaigns
We have made a shift of our entire budget to conversion focused campaigns more and more rather than focusing on a wider audience base for widening brand awareness and broader reach.
Due to this pandemic in the rounds, situations are getting tougher so we need to get the maximum ROI from our campaigns and so we have our primary focus on the bottom of the funnel and try to make your strategies in order to drive potential traffic to your website.
- Retargeting old and new users
You should keep up with your social media and reassure your clients that you are there, active with your online presence. Try to stay engaged and entertain your customers that would help to maintain a strong connection with your audience.
Social media activities are one of the potential tools for your exposure in front of new users. During lockdowns, people are spending most of their time online and hence this is the best time to catch their eyes and advertise your products and services on social media platforms and reach out to new customers.
- Hop on to new social media channels
We have started exploring new channels to run our ads such as various social platforms like Facebook Ads but we haven’t thrown out the previous platforms we have worked on in the past before the pandemic has hit the earth!
Opening up new channels has proved to be a success during this Coronavirus scenario, the marketing channels for social media platforms have made us pop in front of our customers wherever they are! We have begun advertising on Facebook and LinkedIn as well along with Google Ads and Bing Ads to gain more potential customers.
How and why should the clients use digital marketing at this point in time for the growth?
With the current changing situation in the world and the emergence of modern advancements and technologies, small and medium size businesses try their fullest to perform the best and be in the market.
Brick and mortar businesses either change their business models to online ones along with enhancing their already existing online advertising efforts with the help of fresh digital marketing strategies to capture more and more growth in the marketplace.
Digital marketing tactics help you to attract your targeted audience online and make you a thriving and successful business. In spite of receiving numerous traffic to your website on a daily basis, that would not mean that all of them will convert into leads or sales.
Digital marketing techniques offer business owners the best opportunities in terms of competitors, survival techniques and guide them for business growth. A series of digital marketing strategies and key tactics can help you such as Paid Search, Paid Social, Google shopping, and much more.
If you do not still have a digital strategy, start with one. Integrated digital marketing plans can make your business fully aligned. Digital marketing with strategic approaches is crucial for marketers for getting remarkable results from search, email and social media marketing.
Using digital marketing tactics effectively is important for better targeting and optimization. You should map out a path by setting goals and particular strategies for online marketing for integrated digital marketing.
Everyone’s going digital
Many established retailers and stores and brands have closed their physical stores and they have started going virtual via their online store fronts. This step has been a success in order to maintain their brand presence and they can continue to remain on the top of their customers’ minds!
Many agencies have accepted the fact that this change in marketing style has made them unexpectedly beneficial and they have received more number of queries for their services and many potential clients are reaching out to them from different sectors.
What’s the one big thing you’d tell businesses to do?
Pause traditional marketing; pave the way for digital. Amidst this crisis, traditional marketing needs to be stopped for a while at least till the situation gets a little better.
The budget allocation in traditional marketing is really megabucks and now investing in hoardings, print advertisements, billboards, pamphlets or other traditional marketing means would be a waste of time and money. Obvoiusly, then, one should shift their entire budgets to digital marketing for the time being as all the users are online due to this social distancing trend going on around the world.
Some businesses have gotten into hibernation mode and have shelved their advertising spends, but there are many companies in the market that have been increasing their ad spends to reach out to their target audience who are most working from home.
So the site traffic on websites and internet usage of the audience has been tremendously increased and as a result there has been a fine balance in the advertising dollars going online in the marketing arena. According to many researches, the cost of advertising has been the same during this pandemic.
What inspires you as the leader of your business?
Warren Buffett’s concept of ‘Fear and Greed’ is one inspirational thing. It says, ‘Be Fearful When Others Are Greedy and Greedy When Others Are Fearful’. This really works in times of panic and crisis, such as the current situation worldwide due to Covid-19.
The cost per mille (CPM) has dropped by as much as 30 to 40% during Covid-19 — right from mid-March, as advertisers are pulling out their budgets.
So, what can a business owner and its CMO do to keep up the marketing efforts?
Well, there are a few things that can help you maintain your marketing:
- Try to get the best creative stuff thereby increasing your CTR (click through rate) during this time, and then you can double impressions with cheaper cost per clicks.
- Another thing you can do is to increase retargeting and improve your awareness among your audience and get more people coming to you.
- You can also add new retargeting ads and engage more customers.
- You can also turn on new networks such as if you don’t run ads on Bing, start on it or if you don’t run Instagram ads start running them to get more results.
And you need to know some basic information during this Covid-19 pandemic situation:
First: you need to know who your customers are now. Are you targeting the same audience as you did before this pandemic has hit? If your customer base has changed during this Coronavirus phase, maybe you have got into advertising for cleaning services, or online brick and mortar industries that have been booming nowadays amidst the crisis, your strategies should also change accordingly.
Second: you need to know where they are mostly likely to be. Are they in front of their computers on Google, or they are browsing more on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram for this is a huge factor during this pandemic situation as most of the people are doing WFH and are mostly on their phones on social media.
Third: as you know they are mostly online, you will need a solid email marketing strategy which will be an effective way to reach them while they are at their homes. Email marketing ads will work potentially during this period with rich strategies and proper execution.
Another thing you can do is reworking on your highest converting channel for getting the new channel.
Try new channels to run your ads such as various social platforms like Facebook Ads but remember not to throw out the previous platforms you have worked on in the past. Just because there is a pandemic doing the rounds and people have changed their search patterns that don’t mean that customers will not need the thing that you have been doing and proving the best all the time during the last several years. They still need your thing and probably will use the ads you give them in their way.
You just need to open up new channels and during the Corona virus scenario, as indeed at all other times, the marketing channels that are going to work are those that will get you in front of your customers wherever they are.