2020 was expected to be a remarkable year for digital marketing business, especially here in the GCC, where the EXPO 2020 was predicted to attract 25 million visitors in Dubai. In addition to this, the Saudi market is expanding, making it the perfect time to target online users in the Kingdom, who makes up almost 90% of their total population.
But the unexpected pandemic situation happened, and everything just froze!
Now, after three months, some of us have passed the anger and depression phase. We have started to accept that COVID-19 has dramatically affected our life patterns, and that they will not be the same (at least not any time soon). Unfortunately, most of us are still stuck in the denial phase. We should be focusing on damage control rather than reacting faster. It’s high time we change our long-term strategies and get out of the comfort zone.
In this article, we will not talk about how COVID-19 has affected the economy all over the globe, but we will discuss how it has lead to a change in user behavior, and how we can follow these changes and adapt them to our digital strategies.
It’s time to think more of your current users rather than potential ones
As everyone now could be an online visitor, the challenge of getting more users to your digital platform may not be the biggest anymore.
While it’s always critical to keep your online platforms ranking high on search engines and support your relevant traffic (organic traffic), the biggest challenge now would be to make the most out of those who are coming to your platform.
In other words, users who made it to your website should be given high priority.
Allocate more time and budget to review and improve your key user journeys, starting from technical issues (which could be a direct reason for losing conversions), to optimizing the user experience and trying to meet users’ expectations.
Now, more than any time before, your users should be able to complete their tasks smoothly and feel satisfied when leaving the website with an intention to revisit it soon.
Testing should always be at the center of your plans
With the social distancing situation, getting qualitative insights has become more hectic. For instance, there are many limitations to conduct face to face interviews or focus groups. However, thanks to technology that we can rely more on testing & tracking tools such as VWO, Google Optimize, Optimizely, and Hotjar.
Most of these tools are affordable and easy to use. It helps you test your ideas, create hypotheses and validate them with real data before implementing them permanently.
Many brands now invest a lot of time and money on Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), as they are aware this is the optimal time to focus on the conversion within the website.
But what if your first test doesn’t go well?
Well, we’re still observing this new situation and reacting to it, and the best way to address this challenge is to keep testing! Remember that with every failure, you learn something new, and you minimize the gap with users.
Work with your team on an agile testing plan, check your user behavior figures, focus on your key pages, optimize, and test. If the results don’t meet your expectations during the first cycle, they will do soon.
Learn more from your data
We were all confused when the trends we used to see on our dashboards suddenly changed. It was not long enough to realize this to be an excellent opportunity to learn.
Whilst most of the industries are experiencing an out-of-control drop in revenue, you don’t need to panic if your conversion rate has decreased. This could be due to an increase in traffic from an audience you never targeted before. Instead, try to analyze your new segments and reveal any opportunities from them, then translate the learning into solutions. It could also help to see what has changed in source traffic and keep you organic at the top of your priorities, mainly because it’s most likely relevant traffic.
Moreover, pay more attention to the engagement metrics and how to improve them to extract the most conversion later when the sky clears up again.
Users now have plenty of time:
In China, the average use of mobile internet has increased by one hour per user in comparison to the period prior to this epidemic. If you consider the 854 million internet users in China 2019, you can imagine the huge impact there has been.
What does that mean?
Users now have a lot of time to navigate the web looking for the best options. Decisions have become less dominated by emotions and trends, and more by logic and needs. As users, we’re now more likely to take our time to compare, read the features, and consider more factors before making a decision.
So the priority for you should be to keep your customers on your platform as much as possible. Personalization, engaging content, comparison, and flexible payment options should all be given more priority rather than just considering a COVID-19 popup message on your homepage banner.
Users’ priorities are tending to “necessities”
With the economic challenges we are all going through right now, it’s time to reevaluate your service/product and promote what could help your users during and after this crisis.
This business call could be painful at the moment, but with the support of your marketing team, you can adapt these changes to build a solid post COVID-19 strategy where you might need to challenge your typical customer journey map and the tactics behind it. On the other hand, it’s time to emphasize your value proposition and assure connection and building trust with your users. It’s critical to stand out among your competitors and meet your users’ expectations, rather than throwing your ads everywhere and monitoring campaign figures.
Finally, proactivity leads to success
During these tough times where no one can accurately predict when and how this situation will end, we should be taking serious actions. Although many scenarios are on the table for consideration, we have more visibility on the affects. The right course of action involves sharpening our skills with this knowledge, analyzing the data we have, and make decisions accordingly.
Focus on the user journey within your website, realize the changes on user segments as new opportunities, review and optimize your content, consider all changes on your data, and lastly, keep testing and learning.
Fadi is a CRO manager in RBBi. He works on improving clients’ digital platforms’ through Conversion Rate Optimization and helping them become more profitable.
With the support of the RBBi team, Fadi helps the clients by working on qualitative & quantitative research to enhance the user experience and place the business in a position where data leads decision making, and solutions are based on facts, not assumptions. Fadi is also an HFI-certified usability analyst with vast experience in research, user testing, and strategy.