The pandemic has dramatically shifted consumer behavior online, leaving brands scrambling to revise their digital marketing strategies. But as we brace ourselves for a marathon recovery, it’s time to switch from survival mode to a longer-term approach that will outlast the virus. 

Here are 4 online marketing strategies successful brands are using to navigate the on-going crisis and prepare to go the distance.

1.  Put Your Values to Work

The pandemic has offered a unique opportunity for brands to connect with consumers in a more intimate and meaningful way. As the crisis continues, actively staying engaged and responsive to your community’s needs is the best way to cultivate loyalty and demonstrate your values as more than just a pithy statement on your website.  

Thrive Market launched a COVID-19 Relief Fund providing grocery stipends and free memberships to families facing health or financial hardships. They also committed to matching every dollar raised up to $200,000.

2. Choose your Content Wisely

With fear and uncertainty still looming, it’s important to keep your messaging empathetic and relevant to the current situation. Although many consumers want a break from the doom and gloom, inappropriate attempts to benefit from the situation or lighten things up could do more harm than good.

3. Optimize Customers’ Online Experience

One thing has become clear post-outbreak, your online presence could be the deciding factor that determines your future.

Optimizing your site and mobile app with necessary upgrades and live streaming technologies should be at the top of your list if want to come out ahead. Your customers’ online experience needs to be seamless and enjoyable to ensure repeat business, customer referrals, and ultimately, your brand’s longevity. 


4. Don’t let Overly Cautious Spending Cost You

Although conservative spending feels safe right now, research confirms, cutting back on advertising spend during an economic downturn puts you behind those who maintain or increase spending.

During the 1989-91 recession, McDonald’s chose to cut back spending and their sales dropped by 28%, while other chains like Pizza Hut and Taco Bell grew. Opting to learn from the past (despite plummeting profits), McDonald’s launched their spring campaign, starting with ads promoting free meals for first responders – making sure the world was watching their empathetic, proactive response in action. 

Even if your budget has bottomed out, you still have an advantage; you have the world of social media at your disposal at a very low cost. (Post-COVID-19, Facebook engagement shot up 40% and downloads of TikTok reached record numbers.) The key is to stay in front of your audience and work to expand it with consistent, creative, and meaningful engagement. 


McDonald’s Celebrates Healthcare Workers and First Responders with Free “Thank You Meals”


Although we are still lost in the thick of the pandemic, we have to focus on the reality that, no matter how far-removed, the crisis will eventually subside. By leveraging present opportunities for engaging and broadening your customer base- focusing your marketing dollars on relevant, meaningful content and optimizing your customers’ experience across purchasing channels- you will forge a path toward a successful post-pandemic future. 



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