As the world continues to adapt to COVID-19’s global impacts, businesses have been pivoting their global marketing strategies to ensure that, once the crisis is over, they’ll be in a better position to recover – or continue – growth.
Companies, whether thriving or suffering as a result of the pandemic, are finding ways to become trusted resources for their key international audiences. Here’s how they’re adding value through their global marketing efforts during COVID-19.
PRODUCT EXPERIENCE BECOMES CENTRAL TO GLOBAL MARKETING DURING COVID-19
As the dependency on technology increased, many B2B subscription-based software providers made their products more accessible. By offering key features for free and reducing the cost of premium ones, they’ve helped users save much-needed budget in the short term. And by expanding the opportunity for consumers to experience their solutions, tech providers become integral to their customers’ daily lives. This improves adoption, retention, and revenue in the long term. Google, Microsoft, LogMeIn, Zoom, and Cisco Webex all began offering extended free trials to global companies to facilitate remote working.
This approach has given these brands the opportunity to generate buzz in their target markets, entice new users to their platforms, and upsell them with value-added services or discounted subscriptions. For example, Pluralsight – a subscription-based eLearning platform specializing in technology training – offered a month of free access in April. This approach was a win for companies who need more value from their existing tech stacks. And it also worked well for individuals looking to develop tech skills while under stay-at-home directives.
Other B2B brands rolled out free features to help customers cope with the rapidly changing business landscape. In April, LinkedIn made its Events feature (previously open only to certain customers) available across all company pages.
Reliability and continuity of services accessed over the internet are also key concerns for business end-users and consumers alike. Companies are rising to the occasion by finding ways to increase their capacity to deliver. In turn, this sensitivity to consumer needs positions those companies as reliable partners, which will help drive their longer-term success.
On-demand entertainment and mobile app downloads are accelerating across the globe. So companies are investing in app localization to better serve their global audiences and app store optimization to increase discoverability. This drives downloads and revenue in the short term. And it sets them up for continued success as their key markets adjust to new phases in the response to COVID-19.
PURPOSE DRIVES BRAND VALUE
Empathy and service are a common undercurrent in messaging as companies offer ways for users to navigate their changing situations. In India, Google launched Search and YouTube features to prominently display authoritative information and locally relevant details about the pandemic from India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Maps and Search also show more than 1,500 food and night shelters in 36 cities.
For New Yorkers impacted by COVID-19, mediation app Headspace is offering free guided meditation in English and Spanish. They’re also giving free subscriptions to US and UK healthcare workers, as well as special content for educators in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.
Facebook is supplying 2,050 of its Portal video-calling devices for free to hospitals and care facilities in the UK. This is in partnership with the UK government and National Health Service (NHS). The goal of the program is to provide an easy way to connect with loved ones and reduce social isolation.
Even companies in industries that have been essentially shut down have found creative ways to support global communities. (And build brand sentiment at the same time.)
At the beginning of the crisis, Airbnb launched a worldwide initiative to provide frontline COVID-19 responders with places to stay to remain safely distanced from their own families. Waiving fees for the first 100,00 bookings, Airbnb partnered with in-market foundations to provide a localized rollout of the program.
EVENT MARKETING PIVOTS TO VIRTUAL EXPERIENCES
B2B organizations are also demonstrating the spirit of service in pivoting to virtual experiences after the cancellation of large, in-person industry conferences. This move may be necessary as they look to provide value for sponsors. But many organizations have taken the additional step of opening up these virtual conferences to everyone for free. Adobe Summit, ProductCraft, Microsoft Ignite, and other high-profile events have taken this route. This provides attendees access to valuable content and an opportunity to network with peers.
Webinars are a cornerstone of many marketers’ demand gen strategies. And in the wake of coronavirus, the consumption of live content is skyrocketing. But as more companies scramble to provide this content, they’ll face increased competition for users’ attention. Marketers can stand out by providing experiences that are human – and actionable ideas to solve their audience’s immediate problems. This will set marketers up for success in the future.
The brands that are thriving despite the pandemic are those that solve immediate needs in people’s lives. They provide information, services, and connection to consumers and businesses. This gives them an incredibly important part to play, while also offering the opportunity to put their brands front and center.
For companies in industries that have been disproportionately impacted, it’s more about the long-game. They can still succeed by approaching their audiences with empathy, finding opportunities to add value, and keeping their brands and products in the picture. Investing in this now will give them an edge once the crisis passes, keeping the resilience, value, and relevance of their brands top of mind among target audiences.