You probably remember the day the world went digital.
For me, that was March 13, 2020. Drift closed our offices and I was supposed to be heading out to a fun-filled vacation in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Every single person I talked to knows the exact date it happened for them.
For me and my entire team, there’s no going back to the way we did business pre-COVID. But don’t panic – I’ve been thinking about this a lot in the hectic juggling between work, school, parenting my two and 13-year-old, setting up our home garden, educating my kids on the social movement happening within our country and around the world, and trying to stay in shape without my gym.
Obviously it’s important to double down on your digital strategy in a work-from-home world. But that’s just one piece of the puzzle. NOW is the time for experimentation in your marketing strategy and reinvestment in your people and culture.
That’s why we’ve curated everything marketers need to know right now to achieve your goals, manage your team, and align with your sales staff to ensure that you emerge stronger than ever from this crisis. Stronger as a business, stronger as a team, and ultimately better marketers and salespeople than you were before you ever knew what a new normal actually was.
Here’s a preview of what’s in store
- Start by Rethinking Your Pipeline and Marketing Strategy
- Rethink Events and Reinvent Them as Virtual Experiences
- Embrace Content Marketing 2.0
- Get Close with Customers to Bridge the Communication Gap
- Align and Empower Your Team Around New Initiatives
- Remember the Human Impact
Let’s get to it. Here are five critical pivots marketers should make to start thriving as soon as possible 👇
Start by Rethinking Your Pipeline and Marketing Strategy
Yes, I’m serious. If you haven’t already done it, I strongly suggest you throw out your entire pre-COVID pipeline and marketing strategy. Remember – once you get through the survival stage, it’s about revising, analyzing, and pivoting.
1. Invest in the Right Channels
Now is the time to really look closely at the channels, offers, and campaigns that are successful. Double down on digital marketing plays that reduce friction, streamline experiences, and most importantly, meet your customers where they are.
Take our social media efforts for example. In the last 100 days, we’ve seen paid social, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, really blow up. For example, in the last four months, Drift’s Twitter impressions have increased by 36% and Instagram impressions have increased by 137% vs. the previous four months. We’ve also got an estimated 57% increase in our paid social advertising program from Q1 to Q2. When usage goes up, our impressions go up.
Why? Well, because people are online. They want connection right now. These social media outlets are helping people connect personally, seeing the people they know and love. (And yes, they have also struggled significantly with how to handle inaccurate news and what their role to play is within social movements as well).
Now, we’re looking at how we can apply our best ABM tactics to our programmatic advertising on social media in a way we never have before – because it’s working for us in a way it never has before.
2. Audit and Align the Marketing and Sales Message
Align your sales and marketing messaging so that it continues to be relevant and empathetic to buyers and customers under any circumstance.
Yes, that means you have to audit and change your messaging (and yes, you’re going to have to do it more than once). Every single company needs to.
Messaging should always be evolving – so consider this a shove rather than a gentle nudge to get on it.
My inbox was overloaded with emails from every company I’ve ever done business with trying to tell me how they were responding to COVID-19. And so much of it was exactly the same. There was no value or empathy, and honestly, I didn’t read many of those emails.
For us, we had to test and iterate our way through the changing customer preferences on COVID-19.
The takeaway? Find out what your audience cares about now that everything has changed, and pivot.
3. Make Data-Driven Decisions to Improve Experiences and Optimize
The idea that everything’s over because of COVID-19 is false. You just need to look harder.
Use data to identify new opportunities, previously unexplored industries, and new business problems customers and prospects are looking to solve using your solution.
At Drift, we saw a 57% increase in opportunities from completely new segments during COVID-19. If we hadn’t paid attention, we would have missed huge earning potential.
Our friend Udi Ledergor, CMO at Gong, said it best:
He says it’s not just about the numbers, but about getting close to your customers. Talk to people, listen to what they’re saying on social media and on sales calls. This is good practice anytime, but especially now.
So I’ll say it again. Take everything you thought you knew and throw it out.
Right now, you have a chance to go beyond being a software or widget or a button or a hardware asset. Be a true partner who knows that a customer isn’t an acronym, or a number, but a person.
Rethink Events and Reinvent Them as Virtual Experiences
Pivot #2: Virtual events like you’ve never seen before.
And with virtual events, you can’t rely on confetti cannons or snacks. It’s all about the experience. Experience means the value you provide and how you made people feel during your event. Did I learn something? Was I entertained? Am I a better professional as a result of giving you my most precious asset, my time? If you’re taking your next event to cyberspace, you’ll want to:
1. Double Down on Partnerships
Partnerships can bring together multiple audiences and accelerate value. With RevGrowth, we had 20 different partners in play with us on it. To find them, we looked for high-quality content, value for our audience, a similar audience or ICP, and general rapport.
When you partner with another organization, it’s a good idea to set expectations at the beginning for lead-sharing, promotion, and who does what for content. We establish follow-up rules and time tables, make sure we’re tracking everything with UTMs, and make things official with a contract from legal.
2. Make the Event Registration Process and Promotion Seamless
Then, remove the barriers to entry for your attendees. One way we love to do that at Drift is with chat. If you already have their email address, why not make it easy?
One click and the attendee gets an email confirmation. No wonder folks see a 10% bump in conversions when they switch to Drift Live Chat.
It’s just easier.
3. Reinvent the Virtual Event
What does a next-level virtual event look like?
Nobody really knows yet. I’ve been speaking with marketers who are booking house bands, virtual artists, magicians, and sending people takeout or cocktail kits.
I think we can do so much better than a few Zoom boxes and some slides, don’t you?
One way to do this is with size. Cap registration numbers for your virtual events so there’s still a FOMO element. Or make it intimate with events for 20 or 30 people.
With events like these, I have been able to network in these last 100 days far more than I had in the last 12 months. And the reason for that is because it’s so much easier to attend events than ever before. Because before COVID, I would’ve had to get a babysitter, plan out my whole evening, but now, I’m already at home. I can be in two places at once (and so can your customers).
Embrace Content Marketing 2.0
You have limited time and limited resources.
You’re probably even stalled out on hiring more people.
So how can you get more out of what you’re already doing?
1. Simplify Content Creation
Work smarter, not harder with your content marketing. Start with a content audit to understand what you have. Then, work on your cornerstone content, aka one really powerful, exciting, interesting piece of content with a ton of mileage. (Have you read our The MQL Is Dead book yet?)
Cornerstone content gives you room to reuse and recycle, like turning a series of blog articles into ebooks, or using webinar slides to put together an e-course.
Guess what? You’re reading a prime example. This was a webinar…and now it’s a blog post. Voila!
If you have a piece of content that performs really well, think about repackaging it. How can you reuse it in a new channel, or reposition the contents for a different persona?
How can you squeeze even more juice out of your own content?
2. Focus on Content That Drives Results
Maybe that sounds obvious, but it’s time to get hyper-focused on content that works.
Start with your audience. Now, more than ever, you need to revisit your personas.
From there, look at funnel metrics, like views and downloads, all the way through the pipeline with conversations and meetings. We have a customer marketing attribution model so we can attribute the consumption of a piece of content to a specific point along the customer journey (since a lot of content won’t necessarily be the tipping point for creating an opportunity). It’s highly likely someone has been to your website before they give you their email address.
I think sometimes content marketers just have blinders on 🤷♀️
Get outside of your company bubble and listen to what’s happening. Your content needs to align with your audience, message, format, and offer all the way through.
3. Repeat and Turn This into a Strategy
As a demand gen leader, I spend 60% of my time with the sales team. Since I’m responsible for driving the pipeline of the business, I need to understand what’s going on on the ground with the sales team. I don’t only just want the leaders to know, I want every individual rep to know that we are one single unified team.
We have a bi-weekly meeting with the sales leadership team where we dig in and give a quick summary on what’s working…and what’s not. We talk about why that matters to our bottom line and what we can do differently.
Our friend Stephen Farnsworth, Head of Partnerships at Outreach, says this about sales-marketing alignment:
We do this same bi-weekly meeting with sales leadership. We surface questions from the reps, talk about new sequences, and look at the data. You need to spend time with each other to make sure that your content machine becomes a strategy – and not something the marketing team works on separate from everyone else.
Get Close with Customers to Bridge the Communication Gap
Your customer communications need to be stronger than ever. (Yes, I’m saying it again.) Here’s how:
1. Check-in with Customers & Identify Creative Solutions
Customer marketing is everyone’s job.
Adobe, for example, moved their summit virtual. They wanted to have a concierge experience within that virtual event that would usher these people to wherever they wanted to go and will be available to them to answer any of their questions. Totally new use case, totally new persona. We helped them implement Drift Chat to be their online concierge.
That’s just one way to…
2. Improve Your End-to-End Digital Experience
Now that everything is digital, making your online presence as real-time as possible is essential. Adobe Summit 2020 was a totally new way of using Drift. 100 days ago, we had never done this.
Now we are doing this over and over and over again.
Want to get a round-up of the best techniques and technologies for planning and delivering outstanding virtual events? Get the guide from Drift and Adobe here.
Right now, think about what your customers need and protect the revenue you already have.
Websites are one of the most important assets in a marketer’s toolkit. Have you set up your website from an engagement or conversion optimization standpoint? Your customers are going to want to speak with you in real-time, and your website is the best place to pivot and start doing that. If you’re not, you’re going to get left behind.
People are making decisions on their digital strategies faster than ever before. Which means that if you are making customers wait days until you get back to them, they’re going to make the decision to choose a partner that can help them now. Is your experience optimized to ensure you’re able to get back to them as quickly as possible, down to the minute that they are considering how you can help?
The closest you’re going to get to your customers right now is them engaging with you on Zoom, social media, or your website because you can’t see them in person.
That’s why it’s important to…
3. Partner with Customers to Create Content
One of our key leadership principles at Drift is to keep the customer at the center of everything we do. That’s super important to us – and with COVID-19, it’s been a wake-up call.
Customer marketing is beyond powerful, and it puts the customer at the center of whatever you’re doing. For any new content you’re creating, start first by looking at how you can partner with your customers.
How much are you investing in your customer marketing efforts and strategies?
Align and Empower Your Team Around New Initiatives
Finally, it’s easy to overlook your team in all this. (Hey, we didn’t forget!) Your team has been working around the clock during this incredibly trying time. Right now, you need a different level of communication than you did before.
How well is your team set up to collaborate remotely? Try these three things that have worked for us:
1. Start Using Integrated Marketing Campaigns
It used to be that demand gen, brand, and content were all doing their own thing and running in a million different directions. We needed a different approach. So we revised, analyzed, and pivoted.
We moved into an integrated campaign structure to unify our entire team. Little did we know that this framework would also be incredibly valuable in helping us pivot.
This way, if you think of each of our offers and channels as a playing card in a deck, we’re able to pick one up and swap it out for something else. It made us able to move that much more quickly.
2. Keep Comms Tight and Visibility High
Everyone in the company should be able to see what marketing is doing. Invest in tools that improve team communication, add accountability, and streamline your go-to-market. For us, that looks like:
- Asana: We live and die by it.
- Slack: It’s the fastest way to speak with anybody.
- Zoom: I spend about 75% of my day on Zoom so I can talk “face-to-face” with my team.
- Drift Video: Our secret weapon for our sales team.
- Google Slides/Dropbox: We have a database of our internal and external slides so we can drag and drop for any presentation.
- Marketo/Salesforce: We power all of our lead generation activities through these tools.
3. Show Your Work and Communicate Value to the Company
We were doing this long before the whole pandemic hit.
But when you can’t ring a literal bell in the office or swing by someone’s cube for feedback, it’s important to stay connected and show your work.
It creates transparency, but it also makes sure we never stray too far from the “why” of our campaigns and our customers. Plus, we get more feedback on how we’re doing, push our team to ask bigger questions, and learn.
Remember the Human Impact
We say all the time that it’s no longer business to business, but business to human. And that’s more true than ever during unprecedented times like these.
Our friend Eric Williamson, former VP of Brand and Digital Marketing at Acquia, put it this way:
As for me, I’m carving out more time for one on one conversations with my team. I’m working on making sure we stay connected as people first, especially since we can’t work, learn, and celebrate in person.
Most importantly, I’m practicing these five principles so we can thrive and future-proof our marketing: