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How You Can Make Digital Do Your Heavy Lifting in Difficult Times (Thinks Out Loud Episode 283) – Headlines and Show Notes
Face-to-face doesn't work when we're all wearing face masks, right? And data shows that customers increasingly rely on digital to solve their problems. The question is is digital solving problems for your business? For far too many companies, the answer is "no." Which is exactly the opposite of what you want — what you need — right now. So, how can you make digital do your heavy lifting in difficult times? That's the topic of this week's Thinks Out Loud podcast episode.
Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you:
Relevant Links – How You Can Make Digital Do the Heavy Lifting in Difficult Times (Thinks Out Loud Episode 283)
Customers are using digital; but it isn’t doing the job
- Web traffic going up
- Deal flow slowing down
- HubSpot data Benchmark Data: How COVID-19 Is Impacting Sales and Marketing Performance [Updated Weekly]
- Within.co Retail Pulse https://go.within.co/retail-pulse/
- Morning Brew
- Forecasting RevPar And Occupancy During An Era Of Uncertainty
- Fantastic thread from Adam Singer on Twitter talking about how Pinterest, Wayfair and others are crushing it
Any consumer internet company that doesn't absolutely crush top of funnel user metrics this quarter may be in deep trouble. Everyone is stuck inside/staring at screens. If your brand isn't winning here there may be existential problems (save for certain sectors, understandably).
— Adam Singer (@AdamSinger) March 29, 2020
State and national governments plan to reopen their economies
- Israel has a plan to open up the economy
- The Western Pact (California, Washington State, Oregon) and a coalition of 6 Northeastern/Mid-Atlantic states are working on plans as well
- Cruise ship bookings for 2021 are already on the rise despite multiple COVID-19 outbreaks
What does this mean? Your website isn't doing its job
- And if you wait too long, you’re waiting too long.
- And you’re already waiting too long if you’re not doing things now.
- Once things really start to pick up, momentum and some digital realities will favor those already in the game.
- Obviously, less true for some verticals (hotels, restaurants, etc.) But it’s already real for many industries and won’t be true in the others forever.
What should you do?
- How Marketers Can Plan for the Recovery (Thinks Out Loud Episode 281)
- Monitor your metrics
- Great metrics you should monitor from Screen Pilot: https://screenpilot.com/2020/04/critical-kpis-during-covid-19/ including:
- Conversion rate
- Lead time to order
- Invest in your content
- In difficult times, digital must do the heavy lifting
- Content is cheaper than you think
- It’s content that doesn’t convert that’s expensive as noted in The Single Biggest Myth in Digital: Content is Expensive (Thinks Out Loud Episode 275)
- Recognize that folks (especially, Millennials, as noted in Your Big Opportunity When The Current Crisis Ends? Adults Under 40) and businesses may have less to spend
- Barron’s https://www.barrons.com/articles/the-coronavirus-has-already-made-us-poorer-for-years-to-come-51586781001
- That doesn’t mean “lower prices”
- It means offer value
- Offer value adds, per The Lost Art of Value Adds in Marketing (Thinks Out Loud Episode 277)
- Don’t make the recovery worse by making your revenues artificially low
- Sell gently for now
- Reassure customers
- Inspire confidence
- In B2B and B2C, make digital do its job.
- It’s a 24x7x365 salesperson
- Or, at least, it should be
- If yours isn’t, the problem isn’t that digital doesn’t work in general. It’s that your digital presence doesn’t work. That's a waste of money/time/effort. So don't do that. :)
- There's More Than One Path to Success (Thinks Out Loud Episode 278)
- There is a Path Forward (Thinks Out Loud Episode 279)
- The Plan is Not the Goal (Thinks Out Loud Episode 282)
- Content is King, Customer Experience is Queen
- The Rebirth of Trusted Gatekeepers (Thinks Out Loud Episode 307)
- Marketing in Uncertain Times (Thinks Out Loud Episode 352)
Times are tough right now. And in tough times digital must do the heavy lifting. There’s really no need to make the current any tougher than it is already. So, why not let digital do the heavy lifting for you?
SoloSegment increases large-enterprise, B2B website conversion with easy-to-install software that automatically connects website visitors to the content they need to see to achieve their goals. SoloSegment does this using anonymous data and machine learning ensuring privacy compliance, addressing the many anonymous visitors, and improving the efficiency of marketing teams. Visit SoloSegment.com.
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Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks
You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:
Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud
Recorded using a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.
Running time: 17m 22s
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Transcript – How You Can Make Digital Do the Heavy Lifting in Difficult Times (Thinks Out Loud Episode 283)
Show Opening — How You Can Make Digital Do the Heavy Lifting in Difficult Times (Thinks Out Loud Episode 283)
Well, hello again everyone, and welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital marketing expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter. This is episode 283 of the Big Show, and thank you so much for tuning in. I genuinely, genuinely appreciate it. I think we've got a really cool show for you.
I'm in such a good mood today and I realize that may sound bizarre with all of the stuff going on right now. You know, it's completely understandable and I want to be completely respectful, if you are not in a good mood. I get that. There's a lot of trouble out there. I get that a lot of people are having a tough time. I also think it's true that we are starting to see a place where there's a more positive outlook. You know, it may be a few months away, it may be more than a few months away, but for the first time in weeks and weeks and weeks, it feels like we are beginning to see this flattening of the curve. And I want to be incredibly sensitive to the fact that, you know, many people are going through a lot of troubles right now and that many people will continue to go through, you know, a fair bit of trouble for some time to come.
We're Starting to See Some (Relatively) Good News
But there is good news out there. And the good news has a lot of implications. The good news and the bad news have a lot of implications for how you need to react as we go forward. And so that's really what I want to focus on.
You know, I talked a week ago about, you know, the plan is not the goal, the goal is the goal, right? And I've also talked a lot about how there is a path forward. Today I want to talk about what those are.
So there is a lot of data from a variety of sources. You know, HubSpot in the B2B space, Within.co for retail, Morning Brew, other people talking about the fact that customers are using digital, they are engaged with digital, whether it's on desktop or tablet or mobile. They are sitting home. They are working from home. They are unfortunately in many cases not working from home. And they are spending time on digital. And lots of companies, lots of retailers, lots of businesses, lots of organizations have seen their web traffic climb, in many cases skyrocket. It's going up a ton.
But Digital Isn't Doing Its Job
We're also seeing though that sales are up generally, but in many cases, not as much as traffic is up. Now, there are certainly, certainly cases where it's going up a lot. There's a fantastic thread from Adam Singer on Twitter, who's talked about how Pinterest, Wayfair, and a bunch of other companies are absolutely crushing it right now and how, you know, you can learn the lessons that they are sort of providing in terms of what you can do with that. So I strongly recommend you taking a look at that.
But I'm going to read one part of the thing that Adam Singer said. You know, he said, "Everyone is stuck inside staring at screens. If your brand isn't winning here, there may be existential problems save for certain sectors," understandably, which is exactly the thing that I'm thinking.
You know, obviously there are a handful of sectors — hotels, restaurants, air travel — that have some more systemic problems. That are going to take a little longer to work out. But in most B2B companies, in most B2C companies, you should see your traffic going up right now. And if you see your traffic going up, but your sales aren't going up enough or equally, or if you're a B2B company, your deal flow isn't going up, what it means is that your website isn't doing its job.
Customers Want Digital to Do a Better Job
Now that's going to become increasingly important because we're seeing people begin to put together plans to reopen their economies. Israel has a plan to reopen its economy over the next handful of, you know, probably two, two and a half, three months. They've got a very detailed plan that looks pretty smart in terms of how they're going to get there. There is this Western Pact of California, Washington state and Oregon, and a coalition of six Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states that are starting to put together plans as well for how they reopen their economies.
And we're seeing signs that consumers, customers actually, are taking this for granted. You know, for all the predictions of doom and gloom that you hear out there, customers still are buying even in categories you might not expect. Business Insider has a story that says cruise ship bookings for 2021 are already on the rise. Even with all the problems that the cruise industry has had specifically, and travel more generally — I don't want to malign any industry. I don't want to encourage people to not travel. Believe me, I don't want to encourage people to not travel. But it's remarkable to me that the cruise industry is actually seeing some growth.
The "New Normal" Is Tough to Predict. But Digital Will Play a Big Role
That indicates to me that customers want to do the things that they've always done. They want to get back to normal as quickly as they possibly can. There are many predictions that talk about how Covid-19 is going to change things forever, and those could well be true. But this at least seems to indicate that some of the things that we think will change forever. Maybe won't change as much as you might think. And if your website isn't doing its job, if you wait too long, you're only going to make whatever challenges you face today worse in the long run. You're already waiting too long if you're not doing things now to make your digital channels do the heavy lifting that they need to do. Right? After all, face-to-face has been hurt over the course of this process.
I just wrote a column for Hotel News Now that talks about how in tough times digital must do the heavy lifting and all of this data just reinforces that point because once things really start to pick up, momentum is going to favor those that are already in the game.
What's going to happen? People are going to say, "wow, I found a great deal on this website," or, "this company had a great deal," or they're going to share with their friends this thing that they found. And that's going to create a problem. We know that Google preferences businesses in paid search and to some degree in organic search who keep an active presence. So if you're not doing things now, you're only going to make it harder for yourself to catch up later.
And again, that may be less true at the immediate moment for some verticals. You know, hotels, restaurants, air travel, things like that, theater tickets, event tickets, etc. But it's already a reality for many industries that we're seeing this volume happen. And for all the others, the current state isn't going to be true forever as the cruise ship bookings certainly seemed to indicate. So you cannot sit on the sidelines and wait for the recovery to ensure you recover. There are things you must do today.
So what are those?
How You Can Make Digital Do the Heavy Lifting in Difficult Times
Well, first you've got to monitor your metrics. You have to know what's happening in terms of traffic, in terms of conversion rate, in terms of lead time to order, in terms of leads generated for your B2B website. A company called Screen Pilot, an agency who focuses on the hospitality industry, has a terrific set of metrics that you should monitor if you're in those sorts of service industries. But many of them apply regardless of what you're doing.
Invest in Your Content
The next thing you have to do is you have to invest in your content. And not just in your content itself, but in making your content work. Content, as I've said many times before, is much cheaper than you think, right? "Content is King," but it's also not that expensive a King. It's only content that doesn't convert that's expensive. So you need to look at, is my content keeping people on my site? Is it encouraging them to take the next action and is that next action leading them to get in touch with me, to give me their contact information to create a sale. Because that's expensive content.
Create Value-Adds and Products That Work if Money is Tight
You've got to recognize that folks — especially millennials who will be key to the recovery, as I talked about on the show a few weeks back — and many businesses may have less money to spend. Both Barron's and the Atlantic Magazine have sobering, you know, really kind of distressing articles about the fact how coronavirus has already made us poorer for years to come. So people and businesses may have less to spend.
But that doesn't mean that you have to lower prices. You may have to come up with some lower cost offerings, but it doesn't mean you should lower prices for your premium offerings. It means that you need to offer more value for what people spend. There was an episode I did a couple of weeks back on the lost art of value adds. I would really encourage you to give that a listen and think about how you bundle for people in your market to help them get greater value for what they spend without lowering prices. We know the recovery may be soft for a while. We know it may take a while to come, but don't make the recovery worse by making your revenues artificially low.
I've told the story for years about a client I worked with who said they didn't like email because their email campaigns generated much less revenue per sale than any other channel. And we looked at their email marketing and all of their emails offered discounts. So of course they were getting much less revenue per email than they were getting from other channels because they literally were asking people for less money in every email. Don't do that.
Think instead about how you can provide the right kind of value adds to increase what people get for the money they spend without lowering your prices.
Then you also want to make sure you're selling gently for now. At the immediate moment the first thing you have to do is you have to reassure customers. You have to inspire confidence that A.) you will be there for them; B.) That you will be around in six months time or nine months time or a year's time and C.) That you have something that can help them given where they are, the realities of where they are. So you want to make sure that it's not a hard sell but that it is a reassuring sell.
Make Digital Do the Heavy Lifting
And ultimately what you want to do, whether you're B2B or B2C, is make digital do the heavy lifting for you. Digital ought to be your 24/7/365 salesperson.
Coronavirus has put us in a position where face-to-face is off the table, at least for some time to come. So digital has to be that 24/7/365 salesperson. And if it isn't, the problem is not that digital does not work for your business. The problem is not the digital doesn't work for your industry. It's that your digital isn't doing its job. Your 24/7/365 salesperson isn't working correctly. And what you need to do is get that to work for you.
How You Can Make Digital Do the Heavy Lifting in Difficult Times Summary
So yes, times are tough right now, but in tough times, digital must do the heavy lifting for you. There is absolutely no need, there's no sense in making the current environment any tougher than it already is for you and for your business. So the question I want to leave you with is, why not let digital do the heavy lifting for you now so that you're in a better position for digital and face-to-face to do the heavy lifting for you in the future.
Closing — How You Can Make Digital Do the Heavy Lifting in Difficult Times (Thinks Out Loud Episode 283)
Now looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week, but I want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today's episode. As well as an archive of all past episodes by going to TimPeter.com/podcast. Again, that's TimPeter.com/podcast. Just look for episode 283. While you're there, you can click on the subscribe link in any of the episodes you find there to have Thinks Out Loud delivered to your favorite podcatcher every single week.
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I'd also like to thank our sponsor SoloSegment. SoloSegment increases large enterprise B2B website conversion with easy to install software that automatically connects website visitors to the content they need to see to achieve their goals. SoloSegment does this using anonymous data and machine learning to ensure privacy compliance, address anonymous visitors, and improve the efficiency of your marketing team. You can learn more solosegment.com. Again, that's solosegment.com.
With that I want to say thanks so much for tuning in. I know that things feel a little tough right now or a little grim, and I'm really happy that you choose to bring us into your homes or bring us into your car or wherever you happen to be to maybe get a little lift in your day. So that means a lot to me personally. All that said, I hope you have a great rest of the week wherever you happen to be. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. And I'm looking forward to speaking with you again on Thinks Out Loud next time. Until then, especially in this current environment, please be well, be safe, and as ever take care everybody.