By Sarah Evans, Senior Digital Strategist, Bottle

As we all adjust to the new normal, normal changes again. The uncertainty that accompanies coronavirus has meant marketing budgets are being slashed. For some brands, demand has been utterly decimated, for others, it soars. For a large swathe in the middle, it just feels like it’s frozen in time. There will still be demand for things like kitchenware, that summer wardrobe, and office stationery but promoting these things just doesn’t seem appropriate right now. Brands are not sure what they should be saying – or if they should be saying anything at all – lest they end up the subject of mockery like this…

(We believe brands should still be communicating by the way, but with a different, more generous, helpful purpose. For more on this, and our thoughts on how brands have been responding, and the changing comms landscape in general, take a look at our Coronacast blog.)

But for brands and marketing teams that have paused spending and/or activity, your day is probably filled with daily strategy changes and running countless ‘what if’ business scenarios and wondering if you’re next to get a tap on the shoulder. If the pause button has been hit, you may also be worried about losing ground on SEO, being too quiet on social media or how you’re going to make up a shortfall when it’s safe to press ‘Go’ again. So, we’ve come up a checklist of super useful tasks that you may not – in ‘normal times’ - get to (or perhaps the agency that used to do this for you, has been paused).

This valuable, strategic – and free – work will help you stay focused and will enable you to optimise and come out swinging when the taps get turned on again.

  1. Onsite content audit
If you have a lot of content sitting on your website, it may have been a while since it was reviewed. It’s a good housekeeping exercise that may have some SEO gains for your site; even more important if your outreach and link building activities have been paused for the time being.

Using Google Analytics, look at performance of your blog or content section and see how it’s performing. Key things to look at include:

  • How many sessions does that piece of content get?
  • How many sessions land on that piece of content? Is it doing a good job of bringing people to the site for the first time, and helping people discover your website?
  • How is that content engaged with, i.e. are people reading it and finding it valuable. Use bounce rate and time on page to gauge this.
This will help you put pages into three broad categories. Those that need culling and removing from the site, those that perform well but are slightly older and would benefit from being refreshed and republished… and finally those that are doing well and can be left as they are.
  1. Refresh your search behaviour data and tee up your content strategy
Keyword research is worth doing regularly anyway to underpin your onsite content strategy. The questions your customers and potential customers are asking are gold for prioritising and structuring your content so they’re optimised for SEO and increase your search visibility. Look at not just topics close to your product, but where else can you connect with your audience higher up the funnel before they know who you are?

Using this research, you could tee up the next six months’ worth of content now: not only great to build momentum back up from an SEO perspective, but also showing up consistently with useful and valuable content for your audience. Plus, this has the added bonus of keeping your stories flowing in other marketing channels like email and social media.

To get started or to dip your toe into search behaviour, tools like Answer the Public and Google Trends are free (or have free versions). It’s also worth asking tools like ahrefs or SEMrush for free or cheap trials – they may even be able to offer extended ones during this time.

  1. Reacquaint yourself with your audience
Take this opportunity to refresh your audience personas and get to know them again – have they changed, grown or evolved since the last time they were created? This is a key opportunity to listen: social media, comments sections, forums, search behaviour – even your own customer service teams. How have they been behaving during the crisis, are they craving information or entertainment? Are you in a position to help them with what they’re looking for? Are they likely to engage with others, or with brands like you?

If you don’t already have personas, you could always build some. Here’s why you should have personas that go beyond flat, demographic data… and how to go about building them.

  1. Review your social media performance
As BAU, social media can be such a fast-paced channel to manage that just getting enough content out of the door feels like a job well done. But now could be a good chance to take a step back and review. How does this channel perform for you? Do you differentiate content and optimise by platform, and do you have some platforms that work better than others? You could even go through our Champion’s Guide to Social Media for tips on optimising performance and setting up profiles for success.

Have a look at your competitors. Of course, now is an exceptional time, so not only is it worth looking at how they are managing their social profiles at the moment, it’ll be worth reviewing what they were doing before this crisis hit; what did their BAU look like and how was it working?

Your followers won’t just be looking at you on social in the context of their competitors; they’re also following best in class brands who may be using social media in a whole different way to you. What can you learn from them?

BONUS: Google Analytics housekeeping

Every now and again, it’s worth looking under the hood of your Google Analytics to make sure it’s all in working order and the data is the best you can get. Especially if data gets pulled through to a dashboard like Data Studio where it’s all automated. Here’s a few things you could look for:

  • Check your campaign urls (the ones you add utm tracking to) in the All traffic report in GA. Are the naming conventions being used properly and consistently? Or – are some using capitals, some not, are spellings different, are campaigns incorrectly or inconsistently labelled? This will be affecting the accuracy of your reporting further downstream.
  • Check your goals are still valid and set up correctly and are pulling the right data through. You could also review which goals you are tracking. Maybe they’re just ecommerce ones? Maybe it’s time to add in some more behavioural goals that ladder up into acquisition. What onsite behaviour do you care about? Is it someone spending longer than five minutes on your blog, someone signing up to your newsletter? Set up some goals for these too.
Find out more about how to get your GA in order here.

It’s a very challenging time for everyone – businesses and individuals alike. Your brand must think long term to survive and weather the storm, and we hope these tips go some way to helping you do just that. We’re all in this together.