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The Clientside Podcast

Discussing the Business Impact of Social Distancing and Coronavirus

The Clientside Podcast

27 min Andrew , Dean

The world has changed too much in one week, but in life, and business, we need to adapt to what looks to be the new normal for the foreseeable future.

In this episode of the Clientside Podcast, digital agency founder Andrew Armitage chats with A Digital's digital marketing lead Dean Duffield on the immediate impact of remote working, eCommerce, online advertising and SEO.

We also talk about our new Facebook Group that is open to anyone to join and ask questions about your marketing or digital campaigns and mention some of the tools that we're using as we adapt to working remotely.

The includes an open invitation to contact us for free advice around your digital marketing given the current circumstances. There's no strings; we'll set up a video call using Zoom and happily look at where you might be able to save money, or equally as important, make money by adapting your products and services, perhaps with online delivery in these uncertain times.

If you've comments or questions about the episode, or would like to join the show as a guest, then please contact us as hello@adigital.co.uk.

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Andrew:
So we're back with the client side podcast, and it's strange times really, it's been a it feels like it's been a really, really long week. I'm sure it has for many of you too as well. But we are just going to have a bit of a chat today about some of the impact of what we've seen over the last few days. Obviously, it's been a changing situation. It's changed very quickly. I get the impression that this week has been a little bit of let's just take stock a little bit, let's think about where things are up to.Let's see what happens over the coming days before making any sudden decisions. But wherever you are, I hope that you are managing to avoid the bugs if you're working from home. I hope you're getting up and about at least a bit and managing to get some bits and pieces done. So I thought we'd just have a bit of a chat today about what could you do at a time like this. And let's be honest, none of us have been in this situation before, so none of us necessarily have any definitive answers. But I'm joined with Dean today from our team here at A Digital and we just thought we'd have a bit of a chat about what sort of options, what sort of thoughts people might be having and how they might be able to react to to try and get through this crisis, which, of course, at the moment none of us know how long it's going to last. We're working remotely, so, Dean, your at home, how are you getting on?

Dean:
Yeah. Good. Like you said, there's lots of change it's happening with businesses this week and I think that first sort of important action for businesses is, you know, how to manage that team remotely. How how are people able to work remotely and and still sort of do, you know, do the job? So, yeah, we're all at home. But, you know, nothing changes other than the fact that we're not in a room together. You know, we've still got email, we've still got phones. We're still able to use video conferencing software.

Andrew:
We've been using Zoom for a while, but we found Zoom to be pretty good, haven't we?

Dean:
Yeah, it's it's been fantastic. Whether that be for just sort of calls with clients or with ourselves or also video, we've done a couple of videos with clients directly this weekend and also we've been able to share our screens to give them updates on where that marketing campaigns are out or basically able to help them remotely rather than sitting next to them and pointing at a screen, which, you know, even without everything that's going on, is this the future? Is this the new way of doing business by default?

Andrew:
It certainly could be. I mean, I think a lot of I think remote working will will become more widespread. I mean, I personally feel that it already was widespread, but perhaps it's times like this, then you realise that that maybe it's not as widespread as you might think, but yeah, I think what's going on will absolutely change people's habits, much as we don't seem to sort of like the situation that we're in I think most people are sort of reacting responsibly to it, but inevitably it's going to change change longer term behaviours.

Dean:
Yeah. I mean, in a blog post that I wrote this morning, actually, you know, whilst I think we're all advocates of a sort of remote working in and sort of communicating with clients, you know, over the Internet, using the likes of Zoom or Slack or Skype, I'm still a big believer that face to face meetings or communication is important. And I think clients particularly notice when we take the effort to visit them and really for us as well as marketers, as if they are a manufacturer or they've got a big wholesale warehouse, and it's important for us to actually go and see their business in action. So I don't think face to face will go away, it's just that what video conferencing software allows is to stay in touch in a variety of different ways. But yeah, sort of moving on from from that we've sort of discussed, haven't we, this is all about helping businesses achieve their long term goals. We're working on long term projects over several months, whereas actually now it's also got us thinking about what what could our clients immediate needs be. And I think that's really what we've been sort of doing a lot of discussion around this week Do you agree?

Andrew:
Yeah, completely. You know, we've been faced with a lot of businesses have been faced with, in worst case scenario, having to shut the doors. It goes without saying that means customers aren't able to cross the threshold. It means that they can't spend money. Businesses can't make money. And I think, you know, everybody's just been almost stunned. Yeah, it's it's come about fairly quickly. As we said earlier, there's been day to day changes in policy and reaction. Then if you add in all the things like crazy panic buying, it just throws you completely out of your normal comfort zone, your normal routine. So if you are unfortunately in one of those situations that you have literally had to shut the door, you know, what does that mean? What what can you be doing in the meantime? And that's really what we thought about with this podcast to think about. You know, you might have been running paid search campaigns. You you will likely have a website or at least some sort of social media presence. But that focus really does have to shift to the here and now. What it what are you doing now that either you could pivot on and do something in a slightly different way? Could you deliver it in a different way? Are you faced with having to sort of completely transform? How are you even going to start about that? I mean, lots of big questions there.

Andrew:
What what we wanted to focus on was some of the digital challenges. So, you know, if customers suddenly aren't spending, we're certainly seeing more people spending time on social media. But I don't think that's that's been matched by by spending by any standards. So if you're advertising or you're getting paid campaigns, what does that mean? Do you stop that? Do you shift that budget to something else? Do you invest in something else at this stage or is it all still a bit wait and see over the coming days? I think there'll be a little bit more clarity over what we're going through and just how long it might go on for, but I think we're we're certainly going to be in this position for the next three to six months. But I think there's going to be a much more longer term impact that we're going to be looking at for potentially 12 months to 2 years. I'm always reluctant to talk about the R word. I think there's a great danger that we can talk our selves into recession. But I just think with the scale of things that are happening that have never been seen like this before. I just think there's a recession must almost be inevitable, which which means it's just going to become incredibly challenging for everybody. And recessions are never a good time, but off the back of what we're going through now, it's just going to be phenomenally difficult for some businesses and for all businesses, to be quite honest.

Dean:
Yeah, obviously that seems to be the feedback we are getting from a number of businesses that we've spoke to just this week, actually, I don't know about anybody else listening to this. But actually, we I mean, we've only been working from home since Tuesday or Wednesday and actually 3 or 4 days. It feels like three, four months.

Andrew:
It's been a long week!

Dean:
It has. It has. Quite looking forward to the weekend.

Dean:
But, you know, one thing that we've done ourselves, which which is probably sort of advice for others as well, is to stay visible. You know, we talk about websites and social media, we've seen lots of reactions across social media, lots of blog posts and also lots of paid advertising that are addressing the immediate needs of companies. I mean, it's it's very easy to say, yes, you've got to stay visible and stay competitive, and, you know, you've got to continue with all your advertising. Of course, that easier said than done. I mean, only today, for the third time this week, a review of all our clients advertising counts across Google and Facebook, etc. And just to see, could those cost per clicks be reduced? Other areas we could save clients money, but actually other only opportunities, are there any search trends where people are clicking through to the website and actually then perhaps even placing an order? Placing an enquiry. Actually, it's just about being sort of smart and really homing in on on the data that you can get out of your ad campaigns or Google Analytics. It could be a particular behaviour on your website that may not have been as obvious before, but actually now, like you said before, is a thing sort of just changing in the immediate term, which means you need as a business to to react to that in order to keep cash tills running.

Andrew:
And I think it's going to vary by sector, isn't it? But I think I guess the big question is and it's also going to vary depending on the type and size of business and I suppose ultimately the amount of cash that you have too. But yeah, do you do you look at the here and now and sort of think, right, well what can we do right now without appearing to be opportunistic and sort of capitalising on things like this, but at the end of the day, we're all businesses and I don't see anything wrong with that as long as it's done in a sensitive and appropriate way. Or do you actually carry on thinking about the long term and and think, right, well, this is going to be temporary. We're going to come out of it the other side, I'm going to spend my time focusing on preparing for coming out and been stronger as and when we do come out of it. I guess those are those are sort of the key decisions that people are going to have to face up to.

Dean:
Yeah. Absolutely. And also with that, in order for business to sort of see this through, I think people themselves are going to have to be prepared to be a little bit more dynamic. And job roles are probably having to change, and all of a sudden people are that are used to doing one particular job in whatever it is doing, you know, whether that be working outside or working in an office like us, I think, for business to see through this, I think whole teams are going to have to really pull together, be more dynamic, be more prepared to get involved with other aspects of the business and obviously see this through and sort of help each other because, yeah, it is going to be difficult over the coming months. I think the overall point as well is remain focused on both immediate needs and also perhaps what things might look like. I was just talking to a client about this morning that, yes, they've had some ups and downs already just in this last few days in terms of sales on their website. But actually also what they're looking at is other any emerging markets that would appear out of the other end of whenever this might be.

Dean:
Whether it be a few months time or, you know, 6 - 12 months time that ultimately will present business opportunities. And it probably is worth just making notes on what they might be now rather than in 12 months time.

Andrew:
Yeah, definitely 100%. I mean, it's it's absolutely a time for reinvention, if you like, isn't it? And it's amazing how already you're starting to see community groups gathering out of that, people doing pick ups and drop offs and what might that lead to. You seeing cafes that have had that doors closed but that continue to offer some sort of takeout or delivery service, so I suppose it's situations like this where necessity really does become the mother of invention, doesn't it? You've got to find another way. So you look at you look at your business, I suppose, in a way that you've never looked at it before, really from from all sorts of different angles and thinking about, right, well, how how can we make this work? Because it literally becomes a fight for survival in some ways.

Dean:
And also, you might be sitting on some new ideas, people having to be a little bit more dynamic in their approach to the way that the work is now. But actually, from a business point of view, are there new products that you could launch? You know, there's been reports that online sales volumes have gone up in the last few days, and I think retail on the high street, it is clear to see that (other than supermarkets) high street performancey is down inevitably. But actually online online shopping is seen as a bit of a sharp rise. Are there new products? And if you're in a service based business like ours, are there other areas of your business or your clients business that that you could be working on?

Andrew:
So let's just let's just have a think about things like paid search, because there will be lots of people have got or at least have had paid out campaigns, is now the time to to cut expenditure? You know, if you've been running, I don't know, let's just say it could be anywhere from a couple of hundred quid, to a £1000 a month on on, say, Google ads or something like that. Do you just cut at this point, reign everything in? Or are there likely to be opportunities or some sort of justification to keep that going?

Dean:
I think you've got to let the data speak. I mean, listen, I, as we've said, it's it's really easier said than done. You know, if businesses seriously need to cut those costs, then so be it. But actually, it's the same. I mean, the advice whenever there's a recession is always not to cut down on your advertising and marketing budgets because the strongest will survive; those that remain visible. Yes. OK, if we're specifically talking about paid search and perhaps about eCommerce, somebody clicks and ads go straight to the website. OK. Yes, that's what I've seen is that website traffic is running high, if not higher.

Dean:
But I think conversion rates have been slightly lower. I think it's about looking at which keywords are converting or if you're really in an eCommerce store, which products in your Google shopping campaigns are generating lots of impressions, lots of clicks and which of those are actually going through to the final sale. And I think that's probably not just that paid page search or paid per click campaigns, but I think it's about focusing your marketing budget on strongly aspects of your business. Is that something you'd agree with?

Andrew:
Now isn't necessarily the time to to start launching new products. It can be if the opportunity is there. Absolutely. But if you're if you're trying something that's a little bit left of field, really, to what you might do ordinarily or it's not quite your core product, then yeah, there could be opportunities there. But I think times like this, you you always have to stick to what you know best and where you can offer the best advice, because ultimately people are looking for help, aren't they? They want that guidance at that point. So you don't really want to be sort of leaning over into something somewhere that you're not necessarily as qualified in, or perhaps you don't have the full knowledge or data to back up arguments or suggestions that you might make. So, yeah, I don't think now is necessarily the best time to start with new products. But it all comes down to the the particular business, doesn't it? I mean, inevitably there will be companies in this crisis who it's ideal for them. They can supply something that somebody needs. There's always going to be someone, somewhere that can do that. But I think for most businesses, it is a case of right, well, what do we do best? Let's sort of focus in on that, and if if the demand is there, then obviously happy days. If not, then yeah, sure, at some point you're going to have to just adapt that service slightly so it becomes more valuable to people who are looking for for help and guidance at that point.

Dean:
Yeah, sure. Another sort of aspect of marketing that we've seen pretty strong this week as well is around e-mail marketing, marketing, not in sales sense, but actually reaching out to customers.

Dean:
One of the most important things is to sort of remain in close contact with your customers and your clients, whatever type of business you are. If you're are a physical store, there are means and ways of obviously reaching out to people on the high street or locally. You know, where I live, a small village, all the local shops have all got together, had a flyer printed, and they've all got together and they are offering a take away and delivery service. And these are small retailers, butchers, convenience stores, cafes, pubs. They've got together and they're serving the community in the best way they can.

Dean:
I think that's that's the same for businesses like ours as well and service based businesses, where, are there opportunities to sort of partner up with other similar companies that work within the sector. There's another client of ours that are a software companies that are working with other software companies to almost build this single offering which are helping people in in this at this time when that immediate need is there.

Dean:
Now, would that have happened, perhaps if this whole virus thing hadn't come about? Probably not. But actually it could be a really, really good opportunity for these for these businesses.

Andrew:
Yeah, again, I completely agree. Partnerships are a really good opportunity. When I talk about now not necessarily in the right time to to explore new products and things like that, actually, it's definitely the right time to explore partnerships because when you partner with someone else, you're essentially building value into what you can offer with something that you can't, but with someone who you trust that can. I think that can create a good sort of package of all round advice or guidance or service, depending on obviously what the product is. So partnerships, definitely something to explore.

Andrew:
What about SEO, because we've actually set up a Facebook group this week and we'll put a link in to the show notes. But we've created a Facebook group and there's a question that came up about SEO in the conversation yesterday. What's your view on SEO? I mean, my view has always been that it's a long term strategy, but I think that could be arguments to say that if you've been doing ongoing SEO work now is not necessarily the time to stop it. What would you say to that?

Dean:
I would agree, absolutely. So, yeah. SEO as we know is improving the organic positioning of your websites in search engines such as Google and Bing. And as we know, as people know it's a long game, can take a good couple of years of investment to get those rankings up to the stage where you are attracting high volumes of organic traffic or free traffic, as some might say.

Dean:
But I think the question here is what if a company is considering starting an SEO strategy now? I mean, I don't see any reason not to. But if if you have been doing a SEO, you may have been may have been in-house team that's working on that or you might be working with an agency.

Dean:
If you've made good progress over the last few months or the last year, I would say that stopping that investment will hurt you more in the long term than it would if you continue to invest in that. So I would absolutely say, because the minute that you stop investing in improving the whole experience on your website and improving rankings in Google and improving, you know, all of those metrics, then there's two things happening. One, the overall health of your website and the brand that surrounds that, that starts to level out. And then the performance of your website and Google will will decline over time. It doesn't happen overnight, but it will decline over a longer period of time. So, yeah, I would say it's it's important to continue investing in SEO and all the good things that you need to do around the SEO.

Andrew:
Yeah, I view it, like I said, I view SEO activities as a long game. I don't know that I would start necessarily a specific SEO campaign. What I would start doing now, though, that would help with SEO over the long term is thinking about putting content out that would be useful for people given the current situation. I mean as as as as the world changes, inevitably new SEO opportunities arise and I'm sure there's probably been a whole raft of searches that have suddenly started happening on Google over the last couple of weeks and some people will be well-placed for those. There was probably an opportunity as the trend started to gather pace to get yourself in front of some of those search phrases. I wouldn't necessarily start on an SEO campaign now unless you're really focused on delivering a service in, say, 6 months that that you expect to be rolled out and delivered. You know, if's an online service then yeah, maybe. But if you are having a physical product or you're promoting events that are in six months. We still don't really know how long this is going to last and where we're going to be in 6 months, so I think it does come down to the type of product or service you working on. But like I say, I think the biggest opportunity is not to think of it as SEO, but think of it as adding value through content that you create and publish on your website. These might be free guides, there could be all sorts of different pieces of content asking answering questions that relate to the situation that people now find themselves in. Whether it's remote working, whether it's something around health care or community support, there could be all sorts of things that all of a sudden have got far higher search volumes than they might ordinarily have done. So that's not to say it's not an SEO campaign, but I would think of it as far as thinking about the content, because that's going to have a greater emphasis on what you can do for people now, how he can help people now, how you can make a difference for people now rather than in in, let's say, 3 to 6 months time.

Dean:
Yeah, 100% agree. Yeah. And I think ultimately what it comes down to is you've got to consider the results that you want to see, what is it you want to see happen? What's the goals and outcomes you want off the back of those decisions, you know, and really sort of consider those short term priorities. Inevitably, that's going to include, you know, a certain financial side of the business. But also you need to change tactics slightly in your social media output. Perhaps that constant blog on your website, like we've mentioned, the advertising campaigns. If let's just say, for example, you see a slight downturn in conversion rates on your website. Then let's just say, for example, you are running Facebook advertising campaign where you are trying to you're going straight in in which the sale has some product come to our website and purchase them, actually, is it worth not just stepping back from that and offering some useful content around stepping back from the sale and putting out content and advertisements that are offering value to the consumer or to a business that you might want to work with an offering value in the shorter term? Knowing that when we do come outs of this, whenever that might be, you know, your voice has been heard. You've offered value through the difficult time. And so I think when it comes to people buying again, you'll be in a stronger, much stronger position for people to do business with you.

Andrew:
Yeah, completely. And I think also that this age where purpose and values are far more important. I think that shows your true colours, really, doesn't it? What's your first reaction in a situation like this? And I think if it's go the extra mile and to help people be by the side and supportive in whatever shape or form that takes. I think that's going to be remembered far more than trying to rush round in and boost sales. I mean, ultimately, we're all in business, there's there's a need to get cash through the front door, obviously. But I think unfortunately, you can go too far with that. And I think with that in mind, it has to be all about, we're all in this together. We're all human at the end of the day. Yes. We're all in different situations. But hopefully by demonstrating you care, showing that humanity and offering help, that's going to carry far more value than potentially running ad campaigns or or things like that that that are focused on sales.

Dean:
Yeah, definitely. And I think really just sort of end there as well as is try and stay relaxed - get easier said than done. Try and stay relaxed. Try and stay calculated and actually try and get better at making decisions rather than sort of making any rash decisions - remain focused and everything that your business might be going through at the moment.

Dean:
We're all experiencing the same thing. So, yeah, we are all in it together. We've got to help each other and hopefully we can all come out the other side much stronger.

Andrew:
Yep. Fingers crossed. Ok, well I think we'll we'll wrap the conversation up there with that in mind. If you have any question that might relate to websites, marketing, email, social media, software, remote working even, please do, by all means, and this is a genuine open invitation, please do feel free to contact us. We're all in this position. As we've said, we are very happy to offer some guidance, offer a bit of advice just to set you on the right track. Obviously at some point, you know, if that leads to doing business together, then then so be it. That might be a bonus, but our priority is to be here to offer guidance because there's going to be lots of people who are in a bit of a panic and don't necessarily know where to begin to react to the situation that they now find themselves in. So genuine open invitation. Please feel free, you can contact us at hello@adigital.co.uk. We've also got our blog and we've been updating our blog quite a bit recently. We've got things like things about remote working on there. We've got a post about 10 things that you can do with your paid search campaigns in a in a downturn. We're also planning a few webinars over the coming weeks, too, so look out on our social channels. You'll find us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. And as I mentioned earlier, we set up this Facebook group earlier this week, we've got about 20 people in that group. The more the merrier. Be great to hear some of the struggles that people are fighting with and how we might be able to offer some guidance to help you out. So thanks very much. We'll call it a day there, because I'm mindful that if you're listening to this, you might only have a short journey to get to the supermarket or you might have the kids in the background given that they will be off school. But hopefully you can avoid the bugs from Coronavirus. Stay safe and we'll see you on another podcast.

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You need to look at you look at your business in a way that you've never looked at it before, from all sorts of different angles and think about, right, how how can we make this work?

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