Continuing with our Radix Speak series, we have Namrata Arya, Head of Digital Marketing at Radix, talk about how Covid-19 impacted marketing and how marketers in the domain industry can adapt to it. As a marketer, if I could describe 2020 in two words; it would be unpredictable and volatile. While resilience is one of the crucial skills to master in marketing, it is truly being tested in 2020. At the same time, it’s obvious that a business’s ability to adapt quickly will determine how it will emerge on the other side of this unfortunate situation. Back in December 2019, when we were charting out our annual digital marketing plan for the current year, we didn’t in the least bit expect it to become obsolete in a span of a few months. In March, we were back to square one trying to make sense of the situation and how to adjust our messaging and create a plan that is valuable for our partners and businesses globally.  At Radix, we decided to take the situation head-on; right from diving into past data to overhauling our promotional messaging within a matter of a few weeks. 

At the onset of uncertain times, data showed us the way

Being data-driven is one of our core organizational values and it helped us identify and prepare early on for the change in our digital marketing approach. Apart from monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on the domain registration numbers for every geography, we kept a close eye on Google search trends and changes in media consumption patterns.

Analyzing Google Search Trends

Search trends are often the earliest (and truest) indicators of a shift in any sort of behavior and the most effective source of information if you are looking to stay ahead of the curve.  We looked at domain-related search queries that were on the rise. It was obvious that people were looking to “build a website” or “start a blog”. What we also saw was that there was an increase in queries pertaining to “setting up an online business”. These changing trends were further validated when a few weeks into it, we saw peaks in registrations for .ONLINE and .STORE domain names. What also helped us immensely was to identify trends and behaviors that had already come about in countries that were hit with COVID-19 early on.  This helped us anticipate and prepare for some of these changes pertaining to buyer behavior, media consumption patterns, impact on domain sales, etc. 

Monitoring Media Consumption Patterns

This crisis led to some major behavioral and attitudinal shifts among the users and the media consumption patterns reflect that.  A study of 25,000 consumers across 30 markets showed a 61% increase in digital engagement compared to normal usage rates.  Messaging across Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram went up by 50% in countries that were hit hardest by the virus. Twitter saw 23% more daily users now than it did a year ago.
Source: COVID-19: Tracking the impact on media consumption
Under normal circumstances, this trend would be a digital marketer’s delight. Current circumstances, however, are not normal by any measure.  Our guess was that people were most likely stress-scrolling on their screens, looking for community support, and reassuring news to be able to weather the storm.   Not just that, these patterns have constantly been changing because of the volatile nature of this crisis. As a marketer, keeping a close eye on these changes, and accordingly altering the strategy is key. For example, in the first few months, there was an increase in time spent on the desktop because of the quarantine. People were no longer commuting, staying up late, and spending more time on their laptops.  What this meant for us was to adjust our ad schedules, device targeting strategy, etc. Lately, we are seeing a shift to the earlier patterns of internet browsing as people are returning to their earlier routines.

Radix’s digital marketing approach to COVID-19

Times such as these truly test the organization’s leadership and its values. Being data-driven and having the freedom to make tough decisions helped us course-correct in time to offer maximum value to the small business community.  At Radix, we wanted to lend a helping hand to the SME community in their journey through quarantine, working-from-home and transitioning from offline to online to maintain business continuity.  Owing to the lockdown, a lot of small and medium businesses were compelled to move online to maintain continuity. Businesses with no prior experience of running an online business were now faced with the daunting challenge of setting up, managing, and marketing their business virtually.  In keeping with our commitment to empowering businesses to be future-ready, we wanted to ensure we do everything in our capacity to make this whole process as seamless as possible for them.  This became the North Star for all our marketing efforts during this time.  Our entire digital marketing strategy basically boiled down to answering three pertinent questions:
  1. What are the specific challenges that small and medium businesses are facing with getting online?
  2. How can we help?
  3. How do we get the word out?
Once we had figured the answers to these questions, we had a pretty solid game plan to help us navigate these uncharted waters.  Right from building a thorough resource library to collaborating with our global network of registrar partners to share helpful content with end-customers; we moved forward towards not only helping them transition from offline to online easily but also thrive online.

What we can do as marketers in the domain industry

It is already established that this crisis has stressed the need for businesses to have an online presence. It’s inspiring to see how quickly the consumers have adapted to the digital way of life. This has paved the way for a permanent change in the shopping preferences of consumers, with online being the preferred mode even post COVID-19, leading to a possible eCommerce boom. As part of the domain industry, we play a huge role in helping businesses to go online.  While it is a growth opportunity for our industry, let us also acknowledge that it is an honor and a responsibility to be an enabler for so many business owners looking to build business continuity.  At this critical juncture for us, my advice for domain industry marketers would be to remain mindful of the fact that there is a lot of panic, chaos, and uncertainty all around. A lot of small and mid-sized companies are undergoing financial strain. Being sensitive towards their state of mind and helping them in whatever way possible should be our top priority as marketers.  With the kind of uncertainty that COVID-19 has brought upon us, businesses are just playing catch up. Empathy is key. Look at solving a problem for them, create value for them. This article was originally published in DN Journal.