When the world turned upside down, so did the world of B2B marketing. Like most marketers, we had our first half of the year marketing plans drawn up and ready to go, chock-full of product launches and campaigns. We thought we were ramped up and ready to tackle the market; that is, until the market completely changed. We had to be swift and nimble in a way that felt like a repositioning 2.0 exercise. This especially rang true for the projects I lead.
For me, that meant any and all things digital needed a reboot—making sure our team generated interest and pipeline for everything we had planned. And digital became even more of a focal point as we no longer had events to drive our marketing funnel.
Here’s how the team at EZ Texting tackled Summer 2020 with a range of rethinking, readjusting, and refreshing; everything we needed to stay afloat and thrive in the face of adversity.
(Re)think your use cases and offers
The most obvious task at hand when city after city began entering shelter-in-place (SIP) was how our product and use cases fit into this new ecosystem. Our business strategy had to go back to the basics to get clear on what pain points we could and should address during these times, resulting in a bit of a new outlook on which use cases our customers needed most.
In the days before COVID-19, our Promote stream of business (special offers! exciting discounts!) was an anchor for most of our customers looking to generate real-time amplification through SMS messaging. Who wouldn’t want to know about the latest special at your local pizza shop or discount spa service?
Pivot, pivot, pivot: Promote to Notify
Well, we began to see our value messaging just didn’t work the same way during our new normal. People were more thirsty for information and updates rather than promotional offers. With that, our Notify stream of business became increasingly valuable and we banded together to develop far more use cases for it than we had imagined previously. Right now, everyone needs to stay up-to-date and their phones are always in their pockets. Whether it’s new store hours, new CDC guidelines, or telehealth communication. The list really goes on!
So, that really was the first step for us to rebuild our strategy. We now knew what offers would really resonate with customers and potential customers, and we wanted to hone in on being a value-add not just an opportunistic sales approach. We would lean heavily into campaigns working with our Notify stream of business; this was the area we could offer the most help. But then we had a few other things to think about…
(Re)adjust your target audience
When we really got to thinking about our existing target audience, we realized we had to pivot here as well. If the service people need has shifted, has our audience also expanded or changed in profile? Who really needs us more than our current customers right now?
Getting clear on where we should invest
We realized that we needed a quick way to adapt and test, seeing what attributes of potential customers connected most with our messaging. We’re currently reacting to this, while trying to move upmarket, and trying to find ways to be as agile as possible. That may look like quickly spinning up new audience lists based on revenue, industry, company size, you name it to test and iterate with digital programs to see what lands and what doesn’t. For us, that’s our first foray into more account-based strategies to see if we can really be more strategic with who we reach, and when. Also, of course, during uncertain times we really need to keep our eyes on how we’re allocating budget; we only want to put our investment towards the right people and being more targeted helps us do just that.
Discovering an unexpected audience
Something that came out of our audience research was one key industry we hadn’t yet fully tapped into was school and government sectors, especially since our Promote use case hadn’t really been a natural fit in the past.
But, with everything reshuffling, we found a pocket to help and instead of just trying to ‘sell, sell, sell’ right now, we got to work on creating a free offer to help during this crisis.
(Re)fresh website and digital marketing tactics
Once we did the ground work and got super clear on how we could serve customers best during this time, what product offerings really resonated, and who new potential target customers could be, it was time to roll up our sleeves and implement a refresher of our messaging in the market.
Expand from Promote to Notify (and adjust new releases to fit the marketing)
First and foremost, we adjusted our homepage to display a Notify example with a supermarket. This allowed us to relate to what’s going on ‘now’ and not just leave our marketing ‘as-is’.
Beyond our expansion to notify, we actually had another release that we had to pivot and adjust our strategy. It felt like a strange time to have a product release, but our new Text-to-Landline product had been in the pipeline for a while, so we identified a new use case for it to be relevant to the current climate. It’s more about the messages that stores/businesses/restaurants are missing because they haven’t enabled their landline to be textable.
People are seeking that one to one interaction with brands via text and if businesses are not text-enabled, they’re missing that opportunity. As a result, we are offering three months free for the new landline product release. We’re making sure that our ads reflect this new direction. For example, we have retargeting campaigns running with RollWorks for anyone that goes to our features page or texting landline landing pages. Also to make sure that the three-month promo is showcased.
Pivot toward free packages and new audience
First, we updated a banner on our site to make sure visitors knew our special offer. Beyond that, we set up new digital ads that went to a landing page targeting existing customers. The CTA offered to schedule a meeting with a customer success rep.
We were all surprised by how well this took off. Not only did we launch a new way for schools and governments to access free text services, but what came out of it was so much more.
We really weren’t expecting to see such an overwhelming response from the city of Gilbert, Arizona using our platform to bring people together and keep them engaged with one another during unforeseeable circumstances. It was truly one of the highlights I’ve had here at EZ Texting. If anything, this entire experience has made me take such a step back and rethink who and how you can help with technology. Just a quick glimpse at their social media and you can see how they’ve brought everyone into the loop with text updates, giving them a community when that’s what’s hardest to find right now.
This is the best example of when good business is good for you and your customers.
Offer shortcuts to help everyone get the information they need, when they need it
One bonus idea? We also allowed people to subscribe to the CDC RSS feed via text to stay in the know. We are all more aware that times change in the blink of an eye, and giving people a way to stay on top of news (even those who don’t fit our marketable audience) was really important to us.
More than anything, going through this experience opened my eyes to what we possibly could have been doing in the past, but just hadn’t fully realized. This was truly an exercise in getting creative and thinking outside of the ‘expected.’ We had new ways to position our product to new audiences, and our team had to band together to get scrappier than ever. We’re now getting clearer on the accounts that are best-fit, or newly-fit, for our offers to help other businesses and flexing new muscles. While we still don’t know what’s to come, there’s a lot that we’ve taken away that will stick with our team for years to come.