November 19, 2020 inMedia planning

B2B media planning during a pandemic

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Adapting media planning during a global recession

The IMF predicts global GDP to shrink by 4.4% this year, and according to Zenith, advertising spend will be hit even harder by a 9% decrease.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on global markets, we are seeing traditional advertising channels disappear overnight and a unilateral pivot to online engagement.

So how do B2B marketers, who are traditionally reliant on offline conversion funnels, adapt for these conditions? It seems the most effective media strategies are based on three things:

  1. Rethinking the sales cycle
  2. Data-driven decision making
  3. Virtual, in-person engagement

Before you send another email that opens with “In these trying times…” read our practical suggestions for B2B marketing in 2020 so you can close out the year on a positive note.

Medium-term media planning

In response to uncertainty, it might be tempting to redirect marketing budgets to achieve short-term ROI. We all need positive numbers right now. But by dedicating efforts in short (if successful) bursts, marketers are missing an opportunity to exit the recession in a stable position.

Rethinking the sales cycle

Uncertainty exists on both sides of the sales equation. While marketers are trying to ramp-up fast, customers are spending longer in the consideration period and shopping around for the best deals.

This means valuable sales will take longer to close than last year. And customers will enter the sales funnel from a different place, as offline introductions are all but eradicated.

Consider how online engagement draws people into the top of the funnel and nurtures them without consuming a disproportionate amount of internal resources.

  • Automated email campaigns
  • Online demo booking systems
  • Retargeting across multiple digital touchpoints
  • Creating content like an FAQ or User Guide to answer common queries
  • Scheduling longer campaigns

We think this represents the most significant adjustment to media planning in 2020. In many cases, B2B marketing requires a complete strategy refresh, rather than tweaking here and there. It depends on how behaviour is changing within customer segments, which leads us to the value of useful data.

Use data to inform budget decisions

We talk a lot about the importance of data for media planning decisions. But another area where raw numbers become the basis of smart investments is the budget allocation.

Marketing budgets are tight in a pandemic. It’s easy to advocate maintaining momentum when others are backing off marketing spend; however, the more complicated question is where to spend the budget. Because it won’t be the same platforms as previous campaigns.

  • Use customer behaviour data to inform budget breakdown
  • Set clear targets
  • Monitor progress closely
  • Consider investing in new online engagement methods
  • Make mid-campaign adjustments to reallocate investment

In the early stages of setting a media planning strategy, the budget question will be an important one to answer. Make sure you have the insight going to the discussion, by capturing and cultivating data from historical campaigns and real-time consumer behaviour.

Focus on loyalty, not leads

Developing a loyal audience is critical for media planners in 2020. When the economy starts to recover, those companies who invested in brand building and redefined their sales cycle will stand to benefit most.

Brand building is often seen as conflicting with, or separate to, attributable sales and marketing activity. In reality, this just means that marketers haven’t gone far enough to understand the data they have available.

  • Position impressions/engagement alongside conversion data to establish a correlation
  • Find new ways to engage with leads virtually
  • Host online events and invest in community growth
  • Look at data in different ways by filtering and comparing figures
  • Understand how data can tell a story beyond point-in-time reporting
  • Use retargeting, automation and CRM software to track the customer journey

It’s true that non-converting engagement is indeed harder to attribute. But in the long term, an engaged audience is worth much more than a short-term sales target.

Track results closely

Now, more than ever, set-and-forget media campaigns are an exercise in throwing good money after bad. B2B marketers need to keep a close eye on real-time results because, despite the best intentions, budgets will continue to be tight and scrutiny high.

  • Adjust activity based on historical data and marketers’ insight
  • Use a marketing dashboard to integrate all campaign data
  • Set meaningful and measurable media planning targets
  • Ask your data to work harder
  • Invest in tools to manage feedback and reporting on a leaner model

Of course, tracking complex campaigns can be time-consuming. By using Mediatool, you not only have access to a powerfully collaborative media planning platform, but your team is also updated in real-time thanks to intuitive data capture capabilities.

Mediatool is helping B2B marketers to navigate the pandemic more confidently. As an end-to-end media planning and marketing campaign productivity tool, set up for agile and remote teams, Mediatool enables savvy brands and agencies to achieve everything we’ve talked about here – and much more.

Explore the features on our website or get in touch to book a hands-on demo.


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