True Confessions of a Digital Marketer #9 COVID grew my business

As a former CMO, I’ve seen and heard a lot of unique (and some downright crazy) marketing techniques along the way, and “True Confessions” is my way of sharing it with all of you. Like all good legends–marketing or otherwise– there’s always a mix of truth, exaggeration, outright fiction, and just plain wishful thinking. We’ll let you decide which is which below.


Here’s a humblebrag for you: our online sales picked up literally overnight. 


I know I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m living the marketer’s dream come true. But, but, but. . . .  I didn’t do a damn thing to cause this. 


Rona did. Yes, as in the pandemic. Our sales went up 500% in April alone thanks to all the shoppers who didn’t and couldn’t shop in person. Customers and orders rolled in. We hired more people to handle fulfillment and delivery. Seriously, even my 90+-year-old dad has had his groceries delivered.


Forget all the re-examining of life and priorities that quaran-time has brought. My latest existential crisis is now what? A virus did what I could not. Now I have to doubt my experience and skills. And now I have to figure out some miracle to make these customers see my brand as long-term relationship potential, not some sleazy Studio 54-era one-night-stand. 


Things were so busy, I lost count of whatever chapter of the pandemic we’re in now. But it’s the one titled “A Masked Trip To the Liquor or Grocery Store Seems Pretty Safe Right Now.” 


That means a drop in our online sales is already happening. But my boss expects me to keep those customers and orders coming in.

So what’s a marketer to do? Honestly, I think it comes down to things we’ve always done, and stuff we need to consider in our “now normal.” (sorry, I refuse to call it the “new normal”–because who really knows what the world will look like in six months?)


Focus on user experience: This should be Priority #1. Finding out what newcomers (either to my site or my category) expected from, and liked and hated about their experience, so you can make it better and free of frustration for them. Why did they come back, and why didn’t they? And how can you get them to tell their friends about you?


Ask them “what else?”: It’s a good opportunity to find out how to retain them when the world becomes safe again. How can your website entice them to keep on using your services?
How can you get more like them to buy on your site? What should you change in your product or experience to keep them? Do you truly offer something of value, unlike a lot of retail brands who sell masks and artisanal hand sanitizer as opportunistic lead gen?


Provide content that appeals to their values: For instance, should you add copy to reassure customers that you pay employees a fair wage? It sounds mercenary, but the more customers tip your delivery people whom they may perceive as underpaid, the less they have to spend on repeat purchases–which also harms your employees in the long run.  


Reconsider your business model or target client. This one takes more bravery and soul-searching than swimsuit shopping in public. Maybe you have a new, better, bigger market you never knew existed–and now you have to decide if it’s worth pursuing permanently. 

How many accommodations should you make on your site for those it doesn’t specifically target? Especially if they have more money to spend than your typical client? Millennials and Gen Z have no problem online clicking and buying on trust. Everyone else–Boomers and Xers, for instance– wants a little more information. Even though my dad has his groceries delivered now, he’s still griping he can’t pick out his own produce. 


That’s a lot of data and proof to amass to know whether making any of these shifts is worthwhile and a good investment.

And here’s how anyone should be doing it: by using WEVO. Pre-live testing of your website allows you to test-drive enhancements in design and content with people who make up your target audience. And better than A/B testing, you get actual feedback in their own words about what they liked and didn’t about your experience and site. You’ll know what gets them to buy, and what stops them from buying more–or again. 


It’s predictable. Quantifiable. Easy to deploy and use from wherever you’re getting your groceries delivered to these days, too. Set up your free demo now.


About Janet

Janet was the first CMO of Constant Contact, and part of the team that created much of what is known as inbound marketing today. She has also held leadership marketing roles at what is now 3M MicroTouch and HP. After creating HSG, a product and marketing consulting firm, alongside fellow entrepreneur Nitzan Shaer, they soon realized that market research is long, expensive, non-actionable, and does not work at the pace of digital marketers. As a result, they created WEVO – the first company to optimize website experiences before going live. WEVO uses target audience testing to diagnose web pages without the need for live traffic. With actionable, validated insights, WEVO enables you to pinpoint reasons why customers aren’t converting, empowering marketers with a low-risk way to uncover why people take action.