Chilling before the spring thaw
Indago Digital specialises in SEO and SEM acquisition campaigns that drive low cost conversions. But COVID-19 meant conversions of a different kind were essential to support the business through the pandemic.
For business owner Gary Nissim, COVID-19 dished up serious challenges. Some of his biggest clients, including travel operators and hospitality groups, slashed their marketing spend or pulled out altogether.
In late March, revenue dropped 11% in just 12 hours. Within 36 hours, Indago had lost 14% of sales. Numerous clients had also asked for extended payment terms.
Fast action was needed, and Indago wasted no time with its COVID-19 response. As Gary told the Australian Financial Review in March, “I’ve run or worked for agencies through similar downturn periods and know that to survive you need to not only plan but to act quickly.”
It meant a radical shift for Indago, which grew revenue to $6 million last financial year. To cut costs, the agency was forced to retrench four full-time contractors. His staff of 18 remained in place, supported by shorter working weeks and the government’s $100,000 hand-out. Through the ATO, the Government is providing tax-free cash flow boosts of between $20,000 and $100,000 to eligible businesses, delivered through credits when they lodge their activity statements.
Even so, Coronavirus took its toll. Marketing agencies work on relatively low margins, so a large – and swift – loss can quickly nudge an agency to the edge of profitability, or worse. For the moment, Gary says Indago is hibernating, waiting out the cold until the inevitable spring thaw arrives.
As lockdowns begin to ease, that thaw may begin sooner rather than later. In the interim, Gary says there is plenty small businesses can do to be in the best possible position to capture a re-kindled market.
“We have 30-40 clients, and they are all gearing up already”
Gary continues, “Our hospitality clients are reopening and weighing up what their digital campaigns will look like, travel clients are pivoting and changing their products to be more domestically focused and other clients are increasing their digital investment as restrictions are being lifted”.
Grow your business in hibernation
Digital marketing ranked 8th on the list of skills that LinkedIn Advertisers were looking for in 2019. That makes now the ideal time to upskill yourself and your team in digital marketing.
“There are loads of free training courses online,” explains Gary. For example, Google Analytics lets you track the value of your website. Yet a limited number of business owners know how to use it. The good news is, Google have a free course and free qualification.
“Upskilling your team always makes sense, and as your staff may have less to do, now is the time to
get them trained up on Google Analytics, Google Ads and other digital marketing tools.”
Prepare your digital marketing now
Search engine optimisation (SEO) has become very content focused notes Gary: “If you’re an expert in your field, it makes sense to write content that will appeal to your customers and make SEO work harder for you.”
Improving how you use Google Ads (previously AdWords) is another step that businesses can take in hibernation. Google Ads is Google’s advertising system in which advertisers bid on certain keywords in order for their clickable ads to appear in Google’s search results.
Since advertisers have to pay for these clicks, this is how Google makes money from searches. Gary explains, “The beauty of Google Ads is that potential customers tell you that they’re interested in your product and services through their searches, making it an extremely effective advertising medium.”
“Use this time to skill up, rebuild your campaign and kick goals in the post-Corona economy. Google has free training, with free tests and qualifications.
Finetune your Google Analytics
Many SMEs aren’t using Google Analytics to its full potential. Those who do use Analytics can measure the success of their advertising campaigns. But if your data is wrong, you can’t pull the correct analytics reports. Google has free training – a plus for anyone with a website.
Indago Digital is putting its mouth where its wallet is by preparing some free digital marketing training modules for its clients in the weeks ahead.
Gary’s 5 tips for growing your business in hibernation
- Train and reskill yourself and your team
- Write quality content and boost your SEO
- Improve your Google Ads campaigns (previously AdWords)
- Use Google Analytics to better understand your website
- Read, read, read!