Part 1: Pivoting During a Pandemic – COVID-19 Impacted Businesses and Apps

In this post we are focusing on businesses and apps that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and what they could do in order to maintain brand awareness, continue to engage users and how to align their mobile offering to changing consumer needs.

Before delving into details of how the app marketplace has shifted over the last few months, we understand that keeping everyone safe and healthy is front of mind as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to develop globally. We commend workers who are playing an essential role in tackling the pandemic, including social care and NHS staff. We also recognize food production, sales, delivery and utility staff, alongside the many other businesses and individuals that are putting themselves in testing conditions to serve society during these challenging times. 

With lock-down enforced in many countries around the world, governments have taken strict measures to tackle the spread of COVID-19 through various restrictions and encouraging social distancing. Many sectors and businesses have taken a huge hit on revenue and the public have implemented significant lifestyle changes. These conditions have highlighted that enabling and encouraging inter-connectivity between users is more important than ever. 

The Impact of COVID-19 on the App Marketplace

One thing is clear; the impact of COVID-19 on the app marketplace and subsequent changing conditions have been reflected in the disruption that the app marketplace has experienced as of recently.

With a huge knock on brand visibility, consumer spend and engagement, the pandemic threatens to impact many businesses negatively. There is no doubt that certain sectors have taken a bigger hit as a result of COVID-19, including hospitality, commerce and travel. This has been reflected in the volatile advertising spend preceding the outbreak, with big commercial businesses that typically dominate these sectors pausing their spend. In fact, 24% of brands have paused all ad spend for Q2. Research also shows that digital ad spend is down 38% in March and April.

With businesses that have an app channel, there are strategies that should be implemented whilst facing stagnation to establish a blueprint for brand and business recovery for when lock-down measures eventually wane. Here is our advice:

Maintain Brand Awareness for your App

Kantar estimates that brands who go dark to save costs will see a 39% reduction in brand awareness and delay recovery after COVID-19. Even if these businesses are cautious about advertising spend, mitigating reduced brand visibility is also vital. One way to tackle this is by maintaining visibility in the app stores, as less impacted businesses are expected to take the opportunity to compete for market share. That is why your App Store Optimisation strategy will be key. Bring focus to the three most important assets of your store listing to your brand: Icon, Title and Subtitle and implement brand keywords for your keyword optimisation strategy. As engagement with mobile continues to increase during lock-down, you also need to prepare for this change in consumer behaviour. You can utilise your other channels to refer traffic to your app product when your service offering becomes relevant again, a channel where users might be more used to converting from. Therefore, having a web to app referral strategy will also be key to leverage traffic from a channel where brand presence may be stronger.

Focus on Communicating With Your Users

Focusing on your messaging, copy and tone voice will be incredibly important during these uncertain times. Helpful, reassuring and relevant messaging will both comfort and help you to maintain a relationship with existing consumers, even if they are not utilising your service as regularly. Your all-round messaging strategy, from email to push messages, will also be integral in keeping users up to date and informed of disruption or changes in your service offering. There have been some great examples from all types of businesses including Monzo who have foregrounded their bolstered customer support, or AirBnB, who have also leveraged email to inform users of their new cancellation policy measures in light of COVID-19. 

Align Your Mobile Offering with Changing Consumer Behaviour

The huge shift in public behaviour due to lock-down restricting day-to-day movement has hindered many businesses in continuing to provide their services as normal. Businesses need to pivot to align and remain reactive to changing consumer behaviour and take advantage of the opportunities presented by your app product. Over the last few months, supermarkets have had channel resources into their mobile solutions to carry out food shopping and delivery from home. Research shows that Tesco even outdid Amazon in downloads in March due to high consumer demand. 

For apps that are not able to go about business as normal until after lockdown measures are decreased, it is also an opportunity to create new partnerships to support affected businesses. OpenTable, a restaurant booking service, recently partnered with Caviar, Postmates, Uber Eats, ChowNow, Olo, and Deliveroo to support and encourage delivery and take-out at restaurants impacted by COVID-19, putting to use their vast restaurant network. 

Preparing for the Future: Post COVID-19

Whilst no one can accurately predict what will become of the app marketplace over the next few months, it may be that these changing consumer behaviours will echo beyond a post-COVID-19 era. With users increasing time in mobile channels and businesses pivoting their service offerings and subsequent channels, it has seen the mobile and app marketplace flourish in its ability to provide those solutions. For COVID-19 affected businesses this is a time to focus on maintaining a relationship with existing consumers, maintaining brand visibility and creating a blueprint for anticipated changing behaviours across their channels post-COVID.

Yodel Mobile, leading app growth agency, is on hand to support app businesses during these times of uncertainty and higher consumer demand. With over a decade’s worth of experience on app-first strategy and mobile success, we are on hand to offer advice and support, please get in touch here.

About the Author:

Arazoo Kadir is the Senior Marketing Manager of Yodel Mobile, the number 1 global app growth consultancy. Leading the agency growth efforts for Yodel Mobile, she regularly shares insights on the importance of holistic app marketing for true app growth success.

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