Marketing during a crisis

Strategies for achieving growth during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting brands across industries and business types. Business conferences, events, and in-person meetings are canceled or postponed. Retail and restaurant locations are closed down indefinitely. B2B brands that depend on face-to-face meetings to find new, qualified leads are feeling the pinch as much as B2C brands that rely on in-person transactions to drive sales.

To thrive during this crisis, companies need to think outside the box to reallocate budgets and seize opportunities for growth.

Here are 5 ways to grow your business when in-person connections are not an option:

1. Use digital channels to grow your audience and engage existing segments

Now is a good time to refocus your marketing dollars to strengthen your cross-channel digital strategy. You can:

  • Target new consumer segments: build custom audiences to reach across a variety of digital channels – you can target new movers, early holiday shoppers, home-owners with specific demographic attributes or create your own custom audiences. This is a particularly useful initiative if you can leverage insights from look-alike models informed by your existing best customers and aimed to identify new ones.
  • Re-engage your existing customers and prospects across channels: you can create highly-targeted remarketing campaigns to reach consumers who visited your website on various digital platforms – from Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to Google, Amazon and many other sites they might visit. Use this remarketing effort to give them an extra nudge towards purchasing.
  • Reach your most valuable targets: if you’re a B2B company with defined target accounts you want to sell into, cross-channel media is a great way to target key decision makers within those high-value accounts with display and display retargeting ads. It’s a great way to become top-of-mind, increase awareness and grow lead generation and conversion

B2C Brand example: Gaia

Gaia created both remarketing and look-alike campaigns on Facebook to grow awareness and subscriptions for the brand’s digital video streaming services. Gaia targeted remarketing ads to a custom audience of its highest lifetime value subscribers (to cross-sell additional digital channels) and created look-alike audiences based on these high-value subscribers to reach new consumers who were most likely to purchase their streaming service. The company was able to reduce campaign and acquisition costs with a 20% decrease in cost per incremental purchase and a 16% decrease in cost per purchase.[1]

2. Step-up your email game

Consumers’ inboxes are flooding with emails from brands communicating their COVID-19 strategies.

Brands should take precautions to avoid deliverability problems and make sure their emails include engaging subject lines, well-designed templates, and copy that reflects your audience’s current reality. Communication frequency should also remain stable, as sender reputation can fall when a brand suddenly changes the frequency of communications.

B2C brand example: Modcloth

B2C clothing brand, Modcloth updated their email approach in response to the COVID-19 crisis – instead of touting their usual vintage inspired workwear, they are promoting clothes that appeal to a workforce that is currently prioritizing comfort over style.

3. Intent data

Intent data is behavioral information collected about an individual’s online activities that reveals an intent to buy something. By combining the data you collect on your own (website visits, form field data, etc.) with behavioral data from external sources, you can extract insights that help you:

  1. Prioritize customers and prospects based on their buying journey stage
  2. Identify previously unknown audiences that are in-market
  3. Locate ideal upsell and cross-sell opportunities

A Target Marketing Magazine study found that 25% of B2B companies were using intent data and monitoring tools, but 35% of companies expected to use them within the next 12 months.[2] If investing in intent data has fallen to the bottom of your list, now is the time to prioritize it and use it so your marketing and sales teams can personalize messaging to support the specific stage prospects are in their buying journey.

B2B Brand example: Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft used intent data to enhance the sales performance of their social media command center. With intent data, Microsoft was able to match external data on social media leads for Office 365 with the brand’s internal data for target accounts with 100-500 employees. This allowed the sales team to prioritize social leads based on their fit and improve communications by connecting an individual’s identity with their business profile.[3]

4. Contact decision makers outside the office

Most of the people you want to contact are working from home. Having their office number isn’t going to help your sales team reach them if they have switched to their mobile phone. Investing in data that allows you to reach prospects outside of the office is more important than ever. Furthermore, combining consumer datapoints with business data, can provide a more complete picture of your customers and their preferences and interests. Data solutions provide alternative ways of reaching executives and business owners when your existing contact information is no longer relevant.

5. Try partner-based B2C and B2B lead generation strategies

When you don’t have the option to engage prospective buyers in-person, there are other ways to attract and covert them.

For B2C companies, partner-based marketing is a great strategy to help brands:

  • Grow brand awareness
  • Expand your audience size
  • Increase sales

Partner-based marketing allows you to use vetted partner networks to deliver your content – often an enticing offer (20% off your first order!) – to these networks’ subscribers thus reaching consumers that your brand might have not reached otherwise. As an added bonus, with the right partner, brands can also request additional data points (demographic, psychographic, transactional data and more), to enhance these records and get a better view of their prospect and customer universe.

For B2B companies, partner-based marketing includes co-branded, targeted emails featuring customer-provided (downloadable) assets that aim to drive leads. This effort also includes partner-provided lead verification to ensure data accuracy. Using a partner to promote content helps B2B brands:

  • Complement their lead gen strategy
  • Reduce in-house resources focusing on prospect research and cold outreach
  • Increase the number of sales-ready leads

Brand Example:, the subscription-based online consumer coupon and savings service, uses partner-based marketing to serve targeted ads to ecommerce customers after they have made a purchase on a partner’s website.


As brands strive to do right by consumers (and by their employees) during this uncertain time, investing in strategies such as retargeting, account-based marketing, and intent data will help keep your business on track.

Want to learn about deliverability during COVID? Read more here.





Natasia Langfelder
Content Marketing Manager

As Content Marketing Manager, Natasia is responsible for helping strategize, produce and execute Data Axle's content. With a passion for writing and an enthusiasm for data management and technology, Natasia creates content that is designed to deliver nuggets of wisdom to help brands and individuals elevate their data governance policies. A native New Yorker, when Natasia is not at work she can be found enjoying New York’s food scene, at one of NYC’s many museums, or at one of the city’s many parks with her two teacup yorkies.