Health and safety are top of mind with all of us during the COVID-19 pandemic. In our personal and our professional lives, just about everyone has had to make adjustments.

Digital marketers are no exception to the rule, as we all try and figure out what the long term impact on the economy is going to be.

“The verdict is out on how much people are going to pare back on their consumer spending due to fear as opposed to transferring that spending to retail in general,” says Chris Hahs, vice president of reporting and analytics at Rakuten Advertising. “There is going to be panic buying for certain products such as food and cleaning supplies, but the long term impact on overall online retail remains to be seen.”

With priorities changing on a daily or even an hourly basis, now is a crucial time for digital marketers to have flexibility with their performance marketing programs. The affiliate channel in particular can be valuable at this time when it comes to offering customers the added value they’re seeking in the form of cash back offers or discounts. We sat down with key members of our affiliate team to discuss strategies that digital marketers can employ right now in order to ride out these uncertain times.

Communicate With Your Account Teams

Rakuten Advertising’s account teams are constantly monitoring network trends and data to determine what’s working and what’s not.

Chris says that as KPIs shift, it’s important to work closely with your account teams to figure out what’s feasible and what’s not in the short term.

“Account teams and analysts are looking at data and making recommendations based on opportunities that arise from situations like this,” Chris says. “Once you figure out what your new KPIs are, communicate, communicate with your account teams so that they can help you identify new opportunities.”

And Don’t Forget About Your Publishers

Regular communication with your publishers is key to ensure that they are both informed on any relevant updates to your business or affiliate activity, and that they can pass on the correct offer, promotional and product messaging to their audiences.

Leverage Publisher Opportunities

As Chris alluded to above, certain publishers might present a better opportunity to connect with people who are shifting their content consumption habits.

Our account experts say that being open to working with publishers that you might not otherwise work with regularly, such as content publishers which are seeing spikes in traffic right now, could provide you with opportunities to get in front of people who are ready and willing to engage while also potentially introducing you to new audiences.

Rewarding content publishers on a first click basis in particular could lead to more opportunities for partnerships later on down the line.

Recalibrate Your Marketing Mix to Account for the Current Climate

People are reevaluating everything about their lives, from their daily habits to their financial situation. And with good reason – There’s a lot of uncertainty right now around how long this is going to last and how much of a long term impact it’s going to have.

With that in mind, now might be the time to recalibrate your marketing mix so that you are striking the right tone.

For instance, given the fact that people are more closely examining their budgets than they might under normal circumstances, now might be the time to take more of a promotional tack in order to build greater long term loyalty.

Consumer behaviors are changing and because of that, Chris says advertisers’ short and long term goals should as well.

“In times like this, a company’s goals may shift,” Chris says. “They may have a short or medium term shift in terms of what their top priorities are and also what best aligns with their brand values during this time.”

Use Affiliate Tools to Promote Products That Address Current Concerns

Buying habits are changing on a daily and an almost hourly basis. Consumers are focused more on restocking products they need, more than buying products that might be considered indulgences.

“In a situation like this, there’s going to be a divergence in terms of how companies react,” Chris says. “Talk to your analysts and find out which opportunities and publishers they’d recommend working with more.”

Consider Short Term Promotions

Money is running tight for many right now.

That’s why running short term promotions could wind up paying off in the long term. In other words, consider offering deeper discounts than you might normally. This could serve the dual purpose of increasing the likelihood of a potential sale in the short term while at the same time helping you ultimately build long term relationships with potential customers.

For more information on the COVID-19 epidemic, we recommend checking out the World Health Organization (WHO) or Centers for Disease Control (CDC).