Turning To Consumer Needs: Home Gym, Online Telecom, Aggressive Rats

There you are, a high-end, scrappy, compact home gym option, looking for people who want to work out at home and not in a gym. And along comes a global pandemic, closing gyms all over the world.

Tonal is just such a home gym, and when the COVID-19 crisis hit, it immediately decided to update all its messaging across search, paid social, OTT and TV, telling potential customers that they could work out from home and don't need a gym. "We updated 300 ads in two days," Sichia Bell, senior manage for growth marketing, told our Search & Performance Insider Summit on Monday.

Speaking from San Francisco, she said the brand achieved a lot of sales success but did experience some supply issues. Still, Tonal thought it knew who its audience was, "but that is not our audience now," Bell said. "We had to reevaluate all our channels. Tonal is a very expensive home gym, a Peloton for strength training. We were changing how we were approaching each channel." 

The company tuned back on brand search and saw a shift in buyer behavior among those looking for home gyms. Its message was "stay in, work out from home. We were playing on the idea of you don't have to go to the gym to stay in shape."

Eventually, Tonal has come to rely more heavily on UGC content, which is "by far our top-performing asset." Now only on paid social, it is being considered for use on TV or OTT "because it doesn't cost a lot of money and performs really well, said Bell. 

Of course, to be fair, the company is concerned about coming out of COVID, wondering whether people will be going back to gyms. "Will there still be a want for a premium home gym?" Bell asked.

Another company that pivoted quickly as the pandemic took shape was T-Mobile. Natalie Barreda, senior manager, media, told our virtual attendees that changes in ad copy were among the first steps it took. The company has traditionally encouraged customers to come into the stores. Now, it was encouraging customers to use the self-service option. 

"Across digital and retail, we build out in a couple of days a virtual retail product to sell online," she said, changing how telecom approaches customers. She credited T-Mobile's "ability to pivot" being in the brand's DNA.

The company focuses dollars on demand generation, prospecting and driving the bottom line. Now it was trying to leverage paid search to benefit the entire enterprise, "shifting more dollars into bidding on terms like customer care," Barreda said, pushing phone numbers down in ads and driving people to self-service options. "It caused us to look at KPI and ask, are we measuring the right thing? It allowed us to reevaluate some of our KPIs, pulling in additional KPIs such as virtual retail experience.

"Most of our dollars were focused on demand generation. Covid made us rethink, what does driving to the bottom line mean. It doesn't always align with that last quick. How can we potentially positively impact the bottom line by saving dollars that would cost us to receive a call via telesales? Can we get that customer what they need by lowering the cost, by keyword search. How does KPI impact bottom line?"

Over at Scott's Miracle-Gro Company, the brand didn't start using different keywords once the crisis hit but just used many more of them. "We made sure to increase our communications frequency," Eric Moretti, performance digital marketing manager, told our assembled audience from Columbus, Ohio. "From an e-commerce standpoint, we started performing better as people didn't want to go the store," he said. Demand turned to online.

And one product that was in high demand was the company's Tomcat line of mouse traps, especially after New York City experienced aggressive rats looking for food after the Big Apple's restaurants closed. Ugh.

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