Growth during a pandemic: Crossing borders to connect with at-home consumers

David Dohányos / October 2020

It’s March 2020. Consumer behaviour changed overnight as people adapted to lockdown. Meanwhile, uncertainty and cloudy economic forecasts saw brands cut marketing budgets and lay off employees. The outlook wasn't pretty and very few agencies were advising clients to expand operations into new markets. But one agency used this time to pilot a digital marketing strategy.

A captive at-home audience

More people at home meant more eyes on screens. Consumers went online to connect with friends, family, and adapt to the new reality — pushing impressions up across channels and costs down as industries froze ad budgets. Proficio, a digital agency in the Czech Republic, decided that the captive at-home audience was perfect to test the power of video for raising awareness and driving sales in a new market.

Testing new markets amid a pandemic

Pneuboss, an e-commerce platform for tyres, had been working closely with Proficio on highly successful digital-first campaigns in the Czech Republic. The company now wanted to branch operations out into neighbouring Slovakia.

For the tyre industry, April to June is Black Friday and the holiday season rolled into one. As the long Eastern European winter months come to an end, people change their car tyres and look online for deals.

Where some marketers saw risk with ad spend during a global downturn, the Pneuboss and Proficio teams saw a digital opportunity

The agency used Market Finder to understand the Slovakian consumer and pinpoint any barriers they might face crossing borders. By carrying out research with Google Trends, the agency confirmed that Slovakian searches for tyres peaked in April. And the teams were keen to move forward with their digital campaign before seasonal searches dipped again.

Seasonal searches for tyres in Slovakia

Growth during a pandemic: Crossing borders to connect with at-home consumers

But this year wasn’t another regular tyre season. People were in lockdown and turning to digital channels for news, to learn, work out, and connect with loved ones.

Where some marketers saw risk with ad spend during a global downturn, the Pneuboss and Proficio teams saw a digital opportunity. Proficio understood that these changes in trends meant that online video was experiencing growth and it wanted to launch a pilot campaign to determine the strength of video for raising awareness and driving traffic to its client’s website.

Using video to break into a new market

YouTube provided the massive reach the company needed to get its product in front of as many potential customers as possible in the new market. But impressions weren’t enough. Pneuboss and the digital agency were also determined to use video to drive traffic to its website to increase sales.

When a launch takes place during a crisis, it takes tools, strategy, and digital expertise to get it right

The teams began testing TrueView for action video ads, which have clickable elements that allow brands to add strong calls to action and headline text overlays. By using this campaign subtype, Pneuboss could encourage viewers to visit its website and find seasonal deals — leading to an immediate boost of sales and a long term growth of brand awareness.

The go-to market strategy and pilot campaign were a hit. In April, the agency saw a 1847% month-over-month increase in conversions and a 1465% increase in the value of the conversions. The campaign sent 1,145% more traffic to the website and achieved a 94% increase in brand awareness, month-over-month.

Growth during a pandemic: Crossing borders to connect with at-home consumers

Strengthening the client-agency relationship

When entering a new market there’s always a degree of risk. That risk was magnified during a crisis. When a launch takes place during a crisis, it takes tools, strategy, and digital expertise to get it right. But more importantly, it takes an incredible amount of trust and a solid relationship between the agency and client to create a successful launch in such circumstances.

“The launch happened during very uncertain times,” says Dominik Neckař, Strategy Director. “On the day we launched the campaign, Slovakia closed its borders.” But since they were in constant and close contact with the Pneuboss team, ensuring open and transparent communication and real time updates of the campaign, it allowed them to build an even stronger relationship.

Tips to drive sales home — even in uncertain times

  • The ‘new normal’ is constantly shifting so it's more important than ever for agencies and brands to keep pace with consumer behaviours and trends. Insights can help you keep your finger on the consumer pulse and remain relevant.
  • Online video goes a long way when breaking into new markets. Video provides massive reach for raising brand awareness and with YouTube for Action brands can drive sales.
  • Use the Market Finder tool and Google Trends to understand consumer behaviours and potential barriers you might face when creating the right marketing strategies.
  • When entering a new market there’s always a degree of risk. It’s important to forge a lasting relationship between client and agency to create successful strategies — especially during such rapidly changing times.
Google Trends insights to help you understand consumer behaviour throughout the COVID-19 pandemic