Ready, Set… Change! The Story of a Pandemic Pivot

No organization has been immune to changes forced by COVID-19. Businesses both big and small have had to make massive pivots quickly, and oftentimes, those pivots have been wildly different than anything they’d ever expected.

And sometimes that requires a superhero-sized effort.

One of our Fortune 25 clients is no different. The company had created a division specifically to share skills and insights that help job-seekers grow their careers and help small- and medium-sized business owners grow their organizations. The original plan was to give these sessions a more personal feel by meeting in person at events around New York City.

But COVID-19 had other plans.

Go virtual or go temporarily extinct.

In a world where in-person events have become more #ThrowbackThursday than real life, this division was forced to completely change its programs and marketing strategies. The stakeholder wasn’t sure where or how to begin, but our superheroes were. The first order of business was to create a new communications strategy. For us, that meant kicking into marketing automation overdrive. This division hadn’t really used email marketing to spread the word about its events before, but their pandemic pivot made Marketo an absolute must-have.

The challenge?

Because this division targets two groups that are so different from what the rest of the enterprise targets, this division needed its own Marketo instance built from scratch. Luckily for the stakeholder, they had Platinum Marketo Partners leading their pandemic pivot. Our marketing automation superheroes got to work and not only built the new instance but also created an integration with the enterprise’s virtual event platform—and did it all in under three weeks.

If you’ve ever built a brand new instance, you know that’s truly faster than a speeding bullet. That super speed was absolutely essential because so many people are using this unprecedented  downtime to boost their skills:

  • Coursera saw a 644% increase in enrollments throughout March and April, compared to the same time last year. 
  • Since the pandemic began, Udemy has seen a 425% increase in enrollments and a 55% increase in new course offerings.
  • 6Connex, a virtual events platform, has seen a 1,000% increase in virtual events since the pandemic began.

With Marketo and the events platform up and running, the stakeholder was ready to get back to her main mission of educating business owners and jobseekers. As a result, we immediately started building and deploying invites, landing pages, confirmations, and reminders for 3-4 virtual workshops each week. 

After that, the stakeholder wanted to take things a step further with virtual follow-up offers that would help create ongoing engagement. That meant our superheroes had to create templates, programs, and lists for one-on-one coaching sessions, on-demand workshops, and post-event surveys. Since the virtual events were already humming along, our team created the infrastructure for many of these new offerings in under 24 hours.

“The data tells the story.” 

That’s what we always say here at Marvel Marketers, so we also created the infrastructure for thorough ongoing data analyses. Since this division had never hosted virtual events before, the stakeholder had no idea which topics and follow-up offers would perform the best. That’s when our data and reporting experts kicked into high-gear and came up with a plan to collect, analyze, and optimize.

But we didn’t stop there. Since COVID-19 is a worldwide problem, we knew this was a worldwide solution for similar divisions in other countries. Thinking globally, we also built all of the infrastructure needed to expand this program into similar divisions outside the US. Australia and New Zealand have already jumped on board, the UK is about to hop on, and several regions in Latin America are also interested in replicating our US success.

So what’s next?

The initial data shows this model is working well. Roughly 1,000 people sign up for each virtual event, which means our client is able to help far more people than they could in person. As a result, the stakeholder is even considering keeping some virtual events in the mix after the COVID-19 threat is over. Just like that, this client has a new, lasting way to engage with its audience!

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Posted by Nicole Pytel

I'm a content strategist/writer/superhero who has helped brands be more creative since 2010, a former TV newsie, and a native Floridian who loves to soak up the sun with family and friends.