On January 24, around the time the coronavirus outbreak was making headlines worldwide, Procter & Gamble’s Clorox, which makes cleaning products, added a landing page to its site specifically discussing 2019-nCoV. The page provides basic information about the virus and suggests practices that can help stop its spread. And, of course, it also lists and links to the Clorox cleaning products individuals can use to disinfect surfaces on which 2019-nCoV might live, noting that because these products are effective against similar viruses, “per the EPA Emerging Pathogen Policy, these products can be used against 2019-nCoV when used as directed.”
Clorox has also added a dedicated 2019-nCoV page to its CloroxPro website.
The company is joined by competitor Lysol, a Reckitt Benckiser-owned brand, in offering concerned individuals cleaning products that might help stop the spread of the coronavirus. It too has a page on lysol.com containing information about 2019-nCoV and listing Lysol products that can be used to disinfect surfaces.
Neither Clorox or Lysol appear to be linking to these pages from prominent locations on their websites, such as their homepages, nor do they appear to be promoting them on social media. Instead, the 2019- nCoV pages are clearly designed with SEO in mind. And they are already ranking in top positions for a variety of relevant searches such as “disinfect coronavirus”, “coronavirus cleaner” and “2019-ncov sanitizer”.
While it’s impossible to estimate just how much incremental business Clorox and Lysol will generate from these targeted pages, with searches for coronavirus-related terms skyrocketing, there was absolutely no reason for these companies not to use rapid-response marketing to increase the likelihood that consumers searching for information find them.
For brands looking to use rapid-response marketing to take advantage of event-driven opportunities, Clorox and Lysol’s efforts highlight several practices that are worth considering:
Keep it simple
The dedicated 2019-nCoV pages are straightforward and clearly did not require significant effort to put together. Obviously, this allowed the companies to publish these pages quickly so that they could be indexed and begin appearing in the SERPs.
Leverage the authority of a primary domain
Because Clorox and Lysol published their coronavirus pages on their primary domains, they are able to leverage the authority those domains already have. While brands might in some cases have reason to consider building microsites, for rapid-response marketing, the domain authority factor will typically favor using existing sites initially.
While Google is coy about the effects of outbound links, it’s worth noting that both Clorox and Lysol are linking to authoritative sources such as the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In principle, this improves the utility of the page for visitors, as it makes it easier for them to access information from a trusted source at a time when the spread of misinformation is rampant.
Rapid-response marketing does carry risks. Here, for instance, companies like Clorox and Lysol run the risk of providing inaccurate information or being accused of using fear to sell their products, which might explain why they don’t appear to be actively using social media to address the coronavirus outbreak.
Notably, hand sanitizer maker Purell recently received a letter from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding health claims it made on its websites and social media platforms. The FDA does not allow hand sanitizer brands to make claims about disease prevention and believed that Purell was doing so. As a result, Purell’s parent company, GOJO, was forced to take immediate action.
While companies selling products that are related to health obviously have unique risks, it is important for all companies engaging in rapid-response marketing to identify associated risk and mitigate against them.