Most businesses have been severely affected by the recent Coronavirus outbreak. Some companies in several industries chose to bury their head in the sand and wait it out believing that this occurrence is a passing fad but months have passed and we’re still experiencing the negative effects. The situation could possibly last for several more months or years.
A lot of business paused ad spend and abandoned their marketing strategies altogether but this has turned out to be a bad decision. It’s been shown that businesses that refocused their strategies instead of businesses that cut marketing campaigns during hard times do better. People still need products and services but the problem is that they can’t get out of the house. Staying indoors – working and learning from home has become the “new normal”. Some companies that remained flexible and figured out how to ride out this pandemic have remained afloat.
It is not an easy feat to purely physical businesses or brick-and-mortar businesses to convert to the online world. It has been difficult for them but there is a saying that “If there is no struggle, there is no progress”. Businesses that were able to leverage digital marketing to their advantage during the onset of the pandemic are now reaping the rewards and you can too.
Using pure digital marketing in place of the traditional billboards, lighted displays, print ads and other out-of-home advertising surely has its advantages especially now that people are mostly isolating at home. Event marketing or product launch expos have come to a stop as social distancing has now become part of our daily lives.
During these uncertain times, it may be scary to start something new. Nonetheless, businesses are made by the strong and innovative. Now is the best time to consider a digital marketing plan as no one really knows when the pandemic will be over and everyone can get back to their normal lives. This is a new time for everyone including the customers. To make it easy for businesses to make the transition, here are some digital marketing ideas to start using during the reality of COVID:
1. Connect on social media
Social media has both a business purpose and a communal purpose. This is where people of the same interests band together. Almost everyone is on social media especially now that people are locked up in their homes and have nowhere to go to socialize face to face. There’s a study saying that messaging on social media platforms has increased by 50%. This is where most people are checking for updates to lessen their anxiety or boredom. Show empathy. Be less salesy. Take on a more helpful tone in your posts.
2. Grow your list
If you’re one of those businesses that never had a list even if you had regular customers pre-COVID, all is not lost. You can still catch up and grow your list. Lists are valuable as they represent a ready audience for your products. You have to reach out to them and provide value to them so they will stay with you. They already like your business so it is easier to sell to them. You can use website opt-in forms, landing pages, or messenger chatbots in Facebook, or giveaway campaigns to collect email addresses for your list.
3. Pay-per-click ads (PPC)
Most businesses may pull back on ad spend if necessity dictates it according to the ability to invest. But being to continue advertising helps people to see that your business is active. This also has the effect of keeping your customers as opposed to being invisible as this might give your competitors a chance to take some of your customers. As some businesses are now starting to re-open, running even limited ads can be of huge help in making a reopening successful.
4. Content Marketing
The content you need to prepare should be aligned with your goals. Compare your pre-COVID goals to your current available targets. Your content should be sensitive enough so it is supportive and empathetic to your audience in these trying times. Address the current needs of your audience. Rather than being aggressive in selling, focus on increasing brand awareness. The goal is for you to be top of mind to your customers. Be authentic and stay true to your brand when creating content.
5. Be visible in searches
People may be mostly at home now but it doesn’t mean that they stopped spending on essentials and even entertainment. Make sure that your business appears on the first pages of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) so people can easily find you. Aim for your content to come up for keywords that are most relevant to your brand. Create fresh content and update old ones to stay competitive in searches. Prepare for the eventual re-opening of businesses. Pausing your SEO campaign is not a good idea as doing so can negatively affect the results a few months from now.
6. Email marketing
Email marketing is essentially sending mail to a prospect or buyer but electronically instead of using a postal service. For this to work, an email list is needed. Any business that has existing customers can make this work. You just have to collect emails when a customer has purchased from them. Once they have an email address, you can start sending them newsletters, notifications on discounts and sales, and other valuable info about the brand. It’s important to remember not to be spammy. Avoid sending messages too frequently as doing this may drive them away or make them unsubscribe from your mailing list.
7. Sales funnels
A funnel is a process that prompts a visitor to take a specific action through a series of marketing actions or simply a “sales process”. By using landing pages and order forms it is automating the process. It is an efficient way to collect leads and you’ll only need to take action once someone makes a purchase. Using lead magnets makes it easier to collect email addresses to grow your list. As mentioned before, lists are essential for businesses. In this process, leads are collected by giving valuable information in exchange like downloadables, webinars, cheat sheets, discounts, free trials, and mini-courses.
This time when most people are home all the time is the best time to collect their email addresses for marketing campaigns as they have more time to spare to watch that webinar. If they like your free offer, they might even make a purchase.
Just a few years ago, it was rare to see chatbots when visiting Facebook pages. Now, they’re so common that you’d automatically expect a chatbot to answer you back when you send a question by messenger. Around 67% of consumers reported that they experienced using chatbots one time or another. A chatbot is an AI (Artificial Intelligence) software that can simulate a conversation with a human.
There are numerous advantages to using chatbots for your business. It can enhance customer experience by offering immediate replies to queries. It reduces the required human support. If there’s only one person managing a business’s social media, a chatbot is able to free up some time for the admin or support to do other things. This is useful especially this time of COVID if there is a reduction in manpower due to budgetary constraints.
9. Google my business
One of the easiest ways to help your businesses adapt to changes is by making sure that your business appears on Google. It is free and is the best strategy to bring in customers from your area. It’s been reported that Google takes up about 75% of searches. The first thing you should do is update your business hours and contact info so your customers can easily know that your open.
A great way to boost your authority is to ask your clients to give you a positive rating. Most people read reviews before making a purchase for the first time. This will also help you get more customers.
10. Guest blogging
Creating blog articles for other companies is a great way to get new eyeballs onto your website. Not only does it generate more traffic but you can also improve your brand awareness to a different audience outside your usual viewers. Leave a link back to your site if the website owner allows it so users only need to click to find out more about your business
Even in these times everything feels out of control. It is best to not get your emotions the best of you and dwell on negativity. Things will change as it always has. This will all be over but in the meantime, industries should make an effort to come up with solutions and adapt to the current restrictions. For businesses to survive, marketing strategies need to take a significant space in any business plan. Compared to traditional marketing methods, digital marketing allows you to make a profit without face-to-face interaction. The world has changed and we need to change along with it. Opportunities are out there, you just have to know where to look.
Marcus Clarke is part of the content and community team at Userful.com, experts in all things video wall and display solutions. When Marcus is not spreading the word about video walls she is often found discovering the great outdoors, walking or cycling.