How and Why Digital Marketing Can Help You Grow During COVID-19
All of a sudden, a global pandemic puts the world – and your business – into lockdown.
You’ve got the goods, and people still need them. But both your employees and your customers are staying inside.
If your doors are closed, how can you remain open for business?
Now’s not the time to pull back and give up. It’s time to embrace online opportunities that plenty of your competitors are missing.
Migrating to the online world to reduce your losses, maintain your revenue stream or even grow is entirely possible for almost all industries. Education, various forms of healthcare, retail and an array of services all spring to mind.
In truth, the coming months are going to see the world change, and the aftereffects on how businesses operate will linger.
Without sounding too alarming – and this goes for just about all businesses – your digital strategy is likely going to be a deciding factor on your company’s outcome.
So, how can you not just survive but thrive with tough times ahead?
Trust us – it’s possible, even if you can’t sell goods online.
So why can’t you still maintain the same number of sales online?
The problem is: not all companies currently make their money online. Some of the nation’s longest established businesses don’t use online marketing channels at all, and that’s often understandable.
Take B2B companies, for example, that often market products or services at trade shows and exhibitions. If they’ve always found success offline, why would they consider switching up their marketing strategy?
Well, travel is off the cards in many cases, and venues along with large gatherings are out of the window for the foreseeable future.
But the industries you serve won’t just come to a grinding halt. They will, however, be forced to search for your services and products online.
So why is now the time to ramp up your digital marketing efforts?
Adapt Faster than the Competition
In the coming months, we’ll soon find out which companies have the capacity to adapt to the digital world quickly.
And you need to make sure you’re one of them.
Those who get ahead of the game by taking advantage of digital marketing, before the tidal wave of struggling companies, have the opportunity to capture a significant share of the market.
When that market bounces back offline, the fast-actors will have established their brand to the millions of potential customers currently stuck indoors.
To put it simply – If you start marketing online quickly and effectively, you’ll significantly increase your chances of getting ahead of offline competitors.
Embrace a New Way to Do Business
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced employees to work from home whenever possible.
All of a sudden, you’ve lost your team spirit. Nobody can collaborate…
In fact, they can’t do their job at all, can they?
You’ve probably heard of remote working. But now’s the time to understand how it works inside and out.
If you can apply elements of remote working to your business, you can not only make it through the challenging period ahead, but come out the other side a stronger, more adaptable and profitable organisation.
Well, some people prefer to stay at home, and they work more productively when given the opportunity.
Businesses don’t need to commit to full-time wages or lengthy term contracts.
You can reduce your overheads significantly without compromising on the quality of your services.
The bottom line is – remote working ‘has been the future’ for quite a while now. The pandemic has simply forced companies into actually taking action.
If you can have your workforce operate remotely, you can keep your business open even if your doors are closed. And when all this is over, you’ll have a restructured company with minimized overheads and financial risks.
So, before we look at how you can integrate remote working into your digital strategy and take advantage of the various marketing channels available to you, let’s look at one more critical reason why now’s the time to get a move on.
Take Advantage of the Demand Surge
As the virus spreads and movement restrictions get tighter, the demand for countless retail products has soared.
You might have noticed the empty shelves at your local supermarket. When people can’t get everything they need there, where do you think they head next?
They go straight online to look for alternative options. That’s where you might have a huge opportunity.
This point proves that just because your physical retail locations need to close, you don’t need to cease operations.
You just need to make sure people find your products online, and you can do it on a much smaller budget than you might expect.
Even when the current panic buying trend calms down, people will still have nowhere else to look but online for most of the products and services they need.
Because of this surge in online demand, you simply can’t afford not to spread your wings on the World Wide Web.
So, to the important question: how should you spend your online marketing budget to maximise your ROI?
Strategies to Advance Your Business Online during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Do you think that growth rate is going to slow down any time soon?
Consider this: the slowest growing industry online before the pandemic was retail (excluding takeaway food, cafes and restaurants).
What will be the case now that so many stores are closed?
People are going to purchase goods and services online and here’s how you can get your products in front of them…
1. Paid search
Paid search, particularly now, is a potentially lucrative source of revenue for companies in many industries.
We know what you’re thinking – how can I afford to spend money on online advertising?
Even if the world wasn’t in a state of lockdown, how can I beat much larger competitors?
Right now, investing in Search Ads is a good idea – and not just because they’re becoming more valuable to so many industries.
Many industries that are seeing a spike in online searches are reducing their marketing budgets.
As a result, the cost per bid on Search Ads (otherwise known as PPC advertising) is currently significantly cheaper for industries including finance, accounting and insurance.
In other words, you can currently get your ads in front of more people for less.
But before you start bidding on keywords, you need to develop an effective keyword research strategy, and that responsibility is for your marketing team.
To create ads that guarantee to convert, you need to ask yourself:
How are my customers affected by what’s going on?
Where are our customers?
How can we create the right messaging?
Partner with a team of PPC specialists, and you could find some highly profitable paid search opportunities that your competitors have failed to notice.
2. Content marketing
After you’ve encouraged people to visit your website, have you thought about what you’ll present them with?
Driving people to your website is only half the battle – and paid search is only one way in which to do it. The other and more challenging half of the battle is converting those website visitors into leads or paying customers.
Paying close attention to the content you produce is key to securing sales. You need your writing and graphics to keep people glued to the screen. And you need strong CTAs in your landing pages to encourage people to do something.
Revamping your landing pages and publishing new blog posts won’t just help you generate sales. A well-developed content strategy will help people find you in the first place.
Your website is your online shop. If a customer comes into your shop, you need to be prepared to provide them with all the information they need. The same logic applies to your website.
Make sure you write content that targets consumers early in the buyer’s journey, and try to guide people through the research and decision process with your blog posts.
If you’re new to online marketing but want to get ahead of the game, you might want to reach out to a team of experts that can develop and launch effective campaigns quickly.
3. Customer support
This is a challenging time for everybody. Almost every individual and business has felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic already.
Now’s the time to show your target market that you’re compassionate and customer-focused, not just profit-oriented. Open up as many online channels as possible to let your customers know they can reach out to you, but don’t refrain from trying to reach out first.
With regards to communications, you shouldn’t just be focused on sales and marketing for the time being. You need to maintain your relationships and highlight your company as a caring organisation that contributes to the community.
Just look at what struggling airlines and hotel companies are doing. Most are offering customers refunds or free cancellations.
They’re showing them that where possible, their services are still available. Where not, the consumer’s finances are protected.
Currently, you need to focus just as much on the end game as remaining afloat.
And that means ramping up your social media and email efforts, especially given that people are going to spend a lot more time online over the next few months.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter give you the chance to keep your brand alive, crisis or not.
Now’s the time to engage with customers and prospects on social media. Create conversations, keep people updated, and make sure you remain at the forefront of your industry when this entire thing comes to an end.
You should also make use of those email contacts you have in your CRM system. You can send marketing communications, such as promotions and discounts, to those who have already subscribed to your newsletter. As a result, you’ll keep your name alive and drive more sales.
4. Planning ahead
A significant portion of our customers come to us with the same problem.
They have marketing ideas and strategies they want to implement, but they don’t have any spare time to really develop them.
If they wanted to make their ideas a reality, they’d need to push crucial business tasks to one side, which simply isn’t a possibility.
Well, if you now have more free time on your hands than usual – whether it’s because of a temporary drop in sales or the need to remain at home around the clock – you might want to put some of those plans into action.
Why can’t you do the same now that most other forms of entertainment have been put on hold?
Even if you don’t have the budget to execute a huge campaign for the next couple of months, there’s nothing wrong with being prepared to strike with full force when the pandemic is over.
If you’re not planning ahead, you can bet your forward-thinking competitors are.
Now is the perfect time to build up a pipeline of work for when the restrictions concerning COVID-19 are lifted and you can get back to business as usual.
Even if you can’t currently operate at all – as is the case with many trade jobs – you can bet your industry’s going to bounce back.
While you’re temporarily closed, sort out everything you’ll need to outpace your competitors when the world returns to some semblance of normality.
5. Outsourcing and remote working
Some people are adamantly against letting people work from home. If you can’t monitor people, you can’t make sure they do their work. Or can you?
Plenty of solutions exist to let you keep up to date with your workforce without seeming intrusive. You can use management solutions to see what projects people are working on, host virtual meetings with screen sharing, forward calls to employee phone numbers, and more.
But, understandably, you might not be in a position to bring on new marketing members with the growing uncertainty. So, if you want to mitigate the financial risks to your business, why hire any new team members whatsoever?
Digital marketing is just one service that can be outsourced. You can also outsource plenty of tasks concerning customer service, sales, support and IT.
But digital marketing, as we’ve discussed in this article, is the advertising route that’s now most likely to help your business get through the crisis. Outsource it, and you can exploit the talents of trained experts from various fields, scale your requirements as necessary, and reduce your expenses.
Paying attention to SEO while others are scaling back their budgets could pay dividends in the long run.
It only makes sense that if less businesses are competing for top positions, there will be more opportunities to secure them for yourself.
And when your industry bounces back, you’ll have secured a significant share of the market, priming you for future growth.
How Smart Traffic Can Help Your Business during COVID-19
At Smart Traffic, we’ve helped businesses grow using the power of online marketing for years. Now, we know that digital marketing is more important than ever, and we want to make sure it helps as many companies as possible remain afloat and profitable until the crisis is under control.
If you want to find out about our team, capabilities and how we can assist your business both now and beyond the pandemic, don’t hesitate to drop us a line.
About the author
Stuart has been involved in the digital marketing industry for over 20 years, working with Australian & UK businesses to accelerate their online growth. He likes to take a hands-on approach to his clients marketing strategies, launching campaigns that focus on positive ROI.