Definitive Guide to Digital Marketing for Businesses Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 Viral Pandemic has hit the world hard. This is needless to say, considering the media coverage and general impact it has made in almost every single aspect of our lives, especially in the business world. Many researchers have noted that it is likely that there will be lasting changes in the economy and in how we do business, reinventing the market in a way that is both unfamiliar and not entirely unexpected. By all accounts, it appears that the safest bet you have right now in these uncertain and unprecedented times is to make a move into digital marketing to help push your business further into the minds and grasp of consumers.
What is Digital Marketing?
Dubbed the “future of marketing” by some, digital marketing is, in a nutshell, the usage of computers and the internet to expand your brand’s reach and seek out new customers while still maintaining relations with older, trusted clients. This can be done through things like social media outreach, email chains, and other online methods that directly contact your clients and potential customers as they go about their everyday lives.
On average, a given person uses social media for around two hours per day, give or take depending on their career, interests, and activity levels. This means that for two hours you have prime outreach time for marketing, advertising, and drawing in new clients. Providing your services online and reaching out can make a massive difference in your revenue and customer interest, especially during the COVID 19 crisis where more and more people are stuck at home and, by default, are choosing to spend more time scrolling through apps like Facebook or checking their emails for updates.
How Can I Utilize Digital Marketing
For those impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, digital marketing can mean the difference between coasting through and reopening fully and potentially having to fold. When customers cannot come directly to your physical locations, you will notice a drop in sales and income. To combat this, digital marketing helps remind them that you are available and, ideally, helps them to still purchase your product or services either at the moment of interaction if it is safe to do so or immediately following the all-clear from the pandemic crisis. Let’s look at some effective digital marketing strategies and tips that can help get you on your way to boosting your revenue and thriving despite these hard times.
One of the newest versions of digital marketing, social commerce is blending sales directly into interesting posts and content that your consumers regularly see. One great example of this is the allowance for Instagram content creators to post direct links to products they are wearing or using in their photos or videos via a tagging system for their followers to directly purchase if they so wish. This makes it easier for brand affiliates and companies directly to make shopping easier for their clients and ensure a quick response time since they can literally tap the link in the photo and immediately buy the item without closing their app or otherwise having to put in additional effort.
With more than thirty percent of social media users reporting that the content they see through story posts, timeline additions, and other networking methods greatly impacts the products they buy and services they are willing to try, it makes sense that brands would begin to utilize this tool more during the COVID 19 crisis to help drum up passive interest directly to their products and services. Many brands make deals with social media influencers and local pages to help boost interest and broadcast range, as well, which is worth considering since people are using social media and being impacted by such content now more than ever.
Interactive Content Appeal
Another popular method for using social media and other easy to access tools is through interactive content. People like to feel like their voice matters and enjoy having their opinions heard. Offering interactive content creates a convenient and easy way for them to have input in your brand without any risk or potential downsides.
Many brands and companies are using things like polls, quizzes, shoppable posts, promo events, and other special features to draw in new clients and keep regulars engaged. Some have even done fun activities like photo competitions, digital scavenger hunts, and quizzes where prizes are offered at the end for those who compete or take part in the event.
With so many people stuck inside, these fun events are welcome and refreshing, offering something to do for a bit of time while providing the chance at discounts on their favorite products and services. This, in turn, draws them in and makes them more likely to purchase your products or use your service, especially if there is a discount offered or another perk for just taking part in the activity!
Understanding New Algorithms
If you have taken any look at all at digital marketing, chances are you understand the importance of search engine optimization and playing into the algorithms of popular search engines to make your page findable via a web search. What many people do not realize is that the algorithms that drive the decisions around which posts and content end up on the front page of Google or even the first ten pages are continually changing and adapting new rules to ensure the best possible content for users is displayed prominently.
This means that even though your post did well and brought in a lot of clients for the last few years does not mean you are going to remain one of the most popular searches. Google regularly updates its algorithm to prevent a singular post from hogging all of the keyword hits if it is not viable in providing useful information. Taking time to understand what Google and other popular search engines are looking for in displayable content is a good way to ensure customers and clients find your site and can easily get to it when they are ready to shop or are weighing their options for a future purchase.
Communication with your clients, customers, staff, and investors is key in any business operation, especially in times of crisis like we are facing right now. This does not mean you have to directly express how steep the downturn is but if things are not particularly positive and there is a chance things may go further south, it is a good idea to inform your investors and staff and look for ways to turn it around. They may bring in fresh ideas and other valuable input that could refresh the businesses’ structure and overall improve things and create a positive incline.
As far as clients and customers go, just reach out. They do not need to know the negative impact COVID 19 has had unless it impacts them directly. Instead, try explaining what you are doing to produce products or provide services at the moment and the steps you are taking to protect your staff during the virus. You can also explain any reopening plans you have and offer specific promotions for the duration of the COVID-19 quarantine or directly after it to help boost interest in your products or services and remind your clients you are still around to serve them whenever it is safe for you to do so. Periodic check-ins are a great way to keep your brand fresh in the minds of clients, especially if you offer personalization or promotional data.
It is so, so important that everyone understands that the COVID-19 crisis is relatively unheard of a chain of events. Most of us have never experienced this within our lifetime and are reasonably shaken and unsure of how to proceed from both a personal and professional standpoint. It is entirely reasonable to work some flexibility into your planning to ensure that you can adapt as the climate surrounding this viral presence changes.
This includes having funds on hand to cover up to a year of bills and fees so you are not left scrambling or scraping up cash later on. Additionally, you will want to prepare for the worst and begin finding points in your budget where you can cut funding to save money. You should be in survival mode at this point and look for ways to preserve the business and ensure that you are safe and stable to reopen once it is safe to do so in your area.
You should also account for potential investment issues. A lot of investors are going to be pulling back their support and exercising exit clauses to ensure they are protecting their assets appropriately. Now is not the time to begin looking for new investors and you should not count on investment funds; try and use your own money to fund your business since it is the only surefire bet you have at the moment.
For businesses that qualify, try to apply for small business grants or other federal or state grants. This is money they will award to you that does not have to be repaid and is to be used to assist in floating your business for the duration of the COVID-19 epidemic. Additionally, you can find tons of options right now for low to no interest loans with long deferment periods that may help you survive this trying time, as well.
Help Where You Can
While you are certainly in survival mode, there are a lot of mutually beneficial ways you can go about helping your community while boosting your public reputation and perhaps turning a profit. For example, if you have a lot of extra materials from product manufacturing laying around, you could look for alternative products that can be made that will benefit health care workers and other associated industries. Alcohol distilleries, for example, have begun using their supplies to make hand sanitizer in many places and have managed to still make money selling it at low cost to hospitals and other buyers.
Additionally, many places that have donated personal protective equipment like masks and gloves to hospitals and other vital services have been cast in a very positive media light, making things easier for them once they reopen since the public will view them more warmly. This means they are more likely to recognize the good deeds your business did during the virus’s duration to help the community and will likely be more inclined to use your services. Hosting a blood or plasma donation drive is another great way to help and could save lives while costing you nothing aside from using your space, too.
Lastly, it is now more affordable than ever to get paid advertisements on many different platforms. You can simply bid with popular websites and companies for prime space and watch as more and more traffic comes to your sites. These paid ads can help in increasing your traffic and interest while drawing in an entirely new customer base.
Be sure you consider your typical clients and customer demographic to ensure you are not wasting your money, though. It would not make sense for a roofing tile manufacturer to display ads on a beauty blog, for example. Sure, some people may want hair spray and roofing tiles but the majority will not be visiting that site in search of roofing tiles and will likely gloss over your ad. Shoot for a space that also meets your target demographic without being a competitor. You just might see some pretty fantastic results!
Do More While Doing Less
It might be a little bit rattling to not be able to the manufacturer or act to your usual degree of quantity but you can still do a lot right now to help your business survive this pandemic and its tough economic impacts. Try to increase your client base and get your name out there if you can while still providing services and products that are safe given the current pandemic. Do more while doing less to keep yourself stable and moving in a positive direction.