Everything Small Businesses Need To Know About COVID-19
Small businesses, along with the global economy, have been heavily impacted by the current pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic sent shock waves across the global economy and impacted every business, both big and small. The challenges faced by businesses today are unprecedented. Most industries have had to close their operations to stem the spread of the virus, while essential sectors have had to find unusual ways to operate to reduce the danger of transmission.
It is a fact that some industries have suffered more than others; for instance, the airline industry. Delta Airlines maintained that it loses $60 million every day since international travel was temporarily banned in the United States. This is just the tip of the iceberg as a lot of things have changed since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic. Moreover, the pandemic has changed two things that have directly impacted the global economy.
Two Major Things That Corona Virus Has Changed
Changes in Consumer Behavior
Unprecedented changes in consumer behavior constitute, perhaps, the strongest impact of Covid-19. Consumers have significantly changed the way they interact with businesses and the way they make their purchases. Consumers now tend to optimize their purchases around basic needs to hedge against an uncertain future, embrace local products due to movement restrictions, and favor e-commerce and digital platforms as the primary method of purchasing, to reduce the risk of transmission.
Don’t be surprised if these changes in consumer behavior persist after the pandemic. People are learning new ways to do things, and some of those new things will actually be better things. People will adapt to to embrace these new methods, even post Covid-19.
Change in The Use of The Internet
Policies like social distancing and movement restrictions have led to a stark change in how people work, connect, and play.
Unsurprisingly, people are now spending even more time on social networking sites like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and TikTok, including streaming websites like Netflix. Video chat apps, such as Houseparty and Google Duo, saw a massive surge in downloads as social distancing rules took effect across the globe; and there’s a surge in people’s desire to see one another instead of communications through traditional messaging. Online video game platforms, such as Twitch, have seen a rise in the number of people visiting their websites. Twitch, in particular, that allows game players to stream their games have seen a 20% increase in traffic.
Apart from the surge in demand for online entertainment, people have become more reliant on online platforms that allow them to work and learn. Therefore, platforms like Zoom, Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, and Hangout Meet have emerged from their relative obscurity.
Perhaps the biggest success story of all these online communications platforms comes from the video communications app, Zoom. Zoom was hosting ten million daily meeting participants in December 2019, but this skyrocket to two hundred million in March 2020. As if that was not enough surprise, Zoom’s daily meeting participants increased to three hundred million in April 2020.
One concern with Zoom however is security, with reports of meetings being hijacked. This is one of the reasons we develop private meeting environments for some of our clients. They get to have their own private “Zoom” experience, and even take payments, right within a secure, custom video conferencing app.
In addition to video conferencing, people also want to stay informed about the latest information about the pandemic and as such have relied on online news platforms, both local and established media outlets, to get the information they seek.
Learning to Live with the “New Normal” That Is Coronavirus
No doubt, no one was prepared for the pandemic, and this was seen in how everything went to a standstill immediately after it started. However, things are beginning to move again because people have started to learn how to live with the virus. While everything certainly won’t just “go back to normal” suddenly, prudent people and businesses have not only started to prepare for the rebound, but they are also trying to make judicious use of their time in the process.
With every dip comes a rebound. And there is no better way for your business to get ready for the widely-anticipated economic rebound, than through the strategic use of digital marketing. This is an idea that many companies have already championed to great success, and this is made evident by the level of internet usage we’re currently experiencing. There has been a significant upsurge in traffic to popular websites and mobile phone data usage since the novel virus escaped China’s borders.
Because so many will be afraid right now, the market will contract. This is the perfect opportunity for a well-capitalized or essential business to seize the moment, and take advantage of all that abandoned market share.
There are several ways to do that, since there are several different types of digital marketing that businesses can explore in this period in reaching out to their customers, ensuring their brands remain relevant and preparing for a post-COVID-19 economic rebound.
Top 4 Digital Marketing Methods for the Covid-19 Period
- Content Marketing
Content marketing is the creation and distribution of different forms of content to specific audiences. When it comes to digital marketing and the internet in general, content is king. No matter what digital marketing method you’re interested in, it’s your content that will give it life. Content marketing forms the basis and foundation of all other digital marketing forms because the content being distributed may be in the form of articles, social media posts, images, videos, audio clips, emails, and so on. Therefore, video marketing, email marketing, and audio marketing directly fall under content marketing. Moreover, all other forms of digital marketing, like social media marketing and search engine marketing, are also enhanced by content marketing.
Search engines love quality content. If your business is on the internet, whether B2B (Business to Business) or B2C (Business to Customer), ensure you consistently deliver content that adds value to your audience. If you can dedicate your time to producing content relevant to what people are currently facing, in this case that might be Covid-19, your product and services can be linked to the solution people need at this period, and you’re sure to get immense benefits from organic traffic.
- Search Engine Optimization
This involves optimizing your website to rank high in search engines. All types of websites, be it e-commerce, corporate website, and blog, fight for the top spots in search engine results page (SERP). Your position in SERP depends on how much effort or money you put into attracting search engines. Therefore, you can get traffic to your website through organic searches (SEO) or paid advertisement (PPC).
For SEO, quality content is vital. You need to put content that people want to read on your website to rank high in SERPs through SEO. On the other hand, you need to pay your way into the top position based on your target keywords, target location, and target audience if you want to rank high through PPC.
In general, SEO is a solid investment for businesses at all times, as it offers long-term benefits over other types of digital marketing. One good piece of evergreen content can continue to bring thousands of visitors to your website every month for many years. With this approach, you don’t have to pay to get visitors to your website, leading to a continuous, long-term return on investment (ROI).
For instance, if you write a quality product review that rank well in SERPs and you incorporate your affiliate marketing links to the products, you can continue to make money from that for years without stress. Also, unlike other types of digital marketing, you don’t need to target specific times consumers want your product or service. Therefore, there’s no possibility of resources going to waste due to bad timing with SEO.
SEO works for almost any business. It’s a slow, steady, consistent and organic growth strategy. We’ve never seen a business who didn’t benefit from SEO, because a good long-term strategy for building your brand online. Meanwhile, PPC is effective for short-term (fast) profit-generation, but it is comparatively more expensive, which can prove to be prohibitive in the long term.
Since more people are on the internet than ever, investing in these two search engine marketing methods will go a long way in making your business stay afloat during and after this pandemic.
- Social Media Marketing / Influencer Marketing
Social media marketing lets you engage in direct communication with your audience. This unique advantage makes social media marketing an important type of digital marketing that every business should explore. We’ve established that more people are on social networking sites than ever before, so this is a good time to engage your customers and project your brand. It’s a form of relationship marketing, as we’ve discussed before, and that is some of the most powerful marketing you can do.
- Email Marketing
Email marketing may seem like a traditional marketing method, but it still hasn’t lost its effectiveness if used appropriately. We’ve emphasized the need for your business to relate with your customers and leads in a personal and empathetic manner; email marketing can help you achieve this without much effort on your part. Make your community and/or humanitarian efforts known to your audience in a personal way through email marketing. When you stay in touch with your audience by continually adding value to them, they put your brand in their mind, even at difficult times. This is what we refer to as TOMA (top of mind awareness.)
While we believe the above types of digital marketing are ideal for dealing with the pandemic, there are other types of digital marketing that we’ve not mentioned that businesses can leverage right now and at anytime. These include affiliate marketing, SMS marketing, display advertising and more.
Why Businesses Should Invest in Digital Marketing More Now Than Ever
The Whole World Is On The Internet
From the types of digital marketing we listed above, you now know that the digital marketing space is an environment where people converge to do all sorts of things related to online socializing. Well, this environment plays host to billions of people, including businesses and consumers.
As mentioned before, the inability of people to go to work, go to the movies, and go to class have increased traffic to the digital space. People now have more time to visit Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Google, Twitter, TikTok, and other social networking sites. This is truly unprecedented.
From social media marketing to search engine optimization, informed businesses are making use of the Corona Virus pandemic to make a lasting impression on their target audiences. This is the right time to do so because there’s no guarantee that they will be able to reach so large an audience as they’re able to reach currently in the foreseeable future.
However, as a business, while attempting to make good use of the current global health situation, do so with caution. You don’t want your audience to see you as being exploitative. We will discuss what your digital marketing strategies can include later in this article.
Digital Marketing Allows You to Gain New Leads and Keep Old Customers
Digital Marketing platforms have become more sophisticated, and they now provide you different features that allow you to achieve your marketing goals. Be it an increase in conversion, sales, engagement, site visits, or social media page followers; you can use these to better serve the community in which you live and work by offering them high quality products and services, perhaps when they need them most. Your aim is to increase your business’ reach and to generate new leads, but the result is community enrichment.
Digital Marketing Lets You Bond with Your Customers
In truth, when you put all of these pieces of the puzzle together, your audience will begin to trust you, and they will be able to build a personal relationship with your brand through this trust. That is why it is better to do away with all your conventional “salesy” language at this time and approach your audience empathetically. We can’t stress this enough. People will follow you only when you demonstrate that you’re not immune to what they’re going through. The connections you can create with your target audience this way can only be beneficial to your brand.
- Digital Marketing Lets You Reach More Of Your Target Audience
Digital advertising is laser targeted in terms of your ability to reach your target audience. You can choose a target audiences base on your own customer data, or the data provided by digital marketing platforms. Data relating to age, location, gender, profession, income, movie and book preferences, and much more, are all factors you can use to ensure your marketing messages are being delivered to the right audience, at the right time. And all at an unbeatable price.
- Digital Marketing is The Most Cost-effective Form Of Advertising In The World
Digital Marketing lets you achieve more with less, far more than any other advertisement platform. Before the pandemic, social media marketing was said to be three times cheaper than traditional advertising. The more you spend in digital marketing, the less your relative cost with conventional advertising. Thus, not doing digital marketing is actually costing you more. This is sometimes referred to as the opportunity cost.
Apart from that, Digital Marketing gives you more flexibility in choosing your budget and target criteria than any other form of advertisement. No matter the size of your small business and your budget, there’s a digital marketing plan you can have out there.
Now that you’ve seen reasons you should take digital marketing seriously, let’s talk about what else you can do in general, while employing these strategies. Remember, the aim is to keep your brand relevant and position your business in preparation for a post-COVID-19 economic rebound by being empathetic, and without betraying your brand’s voice in the process.
Digital Marketing Strategies For Businesses During Coronavirus (Covid-19)
- Offer Help Without Asking For Anything In Return
Many businesses are losing customers, and money, due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Your business might be one of those businesses, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel, especially if you don’t seem like you’re in a hurry to make money. While people may have a tendency to hold to their money right now because of the fear of the unknown, if you can offer discounts on your products and services or give out some of them for free at this time, customers won’t forget you when things go back to normal, whatever that looks like. This way, you’re able to keep your brand in their mind, and they’ll remember you and probably think of you later. This is known as the law of reciprocity.
Make your “soft offer” known on social media where most people spend their time these days. This can help you gain more followers, more website visitors, more email subscriptions, or more sales – all indirect benefits of being helpful and generous. Search for that thing you can offer people for free or at a discount to help them at this period. You will see that you don’t have to ask for their loyalty again after this pandemic.
- Invest In Marketing Heavily When Others Aren’t
If you know how paid ads work through the auction system, you’ll know that it’s small scale businesses that drive up the Pay Per Click (PPC) or Cost Per Click (CPC) for big businesses. Since the number of small businesses investing in advertising has significantly reduced during COVID, the cost for your ad to take the top spot on Google Ads and Bing Ads have decreased as well. If you can combine this low advertisement cost with the fact that more people are using the internet right now, it could add up.
While many industries have seen a decrease in conversion rates through other advertising methods, conversion rates through Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising have brought higher Return on Investment (ROI) than before the pandemic. Therefore, this is the time to consider investing in paid ads or increasing your investment in advertising in general.
- Offer Payment Plans To Boost Conversion Rates
People naturally are going to want to hold on to their money a little tighter during a market contraction, because like the rest of us, they don’t know when this will end. So consider them by reducing their upfront financial burden to encourage them to act. Payment plans can serve this purpose. Any type of business – consulting, e-commerce, marketing, online courses – these can all offer instalment plans to their customers. When you do this, let them know that the reason is, you want to help them achieve their goals, even during difficult times.
- Offer Value And Generate Cash Flow At The Same Time
This pandemic has made many people rethink their careers. Before the pandemic, people have started to look beyond the classrooms to learn skills that can feed them intellectual and in terms of their career. The world is currently witnessing the worst unemployment rate in human history, and more people are convinced of their need for better opportunities.
If you’re an expert at what you do, this is the best time to consider letting people in on the methods that have worked for you. You don’t have to offer this for. Put a price on your skills via online educational training that can fetch people money, and you would be surprised how many people would apply. Many people, and businesses, are already doing this on Udemy.
Be specific about your offer and what people will get if they sign up. Besides, more people knowing about your expertise and the authority of your brand in your field, your business will become more relevant in your industry in the long run.
- Optimize Your Marketing Reach With International Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
While the Coronavirus has turned into a pandemic, it has worse effects on some countries than others. For instance, South Korea and Taiwan have controlled the virus more than the United States, Italy, and Brazil. This is the reason you shouldn’t depend entirely on the economy of one country. Globalization has put an end to the limitation. Look beyond your locality, if your industry permits you to do so.
International SEO is a great way to do this. Optimize your website for international SEO so that people in other countries can access what you offer. There are many ways to do this.
Tips To Optimize Your Website For International SEO
- Translate your website’s content to accommodate foreign language speakers
- Target countries where people need your product the most. You may research the countries your competitors are targeting.
- Find the right keywords in each country you’re targeting. Note that ranking keywords differ from country to country.
- Build links that lead to local blogs or websites for personalized content.
- Use hreflang to tell Google which version of your content it should show in each country.
- Use subdomains for the content you make for each target country for your personalized webpages to rank faster in local searches.
- Automatically redirect your website users to their preferred languages to reduce bounce rate.
- Respond to every comment on each personalized webpage by hiring local responders.
- Optimize the load speed time for your website to increase conversion and reduce bounce rate.
Even if you aren’t directly servicing the clients in all of these areas, it’s a great way to increase your footprint in terms of thought leadership about the industry you represent.
Gaining global authority and reach by utilizing a comprehensive SEO strategy is the best gift you can give your business during a pandemic.
If you’re concerned about not being able to grow your brand’s reach has grown within the pandemic, the above tips will show you that it’s totally possible to be able to make it happen.
Because of the way the economy and human psychology work, an economic contraction or downturn such as that presented by COVID 19 is a perfect opportunity to reign in tremendous amounts of market share. Just like there’s no better time to sell a house than at the peak of the market, there’s no better time to tap into the benefits offered by digital marketing and SEO than now.