The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted a lot of things and has had a profound impact on online marketing. As more people than ever are turning to the internet as a result of social distancing, these people are concerned about their finances and their future and are not spending as much. You have a larger audience to reach and interact with, but it will be more difficult to convince them to connect and part with their money.
It doesn’t help that the coronavirus has had a big impact on manufacturing and shipping as well. Just because a business is online and open doesn’t mean it has the stock to keep selling. Even businesses that already have healthy inventory or have ordered additional inventory are constrained by increased delivery times.
36% of retailers believe COVID-19 will negatively affect their business.
Previously, we covered the steps to optimize a company’s online presence in our Basic Quarantine Checklist. If you have the basics (a website and social media), you’ll be ready to implement new marketing strategies. We’ll explain how the pandemic has affected e-commerce and online marketing, and how to weather the storm with effective online marketing strategies during COVID-19.
How the coronavirus affects e-commerce
Whether you are running a purely online business or using e-commerce to supplement a physical store, the coronavirus is sure to have an impact on your business. Even if your products have nothing to do with the virus, the wider economic impact of the pandemic is going to affect you or your customers in one way or another. More than a third of retailers (36%) believe COVID-19 will negatively affect their business.
Even big retailers like Amazon have to change their strategy in the future. Amazon currently only takes shipments of essential items to their warehouses, which means most Fulfilled by Amazon sellers don’t know how they can handle sales and shipping.
Amazon has also stopped offering paid search ads so they can focus more on delivering essential products to people who need them. People are more likely to see advertisements for health and personal products, baby products, pet supplies, and groceries. Amazon – and other companies – are looking for ways to turn the crisis into an opportunity to gain greater market share and expand their appeal. Not everyone has the kind of money Amazon has, of course, but it’s always possible to create an opportunity for your business with the right marketing strategy.
Effective Online Marketing Strategies During COVID-19
1. Create a mailing list
A mailing list is a great idea for any type of business. These lists allow you to connect with customers and share important information with them. You can use the connection to share your story, showcase products and sales, promote your business, and turn followers into leads and customers.
If you have a mailing list, now is the time to use it. People are desperate for any kind of information right now. They want to know how your business is going to protect them. They also want to know that you are taking care of your employees and responding appropriately to what is going on. Let the public know how you are handling the pandemic and what your business plans to do regarding employee safety and staying open.
Don’t have a mailing list? Start one now. It has a higher ROI than organic search and paid search, with an ROI of $ 40 for every $ 1 spent. Figure out who your target audience is and find out where they are. Social media can be a great tool for this. Next, make sure that your website landing page has a signup form for interested people to enter their email. Sweeten the deal by using a discount or a free resource as an incentive.
2. Boost your web traffic
A website is the online representation of your business, and it’s where your customers can get their first impression. But, even the best website is wasted if you can’t target your core demographic. After understanding the importance of having a website, it is essential to consider the importance of being able to attract potential customers.
There are many ways to increase web traffic, but blogging is one of the best. Just keep in mind that a business blog isn’t just about jotting down your ideas for viewing on the Internet. Corporate blogs should help your business stand out and become an authority in the industry. Platforms like Medium and Quora make it easy to share your business from a point of authority.
Another important part of blogging is being able to stay relevant and exploit trends. Just like with the mailing list, you can use your blog to let visitors know how your business is responding to the coronavirus. Share photos and videos of your staff working safely and taking the right precautions, where appropriate.
Remember the importance of SEO (search engine optimization) when writing your blog posts. SEO is still an essential part of online marketing. It is one of your most powerful tools when used correctly. Don’t hesitate to hire an SEO expert to take care of your SEO for you, but don’t hire someone who makes promises that are too good to be true.
If you plan to handle it yourself, make sure to avoid common mistakes like keyword spamming. Remember that the content should also be readable. There is no point in writing something filled with relevant keywords if no one can read it.
Remember to have a solid link building strategy in place with your blog as well. Include links to relevant sources of information, especially if you are going to be discussing the virus in any capacity. Reach out to other businesses and blogs and see if you can agree on a link sharing strategy. Backlinks add additional authority to your website and help drive traffic. Before committing to these strategies, it’s important to have a website that best represents your business. Fortunately, updating and innovating your business website is easier than ever.
3. Podcasts / Articles
When thinking about which posts and articles to create, be sure to connect to the appropriate sources and try to work with them. Offer your expertise on an industry website or podcast, or have them come up with something for yours.
Podcasts are a convenient and popular source of information and entertainment these days. There are plenty of ways to get started with podcasting if you haven’t already. A common tactic is to turn a popular article into a podcast discussion where you can get more information or bring in an expert to discuss the topic with you.
On the other hand, being a guest on someone else’s podcast means you don’t have to worry about the infrastructure of things. Let them take care of the hosting and publishing. All you need to do is show up on time for check-in – whether physical or via VoIP / Skype – and promote it once it’s live.
4. Social networks
Social media will always be an important part of online marketing, and it remains a key part of online marketing strategies during COVID-19. Everyone is on social media these days, and people are increasingly turning to social media for their news and updates. People are following the spread of the coronavirus and listening to important updates and information via social media.
Take the time to build a healthy community on social media. You won’t see immediate results, but the long term payoff is well worth it. Cultivate a community that you can interact with and lead to your website. Engage the community and talk about relevant things with them. However, it shouldn’t always be about your business. People may stop following you or ignore you if they think they are just being advertised.
As with online content, a useful part of social media is tapping into trends. For social media, that means using hashtags and bringing up important news such as COVID-19. It is not enough to talk about the virus. Tell people what you are doing against the coronavirus and how your business is dealing with it.
Don’t be afraid to share information and advice from official sources like the CDC and WHO. Today, people want – and need – information, advice and reassurance. You can give them all three through social media.
Need advice? You can check out our tips for controlling your online presence on Facebook. Marketing with Facebook and other social media platforms is essential for all businesses.
5. Google My Business page
It is important that your business has a Google My Business page. The page needs to be updated and optimized. A GMB page connects people to your businesses when they search for it on Google and online directories. Each Google my Business page must have NAP (name, address and phone number) at a minimum.
A GMB page serves as another point of communication with the people around you. You can use the page to keep people up to date with your latest opening and closing information. Some businesses have temporarily closed their doors, while others operate on restricted hours. Let people know if and when they can visit your store in person. Optimize your page for local SEO and post regular updates.
COVID-19 has caused many changes, some of which could be permanent. Some of these changes can be difficult, but they are not impossible. The difference between succeeding and failing in the face of coronavirus will be how your business deals with and adapts to change. Do you want to sit down and hope things will improve over time, or do you want to be proactive and change over time?
Keep these marketing strategies in mind when looking to change your online marketing strategy and move forward with your goals. Take the time to address the audience and their concerns, and get people to see you as an authority and trust what you have to say. These strategies will pay dividends not only in the short term, but in the long term and long after the virus has passed and things are back to as normal as possible.