This article is a guest post by Pursuit Consulting Corps member and digital marketing expert Erin Sendor.
No matter how much your business is impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring an up-to-date online presence and remotely engaging with your customers has never been more important during this “new normal.”
With social distancing and numerous other safety measures in place, a virtual component to your business strategy is vital. Cost-effective and instantaneous, digital marketing can serve as a lifeline for your small business during these uncertain times.
Here are five key strategies to boost your small business with digital marketing:
1. Communication // Keeping customers directly informed
Digital communication is now more important than ever. Many businesses are pivoting operations, with considerable changes in customer interactions. Sharing community updates related to your business and proactively continuing to keep your customers informed is crucial.
If you’re an essential business, this means sending clear, real-time communications on how customers can safely reach you.
You might be tempted to go dark online right now, however, continuing to build your online presence may be the answer to keeping your business running. Whether you’re beginning to sell your products or services online, or simply offering extra communication and engagement, you’ll further develop trust and awareness of your brand by continuing your digital communications.
- Update your website and landing pages to reflect your current operations.
- Ensure your information is correct on Google My Business and other channels, including contact information, new business hours and any changes in your services, such as take-out and delivery options.
- Share relevant updates on your social media platforms.
- Inform your customers of any changes and specials through email marketing.
2. Targeted outreach // Helping customers in need, virtually
Think about your target audience and what they really need during this time. Actively and empathetically consider their needs and concerns, and work on how to deliver value. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers what they want – and respond accordingly.
If your business provides essential items or services, especially related to health and wellbeing, now is the time to conscientiously advertise your offerings for maximum impact. Most industries should focus on serving short-term customer needs right now. Other industries, such as the travel industry, need to adjust their strategy towards longer-term thinking and promotion of future services.
- Decide how your products or services can serve demand remotely.
- Create and share content that speaks to the customer’s current needs and concerns.
- Drive performance with retargeting campaigns, which offer focused, well-timed targeted ads to those who previously interacted with your business online.
- Reach new customers through paid search marketing and social media advertising, which allow precise targeting to your key demographics.
3. Local outreach // Engaging with your community online
For small businesses that rely on their surrounding community, localized marketing and engagement efforts should be central to your strategy.
Increasingly, your community (or virtual community) wants to support local businesses – whether through take-out or delivery from neighborhood restaurants, online shopping from local stores, or using services virtually.
As a business driven by the community, ensure your content strategy accounts for local intent, and offer products or services targeted to your market.
- Optimize your website with local search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure a geographically-targeted web presence.
- Post community updates on your website and social media channels, and focus a renewed effort on quality customer service.
- Thank your customers and followers on your social media channels and share all the ways they can continue to support your business.
- Give shout-outs to any partner businesses – we’re all in this together!
4. Be innovative // Pivoting your business digitally
Depending on your industry, consider all the ways to safely continue your services, and creatively connect with your audience. How can you appropriately position your offerings and make your business available during this time? If possible, consider providing your products or services online, or adjusting your current e-commerce strategy.
Your digital communication serves to be informative, but what sets your brand apart?
While continuing to make it relevant to the situation and your brand, virtually educate or entertain your followers and give your business a human voice. Show why people should continue to support you, your employees and your business.
- Set up e-commerce online or through Instagram Shopping to offer your products or services online.
- Share educational tips about your products or services on your website’s blog and on social media channels.
- Create engaging video content, do a live stream, or try a new platform, such as video-sharing app TikTok.
- Promote what makes your business unique, including your most relevant products or services, your hard-working employees and any top specialties.
5. Spread thoughtful positivity // Boosting brand loyalty remotely
Right now, the world needs more good news and generosity – not tone deaf or overly sales-y messages. Aligning with your company’s values, be inspiring in a helpful, authentic way that connects with your audience and applies to the current situation. Showcase an upbeat, useful take on your products or offer extra services that are practical and necessary during this time.
Complementing the local outreach strategy, look for ways to inspire and champion your community. If it is feasible for your business, find ways to donate your products or volunteer your services. Spread encouragement by supporting healthcare workers or giving back to the community, and then share with your online community how you are helping others!
- Be realistically positive with your content strategy by sharing encouraging news and relevant, inspiring content.
- Post visually appealing imagery and user-generated content to engage with your loyal customers.
- Share your company values and philanthropic works on your website and social media channels.
- Run a giveaway contest with your products or services to generate excitement and leads for your business. For even more impact, team up with other brands for a shared giveaway.
Take advantage of this opportunity to boost digital communications
Whether your strategy right now is focused on short-term survival or long-term planning, digital marketing can be a much-needed boost for your bottom line. The disruption of normalcy and increased uncertainty are unnerving, especially for small businesses. While maintaining critical safety measures, you can thoughtfully and innovatively adjust your strategy and emphasize what your business offers at the moment.