The coronavirus pandemic has had massive repercussions for the corporate world, affecting both consumer habits and business activities. Firms from a wide range of industries have been forced to close down their brick-and-mortar stores and offices. Many have shifted to a more remote working setting with technology in hand.
To prevent the spread of the virus, consumers have been advised to consider online shopping as an alternative to making store visits and employees have been instructed to work from home. If it wasn’t for the remote working model, many businesses would have faced a complete halt in sales. Optimizing your online presence for customer relations, sales, and marketing has thus been more important than ever since the beginning of the pandemic.
The rapid surge in COVID-19 cases, however, has given businesses very little time to react. Firms that failed to quickly transition to digital platforms experienced widespread turmoil. The biggest blow occurred to firms that had no prior online presence at all and had no plans to go digital until they were hit by the pandemic. In this guide, we’ll discuss the value of managing an online presence during a pandemic and what strategies you should implement to thrive during this time.
Value of Managing an Online Presence During a Pandemic
Keeps You Up-To-Date With Shifting Consumer Behavior
Even before the arrival of the coronavirus crisis, e-commerce had been hurting the growth potential of offline retail. The brick-and-mortar facilities were already experiencing only single-digit growth and job losses. The COVID-19 lockdowns only accelerated this trend, which is largely attributed to the shifts in consumer behavior on a global scale.
The millennial and younger generations value convenience over everything else. The penetration of smartphones and the internet as well as the rapid growth of online retail has redefined the way the savvy, young consumers buy items.
As shopping centers and brick-and-mortar stores are left deserted due to the lockdowns, other consumers have also been forced into the new shopping trend. Even consumers who were least likely to visit an e-commerce store have been prompted to create their accounts on marketplaces or web stores to carry out shopping.
Shopping is not the only driver for people to turn to online channels. Since people cannot go to outdoor events and hold social gatherings, they’re turning to online platforms to consume fresh, valuable content and entertainment. The volume of consumer searches and online media consumption has reached new levels as users look for ways to pass their time at home. This means people are incredibly more receptive to advertising campaigns than before. Thus, there’s no better time than now for businesses to engage their target audiences by sharing high-quality, valuable content online.
Furthermore, now that social distancing measures have been in place for quite a while, it will take time before people start feeling confident and safe enough to return to the old normal. As humans, we tend to develop habits over time, which means that the increased amount of time users are spending online is expected to continue for a long time, even after the social distancing and lockdown measures are lifted.
Given the new consumer mindset, it can’t be stressed enough that every business should establish and maintain an online business during this time.
Helps with Geography Diversification
It’s true that the novel coronavirus is a global issue, yet some countries have been hit more severely than others. Countries such as the US, Brazil, Italy, and the UK have seen more cases than other nations.
Establishing and maintaining online presence means you’re no longer reliant on a single country’s economy for business survival and growth. Diversifying the locations you get orders from should be a tremendous strategy to keep things running.
If you already had an online presence, the rapid spread of the virus can drastically affect the amount of traffic you get on your website. That’s where international SEO comes into play. It allows you to diversify the regions from where you get your online traffic.
Online Advertising is Highly Economical
Whether you have never advertised online or only utilized free online marketing opportunities, it’s the perfect time to leverage paid online advertising. According to the latest trends, paid ads or pay-per-click is becoming increasingly cheaper.
These ads work through an auction system that requires a large number of small businesses to drive up the cost-per-click. Since many small businesses aren’t advertising online during this time, the competition is remarkably low, causing the CPC to decrease.
On top of that, the virus has prompted people to spend more of their time online, resulting in massive increases in web traffic. This tendency, combined with fewer online advertisers, is making online ads considerably cheaper.
Even though conversion rates have dropped for companies, paid ads are generating a higher overall ROI compared to the pre-coronavirus era. Hence, you should certainly consider using CPC for advertising your business during the pandemic.
Enhances Direct Customer Relationship
Prior to the coronavirus, brands were highly dependent on distributors and retailers. The COVID-19 crisis can be the right time for brands to cut the middleman and think about direct-to-consumer (D2C) relationships. With physical retail stores closed, direct selling to customers via digital channels shouldn’t just allow them to tackle the economic downturn but also prove much more lucrative than the traditional model.
The D2C model, based on building direct customer relationships, can offer brands an edge because their understanding and knowledge of customers are more profound. Some of the most effective channels to build this direct relationship are social media platforms, websites, guest posts, and blogs.
Now that you’re aware of the value of managing online presence during a pandemic, let’s explore some online marketing strategies:
How to Manage an Online Presence for Your Business?
Connect with Your Target Audience
The first step is to connect with your customers and maintain a relationship with them. Building connections involve collecting the email addresses of potential customers, managing a database of emails, and engaging the followers on a regular basis.
If you already have an email list, one great strategy is to get in touch with your customers on email. If your service has been affected, send your customers an email explaining the changes you’ve made to service operations. For instance, explain how customer visits are replaced with video conferencing visits or how doorstep deliveries are replaced by self-pickups. You can also use the company newsletter to spread the same message.
If you don’t have a database of customer emails, you’ll need to generate one by creating a website, working on SEO, including a subscription form on the landing page, establishing a social media presence, etc.
To inform customers who haven’t subscribed for emails about coronavirus-related changes, you can use Facebook and Instagram.
Develop an E-Commerce Website
You may not have invested in an e-commerce site yet, thinking that you can’t compete with retail giants such as Amazon. However, Amazon orders have been delayed for over a month now due to the sharp surge in online shopping, resulting in unhappy customers.
Hence, it’s a good time to tap into the dissatisfied market by developing your own e-commerce store and marketing it through email marketing, social media, online ads, etc. Etsy and Shopify are great platforms with tremendous e-commerce capability. Since a large number of online shoppers use PayPal, be sure to set up your business account for payments.
Run Online Advertisement Campaigns
Have you ever seen those ads that appear at the top of the Google search results when you run a search or ads that randomly appear as you scroll down your social media feeds?
These ads are referred to as Google Ads and social media ads, both of which work on the Pay-Per-Click (PPC) model. This model allows businesses to advertise on the Google search engine or social media feeds by bidding on keywords and winning ad placements.
You might want to know that the smart bidding strategies of Google use artificial intelligence to optimize your bids for conversions. The process utilizes context hints such as content, time, and user device to determine the chances of conversions and creating the bidding strategy accordingly. High automation makes this technique ideal for those with multiple ad campaigns or new advertisers.
One of the most effective ways to connect with your target audience today is through content marketing. Based on the latest trends, sharing valuable, insightful content in the form of blogs, videos, infographics, etc., helps build trust for your brand among your target audience. Like other tactics, content marketing is an ongoing task and you must keep on updating the content so it remains relevant.
Establish Social Media Presence
According to a recent survey of US social media users, 62.3% of respondents use Facebook more while staying at home, while 63.7% and 43.1% spend more time on YouTube and Instagram, respectively.
To make the most of the massive social media traffic, create your brand profile on social media platforms that are most likely to host your target audience. Then focus on sharing valuable content with powerful call-to-actions (CTAs). Strong CTAs don’t mean you start relying on hard selling. Just ensure that you keep building your following.
You can do that by providing useful tips that interest your target audience, partnering up with social media influencers, sharing humorous content, and so on.
Influencer marketing has evolved into one of the most powerful social media marketing strategies. Based on studies, 63% of users trust influencers more than brands. Take the time to search for influencers in your industry. Following the coronavirus-related cutbacks by firms, influencers are willing to serve your brand for a highly competitive price.
Focus on SEO
The value of managing an online presence during a pandemic is greatly enhanced by search engine optimization (SEO), which is the process of optimizing your website to improve its ranking on search results of popular search engines, such as Google and Bing.
SEO is extremely important. Search engine marketing or paid ads will stop generating traffic if you stop investing money or stop putting in efforts. In contrast, organic traffic that’s obtained through SEO may take time to build, but it doesn’t require a penny and will keep driving traffic even if you stop focusing on it for some time.
When it comes to improving your website’s SEO performance, you have to focus on technical SEO, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO.With some online learning, you should be able to handle on-page SEO and off-page SEO on your own but for technical SEO, you need an SEO professional who at least has some basic HTML knowledge. Nora Kramer Designs also offers managed SEO services, if you don’t want to do it yourself!
It’s important to understand that the underlying goal of Google is to understand the search intent of users and offer content that best addresses their queries and solves their problems. Hence, your website content plays a huge role in driving SEO.
Forrester’s research revealed that social distancing, self-isolation, and lockdown measures have made consumers more skeptical about brands. They won’t easily trust a new brand, so you can’t jump to sales pitches. You need to genuinely provide value to build up that trust. Content marketing, therefore, plays a vital role in SEO.
Also, to be able to rank well, you need to impress Google. Building your trustworthiness with Google is a task of its own. How updated your website is, content quality, website usability, relevance, etc., all affect your trustworthiness with Google. For in-depth information on how Google’s search engine algorithm works, take a look at this guide.
No one knows how long this coronavirus nightmare will continue. It’s best to stick to the social distancing measures and stay home until things are back to normal.
From a business standpoint, you can’t underestimate the value of managing your online presence during a pandemic. Following the above-explained tips should help you tackle the situation and flourish through the difficult time.
If you want to manage your online presence and need to revamp your website or branding, book a call with Nora Kramer Designs. We can help you with SEO optimization, branding and website design that will take your online presence to the next level during this pandemic.