The term, “stop the world I want to get off” has never been more meaningful than it has during this pandemic. The endless adaptions businesses have had to make to adhere to changing rules challenge not only your survival as a business, but your sanity as a human being. As we enter into our second year of this pandemic, the whole world continues to operate in stops and starts, putting pressures on us all we hopefully never experience again. However, through all this pain, your business must remain responsive, and resilient so you can weather this storm and help your customers do the same.

Digital marketing solutions are more important than ever since the way you connect with your customers is drastically limited. Here we look at small business digital solutions to help you move forward regardless of what the pandemic throws at you.

Why You Need Digital Marketing Now

Digital marketing already evolved into one of the most important elements of small business growth pre-pandemic. With people locked up at home, however, its importance has made it clear businesses of all sizes need a digital marketing strategy. Right now, it is the best way to reach any audience. In fact, despite the challenges the pandemic presents, you might even find opportunities for growth because you have more opportunity than ever to leverage digital marketing to make more meaningful connections with your audience. You can expand your reach while enhancing your creativity to find new ways to present your products and services as solutions in a crazy world.

The Recession Mindset

According to a Harvard Business Review analysis looking at companies three years before, during and after recessions, they found that companies that decided to cut costs had the lowest profitability when compared to the companies that took a progressive approach. Marketing was included as an important element of taking a progressive approach. So how can you embrace the digital marketing strategy? Here are 10 ideas that can help you make it through the pandemic:

Digital Marketing Solutions For Small Businesses During This Pandemic

1. Leverage the Power of Social Media

Now more than ever, social media is a powerful tool that can meet the emotional needs of your audience. Depending on what you offer, you are in a position to make meaningful changes in people’s lives. People need reassurance, but they also need education and entertainment. What better way to create a sense of community with your audience than to make their struggles easier at a time when everyone is suffering? While your budget instincts might have taken you away from your social efforts, your business and marketing instincts should be directing you right back online.

United States Number of Social Network Users 2017-2025

Your posts have more persuasion now because people need your interactions more. This is also the perfect time to show your commitment to the community whether it is helping elderly people in isolation with groceries, offering advice directing people to community services to help them cope, supporting people by bringing more joy into their lives or finding partner companies to create interesting live streams.

Check out these stats by Sprout Social to know the importance of social media:

  1. Globally, over 3.6 billion people use social media and the number is only projected to increase to 4.41 billion in 2025.
  2. Internet users spend an average of 144 minutes on social media per day.
  3. 90% of US marketers name Instagram as the most important social media platform for influencer marketing.
  4. When examining B2B advertising, social media advertising was used by 83% of marketers and ranked second in success (29%) behind search engine marketing (33%).
  5. 57% of consumers will follow a brand to learn about new products or services while 47% will follow to stay up to date on company news.
  6. 81% of organizations use social media publishing/analytics tools.

2. Improve SEO

Since people can’t come to you, you have to come to them. How? Improve your online presence. You’ve got more people online looking for something to do, and you can provide them with a distraction. Increasing your SEO is important so you can improve your ranking and become a go-to for your audience whether it’s for entertainment, education or just a soothing spot to ease their minds flicking through aspirational images. If you sell a product, expand your reach with online options that make it easy to buy.

Leverage SEO and SERPs to be more searchable and you can really see growth opportunities. You can find yourself above your competitors by doubling down and ensuring you’re also offering primo content in hand with an easy-to-navigate site. This approach helps you steal some serious coinage away from the other guys.

Here are some useful SEO stats that you should know:

  1. According to Backlinkto, the #1 result in Google SERP gets approximately 32% of all clicks.
  2. According to BrightEdge, 53.3% of all website traffic comes from organic search.
  3. According to Sparktoro, 92.96% of global traffic comes from Google search, Google Images, and Google Maps.

3. Add Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

You can speed up your SEO efforts and see quicker results by adding some PPC marketing. You only pay for solid clicks so you can get more bang for your buck by capturing the right traffic that leads to conversions.

4. Stay Primed and Create Special Offers

With vaccinations well underway and many lockdown procedures opening up, now is the time to ramp up to meet customer demand. Since SEO is long-term taking time to get you higher rankings, you have to keep things going so you remain top of mind. As mentioned, combined efforts of continuing to generate high-quality content and boosting it with some PPC is the perfect way to keep up the momentum. As a result, you reap the rewards as the pandemic finally fades into the background. Consider special offers you can have in the hopper, ready to go and suited to the unique circumstances of the day. Special discounts when people are cash poor is the way to their hearts. Use the full arsenal of social, SEO and PPC to reach your audience with your offers.

5. Manage Online Reviews

Boredom has people reading anything they can find online, while more time allows customers to ramp up their research. That means online reviews have to be managed even if you think it’s a low priority with fewer people making purchases or placing orders for services. You need to keep up or start online reputation management so you understand what people are saying about you and respond quickly to assuage negative comments.

Effect of Online Reviews on Local Business Customer Opinion

Look at these key statistics by Bright Local to measure the importance of reviews for your business.

  1. 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2020 – up from 81% in 2019
  2. Only 48% of consumers would consider using a business with fewer than 4 stars
  3. 73% of consumers only pay attention to reviews written in the last month
  4. 72% of US consumers have written a review for a local business – a big jump from 66% in 2019

6. Optimize for Near Me Searches

If you are a local business make sure you are optimizing SEO on your website for “near me” searches. Update your Google My Business account, and ensure any geo-references are consistent wherever your address is posted online. This helps Google confirm your location and in turn, helps get you onto the geolocation map so people can find you quickly.

7. Retailers Start an Amazon Marketing Campaign

Retailers, your first step when everything locked down should have been to set up an Amazon marketing campaign. If you haven’t explored your e-tail opportunities yet, it’s never too late. E-commerce is raging and the surge of online shopping is the perfect opportunity for you to expand your reach and stay afloat.

8. Restaurants Offer Easy Online Order Options

Shifting online to draw new customers to your restaurant is also a must right now. You could increase your reach if you depended on foot traffic to generate new business, while also continuing to serve your regulars. You can think strategically about what you want to offer from your menu, while also exploring possibilities using on-demand delivery services to help you get your food into hungry mouths. Even fine dining restaurants can continue to serve their customers when their dining room has been shut down. People need pampering and indulgence to help them through this difficult time.

9. Explore Your Options

Your fears might be based on something pretty reasonable. You’re a luxury, not a necessity. You can’t depend on food delivery for your restaurant because you depended a lot on foot traffic to get new business. You shut down your brick-and-mortar store because you couldn’t afford the rent. These are all valid reasons to be worried, but you can change your business model to stay afloat. You can use digital marketing to become an aspirational ray of light your audience can spot during dark times, and learn new ways to bring your product to a new audience.

The best strategy now is to focus more on marketing so you can remain top of mind – an aspirational product or service people will either look forward to using or buying or find available to them online now. Either way, your doors remain open for business, even if you physically can’t open the doors right now. This is only possible if you refocus your marketing instead of thinking now is the time to try to squirrel marketing dollars away.

10. Respond Don’t React

You’ve got plenty of time on your hand with less customer interaction and no need to travel to and from work. This gives you more time to switch from reacting to responding. Reaction is quick and lacks strategy, while responding is based on metrics and analysis to make you work smarter. Use your downtime to leverage metrics offered through your digital marketing tools. You can become more thoughtful in your approach, experiment more and gain a better understanding of your audience.

Since you’ve been forced to take your business online, you need to take your marketing online to create awareness that you are out there and ready to serve. With affordable tools like social media and PPC available, you can make the most of a bad situation and come out ahead. You have a wider reach at lower costs.

Business Growth Due To Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is an affordable, highly effective marketing tool right now. You can target your audience with great accuracy, so you get more ROI for your efforts. Better yet, you have access to analytics so you can continue to test your approach and fine-tune it to become better and better at your marketing methods.

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