The pandemic has made us all rethink the way we do business and capture new customers. Many small businesses that historically relied on referrals or in-person events have started to realize the importance of digital marketing.
This radical event has provided us the opportunity to witness some significant digital marketing trends across many industries. We’ve also gotten the chance to test many approaches for supporting prospective customers and clients in novel ways.
Digital Marketing Trends During The Pandemic
Here are some of the changes and trends we’ve been seeing.
• Content: For a variety of crisis-related reasons, putting out regular content has been a great way for brands to communicate with their customers and position themselves as thought leaders within their markets. We’ve seen big brands become public service announcement broadcasters and local and national brands show their appreciation for those working on the front lines. Many brands have been taking advantage of all the time people are spending consuming media by producing more content than ever.
• Search engines: Search behaviors have changed during the pandemic. While consumers have been conducting more online searches overall, some sectors (e.g., new and used cars) are seeing decreases in searches, and others (e.g., hobbies, pets and photo printing) are seeing increases.
• Directory listings: Managing the abundance of websites containing your business information became even more important during the pandemic. We noticed that while most business owners updated their Google My Business profiles with coronavirus announcements, those who did so for their other online listings as well saw big benefits and more revenue.
• Social media: Engagement on social media has changed drastically as well. According to data from Sprout Social, social posts for brands across networks and industries received 7.3 more engagements per post per day in April compared to March.
• Reviews: From what we’ve seen, businesses have either suffered or benefitted from review sites like Yelp during the crisis. Retail businesses that say they’re open but aren’t answering the phone have seen negative reviews surface (Google shut off reviews for a while because of this). Businesses that have reached out personally to customers and clients for feedback are getting it.
• Websites: We’ve had to update landing pages and website content to reflect changes like telemedicine and virtual consultations. Live chat has been extremely helpful, especially for clients who choose to work with a service where live chat is offered at all hours.
• SEO: Increasing your search footprint has been important during the pandemic. We’ve noticed that while many businesses have abandoned SEO strategies during this time, those that have stuck with it are winning big.
• Communication: Many businesses have succeeded by being direct, honest and comforting. A focus on helping rather than selling has been extremely important. Consumers need to feel safe and fulfill basic needs now. As we come out of the crisis, they’ll likely want to focus on social needs (seeing friends and family).
• Email: If you had a solid newsletter program before COVID-19, your business is likely seeing great benefits. According to data from Campaign Monitor, more people are opening emails. And in some industries, unsubscribe rates have decreased.
Consider how your ideal customers’ needs, desires and fears have changed. In the short term, focus on providing help and safety. In the long term, some of these changes may still persist. You may need to commit to an ongoing sanitary environment, for example. Accessibility is another trend that will likely persist. The most successful businesses will probably be the ones that are the most accessible to everyone. Do you offer your services via video? Do you offer curbside pickup? Does your website have live chat, a phone number and a contact form?
Getting Back To Business In A New Normal
Just as reopening will look different for every industry, marketing will as well. Here are some industry-specific ideas for marketing your business.
• E-commerce: Review your product focus. Many of the products that have been doing well during the pandemic are related to safety, health, wellness, etc. As the crisis winds down, we’ll likely start to see an uptick in sales of items in other categories, such as luggage, briefcases and cameras. If you run an e-commerce business, consider running your best Black Friday deals once that happens.
• Health and beauty: Sell gift cards for a small discount to your regular customers to get revenue in now. Then, schedule their services for later and be understanding about rescheduling. Keeping your customers is the most important thing.
• Home services: Start advertising now. Many of us have been stuck at home for a long time, so we know what needs to get fixed around the house. Perhaps offer a small discount for scheduling services now.
• Legal and professional services: Pay attention to Google Trends and how search behaviors change as stay-at-home orders ease. Demand for services related to trusts and estate planning, divorce and bankruptcy will likely increase.
• Medical: Telemedicine probably won’t go away anytime soon. If you don’t already have a phone or video consultation process in place, start working on it now. Advertise your safety measures, and focus on taking care of your patients’ most important needs.
• Mortgages and real estate: Tough times may be ahead for the real estate sector. Focus your content, advertising and messaging on providing clarity and support. Keep an up-to-date blog or Twitter feed with changes so that you can cut down on repetitive questions from your clients and prospective clients.
• Restaurants: People are craving their favorite meals again. Many have relied on takeout, but we’re missing the in-person connection with friends and our favorite spots and settings. Use your email list and social media (including ads) to share your reopening plans. Communicate about safety, and welcome them back with open arms.
Conserve Cash For Marketing
Reduce expenses now so that you can seize marketing opportunities throughout the remainder of 2020. Your marketing and advertising choices now can determine how well your business bounces back.
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