6 Digital Marketing Tips for Small Businesses Struggling to Navigate COVID-19
As the COVID-19 lockdown continues, small businesses across the globe have been struggling to keep up with key performance metrics, engage their audience, and retain customers.
While these businesses previously relied on local offline marketing strategies for long-term growth, the new wave of lockdown-induced digitalization has made it increasingly difficult to engage with customers without the use of technology.
According to Forbes, over 30 million small businesses have suffered unprecedented customer attrition and revenue loss. With approximately 6.6 million U.S. workers losing their jobs each week, nationwide unemployment is rising at alarming rates.
The increasing use of social media and online browsing has necessitated the transition from offline marketing to strong digital marketing that encompasses PPC marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, web design and development, and reputation management.
Small businesses that leverage digital marketing during this ongoing period of uncertainty witness increases in conversion rates, brand growth, and revenue.
If you’re new to the realm of digital marketing, we’ve rounded up eight tips to help you climb out of the COVID-19 abyss and sustain your business during and following lockdown.
1. Create an Engaging, Interactive, and User-Friendly Website
The ongoing pandemic has increased internet use by a whopping 70%. In fact, the surge in web browsing is expected to continue once the lockdown restrictions are eased.
Companies with a strong online presence have leveraged this boost in web traffic and have sustained revenues despite the nationwide lockdown. However, many small businesses have been apprehensive about transitioning from tried-and-trusted offline marketing strategies to web marketing.
However, while the change may seem challenging at first, you’ll immediately notice a boost in audience engagement and retention.
According to research, over 92% of small business owners believe that having a user-friendly, engaging, and interactive website is the most powerful digital marketing strategy available to them. The imperativeness of this has doubled over the past few months as the lockdown continues to boost web browsing.
Improve search rankings, local reach, and traffic by creating a comprehensive and fully-customized website. As more people gain easy access to your products and services, your business will expand organically.
Over time, you’ll manage to counteract the damage sustained during the initial months of the lockdown.
2. Leverage Social Media for Increased Customer Engagement and Retention
According to research, the ongoing lockdown has increased social media use by 20%. As people transition to working and studying from home, there has been a 15–40% increase in popular social media applications like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
While focusing on powerful web design and development is imperative, it’s equally important to leverage social media for increased customer engagement and retention.
Establish a strong social media presence by actively interacting with customers and sharing high-quality content. Not only will this help you redirect customers to your website, but you’ll also notice an increase in direct orders for your products/services.
Also known as social selling, social media selling helps small businesses boost revenue by doubling or even tripling online transactions. As your brand successfully taps into the digital realm, you’ll manage to generate more leads and expand your business.
3. Develop an Empathetic and Crisis-Friendly Digital Marketing Approach
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many brands have been called out for insensitive marketing campaigns. As small businesses transition to the digital landscape, it’s essential to tread with care and avoid developing an excessively promotional marketing strategy.
Instead, develop an empathetic and crisis-friendly approach to ensure customers feel comforted, motivated, and inspired during a time of global chaos and uncertainty.
Starbucks’ thoughtful and empowering posts are a great example of putting your customers first instead of capitalizing a global pandemic:
Not only will empathetic messages help customers feel reassured, but they’ll also improve your brand reputation and identity. As you continue to engage with your audience in a supportive and encouraging manner, you’ll notice an increase in audience engagement, retention, and growth.
Here are some great examples by Chick-fil-A and Starbucks:
While we recommend using digital platforms to share your products/services, take strict measures to avoid blurring the lines between blatant promotion and crisis-friendly branding.
Demarcating each category will help you avoid overstepping, thereby connecting with your customers without overselling or capitalizing on the ongoing crisis.
4. Focus on Reputation Management
While you may feel compelled to manage your web presence and social media accounts yourself, asking for help is crucial. As small business owners adopt digital marketing strategies, they’re largely unfamiliar with the subtleties of managing a strong digital reputation.
While increased web activity and social media use are extremely beneficial, it can also backfire in certain cases.
Receiving negative feedback and false reviews is a common occurrence. However, leaving them unattended could harm your brand in the long run.
As potential customers interact with the negative content, they’re very likely to change their mind and look for a competitor who offers similar products/services. In addition, you run the risk of losing unsatisfied customers by leaving their complaints unattended.
This is where reputation management experts step in.
They help brands by detecting and responding to negative feedback in an empathetic, polite, and remedial manner. Moreover, business reputation monitoring and management agents also help remove factually incorrect information, cyber-attacks, and intentional public vitriol that could cost your brand in the long run.
5. Create Powerful Web Content
While you may have created a visually dynamic, informative, and immersive website, leaving it at that could end up doing more harm than good.
Alternatively, maintaining a strong web presence by sharing high-quality blogs, articles, press releases, infographics, and additional promotional media is a great way to maximize audience retention.
As preexisting customers engage with your content, they’ll be redirected to your products/services, thereby minimizing customer attrition and ensuring long-term brand growth. Sharing promotional web content also helps attract new audiences.
We recommend developing a crisis-sensitive approach to ensure customers feel acknowledged instead of overwhelmed. Include a powerful yet empathetic CTA to redirect them to your product/service pages and/or social media accounts.
6. Leverage Local SEO Strategies for Higher Rankings
Focusing on local SEO is a powerful way to target local audiences and receive higher rankings on SERPs. As people spend more time indoors, they’re actively seeking products/services that can be delivered to their doorstep.
As you optimize your website for local searches, you’ll successfully increase your local customer base.
Claim your free Google My Business listing to enhance visibility and relevance. We recommend updating the page and sharing posts to receive a higher ranking on Google. Maintain NAP (name, address, and phone number) consistency to improve credibility.
We also suggest optimizing web content—including web copy, blogs, articles, and press releases—based on region-specific keywords. This strategy will help your business climb SERPs and attract more customers.
Use title tags, meta description, header tags, and additional on-page SEO elements to give Google a clear idea of the regional availability of your products/services.
7. Leverage Video Marketing
As one of the most effective digital marketing tools, video marketing helps brands share their products/services with customers without losing their attention.
As the average human attention span drops to 8 seconds, keeping audiences engaged has become more challenging than ever. While text and image-based content is powerful in its own right, video content has proven to be more impactful.
According to research, 90% of customers admit that product/service videos play a big role in finalizing their buying decision. In addition, brands that use video content enjoy over 41% more web traffic than their competitors.
As video emerges at the forefront of marketing, creating engaging, entertaining, and empathetic video content has become more important than ever.
Whether you create an explainer video that educates your audience about your products/services or a company culture video that succinctly outlines your work-from-home adaptation strategy, video marketing will help build a strong customer base.
We recommend posting the video content on your website and social media pages to further reach.
8. Keep Up With Your Competitors!
Monitor successful local competitors’ websites to develop an idea of different strategies that you could potentially try in the future. While you may have utilized powerful digital marketing tactics, there’s always room for improvement.
We also recommend keeping up with industry trends to stay on top of the competition and sneak in some much-needed inspiration when needed.
Browse through your competitors’ social media pages to review their engagement and customer response strategy. This will help you determine lapses in your audience engagement strategy and update tactics, if needed.
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