The 2020 pandemic has brought small business owners empty shopping centers and empty pockets
This year Coronavirus has flipped our lives, and businesses, upside down. Our lives have changed in ways we never imagined, and our marketing and revenue have followed suit. So how does a business continue to thrive during a pandemic?
From social distancing and getting used to life indoors to washing our hands until our skin chaps and wearing face masks everywhere we go, we are living in a new era. Through the first few months of this pandemic, we have seen loved ones and friends get dreadfully sick, some of us having to say a final goodbye from a distance, some never get the chance. We’ve watched the world come together and fall apart all at the same time. Uncertainty has become our constant, as people and businesses pivot and attempt to plan for a future with no foresight.
How does a business pivot?
How do we adjust, not just on an emotional, physical, and intellectual level but just as importantly, how do we adjust to save our finances and our businesses? What did we learn from the 2008 recession?
How can we, the entrepreneurial generation, continue to grow our businesses through the Covid-19 pandemic?
Many small businesses have reacted by suspending advertising and laying off employees, which is both bad for their business and the economy, yet some are left with no choice. Corporations, on the other hand, have reacted differently, by changing their messaging and pushing e-commerce where possible. What’s right for your business?
Let’s take a look at what has changed since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic
- Retail in-store visits are down 90% as shoppers move away from unnecessary visits.
- Online shopping has increased by 76%
- Retailers big and small have been scrambling to set up an online presence.
- With changes in income and leisure time, consumers are radically changing their lives in response to Covid-19
- A 106% increase is expected in e-commerce purchases from users who have not previously been high-frequency online shoppers.
- Retail consumers are adopting mindful and conscious purchasing habits, avoiding waste, spending wisely, and even boycotting business based on their social responses to our countries social and economical challenges.
- Consumers are using more omnichannel services like contactless payments, virtual consultations, and curbside pickup and an increase over 100%
So how are successful businesses making changes to keep revenue up?
The pandemic has caused advertisers of all sizes to rethink their marketing strategy and ad spends. For many this means using new forms of media to reach their audience, optimizing their online presence, and adjusting their messaging. IAB data shows 73% of advertisers have modified or developed new assets since the Coronavirus began. Of these advertisers, 53% are increasing messaging to emphasize their company’s mission.
Conny Braams, Chief Digital and Marketing Officer of the UK’s largest retailer, Unilever, states a great point: “Unilever is guided by three beliefs: brands with purpose grow, companies with a purpose last and people with purpose thrive.”
Much has changed in 2020 and there are new opportunities that have evolved when it comes to your business and marketing activities.
Braams goes on to say, “Coronavirus should not waiver your commitment to the purpose-led business, nor change how you position your brands. We are witnessing a change in consumer behavior. We know that life in the time of coronavirus is increasingly a life lived online. This has led to an acceleration of digital adoption and e-commerce. Time spent with certain media channels has increased during the lockdown, we must adapt to these changes, shifting to a greater focus on in-home channels versus out-of-home.”
As Covid-19 continues to change people’s behaviors, their online behaviors change as well. We have seen a large decrease in google paid search and google shopping ad conversions and thus spending decreases have followed. Some industries were well poised for the shifting market, but many were not, especially among the small business owner segments. Many businesses that rely on SEM and Traditional media are still scrambling to repurpose those marketing budgets where they will see an ROI.
What does this Covid-19 consumer data mean for small to medium-sized businesses?
As traditional brick and mortar businesses suddenly can no longer rely on foot traffic, small businesses must focus on their online presence. Luckily, we haven’t seen Google organic search traffic diminish much since the COVID-19 outbreak, so all small businesses should take this time to improve their online web presence fast. Consumers are no longer driving past billboards daily on their way to work or flying and seeing that airport ad. Cinema advertising is gone with the closures and businesses are having to adapt their marketing quickly.
Here are a few steps I recommend to help your business succeed through Covid-19.
1. Make sure your company website is updated regularly
- Your company’s website is your (online) billboard with the highest traffic. It is the cornerstone of your online presence. It should be updated often and built for conversion.
- If you are a small business or freelancer and don’t have a website, keep in mind you don’t need a complex website. You can create a basic website with one of the Google small businesses’ free website builder, a Wix.com site. For e-commerce, Shopify and Squarespace are great options. If you are unsure of how to layout your website check out https://www.golivehq.co/. They offer some affordable templates that will make your website look professional and thought out.
- If you have a great Facebook business page but no website or a not so great website, this tool is a great option for you.
- Your business should have updated photos, hours, and messages.
- Be sure to optimize your website for SERP ranking where possible. SeoQuake is helpful for researching the updated version of best practices for SERP ranking.
- Having a video about your business, service or products is a best practice to have on every website landing page. Google has said website landing pages with videos explaining or showing your product or service have an up to 80% better customer conversion rate.
2. Optimize your Google Business listing
- As Covid-19 continues to shut down businesses, more people are turning to Google to ensure businesses are open and check their new hours.
- No matter your business size or type, your Google My Business account is not only the map to your business, it’s also where your business hours, address, posts, photos, and even reviews can be found by local searchers.
- Keeping it updated should be a top priority. Over 70% of Google listings searches convert within 3 minutes! These are people looking for your service or product right now.
- For even better ranking results in those ‘near me’ searches, add a Google Virtual Tour to your Google Business Page, or update your 360 see inside tour if your store is now set up differently due to Covid-19 and social distancing requirements. Being able to virtually see inside your store is the best way to ensure new and repeat customers can see you are open and ready to give them a safe experience.
- Having the Google branded virtual tour on your business page helps to boost where you rank in those local searches, however this video can also be added to your website and social pages.
3: Google isn’t the only listing
- As a business, your customers are looking for consistent listings information across the hundreds of business listings across the web.
- If they look you up on Facebook, your information should match the information seen on.
- Google, and Yelp.
- Your listings across the board should be identical.
- Consistent Listings Check is a good practice to have.
- As an example, if your listing says ‘suite 100’ in one listing, make sure you aren’t using ‘#100” in others. Uniformity is key.
- Be sure to check that your business information is consistent across ALL sources.
- Google ranks the credibility of your business before choosing you to show in a search. One of the factors they look at is uniformity in all your business listings.
4. Become part of your community on social channels
- Your customers understand the toll the pandemic has put on your business.
- Don’t be afraid to update and confirm whether and when you’re open and new hours and procedures.
- Ask users to follow your Social Pages for continued updates.
- Update your page regularly, daily when possible.
- Consumers are loyal to the brands they connect with, be authentic and transparent while engaging with your followers, just as you would in-store and face to face.
- If you don’t have a social page, you can make a free business page on any of the major social channels. Which one really depends on the audience and what type of content you will be providing.
- Join your local community based social groups.
- Post about how your business is helping the community.
- Find a local essential worker or newly unemployed mother, have your company help them out, and (without boasting) share it on social media and challenge another local business to do the same. This helps brand your business as one who cares about the community, helps a local resident, and builds a comradery with your fellow business owners who join in the challenge.
- Be creative, but keep putting your name out there online. Meet the consumer where they are. Community social pages aren’t places to sell or post about sales, so keep your post community based for a good response.
5. Advertise cross platform/cross channel
“Businesses who stop advertising to save money are like men who stop a watch to save time”Henry Ford
- You’d be amazed at all the online marketing channels available to businesses.
- With the increase in user time spent online, we have a vast opportunity to reach the consumers who are looking for or needing your product or service at the exact time they need it.
- Whether you provide medical, dental, or veterinary services, education, retail, dining, or nearly anything else, data-driven marketing has shown great ROI for budgets of all sizes.
- With marketers who specialize in this type of marketing, you’re able to get your business advertisements in front of the target user base, on over 99% of websites, apps, and streaming channels. Thus reaching thousands of users currently in marketing for your product or service in your chosen geographical area.
- Businesses who have quickly moved more of their spend to online data-driven advertising during the pandemic have maintained, and even grown their revenue streams.
6: Retarget the customers who visit your website
- Put a Retarget pixel on your website.
- You can find pixels for Social Channels as well as with the data targeted marketing agencies and platforms.
- These pixels are able to gather the user id of those who have visited your website and ‘retarget’ them with new advertisements to bring them back to your site, thus moving them down the buying funnel.
- Retargeting ads will keep your brand in the top of mind with users.
- This gives you a better chance to convert them into a customer since return website visits are more likely to convert.
7: Dive into YouTube
YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world and one of the largest social media channels. With the Coronavirus pandemic, views are soaring. As of Q2 we’ve seen a 21% increase in YouTube video views.
Here is how and why to use YouTube to your business advantage.
- With families quarantined at home together, many people are taking on new hobbies, crafts, and even skill training by way of YouTube tutorials.
- Setting up a Youtube channel is free.
- If you have the ability to create ‘how-to’ videos and upload them to YouTube with the right keywords, you are ready for a business YouTube channel.
- Sharing your YouTube ‘how-to’ videos on other social sites is a quick way to generate interest, views, and subscribers.
8: Learn and use TikTok for business
TikTok has been downloaded over 2 billion times during the first quarter of 2020. It has also seen a steady 30% growth in users month over month.
- The avg TikTok users spend 5 hours a week on the app, which has also increased since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- TikTok isn’t just for the Zoomers, the largest audience on Tiktok is millennials, with groups like #MomsofTiktok and #LesbianTikTok bringing a new audience for TikTok advertisers.
- If you need to know anything about our biggest spending generation (millennials), it’s that you have to get creative with your advertising to win their trust and loyalty. TikTok has become the place to do it!
- Big brands have spent upwards of $100,000 per day to advertise their products to TikTok users since the pandemic began. However, you don’t need a big budget to win on TikTok.
- Small Businesses and freelancers have also taken over TikTok with great success.
- Take for instance this TikToker who earned over $32,000 in his first two months on the app by posting educational business content.
- There is story after story of businesses that have boomed from being able to win over the TikTok audience.
In conclusion, with so much of your audience spending more time online, now it’s easier than ever to find people while they browse the web, scroll their social feeds, and watch videos online. Having your online presence set up with transparency, and being conversion-ready, is more important now than ever. Bringing in new customers means meeting them where they are (online), and delivering your unique message. With the ability to pivot, your business can continue to thrive through these ever-changing times.
For more information or help with your online presence and marketing, contact Tia@minzonimarketing.com