As of this writing, there are around 1,604,736 people reported to have been affected by COV-19. Of that 95,699 deaths in 184 countries.
The world is not just facing the threat of coronavirus (COVID-19) in terms of health. It’s slow detection and high impact infections has caused countries to implement restrictions in forms of quarantine or lockdown.
International Monetary Fund already declared that the impact of COVID-19 to the world’s economy is causing the worst recession since the time of the great depression in 1929.
With COVID-19 still being addressed, small and local businesses are shut down, employment is in its all time rise across all industries.
With the huge shift of people going digital to find information, entertainment and essentials due to quarantine and lockdown, will local businesses be able to utilize these as an avenue to grow their business?
Days after the community quarantine has been raised in the Philippines (where our major operations is based), my team at ESTRAT Digital Marketing staged the largest free virtual summit yet for local and small business owners who are struggling with the impacts of COVID-19.
More than 30 digital marketing experts, international business consultants, and digital influencers pitched in their idea for us to launch a massive library of information that small and local business owners can use to survive and strive this season. Thus, came this Effective Digital Marketing During COVID-19 Pandemic, which is just part and parcel of what you can learn when you have time digesting all of the interviews.
You can get free access to the premium interviews here >>> VirtualPreneurSummit.com
COVID-19 is a new season or time that we need to understand and appreciate, because dealing with scenarios like this will be a new normal to us entrepreneurs, moving forward.
Impact of Coronavirus to Small and Local Businesses
As of March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the new type of Coronavirus or currently named COVID-19 as a pandemic.
COVID-19 started in December 2019 and reportedly came from Wuhan, China. It is considered to be part of the coronaviruses which is a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from common cold to severe diseases. This virus can be transferred via surfaces and objects and from person to person through droplets which infected people spread when they blow their nose or cough without practicing respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette.The symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, tiredness, and dry cough, runny nose, sore throat, nasal congestion, and diarrhea.
Although this virus only have a 3.4% mortality rate which is lesser compared to the mortality rate of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (40%) and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (10%), as the number of cases continues to increase on all parts of the world, this prompt countries to impose lockdown, community quarantine, and other precautionary measures against the spreading of COVID-19. 184 countries have already implemented a sort of quarantine or lockdown. Due to these, consumers around the globe are avoiding public places such as local restaurants, and others which mainly affects the sales and the state of local businesses around the globe.
When this continues, this may lead to closure of your business as you have no employees to execute your daily operation and you have no customers coming in your business location.
As of this writing, International Labour Organization (ILO) predicted that 25 million jobs were threatened by the Coronavirus Pandemic.
The only viable option moving forward is to stir and encourage entrepreneurs to pivot on encouraging businesses to sell products that are essential online by sharing to them Digital Marketing strategies During COVID-19 Pandemic.
Effective Digital Marketing Strategies During COVID-19 Pandemic
As more people are staying in their houses and avoiding social contact, your customers have no way to socialize except going online because of the fear of being caught up with the virus. Besides, with almost five billion active Internet users worldwide and an estimated two billion purchasing goods online, these should be your main focus aside from person to person services. Due to this, digital marketers are suggesting that local business owners like you should improve your strategies on digital marketing for Coronavirus outbreak.
As VirtualPreneurs, here are some of the ideas some of the speakers pitched in as your immediate effective Digital Marketing strategies During COVID-19 Pandemic. for your business to survive and strive this pandemic:
Reset Back To Basics
This crisis has encouraged us to think back and assess what we have done so far as business owners and how well we had planned for its future.
Business Continuity Plan
In this case, it is important to include COVID-19 or similar case in your crisis management policy or a business continuity plan for your local business as this helps you identify the crisis, its impact, and the things that you can do when a crisis occurs.
As Digital Marketing strategies During COVID-19 Pandemic or marketing itself is just part of a spec of it, it is essential that a clearer preview of the path is laid out, of it to be an easy manual that your future leaders can just browse through and then implement and improve.
If you don’t have the plan written beforehand, you can just look for the best way to keep your local business running without harming the health of your employees and customers. Check your community, or online for business owners who run the same business as you and see how they are able to work around this.
There are also articles that can help you from
If you are Australia based you might find this articles helpful too:
- SA.gov.au: Preparing A Business Continuity Plan
- Business.gov.au: Business Continuity Plan
- Business.QLD.gov.au: Queensland Government Business Continuity Planning
For those based in United Kingdom:
For those based in United States:
- Ready.gov: Business Continuity Plan
- FEMA: Emergency Preparedness Resources for Businesses
Work From Home or Work From Office ?
If there’s still a need for them to work in your vicinity, then you should enforce sanitary health practices and precautionary measures such as social distancing. You can get more insights in this reference provided by the World Health Organization (WHO). You can download the pdf here.
If your business doesn’t require you to be in location, flexible time arrangement or to let them work from home is essential. It is also best to invest in telework technology that will help you continue managing your employees and the overall operation of your business. Most importantly, you should also go online.
Consider that your customers are now afraid to go into your establishment so instead of closing down your business, why not shift in becoming e-commerce ready? If not, make it a hybrid process of being able to receive payments online and then delivering the services via online platform.
In being online, you are making it easier for you to choose their order and go cashless as they can just pay through Paypal and other options. Apart from that you are ensuring their safety as they won’t have to visit your establishment because you can just deliver your product right at their doorstep via a third party carrier.
Although this is another learning for you, the reality is this is essential and you can implement it.
You can utilize your website or your social media accounts to become a menu page of your products. Then, you can provide a cashless option such as online bank transfer or utilizing platforms such as Paypal.
Afterwards, you can hire someone or work with government agencies or private delivery services in your area to deliver the products.
Update Your Platform Information
Because COVID-19 is affecting your business operation, you should also implement these changes online as well. Keep in mind that your customers will be checking on your establishment’s availability so it is key to keep them informed about it. You might be using a wide variety of platforms including social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others), your website, and local listing sites (Google My Business, Bing Places. And others). Regardless of what it is, you need to make sure that any changes will be the same regardless of the platform your customers will be using.
Audit Scheduled Content
In the midst of the pandemic, you need to keep your reputation clean through your wide array of content. It is also a time to be sensitive to the feelings of your people and their extended community. If you have already scheduled content way in advance, it is best that you pause it all first and edit it individually.
In doing an audit for your scheduled content, create a spreadsheet out of it. Divide these content in terms of where you aim to post these such as on your website, social media accounts, or on Google My Business. Then, label these depending on their type including emails, blog posts, videos, infographics, articles, and others. Afterwards, check if there is some content that is inapplicable during this outbreak and make sure to check if these can still be used at other times or needed to be changed as a whole. Make sure to highlight these recommendations so that you know what to do with these content.
This should also be the time to optimize your content. If there is a content that can be repurpose to other platforms, then you should do it. Also, make sure that your content can really be seen by your customers and target market by optimizing it with highly-related keywords, engaging call-to-actions (CTAs), internal and external links, and visual content.
Improve social media presence
With precautionary measures from the government to stop or lessen the spreading of COVID-19, your customers are most likely on social media. This means that you should also use this as an opportunity to improve your social media presence through brand awareness, consideration, or at best, sell.
Aside from changing your business details in terms of services and others, you should also keep your customers and followers updated to current events regarding your business and to what is happening in your community.
Customers love establishments who don’t just update them on changes in the business but to current events as well. Make your local business as an authority in the industry by posting content regarding the COVID-19. If there are messages and comments in your accounts, make sure to respond as fast as you can. If the same question continues, you can make a public post regarding it or create a social media group wherein you offer a community for your customers to discuss with each other and connect with your local business. Also, if you cannot handle all of these every single day or you don’t have enough team to cater these huge inquiries, you can utilize social media scheduling and monitoring tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer.
Improve website optimization
In times such as this, your website will become the core of your business which means that you need to utilize this as the digital storefront of your business. In doing so, you need to keep it optimized for all times.
Apart from changing your website information with regards to the changes in your business operation, you also need to keep your website updated. Make sure that your website is search engine-friendly and that it’s perfectly optimized to electronic devices ranging from computer to mobile phones. Afterwards, create regular content regarding your business and your industry. Ensure that you are implementing a wide array of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies. Also, consider what you write and post reflects on your local business so ensure that you think multiple times before posting any blogs or other content. Most importantly, the key here is making your website the storefront in your business especially on what is happening currently.
Create various types of content
If in the past you have outsourced creating content for your brand, this is a time for you to connect within and see what content you have done so far and how it is connecting to your target audience or customers. To make the most out of it, you can even do all the content for the rest of the year, and save more.
There are a wide variety of content that you can post on your website, social media platforms, and even on Google My Business. Blogs are the widely-used content that are posted on websites but there are also other types of visual content that can be added in a blog or in any other type of posts including images, videos, infographics, GIFs, illustrations, presentations, and others.
Regardless of what type of content you choose, you should also make sure to increase its online visibility by applying SEO strategies into it. Write it in a natural and conversational voice as this triggers voice search as well and helps those people who are blind and visually impaired when they use screen reader and other assistive technology.
Then, check if your blog and other visual content provides accurate and up-to-date information and that you have already applied SEO strategies into it such as internal and external linking and targeting long-tail keywords.
If you are also posting images on your website, be sure to optimize it by adding keywords and appropriate information in its alt-text, title, and description.
Lastly, if you are also posting videos whether in your website or social media accounts, be sure to add an appropriate description into it with your title and keyword and add a closed caption for people who are deaf or hearing impaired.
Create Effective landing pages
In order to increase the likelihood of your customers to purchase your products and services, you need to create an effective landing page. This web page will act as a trigger for your prospects to take action. This can either be a page in your website or an independent page that will be linked into your website.
With the COVID-19 outbreak, your customers and prospects will think twice before purchasing anything. Your plan in implementing an online transaction will be of waste if you don’t have an effective landing page. Consider it as an area where you highlight everything that your target market needs to know before moving forwards in the transaction. This will either make or break their purchasing decision. So, you need to make it as effective as possible.
In doing so, you need to make it descriptive and visually-appealing. Fill up all of the necessary information regarding anything that you promote. Then, decide the type of content and CTA to use as this really improves conversions. Keep in mind that this should impress your prospects to move forward in the process so don’t make it too crowded and make sure that it is optimized for all electronic devices.
Customize and automate email.
Apart from social media, there is also one place that most consumers visit and this is their emails. Email marketing is considered to be one of the most personal marketing strategies as this lets you send emails directly to your prospect’s email addresses. This in return will give you more opportunities to guide them towards the end of the sales funnel and convert them into customers.
However, in order to achieve this goal, you need to nurture these prospects through lead magnets, segmentation, and sending personalized emails. Primarily, you need lead magnets that will be able to catch the attention of your target individual. Create a CTA that will motivate them in clicking your lead magnets and provide offers that they won’t reject. Then, you need to make sure that you are sending appropriate emails depending on the demographics and interests of your prospects through segmentation. Group them according to the two variables. Lastly, provide them emails that feel like it is written personally for them. Hence, you need to do all of these to make your email marketing strategy a success.
Increase reach through advertising
Even as a local business owner, you can also keep up with big brands through targeted advertising. In doing this strategy, you are only targeting a market which is part of a certain location. For example, you can target those areas within the proximity of your establishments as this offers more conversion for your business.
In performing this strategy, your success depends on the content of the advertisement. You need to make it eye-catching and click-worthy. Use fonts and types of content that will highlight the message of your advertisement rather than confuse your target market. Most importantly, consider the platform that you are using and the demographics and interests of people you are targeting.
Assess your insights and analytics
Regardless of the strategy you use, you need to assess it every single time. Even if you gain success or failure, you need to check it as this provides you details on the reason for your campaigns or project and to check the demographics and interests of people who are communicating with your local business online.
This in return will help you know more about your target market and the kind of tactics that you should implement in your next campaigns. You can use tools such as Google Analytics, Kissmetrics, and others for your website. If you are also utilizing social media, each of these platforms already offers analytics for businesses so you can just check it. However, there are also other independent tools that provide you metrics on your social accounts including AgoraPulse and Hootsuite.
With these you are able to see the efficacy of your strategies for Digital Marketing for COVID-19 Pandemic.
Our Takeaways from this
With COVID-19’s immediate suggested actions of “social distancing”, local businesses like yours should use this as an opportunity to communicate with your customers online by employing these Effective Digital Marketing strategies During COVID-19 Pandemic.
Consider that with countries implementing lockdowns, community quarantine, and other precautionary measures, your target market is left with nothing but to stay at home and interact only using the Internet. So, instead of worrying too much about how your funds can last for more than a month, you can still do something and in this case, improving your Digital Marketing strategies During COVID-19 Pandemic.
Don’t let COVID-19 scare your customers away from your local business, rather use this as a way to connect in a meaningful manner with them. Provide a platform for them to communicate with you such as your website, social media accounts, and local listings. Make sure that all of the changes in your business details due to the occurence of the virus are updated on these platforms so you won’t confuse your customers. Post a wide array of content providing information about your business, the industry, and other events that affects your business and your customers. Most importantly, make sure that you are making their buyer’s journey efficient and easy. This way, this will motivate them more to purchase your products and services even in the middle of this pandemic.
Above all, make sure that you are always ensuring your employees and your customer’s safety by executing strategies on digital marketing for Coronavirus outbreak! (M. Pabroa)