It has never been more important to market your business for a digital economy.
Our economy has been shifting online for years, and now it’s happening at hyperspeed thanks to the coronavirus outbreak. It’s eerily familiar to 2008-2010, when newspapers had a “come to Jesus” moment (stretched over a period of many abysmal quarters): Either they were going to adapt to digital publishing or go under. Many have since folded.
Now COVID-19 is forcing our world economy, not just the media industry, to rapidly shift online. Some industries can’t. Some already have. Many are bewildered, scrambling to re-create their business models and take care of their employees. But hey—we’re entrepreneurs, right? We can do this!
We are awakening to a new reality that even more of our lives will be lived online, even after the country begins to re-open for businesses. How will you market your business for a digital economy to continue to drive sales and leads? How will your business evolve when the only storefront is digital?
Five tactics to market your business for a digital economy
1. Craft sensitive messaging
During these challenging times, we business owners have an opportunity to reaffirm our connection with our customers. Will we create lasting connection or damage the partnership we once had? We all hope to build bonds, but how?
- Be real and relatable. Share the struggles of being a small business owner and a human during times of fear and crisis. Making these connections with your customers reminds them that when they shop with you, they’re supporting people just like themselves to pay their mortgage and put their kids through college.
- Be aware of your tone. Keep in mind that your customers may be hurting financially or struggling in other ways. In this sensitive time, consider how customers who have been negatively impacted may interpret what you share. Enlist a copyeditor to polish and proof your words, as well as to provide an outside perspective. The wrong tone can be a business killer.
2. Update your website
For customers who do not follow your business on social media or receive your emails, update your website regularly with the most current information about your business. If you’re a restaurant, make it quick and easy for someone to place a take out or delivery order or buy a gift card on your homepage. If in the past this hasn’t been a big source of business, make sure these choices are prominently displayed on your homepage. (We suggest “above the fold,” meaning that users don’t even have to scroll down to see this messaging.) Make it as easy as possible for customers to find out how they can support your business, then make it easy for them to do so.
3. Relationship-based email campaigns
There’s a business truism that it’s easier to sell to someone you’ve already sold to than to sell to someone you’ve never sold to. Consider your email list chock full of customers: these are people who are primed to buy from you again. Invest resources in relationships with these customers who already really like you! Use email to stay in touch, nurture the bond, and share content your customers actually want to receive.
If you’ve never segmented your email list (e.g. into current customers, prior customers, and prospective customers), now is the time to do it. When you can target and tailor your message, higher open rates, more click-throughs, and happier customers are your reward.
4. Say yes to social
Turn to social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn to connect with your customers when valuable face time is so limited. (Wondering which social media platform is right for your business? We’ve got you covered!)
These ideas will help you ramp up your social media presence to help drive exposure, website traffic, sales, and leads for your business:
- Post more often. Utilize your feeds across all platforms to connect with customers more often and keep your business top of mind. Typically we recommend posting to your feed just 3–4 times a week, but in the midst of quarantine it might be worthwhile to post daily. Break it up by utilizing the various features of each platform. For example, use Instagram Stories to post real-time behind-the-scenes content and promote ways customers can support your business during this time.
- Vary your content. It’s important to remember that your social content should not be making a sales pitch 100% of the time. You need to give plenty, too. Take time to thank your customers for their support, call out other organizations or businesses doing great work, or share a funny thought. Be inspirational. Share a positive tidbit from your day as a business owner. Get creative and engage with your followers in a way you might have done in person before.
- Go Live! Leverage the ability to go live to connect with customers in real time. Do a Q&A, show off products customers can buy, or raffle off a gift card or special surprise for re-opening day. There are many ideas.
If you’re not already on social media, it’s time to take the plunge. In challenging times, an online presence is essential for helping to keep your business afloat. If you’re not tech-savvy, consider hiring a marketing agency like ours to manage your online presence. We can assure you that your customers and your competitors are on social media and now is not the time to be left out of the party.
5. Boost your SEO
Want more website traffic? Search engine optimization (SEO) can help. SEO helps customers find your business when they search online. Why is it so important to show up high in search results? The top five results win 67% of all clicks.
SEO brings more website traffic and better quality website traffic. SEO = visibility.
At its core, SEO is a combination of creating keyword-optimized, compelling, fresh content facing the world, and geeking out a little with some back end technical website updates (plus a sprinkling of a few other things). Together these tactics make your site more favorable to search engines, bringing it up higher in search results—and as a bonus it will better connect with customers who search for what you offer.
For example, a dry cleaner wants to come up when someone types “best dry cleaner in Burlington” into Google. But why does one website appear higher than another? The site at the top has “good” SEO that keeps it ahead of the competition.
After all, the best place to hide a body is on the second page of Google.
So how do I get “good” SEO? SEO requires consistent attention over time. There are some user-friendly SEO tactics many people can master, but having a strong team of experts can help your business show up where it matters.
Bonus! Purchase ads if you can
Now is a great time to put money behind social media ad campaigns. Not only is everyone online more often now, but many of your competitors have cut back or completely shut off their ads. This means that—depending on your industry—the cost per click and per lead is likely dropping. Overall, the cost of Facebook ads have dropped 10% from January to March 2020. If your business can afford to do so, we strongly recommend promoting your current services on social media to help reach more users and drive sales.
We know it’s an unprecedented time for most small business owners, and having to market your business for a digital economy is a novel challenge (pun intended). Hang in there. We are all in this together, and there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel. Stay safe and healthy.