Digital Marketing Tips for Small Businesses During Uncertain Times

One of the biggest takeaways from the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing shut down of many businesses is how marketing needs to change as businesses evolve due to the scenarios in which they find themselves.  With many small businesses realizing there is significantly reduced foot traffic, or suddenly none at all, changes have to be made. 

As small businesses find themselves in precarious times, it’s not unusual to fret about how to put your company’s best foot forward to ensure that it continues to survive and even thrive in uncertain times. Below are ten ways to make the most out of your digital marketing during the COVID-19 pandemic, and beyond. 

Make sure your SEO is up to date.

If you haven’t made the most out of search engine optimization, don’t put it off any longer. You need to consider that if you sell products, you may no longer have any foot traffic to promote your shop. SEO is not an overnight change and it is absolutely a long-term strategy. However, if you haven’t started working on your SEO strategy, consider hiring an SEO specialist. Simply having a website is not enough in the era of technology; it needs to be a strategic website that addresses your business’ every changing goals. 

Content marketing

You’ve heard this so many times, but content marketing is one of the best ways to reach your future and current customers. When you add real value to a customer’s life, whether it be in the form of a newsletter, blog, or via tips on social media, you’re reminding current customers of your value, while insisting to potential customers that you are the right fit for them. A major tip though is your content marketing needs to offer absolutely real and unique value and cannot be copied and pasted from your competitors. 

Adjust your marketing budget

This is entirely up to your actual business, but if you know that cuts will be made in your industry, you may choose how to market differently than you previously had. Relying on content marketing and social media marketing may be the ideal switch, but keep in mind that many other businesses will be doing the same in a down market. Maybe now is the time to increase your email marketing?

Update your social media to reflect any changes in hours, services, and products offered. 

You can’t expect your customers to know the changes that you’ve put in place if you have not yet told them. One of the easiest ways to keep your customers up-to-date about any potential changes in your business is to simply update your social media. More and more people are turning to Facebook and other social media options to find information about businesses. 

Use social media

Explore traditional online advertising on Google, but don’t neglect advertising on social media including Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. When uncertain times hit, people seek entertainment and enjoyable experiences that are more budget-friendly. Sometimes, that can be as simple as scrolling social media. Each week, set a certain amount of times you’ll be posting, and do not forget to interact. Many businesses post a single Instagram picture or Facebook quote, but forget that the most important aspect of social media is interacting…that’s why it’s called social. Your social media presence will not prove profitable if you do not use it wisely by actually interacting with your audience.

Consider running a campaign that helps facilitate this interaction. It doesn’t have to be about your business or industry either. People are looking for feel good stories and positive impacts in their communities. 

Research where your intended audience spends their time online. 

Do you know which social platform your intended customers use most? While you might be spending time on Instagram, your intended audience might like spending time on Facebook. Knowing your potential customer does not just mean knowing what product or service they want, but knowing where to advertise your products as well.  

Make sure you have online ordering availability 

If at all possible, your website needs an online ordering service. From food service to small shops, online ordering is the way of the future. Gone are the days of needing to go into physical stores or even making a phone call to place an order. People like being able to schedule pickup orders or place online orders at all hours of the day. Do not make it difficult for people to consume your products. 

Change your available services if your services or products are not being consumed currently 

If you are used to producing physical goods, you might be concerned that during uncertain times, your business may falter. Re-consider the importance of your services or products. Can they slightly change to become more profitable? If you are a bakery that has a huge decline in traffic with the recent economic changes, what if you could provide sourdough starter or make-it-yourself flour and yeast bags? As another example, if you provide physical goods like upscale bespoke shoes and you are noticing a huge decline in the purchases, what can you offer that is still shoe-centric but more affordable for the average customer, such as advertising shoe shine service or repairs? In uncertain times, make the most of your online marketing by thinking creatively. 

Adjust the tone of your marketing to reflect the current situation. 

Stop telling your customers that we’re all in this together; nobody wants to hear that anymore. However, make sure you are reading the room. In uncertain times, you’re not the only one that is afraid of the future. Your customers are as well. When you market to people that aren’t sure about their financial future or health status, make sure your tone reflects the current situation. By ignoring the reality of things like COVID-19, your company will come off as callous and out-of-touch. 

Identify where your digital marketing needs to improve

Finally, identify where your marketing no longer works for you. It’s easy to plow forward when things seem great, but when things are less so, you need to really analyze where you can make large improvements or reallocate budgets. Be honest with yourself about whether you need to spend less or more on digital advertising, if your content marketing is awful, or if you simply need to be more consistent. 

Simply because you are in an uncertain time does not mean that your business needs to change everything it has ever done when it comes to digital marketing. What it does mean is that you need to be conscientious of where you’re spending your advertising budget, your time, and how you’re reaching your customers. Be consistent and thoughtful, and ask yourself what you would want from a similar small business if you were in the shoes of your customers. 

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