The effects of Covid-19 have crept into every industry in every country around the world. Businesses once thriving have been thrown into financial turmoil in the blink of an eye and the only thing we can be certain of is uncertainty. Small business owners are perhaps the worst affected, feeling the sting more readily than anyone else. We’ve put together an informative guide on how the digital marketing landscape has changed for small business in the coronavirus pandemic, alongside some helpful tips for staying on top.
The importance of digital marketing
Since everyone is spending a lot less time out and about, off-screen media has fast become virtually unseen. For this reason, it is essential that small businesses update their digital presence and ecommerce capabilities. For some, this means refreshing or refocussing existing strategies and capabilities, but for others this means actually becoming ecommerce capable. In a post-Covid world, selling your product online is no longer just a potential option. It is necessary to stay relevant and to stay in business. This has meant many small businesses have had to think of new, creative ways to make their product accessible to the public while many consumers are staying indoors and looking for online alternatives.
How communication has changed
Effectively communicating with your customers is key for maintaining customer relationships throughout this time. Ensuring your client base knows your plan for the future will instil confidence and loyalty. Digital channels such as your website, social platforms and Google My Business are the first point-of-call for keeping important information like trading hours, as well as how and where to buy products updated as things progress. Communicating the changes that happen as they occur are essential for maintaining your customer loyalty. Another part of this is communicating the business’s plan to keep their customers safe through this time. That is, how you are adhering to new hygiene standards, how you plan to communicate with customers if exposure were to occur, and how you are meeting changing regulations.
Social media tools you should know about
Social media platforms have introduced new features, specifically to help small businesses survive the pandemic. Some of these features include:
- Facebook. Facebook has launched their Shops functionality to combat the negative effects felt by the bricks-and-mortar shut down. Businesses can display and sell their products directly through the platform, creating digital storefronts. Facebook has partnered with third-party shopping platforms such as Shopify to do so.
- YouTube. YouTube has accelerated the release of their video ad tool to help businesses through the pandemic. Quality content creation is not easy, especially for small businesses who might lack the skills and budget to do so. The Video Builder Tool allows the user to create short videos (6 to 15 seconds) of animated static images, text and logos accompanied by music from the YouTube music library, for free.
- Instagram. Instagram has created a functionality whereby Stories can be used to make sales in the form of a gift card, food order and/or fundraiser stickers. This functionality will be trialled in the US and Canada first, before being rolled out internationally. Here, small businesses can benefit from awareness, as it provides customers with new ways to interact with and support them.
Why you should consider ecommerce
Creating an effective ecommerce strategy should be on the top of the list for any small business owner trying to work their way through this difficult time. Creativity in execution according to the changed landscape will be key to staying afloat, including altering your products or services if need be. Businesses may even need to re-evaluate their target market and consumer insights according to the new plan. Your customers may have changed, as well as how and where they consume your product, so updating what you thought you knew about your customers should be a priority.
Increasing local targeting in sponsored posts should be part of any small business’s new ecommerce strategy because it will help keep the business in the forefront of customers’ minds. As people are spending more time at home and online, they’ll be looking for new ways to shop.
It’s not all bad news
Covid-19 has been challenging for businesses around the world. However, some positives may have come out of the pandemic. People have been forced to slow down, drastically changing and re-evaluating how they spend their time and money. This has led to a resurgence of supporting local, homegrown and small businesses that align with customer values. Using your digital presence to communicate during this time can help you connect with your customers and garner community support.
Throughout this time, it is important you keep well-informed as things are changing radically from one day to the next. Something as simple as knowing when restrictions are easing/increasing will make a huge difference to small businesses. Being prepared and ensuring your digital marketing efforts reflect that preparedness should be every small business’s top priority.
For more information about how digital marketing can help your business, contact us today.