Businesses are going through a tough time due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, particularly the local businesses. Unprecedented numbers of small and medium-sized local businesses that rely on local customers for sales and revenue have either closed down, are on the verge of closing down, or are struggling to make ends meet. Businesses need to adapt to the changing business and market environment to stay consistent and ahead of the competition.
There has never been a better time to invest in developing, conceptualizing, and implementing a cohesive and effective digital strategy. The pandemic situation has made a major shift in consumers’ behavior. It has pivoted businesses and consumers to have an online-only approach, and rightly so.
Go Digital – Don’t Just Survive, Thrive
Businesses of all sizes are shifting to using digital channels to engage with their target audience and create awareness. The majority of the local businesses have had to change their marketing strategy to integrate digital marketing as their primary focus. The goal is to evolve and adapt to this rapidly changing digital landscape.
Businesses with a digital presence have to focus on tweaking their existing SEO strategy to increase engagement and sales. It will help improve customer service as demanded by the ongoing pandemic. As for businesses that relied on their brick-and-mortar store/office operations, they have had to switch to building a robust online presence to stay relevant to the current business environment. It will help address the needs of your target audience and ensure that your business stays relevant and visible.
In this article, we will discuss several ways that local businesses will gain from online visibility and increase web presence during these uncertain times. Our discussion does not revolve around the usual Local SEO strategies but rather, the innovative marketing strategies that will help you market yourself during the Covid-19 pandemic more effectively.
So, let’s begin!
Respond to Changing Market Atmosphere – Quickly & Strategically
When the pandemic started, businesses were thrown into troubled waters and did not know how to sail through. It’s a year later into the pandemic, and it’s still difficult to sail through the doldrums for businesses. But why so? The market is far from being stable and is evolving at a pace businesses are finding it hard to catch on. While it may be difficult to rapidly change the business and marketing strategies, it is the ideal secret to achieving sustainability in these uncertain times.
In the pandemic, the regulations, lockdown timings, and rules keep changing. Businesses have no options but to shift their strategies accordingly. If you stick to doing what was working before the pandemic, you’re likely to experience bad days for your business. What you need is an ever-evolving strategy that’s fast, efficient, and highly adaptable. Your business should formulate its strategy based on consumers’ needs to offer maximum convenience and value. In return, you’re likely to gain consumers’ trust in these trying times.
For instance, if your business had a portfolio website and sales used to occur at the store only, it is time you switch to selling online. Every day that you’re not online, your competitors are gaining the lead over you. This might not end well for your business if you don’t act quickly.
Partner with Local Businesses
The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us many lessons. One of the most crucial ones is that together we can achieve a lot. Standing by each other in these difficult times is what humanity is all about. The pandemic has led to businesses struggling. This is the right time to show support to local businesses by partnering and collaborating with them.
Partnering with the local businesses is mutually beneficial. It helps the business enhance its online visibility, get more exposure, increase local outreach, generate more leads, and convert customers. It not only helps with gaining visibility but also with winning the trust of the end-users by creating brand awareness.
However, make sure that you partner with businesses that share the same values and blend relevantly with your brand. For example, if you’re selling gift items and the other business is selling food items, you can collaborate to offer personalized trays/gift boxes consisting of edible and non-edible items. When it comes to creativity, the possibilities are endless. You can find yourself lost on things that can be done collaboratively.
Let’s get a closer look at ways you can partner with other local businesses –
- Conceptualize and promote an engaging social campaign collaboratively.
- Develop and put on offer a unique collaborative product range.
- Develop bundled packages consisting of products/services clubbed with discounts/freebies/offers.
- Increase audience engagement by running online competitions together on social media/other platforms.
- Host online events together – Podcast, Masterclass, Webinar, live streaming video event, etc.
The advantage of collaborating with local businesses is that it benefits both the stakeholders and consumers. Businesses are looking for online visibility, customer loyalty, and sales, while customers are looking for trusted brands offering products/services at a bargain price.
Affordability is the key during the pandemic. People’s income has dipped considerably while expenses have multiplied, putting an additional financial burden on the general public. Therefore, if you want your collaboration and partnership to gain traction with your audience, do your market research and offer a deal that potential customers just can’t refuse.
Focus on Remarketing
Online marketing is all about personalization. A one-size-fits-all approach can never work in today’s consumer-focused market. Since the pandemic, the online marketing strategies of most businesses have failed to offer results. They were very basic to make an impact or attract the target audience in the competitive market. Reason being?
Competitors are always trying new and innovative ideas to reach out to potential customers. This includes customers who have been loyal to ‘You’ for years before the pandemic. Failure to keep up will have you losing greatly.
However, we have a solution for you. Now, this is where remarketing comes in. You can tweak your digital marketing strategy to focus more on the customers who’ve already engaged with your advertisement, subscribed to your opt-ins, newsletters, downloaded your digital freebie, and more.
Focusing more on the generated leads helps maximize ROI, rather than treating every person on the internet as a potential customer. Makes sense?
For example, if you’re selling used cars, you’re not targeting an underage kid to fill up your form, engage with your ads, or eat up the bandwidth of your marketing resources online. However, it makes more sense to send a reminder to a customer who registered on your website, checked out a few car models and their prices, or sent a message to live chat on your website.
It would be more successful to retarget and engage with such leads as they have shown interest in your products/services but may have unsolved doubts. Solve their queries and bag your sale!
Here’s the roadmap of what you can do –
- Reach out to customers on phone or email.
- Understand their doubts – answer their questions.
- Gauge the customer’s requirements.
- Offer a Solution.
- Build credibility & trust – show references/portfolio/range of products/services/affiliations/certifications/licenses.
- Provide relevant offers/discounts to match their expectations.
- Be polite, kind, and helpful even when the lead does not convert. Leave a lasting impression.
Remarketing is not only a better alternative to convert more leads, but also because it is more cost-effective. The pandemic has cut short the marketing budget for almost all small and medium-sized businesses. Remarketing helps reach a potential audience and generate more leads/sales, even when working on a tight marketing budget.
If Facebook is your primary marketing channel, an application that comes in handy is the Facebook Pixel. It helps in understanding the audience, behavioral engagement, and the target market.
Refresh and Revisit Your Website’s Optimized Elements
On-site/ On-page optimization is the key to gaining visibility online. It focuses on ranking higher on search engines for your focus keywords and increasing visibility on search results. It means optimizing your site’s title, headers, Meta tags, content, and other areas, with relevant and target keywords you’re focusing on.
In addition, monitoring your website’s performance, ranking, and conversions to see if everything is going as you expected is crucial to your online marketing success. When you look at the analytics and it shows poor conversion rates, it means that something is wrong. You need to change your digital strategy – on-site as well as off-site.
One of the critical parts of this is to refresh the optimized elements on your website. Include high-quality keywords – primary and secondary keywords with high authority within your sector/niche. You can also add Covid-19-related keywords, repurpose old content on your website (adding relevant keywords or more content that offer value during the pandemic), include Covid-19 related FAQs, and more.
You can use tools like Google Keyword Planner to search for specific keywords for your website. This tool will help you identify new keywords you can use on these pages. Using the wrong keywords can increase your website’s bounce rate.
Host Virtual and Live Events
Earlier on, we mentioned hosting Live events. In fact, it is something you should plan to do independently, even when you’re not in a partnership. Pretty sure you’re wondering why.
Since the pandemic, social interaction with consumers, especially in-person, diminished to its lowest – for most local businesses. People are no longer going out to grocery stores, departmental stores, local gyms for their daily workouts, and so on, as frequently as they used to.
Hosting a Live event is a way of showing your commitment to your customers. It helps to create awareness for your business. Additionally, it attracts prospecting customers who intend to buy from you, but are lost in the Covid-19 conundrum. For instance, if you have a food-related business, hold a live session showcasing some of the recipes customers can make from your products.
If you’re a fitness trainer or own a gym, hold free classes for existing and potential prospects. Integrate with a call-to-action to drive higher conversion. Get creative with the Live, and focus on building credibility and earning trust. In return, you’re more likely to benefit from increased sales.
Create A Knowledge Hub of Useful & Evergreen Information
A content strategy is integral to every digital marketing strategy. Creating a knowledge hub consisting of evergreen information is its most essential element. Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, the operating hours have been reduced. The downtime can be used productively to create a knowledge hub of niche-related, shareable, and valuable information.
Use keyword tools mentioned earlier or “People Also Ask” by Google – to check out your target audience’s questions and the problems they are facing. Answer these questions, offer a solution, and provide value through meaningful and concise, yet brandable content.
It will help resolve the audience’s queries while uplifting your brand’s image. Time-sensitive content that lasts only for a season, or is relevant for that time of the year goes to the blog. In contrast, knowledge hub content is something that always remains relevant in your specific industry.
If you’re confused about what such evergreen information can be, here are a few ideas you can consider –
- Manuals, guides, and how-to guides for specific products and services.
- Tutorials and Instructionals are relevant to your industry. For example – When Is The Right Time to Go For Roof Replacement?
- Inspiration pieces revolving around certain trends or events in your industry. For example – Tips For Choosing That Perfect Wedding Dress or a guide To Design Your Home’s Interiors Cost-Effectively.
Increase Followers, But Focus On Quality Over Quantity
When you start engaging on social media, it is not surprising to want tons of followers. However, don’t only target huge numbers of followers or subscribers, because it might not help fulfill your business objectives. It won’t help if people who follow you are not interested in your products or services. Let’s be honest, they might not give you the conversion you’re looking for or engage with your business at any level.
That’s why it’s necessary to focus on quality over quantity. But, how can you do that? Use media monitoring tools to help you scan the social media platforms for specific keywords. Engage in your industry-specific conversations, network with your audience, and offer valuable insights, as it would intrigue others who’re watching. You can also check out followers from other similar social media handles and follow them. If they like what you bring to the table, they would certainly follow you back.
The point is to target your social media strategy to the audience interested in your products and services. Maintain relevance in your digital strategy. That is how your organic traffic will increase and so will lead generation and sales. No doubt it is a time-consuming and painstaking process, but the pandemic has left us all with a few spare hours. Use those hours to tweak your digital strategy and make that extra effort to grow sustainably.
Human Engagement Is The Key
One of the key tips to increase visibility online is to boost audience engagement. When people comment on your social media posts, engage actively on your social media page/posts, recommend or say something good about your brand, others invariably notice it.
It is also how the algorithm of social media platforms works. Any post with more likes, comments, and actions are more visible, its outreach is enhanced. It helps your business make inroads to a wider audience and build a recognizable name in the community. As a result, your brand awareness and visibility translate into more sales and higher revenue.
Refresh & Repurpose Your Content
As mentioned earlier, the downtime for businesses during the pandemic has been at its all-time high. Even the busiest of businesses have witnessed downtimes like never before. Instead of worrying about all that could go wrong, focus on things that can be done to make the existing wrongs right. And, as far as digital strategy is concerned, one of the ways you can do that is by refreshing your website’s content.
You might have developed your website years ago and published content back then. The industry has transformed since then. Many new products and services have been added and there’s a lot you want to add to your existing content on the website. While the content on your website may be evergreen, it may still be outdated in terms of language, optimization, call-to-action, etc.
Completely overhaul your content and optimize it accurately for the search engines, using your focus keywords, or repurpose it wherever needed. For example, if there’s an article on your website, 5 Must-Have Kitchen Accessories and you have since then added more products to your website, update it 10 Must-Have Kitchen Accessories. Add the 5 more products to your article. Google loves freshly published content, and so do the customers.
In a nutshell, make sure you use the free time during the pandemic to –
- Read through the content of your website to check for typos, grammatical errors, and remove outdated information.
- Add more relevant details and information, wherever required.
- Optimize your website’s content for search engines by using high-volume keywords.
- Refresh the content to make it sound more contemporary.
Are You Ready To Increase Your Online Visibility?
The pandemic has compelled businesses of all sizes to get out of their comfort zone, think outside the box, and get innovative with online marketing to stay afloat in the competitive market. Don’t cut corners when it comes to digital strategy, as your competition will feed on your complacency ruthlessly. And, you sure don’t want that, do you?
Undoubtedly, things are more difficult than they used to be. Still, you can turn things around by following the methods mentioned above to gain more visibility and traction during the Covid-19 pandemic. Market yourself well and build a brand you can be proud of. There are hundreds and thousands of businesses that have turned the tide during the pandemic to their advantage by simply tweaking their digital marketing strategy, and you can too!