17 Feb Online Marketing Strategies
13 Online Marketing Strategies to Survive and Thrive in COVID-19
Source – Original article at – StableWP https://stablewp.com/13-strategies-to-tackle-covid-19/
“The Coronavirus and the shelter-in-place have been with us for a little over a month, yet they’ve already changed the way we live, the way we work and the way we shop.
This calls for a new strategic approach to marketing that doesn’t just aim to keep your business afloat but also helps you thrive and prepare for the world after.
While many brick-and-mortar operations deemed non-essential had to shut down, businesses online are seeing a surge in demand. So much so that many can’t keep up, having to increase fulfillment capacities in a matter of days.
If your business is stuck right now, don’t give up – learn how to survive.
Be proactive and pivot your business online to keep the revenue flowing (and even make a profit).
Here are 13 actionable marketing strategies that work right now and can set you up for success in the new normal.
The challenge and the opportunity
There’s no doubt that this is a challenging time for everyone.
On one side, people are stuck at home, distancing or isolating to stay safe. On the other, businesses are temporarily closing down, revenue is lost, many employees are out of jobs while economic uncertainty looms.
No one was fully ready for a global pandemic of this scale. It’s proving to be a real stress test for businesses of all sizes.
Many would also argue that the pandemic exposed weaknesses in business models and poor readiness for any potential shockwaves.
One major weakness is not being ready for the digital transformation – not having an online presence.
Your brick-and-mortar operations may have shut down for the moment, but you can still keep your business running – online. Transform and adapt to deliver your products or services safely to customers at homes.
To make it through the current crisis (and thrive) you need a website and online marketing.
Three types of businesses during this crisis
You’ve probably heard many world leaders say that this is a “war against an invisible enemy.”
And it’s definitely true; this is a battle for lives, health, jobs, but also for businesses, livelihoods, customers, revenue and a bright future.
In this global war against the Coronavirus pandemic, which type of business are you?
Missing in action – You are someone who has zero online presence. No website, no social media accounts, nowhere to be found online.
In no man’s land – You have a website, but you aren’t utilizing it to its full potential. A website is just an afterthought which you never took time to seriously invest in. You never used ads or SEO to attract traffic, gain more exposure and generate leads and sales.
Scouting for new ideas – You have a website and you’ve already positioned your business in the online marketplace. You’ve been running digital ads for some time which helped you grow your business. However, the current situation is affecting your existing campaigns which no longer deliver results.
Regardless of your situation, you can find an actionable strategy in this guide that can help you navigate the current situation and prepare for the post-COVID world.
Why you need online marketing right now
Marketing is essential to reach potential customers and drive new leads and sales. And since people are stuck at home and spend most of their time on the internet, online marketing is a huge opportunity to reach those customers.
Understandably, a natural first reaction to this situation is to cut all spending, back out of marketing and wait for things to blow over.
However, this can be a huge mistake. You’d be leaving your business to chance allowing more proactive competitors to swoop in and take over your customers.
There’s only one way of coming out of this battle as a winner.
This is a rare opportunity for smart businesses to shift the entire marketplace in their favour in the long run.
While your competitors are cutting back on spending, it leaves plenty of room for your business to take over and win the minds of your target customers.
A study by Bain & Co. indicates that those that stall during a crisis end up losing their market share, while those that take action grow at an accelerated rate.
There are countless reasons as to why online marketing can help you right now as well as in the long run. Here are the main three:
1) Online advertising is cheap right now
Many businesses that focus only on the short-term are pulling back from their marketing spending. Online ads function as auctions; if there’s less competition winning is cheaper.
This resulted in the lowest advertising costs we’ve seen in a while.
And it’s not just that the ads are cheaper. Due to lower costs, it’s also much less expensive to convert users into leads and customers.
We’re seeing huge drops in both CPC and cost per lead in all our clients’ accounts.
2) Let the data guide you
The current situation is dynamic and unpredictable. However, digital marketing and advertising provide unprecedented amounts of real-time data that can help you identify trends and understand customer behaviour.
Online ad campaigns are highly flexible. You can quickly and easily modify campaigns or shift budget in the right direction depending on real-time data and results.
3) Follow the money
If you’re strapped for cash and revenue is an issue, you need more sales. To get more sales, potential customers need to know what you’re offering.
With online ads, you can reach those customers where they spend most of the time right now – online.
During a crisis, your business may need to pivot in a matter of days.
Online marketing and advertising platforms provide data and targeting to make these transformations timely and deliver results fast.
13 Online marketing strategies to survive and thrive
To help your business cope with the effect of COVID-19, we’ve developed 13 unique and actionable marketing strategies that can turn a downfall into an opportunity.
No matter if you’re a brick-and-mortar business with zero online presence or if you’re already firmly positioned online, you can find a strategy that fits your situation and can help you fight through.
These are hand-picked online marketing strategies based on three main criteria:
Fast setup and results – You need fast results, so these are strategies that you can implement and execute immediately. They should take no more than 3 days to set up and deploy.
Affordable solution – It’s important that these strategies don’t require a huge investment and risk. Some strategies on this list will cost $0 to run. All it takes is a bit of time and patience.
Scalable for the new normal – These strategies need to go beyond and prepare you for the world that comes after COVID and the rise of the contact-free economy, aka the “new normal.”
Customer behaviour has changed significantly. However, experts also predict that these changes are here to stay.
In many industries like retail, services and even health, Coronavirus seems to be a turning point that shifts towards the internet, e-commerce and even providing services online.
To quote a line from McKinsey’s article “The future is not what it used to be: Thoughts on the shape of the new normal:”
“In effect, it is becoming possible to imagine a world of business—from the factory floor to the individual consumer—in which human contact is minimized…the trends are unmistakable—and probably irreversible.”
So, these 13 strategies will not only help you cope and survive the current crisis but also set you up for long-term success in the new normal.
1. Move your business online
Right now, more than ever your business needs an online presence.
There are 2 critical parts of this new paradigm shift:
People are at home
People are online
So, you need to bring your products online and into customers’ homes.
Products are sold and bought online more than ever. With the fear of going outside and stay-at-home orders, there’s been a shift in online shopping for essentials like food, groceries and cleaning products as well as medications.
Medications are among those that have shown a big rise in online sales. Studies predict this trend to continue even more after the pandemic.
However, online shopping isn’t limited to essentials only. People continue to buy other products like clothes and gadgets as well as entertainment like books and online courses.
This is nothing new. Customer behaviour has been shifting towards internet shopping for quite some time already.
And people are not just buying small and inexpensive items and gadgets.
Even before the pandemic, you could go and buy an $80K Tesla car directly from a website.
No matter what industry you’re in, if you had to close your physical retail store or business, you can still bring your products and services online.
This may sound daunting at first since you need to make a big business change. But you have no choice if the demand has moved online.
And this is not just a current situation, shopping malls and physical stores have been closing for a while. It’s a trend known as “retail apocalypse.”
With people getting even more used to the convenience of online shopping during the pandemic, it’s hard to imagine they’ll ever come back to physical stores in great numbers.
Moving from offline to online is something you cannot afford to miss out on. Even if you intend to continue running your physical store after the pandemic, you need an e-commerce website both to survive this period and set a foundation for the future.
When it comes to creating a website and an online presence, WordPress has emerged as the most popular platform that powers over 34% of all websites on the internet.
It also features an e-commerce store platform – WooCommerce, that’s used by over 26% of all online stores.
You also have the option to use Shopify, the second most used e-commerce platform that allows you to build an online store fairly quickly using templates.
WordPress, WooCommerce and Shopify all allow you to build a website by yourself or hire a development agency (like StableWP) to do it for you.
As a way to help out the community and bring small businesses online as fast as possible, we’ve developed a special pre-configured e-commerce store – StableCommerce based on WooCommerce.
The great thing about it is that it doesn’t require any setup, development or design. Everything is ready out-of-the-box.
You only need to add your inventory, upload product images, set your prices, and you can start selling online in a matter of days.
Another essential feature is that you can connect your physical store POS system with your e-commerce store to manage all of your shops (online and physical) from one system at no extra cost. With a synchronized inventory all your stores are connected into one system in real-time.
If you want to accept payments online directly from your store, you can choose payment processors like Stripe and PayPal which can get you approved fast. (internal)
For more expensive items there’s the option to allow customers to buy now and pay later.
Companies like Affirm and PayBright can be easily integrated into your e-commerce checkout flow to allow your customers to pay back the cost with monthly payments.
This can significantly help you sell more expensive and non-essential items online since shoppers won’t have to fork up a large amount of money right away.
Finally, when I say to move from offline to online, it’s not just for merchants.
A website is much more than just a place for retailers to sell online. For example, appointment-based businesses like consultants, clinics and salons can offer online booking.
We’ll talk more about how your service-based businesses can leverage the internet to survive the current crisis in a later section.
For now, it’s enough to know that a website can do so much for your business, especially with people stuck at home and brick-and-mortar businesses having to shut down. Consider hiring a local web design team to help you get your business online fast.
2. Make use of your CRM and email list
If your demand is down or you can’t afford paid advertising, you can still keep your business afloat. Scrape your CRM for existing customers or leads and run email campaigns to re-engage those users.
This is where that email list you’ve hopefully been building, comes in.
It’s a free way to leverage what you already have and reach people on a large scale.
Use your email list in the following two ways:
Find the most valuable customers and provide special offers or just show empathy
Reach existing leads that haven’t bought from you yet with special offers
Since email marketing is one of the lowest cost and highest return digital channels, leaning on your email program can help you survive by keeping lines of communication open with your existing customers and leads.
MailChimp, an email automation software, is offering a price relief in support of small businesses affected by the outbreak.
MailerLite, another email automation tool, offers to send 12K emails per month for free to small businesses.
Most email tools are easy to use; you can quickly master the basic functionality to get started with email campaigns.
Templates and drag-and-drop visual email builders can help you design a beautiful, professional newsletter or promo email to blast out to your leads.
3. Focus on PPC ads
Running PPC ads on Facebook and Google is essential if you want to generate sales and customers right now. You need ads to quickly reach potential customers, show that you’re back in business and promote your new offerings.
How else would potential customers know that they can now get your products or services online?!
People stuck at home are spending more and more time on the internet and social media.
Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google and others are reporting huge spikes in usage and traffic since the Coronavirus struck.
So much so that Facebook’s increase in traffic has got the tech giant concerned whether their systems can handle the usage.
Ads on Facebook, Google and LinkedIn are proven digital marketing channels that not only attract traffic to your website but also drive direct leads and sales. Hence the name direct response marketing.
These platforms allow you to reach potential customers by targeting:
Who they are
Where they work (LinkedIn)
What they’re in-market for
What they’re searching for on Google, etc.
Online ads are very engaging and work to grab attention, raise awareness and generate interest in your offerings, directly resulting in more sales.
On the other hand, another emerging trend is that the cost of online advertising is at its lowest.
Due to business disruption, there’s a decline in demand for advertising. This leads to lower CPM (cost per thousand impressions) on Facebook and Instagram, with some reporting that the costs are down by as much as 51%.
If you read the previous sections, you’ve already seen that the advertising cost (CPC) for many of our clients has dropped by as much as 73% compared to February.
And low CPM and CPCs leads to cheaper customer acquisition costs (CAC) as well as more profitable sales and advertising.
4. Leverage video conferencing
Service-based businesses that depend on close contact with clients now have more options to service their clients’ needs and keep their business running.
Telehealth, online video sessions and consultations, home learning are just some of the ways to leverage online video to safely provide services online during social distancing.
For instance, physical therapy patients can lose a lot of progress if they don’t stay consistent with their therapy.
Physios can continue to provide therapy sessions to patients via video chat online.
It’s a completely safe way for patients to get the treatment they need and for physiatrists it keeps the practice running.
Much like other digital transformation trends, the switch to telehealth is not new and not inherent to just COVID-19.
Studies from 2019 indicate that 61% of patients would switch to telehealth for faster and more convenient service. 25% would switch from the current physician to a doctor that can offer video sessions.
Other service-based businesses and professionals can also leverage online video to provide services, sessions and consultations.
Fitness instructors can provide 1-on-1 personalized training sessions and nutrition coaching
Legal professionals can provide online consultations
Clinics and doctors can provide online video assessments and appointments
Renovation contractors can offer online video consultations and quotes (the customer can take the measurements)
Coaches, teachers and tutors can provide online classes, etc.
We already see many yoga and fitness studios offering personal on-demand sessions via Zoom or other video platforms.
Remember to use ads on Google and Facebook to promote your new video sessions and offers, stay top-of-mind and bank on low advertising costs.
5. Promote items for home use
Being smart about how you spend your advertising dollars is always important. But in a crisis situation like now, it becomes even more critical.
Your goal is to maximize sales as quickly as possible, which means promoting items in demand – those that could be used around the house.
Items like sweatpants, slippers, etc., are more likely to be sold than handbags, lipstick and sunglasses.
Well.ca focuses all their online ads on skincare products that can be used at home as well as their free home delivery.
Instead of canvas shoes, sunglasses and handbags, promote items like cozy slippers and sweatpants.
Coupled with some clever ad messaging that targets the current living and working conditions, your ads are bound to resonate and get you traffic and sales.
Similarly, other homewares are a good option to promote during the shelter-in-place.
With outdoor activities being restricted, families are turning to traditional home activities such as baking, reading books and home decoration. Make smart promotion choices based on what’s in the highest demand right now.
To increase your average order value (AOV) and make sales profitable, bundle up products in stay-at-home kits.
Toys” R” Us offers a perfect stay-at-home play set to keep children busy while they have to remain at home.
Even restaurants, that have been affected the most, can leverage online ads to promote their new home delivery and curbside pickup options.
6. Prioritize retargeting and Lookalikes
Focus your ad budget on efforts that are most likely to lead to fast and immediate returns.
This means prioritizing retargeting ads as well as Lookalike audiences on Facebook.
Online ads are perfect for generating lots of website traffic and product views, but not everyone buys immediately. Retargeting ads give shoppers a reminder to come back and complete their purchase.
With people spending more time online, now you have extra opportunities to re-engage previous website visitors.
Get them back to your site and in the shopping mode with incentives like free shipping or special promos and discounts.
In the spirit of creating highly effective ads as quickly as possible, dynamic product ads (DPA) are a natural fit.
With dynamic retargeting ads, users would see the exact same product they viewed on the website. You can automatically sync the website product catalogue to Facebook via WooCommerce integrations and run DPA.
Offering a coupon code is useful when remarketing to incentivize prospects to come back and complete their order.
Right now, is not the best time for broad prospecting. However, you can still try to reach new people with Lookalike audiences on Facebook.
This will target users that are similar to people that already bought your products or converted on your offers.
Upload email lists of previous leads or buyers to create high-quality lookalike audiences that can be used within minutes.
7. Promote gift cards and vouchers
Promote gift cards that can be used when your business resumes.
If you have to close temporarily, consider offering gift cards or a discount on future visits as a way for others to support you during this time.
Vouchers and gift cards can work for almost any industry. For instance, restaurants, salons, fitness studios and spas can offer vouchers at a discounted price that can be used at a later time.
Restaurants can keep some revenue flowing in by promoting gift cards that can be used once the venues are open.
Once the venue is open gift cards
Be sure to incentivize your vouchers with free gifts, discounts, bundles or other specials.
Service-based businesses could let clients prepay for classes, training packages or membership dues.
Consider offering deals on class packs or future memberships to support you during these challenging times.
For example, you can offer a prepaid membership that promises a lifetime discount which can be used later after the lockdown.
Facebook is also reaching out in an effort to support small businesses with Digital Gift Cards that allow users to easily discover your offer on Facebook at no extra cost.
These can be found in the new “Support Local Businesses” section on Facebook.
You can also share gift cards, food orders, and fundraiser stickers in Instagram Stories and on your profile.
In addition to that, you can use your social media community (if you have one) and others who want to support your local business to reshare your gift cards and help out your business.”
For the full article – please click the link at the top of the article.