Digital marketing — Key to business resilienceWednesday, April 29, 2020
The 2019 novel coronavirus has continued its rapid spread, challenging global health and the economy. The virus transmits through human contact, threatening normative ways of doing business, as face-to-face interactions and hand-to-hand transactions have and continue to be essential components in conducting commerce worldwide, especially in less technologically advanced societies.
COVID-19 has made human contact a liability. With it, the labour market has changed almost overnight. While some businesses have quickly adapted to a remote infrastructure, others have been forced to lay off staff, cut salaries, or cease activity completely.
A key recommendation worldwide to stem the flow of the virus is to practise social or physical distancing. While we can appreciate the importance of staying four to six feet apart in order to, as they say, flatten the curve, social distancing does not mean disconnecting.
For businesses that wish to not only stabilise, but also grow in this time, it's now more crucial than ever to keep in contact with your customers and reach new ones. This presents a challenge as many of the traditional channels for contact have been rendered risky.
Digital marketing presents a 'no holds barred' way of engaging with present customers, keeping them in the loop on operational changes, and also reaching new customers with offers, deals, and products that will add value to their lives.
Here are a few digital marketing initiatives every business should consider during this time:
1) Set up a website
Being found online is essential in this new and uncertain reality in which we all find ourselves, as foot traffic has relatively dried up. It is the foundation of any great digital presence. Your website is your online billboard, storefront, business card, and so much more. It can help you to streamline customer service, generate sales, and keep your customers in the know. Write blogs related to your industry and partner with affiliates to increase the reach and scope of your offers. There are many more web strategies to put into play to ensure your business weathers the present storm and, in special cases, sails to safe shores.
2) Maximise search engine optimisation
Since we are on the topic of websites, search engine optimisation (SEO) with reviews is an important component to optimise. SEO is the difference between whether your business is organically found online or not. It is a process for improving the organic traffic of your website. Outside of meta tags, writing blogs, and having a keyword strategy, positive reviews are a great way to maximise your SEO. Set up a business profile on Google to enable public reviews and encourage your customers to review your business on your website. This will help your website climb into the top-ranked websites when prospective clients search for services, goods, and products in your niche.
3) Leverage social media marketing
With stay-at-home orders in full effect for many, smartphones and Internet-enabled devices are your customers' window to the world. Create content that is sensitive to the conditions that they're facing, while letting them know that your business and services are still present and available for them. For instance, let your customers know new ways they can do business with you. Are you shifting to online consultations? Offering new products? Or adding a delivery service? Tell them!
A data-driven approach to devising marketing strategies will help businesses use social media to increase sales, even within difficult times. Data provided by varied platforms such as age, profession, location, income bracket, etc, provide a wealth of insight that can help refine your online marketing approaches. Chatbots are a great tool for automating business functions online, further improving your efficiency. This is the time to build your online engagement with customers and potential customers. Keep them engaged with timely and relevant content that converts.
4) Improve your e-commerce infrastructure
Your customers are looking for the best ways to stay safe during COVID-19 while still providing for their families. Shopping online is a fast-growing alternative to leaving home to top up on essentials. Tools such as Shopify allow for the setting up of online stores and most recently National Commercial Bank has 'freed up' their e-commerce solution, so collecting payments online will be simpler for those with limited access to PayPal and other international solutions.
Many firms have partnered with local courier services to create a true door-to-door experience, and in some cases farm-to-door delivery solution. This means that businesses that can create a seamless e-commerce experience will likely see increased success.
Online is now the new normal and the apprehensiveness that consumers once had when it came to online shopping is swiftly shifting to face-to-face shopping.
5) Amplify your e-mail marketing
Whether you are a B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-consumer) entity, e-mail marketing can foster building deeper relationships with your current customers and potential leads. Consumers buy from brands they know, like, and trust. Maximise this time to build out e-mail marketing campaigns that keep your customers in the loop on how your business is developing at this time and how you are offering support to your clients. This simple strategy will ensure the longevity of your business is maintained long after the impact of COVID-19.
Ultimately, both businesses and individuals will feel the financial impact of the coronavirus. However, if you remain consistent with your digital marketing efforts, pivot quickly as the climate shifts, and capitalise on the increased screen time from your customers, your business could experience transformation that will set it up for success beyond this pandemic.
Kemal Brown is the president & CEO of Digita Global Marketing Limited, a Caribbean based, globally-minded digital marketing and technology agency. He is also speaker, serial entrepreneur, and digital innovator. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or www.digitaglobal.com.
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