Written by: Richard Fong
Published on March 3, 2021
Published on March 3, 2021
To say that the recent COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected the country’s economic health is an understatement. In fact, a CNBC report states that over 160,000 businesses shut down last year due to the pandemic—60% of these closures are permanent.
There are many factors to consider when determining the survival rate of a business during a pandemic. However, it’s also important to note that a good number of these businesses that shut down are brick-and-mortar stores that have no online marketing plan.
With the majority of the U.S. population staying home and observing physical distancing guidelines, business owners cannot expect consumers to come into their brick-and-mortar stores as they used to pre-pandemic. Even if consumers did need to go outside, they would likely search for online alternatives first.
To improve your chances of boosting business performance despite the ongoing pandemic, we strongly urge fortifying your brand’s online presence. Focus your efforts toward improving brand awareness, catering to a larger market, and making purchasing from your business as easy and streamlined as possible.
Small businesses and startups shouldn’t forego digital marketing. In fact, statistics say that more than 60% of small businesses have their own website now, so if your brand can’t even be found online, competition from the same industry may outperform you.
A solid digital marketing strategy can help your business improve the following:
Posting social media ads, cold-calling prospects, and strengthening your online presence is far more affordable and efficient than investing in traditional marketing methods such as buying ad spots on radio shows, magazines, newspapers, phonebooks, and highway billboards.
In fact, a small eCommerce startup can already start marketing their business and accepting online orders through the use of free social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.
Broaden your target market by offering goods and services remotely. Once you have a business website up and running, equip it with an online payment processor that will allow you to take overseas credit card payments. That way, your business won’t be limited to nearby customers.
Although, you don’t necessarily have to tap into the global market right away. If cross-border charges and conversion fees are too pricey for your business, start by extending your market into the next city or state. Overall, the goal is to serve more customers. You can work toward building a global brand gradually—there’s no need to rush.
A study by Blue Corona shows that 50% of the average American consumer population would have doubts about purchasing goods/services or even visiting a shop that has a slow-loading, out-of-date website.
Improve brand credibility by creating your own business website! As we mentioned earlier, a Blue Corona survey reveals that 50% of American consumers judge brands by their websites. Those with outdated sites, slow-loading pages, and most especially dead sites might be seen as faulty and unreliable.
Fortunately, business owners with no coding or web development experience can launch their own websites using easy builders such as Wix and WordPress. Both of these have a user-friendly drag-and-drop editor that features multiple images, templates, designs, and layouts.
Pro Tip: Not sure if your business can already afford to run a website? Start with a demo account. Both Wix and WordPress allow users to create a website free of charge if they agree to use a free domain name (site name.wordpress.com format).
Although, we strongly urge investing in a proper domain as your brand grows. Some prospects and shoppers might get turned off if your website still uses a free domain even after months of operation.
It’s understandable for some startups and small businesses not to have a website yet. However, it’s a must for any brand, whether it’s a small-time eCommerce store or a local brick-and-mortar popup shop, to have a strong social media presence.
These days, users can set up social media pages and accounts in just a matter of minutes. The real struggle comes with building a follower base. No matter how amazing the deals you offer are, they won’t matter if they don’t reach your target market. Boost social media following through the following tactics:
Give your fans some love! Post content that encourages readers to interact with your post. You can do this by attaching a call-to-action phrase at the end of your image caption, post, or video. Try to get people to share their thoughts.
Different media platforms have varying algorithms. What remains the same, however, is that users have to post daily updates if they want to stay relevant.
Every day, billions of new social media posts get uploaded, so you can’t expect your posts from one or two days ago to keep popping up in your prospects’ feeds—especially if they’re not performing well in terms of engagement.
With that in mind, regularly post original social media updates. Don’t just share relevant posts, screengrab engaging pictures, or duet trending TikTok videos; you need to post original content.
High-converting copy is great, but what catches the audience’s attention are videos and images. Let’s face it, no one wants to read a chunk of text while they’re on casual social media sites. Also, keep in mind that your posts should vary depending on the platform you’re currently marketing your business on.
Contrary to popular belief, funding social media ads is not expensive. Facebook Ads Manager actually lets you set a daily ad budget limit by customizing your ad reach. If you’re a small startup targeting the local neighborhood, you might be able to start running ads with just $5 every day.
Note: You’ll have to invest more money into your ads if you want to reach a wider market.
Google My Business (GMB) is a tool that allows you to optimize and manage the way your business profile appears on Google. Better optimization means better-looking results on Google SERPs.
GMB is a must-have for any local business or brick-and-mortar store. Statistics show that 81% of the general consumer population does online research before deciding to head down to any physical store/shop. That means if your business isn’t searchable online, customer attraction rate decreases significantly.
Plus, a GMB account puts your business on the map, literally. First-time buyers and prospects who are unfamiliar with your physical can refer to your GMB account for directions.
Don’t underestimate the power of a social media influencer. A lot of these internet personalities have the capacity to greatly influence the buying habits of their fans. For example, teenage girls are more likely to buy cosmetic products that their favorite influencers recommend, as opposed to unknown ones with zero endorsements.
The key to influencer marketing is to select the correct personality. First, assess your target market. You’d want to sponsor an influencer that shares the same market as you do. It wouldn’t make sense for a baby products brand to collaborate with a video game streamer, would it?
Second, determine a budget. Businesses tight on funds can reach out to micro-influencers, while those that are more flexible budget plan can try working with high-level influencers with millions of followers.
There are around two billion websites on the internet. How do you set yourself apart from the rest? The answer: through SEO techniques!
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of curating your website to match the search engine activity of your target market. This optimization is done to improve your Google SERPs visibility—ideally, a top rank on the first page.
SEO involves the use of keywords that users often search for, the creation of 100% original/helpful content, and an organized layout of one’s website. It will also help if your site generates good traffic.
Overall, businesses that choose to pivot to digital commerce have a higher success rate than ones that refuse to expand out of traditional brick-and-mortar sales.
The pandemic has heavily affected commerce activity all around the world. While the roll-out of vaccines is already underway, there’s still no way to determine when things will return to normal.
The best approach here is to adapt to the market’s changing needs. Shift to online commerce, build a strong online presence for your brand, find a way to sell your products/services remotely, and engage with your target market online.
Struggling to build a strong online presence? Bliss Drive is a full-service digital marketing agency that helps various SMBs from different industries jump-start their shift to digital commerce. Get in touch with the Bliss Drive team today!