We are living in a pretty unprecedented time.
As Covid-19 (or the Coronavirus) is sweeping across the world, the impact on health and the economy is going to be massive. While health is the main priority at the minute, it is also creating a devastating impact on many businesses.
With companies either temporarily (or in some cases permanently) shutting down while others are allowing staff to work from home, the way we do business is going to change for the foreseeable future.
If you run a business that has an online presence then this guide is designed for you. You might be worried about what the future holds and you might not know how to navigate your way through the coming weeks and months.
That is why we have developed this guide which is going to give you some advice on:
● How the pandemic is going to impact online businesses
● What you shouldn’t do during the Covid-19 crisis
● Things that you should be doing
● Why SEO is still important for your business
How is the Covid-19 crisis impacting businesses?
A global pandemic that is causing widespread disruption to all aspects of life is going to require changes to how you do business.
In fact, 61% of marketers are changing their short term strategy in response to this. While we don’t know how long this disruption is going to last for so the medium to long-term plans remain the same, businesses do need to alter their strategies for the next few months at least.
Many marketers who would perhaps focus a bit more on more traditional forms of advertising such as billboards, events and leafleting are moving towards online methods. As people have been told to stay at home and all big gatherings have been prohibited, it makes no sense to pursue these kinds of channels in the short term. It would just be wasting money.
This is why other methods such as digital display ads, social media, and online videos are all being used more at the minute. They can reach a highly targeted audience and with more people spending time online due to being at home, views and engagements will likely increase as well.
4 things NOT to do during the crisis while building your online presence
Even though in many markets sales will slow down due to the current pandemic, that doesn’t mean that advertising has to stop altogether.
Just 8% of consumers think that brands should stop advertising at the minute according to one survey. While staff welfare should be the first priority in a time like this, there are certain things that you should AVOID doing with your marketing.
#1 Pretend your social media doesn’t exist
In a time of mass panic social media can bring both positives and negatives. In fact, that could be said of the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at the best of times.
However, some companies have been blatantly ignoring their mentions on social media from customers who either want to know what is going on. While many companies are insanely busy and it is easy to miss one or two messages, try and make sure that your customers aren’t ignored.
Similarly, some brands haven’t updated their social media in a while either. It might be easy to think you will be drowned out by health messages and updates about the Covid-19 crisis but keeping your social channels going at this time will show your customers that you still care about them.
#2 Start cancelling your paid ads
It might seem a bit weird advertising for a business at this time. Especially if your business is operating at a reduced capacity.
That doesn’t mean all your paid advertising should stop. Internet usage around the globe is up during the pandemic for several reasons such as more people working from home and also people turning to online means to keep up to date on developments or to use social media more frequently.
Look at what campaigns are doing well for you and start focusing on those. You can pause some of your paid ads if they aren’t really relevant at the minute but keep some of your ads going. This can be a great time for increasing brand awareness as well so ads that promote your brand and how you are staying relevant during this time of uncertainty can pay off in the long run.
#3 Play on people’s fear
This should really be a common-sense approach – don’t play on the fear that people are experiencing at the minute to try and gain clicks, conversions or sales.
While you may see some short term gains during the crisis, the long term impact isn’t going to be worth it. People won’t forget if you try and leverage fear and play on the anxiety of people during this time and even if it does result in a short term boost it will likely impact you negatively once we return to some kind of normality in our lives.
#4 Think this is a way to re-engage past customers with email
We have probably all received a number of emails in the past few weeks about how companies are operating during the crisis and how they are planning to help their staff and clients.
These are all fairly generic and mostly say the same thing. Is it necessarily a bad thing to send out an email informing your customers that you are keeping an eye on things as they develop? No, not really. It shows you are actively monitoring the situation and keeping your email list updated.
What is a bad thing is if you try and use this as a way to re-engage with past customers who haven’t bought anything from you or used your services in years. Aside from the obvious GDPR implications if they live in the EU and haven’t ‘opted-in’ to receive your emails, it probably won’t go down well from a promotional point of view either.
Things you CAN do for an online presence of your business during the quarantine
Even though we are in the midst of an unprecedented time and the future looks uncertain, to say the least, there are still things you can do to manage your online brand presence and navigate your business through the Covid-19 crisis.
#1 Use it and opportunity for longer-term growth
If your finding that business is running at a reduced capacity or your brand is essentially on hold at the minute – why not use this opportunity to create your strategy for the longer term?
It is a stressful time but keeping busy can help to keep your mind off the news. Look at things like developing your SEO strategy for the next 12 – 18 months. Things like keyword research, content ideas and even producing content so that it is ready to go.
The current crisis presents a good opportunity for you to reflect on the past few months and put in place a plan for the longer term so when things are back up and running you are well prepared.
#2 Think up offers for your customers
If you are still open during the quarantine then your brand could really benefit from giving out offers to people that would still use your products and services.
If you are a B2B company then think if you have anything that can help people work from home and offer discounts on these products. Even if you are a B2C business, people might be willing to sign up to your services at a reduced rate to help them through staying at home most of the time.
Not only will this bring in business in the short term but it will leave an overall positive impact on your brand in the longer term too.
#3 Audit your marketing channels and strategies
If you have some free time then it is a great opportunity for you to audit your marketing efforts to see what has worked, what hasn’t and what kind of worked but needs refined.
Look at your SEO efforts, how your paid campaigns have been performing and also things such as how people have been interacting with your website – you can get this information from Google analytics.
As you are probably so busy you might not have had time to do this much previously. With the Covid-19 crisis you can help to improve your online presence for business by analysing and adjusting your current strategy.
What about SEO? Importance of online presence
We felt that SEO deserved its own small section because there has been some confusion around what businesses should do during Coronavirus.
Some have been taking their websites offline altogether however Google has stated that even closing a site for a few weeks can have negative consequences on how they index your site.
They recommend limiting the functionality of your website if you are closed or partially closed while also updating your Google My Business listing which has a temporary closure feature.
Pausing your site to be found by Google search and taking other temporary measures is a better SEO and indexing option than taking it offline completely.
Digital marketing and the Coronavirus
No-one is sure when we are going to be back to some kind of normality and marketers, like every profession, are going to have to adapt to the changing situation.
During the Coronavirus pandemic, what you do for your online presence will matter both in the short and the long-term.
● Ignore your social media during this time
● Give up on your paid ads
● Play on people’s fears and anxieties
● Send out mass emails to previous customers hoping they’ll opt back in
● Look at ways you can strategies for the longer term
● Reflect on your campaigns and how they can be improved
● Offer discounts and other offers during this stressful time
We are all learning about Covid-19 and the impact that it is going to have as we go along.
No-one knows how long this is going to last but it doesn’t mean that your whole marketing efforts have to be put on hold. Instead, adapt to the changing situation and ensure that the moves you make now will put you in a good and positive position when this crisis is eventually over.