COVID lockdowns have changed how businesses operate globally. Virtually no industry has been left untouched by lockdown measures leading some to close down permanently while others innovate to stay afloat. Post-lockdown, businesses of all stripes are taking steps to reach new audiences, make accessing their products and services safer and easier, and shift to an online culture that’s just becoming more dominant.
Digital marketing is key. Studies show that during the lockdown, people are spending significantly more time at home online, consuming online media, and communicating with colleagues through web services. The trend is expected to be long-term, too. In August, a report from WhistleOut showed how 86% of US states saw an increase in average internet speeds owing to households and businesses upgrading their plans to cope with the new way their businesses operate.
Smartphone use is up, reliance on apps is up, and so is screen time in general. That’s how businesses can reach new customers and clients, presenting innovative new ideas, products, and services to people either actively searching for those products or spotting them on various online ads.
Lockdown changed how businesses work globally. In the UK, some 85,000 new online businesses launched during the lockdown. In May, new shopping platforms were launched by Shopify and Facebook owing to the monumentally huge rise in online shopping. In May 2020, Target Corp. said digital sales jumped by 140% in the first quarter compared to the same period last year – and that was only the start of lockdown. Growth has continued, and it’s not just the big businesses that have shifted online.
Smaller companies are now working from home, retail operations are boosting their online sales, and with more people looking for businesses online, there is a greater opportunity to reach new customers and clients while they’re doing it. Traditional advertising simply does not see the same traffic it used to.
Without the Internet, many of the businesses who adapted during lockdown might not have survived. Not only has online connectivity given people an opportunity to continue making purchases online and avoiding entering retail stores, but initiatives have been created to help save businesses using apps, phones, and connectivity. In Virginia, a website was created that shows local people which restaurants and businesses are struggling, helping local people decide where to direct their cash when they do take time out to visit newly-reopened venues.
Gyms have begun offering online classes, instructing attendees to switch on their computers or tablets and watch their instructors online while working out in their living rooms.
Offices are now virtual, meetings take place on Zoom, and companies are discovering just how much money they can save on travel. Even after lockdown, businesses will have seen just what they can achieve while utilizing the Internet more, and that presents great opportunities in digital marketing.
Commuters won’t see billboards. Newspapers won’t be sold at kiosks in the numbers they used to. The subways won’t be as packed. Businesses, therefore, are changing their marketing strategy to adapt to a world that spends more time looking at screens.
There are some businesses that had, up until the pandemic, survived the online revolution. While retail sales have dropped significantly over time, they were never completely going away. The retail experience offers something that online never could, but when retail became impossible, even small retail operations shifted their businesses online. Stores moved more resources online, providing the same easy online shopping experience you might expect from the big brands. While retail is coming back, those smaller businesses are not shutting down their profitable online stores any time soon.
Bars and restaurants were given reason to start working with the new app economy, too. Restaurants that were comfortably surviving by operating the same way they always had suddenly had no way of making money and began working with apps that offer food delivery services. Some businesses even developed their own apps and websites specifically focused on local food deliveries.
These changes happened at local levels, but even at international levels. Huge companies like Google have committed to changing the way they operate for at least another year, telling the press this summer that their employees would not return to their offices until the end of 2021. Even major news networks are doing the same, with workers at all levels working remotely and doing so with great efficiency.
All kinds of businesses are changing the way they do business, and at some point, not being online will decide whether a business succeeds or not. Even businesses that might never have thought of online marketing or e-commerce before are now making that shift, and the sooner they do it the sooner they have an opportunity to establish themselves as leaders in their space.
Customers expect your business to be online. An O2 Business and Retail Economics research report showed how 44% of shoppers expect the changes in the way they shop to be permanent, and some 47% said the frequency at which they shop online will increase. Why? Convenience and safety.
During the lockdown, safety is key. After lockdown, convenience will keep people shopping online. After all, loyalty only goes so far when convenience comes into play. A Harvard Business Review study found that customer loyalty is overrated and is as much about what people find familiar as what is convenient. Your brand might offer a good product, but if another company offers a similar product but a more convenient experience, you should expect to lose business.
Moving your business online, not necessarily entirely but at least offering online options to your customers, should be your priority during the COVID economy. It won’t just be a temporary measure, either. For most businesses, even those who might previously not have considered operating online, online operations will become a key part of your business. It will keep your existing customers on board by offering the convenience they expect, and potentially even bring in new customers who might not have interacted with your business in a retail environment.
Convenience is key during the lockdown and beyond, and the Internet and a good online marketing strategy will help you exceed your customers’ expectations.
Businesses adapting to the COVID economy are surviving so long as they are innovating in the online space, offering a convenient experience, and using data properly. Companies doing well during lockdown have used data properly, whether that comes from social media, loyalty schemes, or just obtaining at a point of sale.
A good online marketing strategy is built on data, knowing what your customers expect, what they want, what they can’t currently get, and where they are. The more you know about your customers or potential customers, the more effective your marketing strategy will be. A company that can accurately predict what customers need is a company that will survive lockdown and thrive while selling online.
Start with a willingness to learn and adapt and build from there. You might not have expected to take your business online, but the fact that the impact on the economy is long-term rather than short term presents your business with an opportunity to make those changes at a time when your competitors are in a tough spot, too. Don’t look at this as a difficult and inconvenient short-term measure to keep your business afloat, but instead a long-term plan to ensure your business can survive as our culture and economy change dramatically.
From there, you’ll need a good digital marketing strategy and expertise that ensures you’re taking advantage of the e-commerce economy as best you can. Read on, and we’ll explore the steps you can take to make sure you’re doing it right.
Your customers expect your business to shift online, the effect will be long-term, and it’s in your business interests to make that move and stay competitive. So what now? Once you’ve accepted that the transition is more than just a short-term measure to survive but a long-term requirement, and once you and your team are fully on board with making that transition, your first step is getting your digital strategy right.
The first step is establishing your digital strategy. Ask yourself the following questions:
– What product or service do I sell, and which ones can be sold online?
– Can I offer additional services or benefits by selling online?
– Through what means will I sell my products or services online?
In some instances, all of the products and services you sell may be easily translated into an online business. If this is the case then the job is slightly easier. If, however, some of your products or services do not translate well to online sales, then you should consider whether there is something unique or different you could offer during this online shift?
If, for instance, you are a cocktail bar, perhaps your cocktails could become pre-made cocktail kits. This offers additional value in the form of the experience people have at home, learning how to make the cocktails using the same high-quality ingredients your bar is known for. It also gives customers a reason to come back once lockdown is over, and in the long-term, increases sales by allowing you to make money from people who choose to stay at home at the weekend rather than visiting your bar.
Your digital strategy needs to consider what it is you’re selling, what you intend to achieve when you reach potential new customers online, and what you can offer to keep people coming back.
Once you’ve figured out what you want to sell, you then need to consider how you will make those sales. It’s now possible to make sales through various social media channels, but e-commerce platforms are often the best bet for businesses looking to start online stores. Find an e-commerce platform that works for you, set up your business, and then start thinking about your digital marketing strategy.
The way you market your product or services can make or break your business. If people don’t know about what you offer, then they won’t make purchases from you. As we’ve already mentioned, a good digital marketing strategy should always be based on data. Whether that’s new data you obtain through an entirely fresh online presence or data you have already obtained through transactions and social media, it doesn’t matter.
Data-driven digital strategies are important and encompass social media outreach, targeted advertisements, and much more. People are spending more time looking at screens, and you need to consider all the ways you can reach people through those screens!
Will you use YouTube to create online, immersive customer experiences? Will you use Facebook and Instagram to target your ads to people who are most likely to be interested in your brand? Or will you use the power of name recognition and word of mouth to give your local community and customers a chance to continue doing business with you, but online instead of in your store?
We know this can be a daunting task. Digital marketing presents a huge range of new opportunities for your business, but deciding on the right strategy and implementing it through the right channels can be tough. That’s why we think you should hire experts.
At Comrade, we offer all-encompassing web design and digital marketing services. Whether you’ve never had a website before and need us to help build your presence, or you have an existing website that needs to be scaled up, we can help. Our team of experts can help you establish an e-commerce presence and build a marketing strategy that works towards your goals.
We’ll learn everything we can about your business, your customers, and your potential audience. We then tailor a digital marketing strategy around that works, and help you reach more customers than ever.
Adapting your business marketing doesn’t just have to be a matter of surviving. At Comrade, our team of digital marketing experts has a stellar track record fundamentally transforming how businesses reach customers and ensure a seamless online transition. We’ve got the tools, the expertise, and the passion to help you adapt to the new normal and keep doing business no matter how long lockdown goes on.
Now more than ever, your business needs to establish an online presence. Post-lockdown business revolves around digital marketing because so many people are now online, and spending more time online.
Once you get online, you’ll soon see why you need to stay online. Apps, connectivity, and the COVID economy have all come together to make e-commerce and digital marketing more powerful than ever.
The team at Comrade takes an active interest in the development of your company. We’ll go above and beyond, providing ongoing assistance and keeping on top of your digital presence. Get in touch and we’ll help you build a powerful online presence and prepare for the future!
Do you want a marketing plan that fits your individual needs? Let us craft a strategy that drives results to your company based on your objectives.
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