Catch the COVID-19 digital marketing wave (it won’t wait)
If coronavirus, COVID-19, lockdown and social distancing have shown us anything, it’s the power of digital. From your 9.30 team catch-ups to virtual property tours, online grocery ordering and run club dial-ins (yes, that’s a thing too), almost every business tactic has been pulled up and pushed online, mostly with inspiring and future-proofing results.
Digital marketing has been around for so long now, that it really isn’t a buzzword. Almost all medium to large-sized businesses have created entire teams around the concept, and it’s the defining part of most marketeers’ training.
But from SEO and display advertising to affiliate, influencer and social tactics, why do we need it? And what’s the best way to use these tools to their full capability, in a time when potential customers are reaching for their phone, rather than their door keys?
Here are five top reasons for having digital marketing in your business life, and where to invest your time and money.
1. It’s where your customers are …
Right now, this is certainly the case. Even without the already overwhelming rate of increased online to in-store shopping, lockdown has pushed customers to source the things they want and need in new and largely digital ways. From children’s birthday parties to gardening, bread and milk deliveries and technology, we can’t go in-store (and until recently, almost anywhere else), so we pick up our phone/open another tab and get clicking for it.
Forbes has reported on one of Europe’s biggest beauty retailers – Douglas Group – seeing huge increases in their e-commerce sales during the most vicious lockdown period, and over 90% increase in new omnichannel customers during March, with online sales growing by 34% across the quarter.
2. … and that includes newbies
Even businesses with no previous experience in online service offerings have discovered a shocker new audience.
The fitness industry boom is a great example. Local studios, offering everything from barre and yoga to HIIT and resistance training, are seeing not just continued loyalty from existing customers, but also new devotees, previously too busy commuting and that-night food shopping to make it to an evening yin yoga class.
In the US, fitness equipment online sales are up 55%, according to Adobe’s research, and we predict the trend to be pretty similar over here when figures are released. Online is where customers are at, for indulgences, routines, habits and essentials. Businesses need to think outside the box, and meet them there.
3. SEO is on fire
The clue is in the name – Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – is all about what people see when they type something into the search box, and how your business is able to command a place on that coveted first results page.
The higher up your brand can get (factoring in the increased presence of paid advertising spots – this is a different tactic), the better because it makes you more likely to get a click, and hey-presto, your sales funnel is triggered. That click is usually much cheaper than a paid advertising engagement too, if not completely free.
Get started with our SEO marketing for small businesses guide.
4. People are social
There are lots of people who choose not to use social media. And that’s fine. But the reality is that millions of us do, and (aside from a few restrictions and watchdog measures) the nature of it is pretty ad-hoc, rough and ready.
Take Instagram Stories, for example. Freshly baked bread and cookies being sold through the shop window are easy to snap on your phone, post to Stories and entice people in, the next morning.
The same goes for a tutoring business. Get all your books and equipment out on your desk, take a flat view photo, use a bright filter and let parents know you’re here to help them with qualified home-schooling. Again, people are looking for this stuff. Show it to them, for free.
According to Kantar figures, featured in The Grocer, 37% of us are using Facebook more than we did before the virus hit, and 24% of us have upped our Instagram time.
5. We’re easily influenced
Not sure what an influencer is, exactly? You need to get on board. We can’t put it any better than Sprout Social:
‘An influencer is someone in your niche or industry with sway over your target audience.’
The key words here are ‘niche’, ‘sway’ and ‘target’. In the 90s, marketers relied on glossy magazines, red carpet sound bites and big-budget, above the line campaigns to make sure their paying audience knew who was buying (and loving) what.
From a Pepsi penchant for Britney Spears to supermodels advocating a miracle moisturiser and fat-burning diet, you either had to spend a tonne, or rely on a goodwill mention (or golden handshake) in that month’s issue of Marie Claire. In 2020 (not that this tactic is new), these are being swapped out for quick, targeted mentions and recommendations from people with influence, largely through an Instagram post, YouTube or TikTok video.
It’s vastly cheaper, more immediate, and when done right, it’s more authentic. It’s also trackable (another big advantage of most digital marketing), and allows you to lean into a ready-made audience, who are just where you need them – online, a little bored and ready to click.