As many businesses with a physical location grinds to a halt during the COVID-19 pandemic, online businesses have been spared to some extent as we will discuss. In fact, more people are now online since they’ve been asked by employers to work from home – and as a result of government lockdowns. The magnitude of this may be astonishing: The World Economic Forum claims that internet use is up by as much as 50%.
How businesses can respond:
Businesses with an online presence as well as ecommerce and service providers who function largely online, may find this to be an interesting moment in time to act: not least to offset other losses that may stem from longer term economic impact. According to the US based specialist internet marketing company Marketing1on1, businesses should be aware that “right now, the cost per click on pay per click campaigns have come down as entire segments like the travel industry have pulled back on paid ads. Agencies also have their top staff members freed up to help, in an industry where working from home is quite common. So it is indeed a good moment to focus on the temporary spike of greater online presence – which may indeed last for longer than people anticipate.”
Online could be a lifeline: Some business types have the option to rapidly change their model to adapt to a new reality by reducing offline marketing and in-store promotions and scaling up their online marketing. Examples of this can be restaurants that pushes more for deliveries and even a spare shop that does not see clients in person at this time, but rather sells through online checkout and delivery. Securing more online visibility may indeed work for some businesses right now.
Apply strategic thinking: On the one hand, quick changes to your website and paid media campaigns can be up and running in a very short time. Yet when it gets to critical elements like SEO, company owners should understand that this is not a knee-jerk reaction, but a strategy where you have to be patient and faithful to your mission. This means not cutting back suddenly during difficult times, but also not expecting results within a week if you decided to increase the focus on SEO as a channel.
Buying in bulk: Right now, many publishing houses and smaller publishers face cutbacks from industries that have gone absent due to the COVID-19 crisis. This means that if you ask your SEO provider to negotiate a bulk rate for more news posts or native articles, they’re likely to be able to do that easier than before.
Making sure you tie up top talent: Securing top talent for your content marketing efforts became rather expensive in recent months – especially as countries like the US, UK and others faced record employment levels. But as we see companies cut back and employment statistics changing quickly: it will create an opportunity like never before, to hire top talent for less. This means that now, may be the best moment to invest in your content marketing efforts – which should include both on-site and off-site SEO.
Research the most current trends: New trends are far easier to exploit than established trends. Be sure to use the latest research tools to assess what the market wants right now. Often when rapid shifts occur, we find that new search phrases can yield rapid results when included in a content plan, simply because the demand side precedes supply and competition. If Amazon suddenly get new best-sellers – do take a close look and ask yourself: which similar products or services may your clients require right now. There may even be a spike in locally produced products simply because imports and exports are affected in the short term.
Understanding the regulatory environment and planning accordingly: There are some business types that will not be able to function in the short term due to emergency regulations. It is good to understand these right now and to determine whether it is a good moment to work on long term future marketing efforts. Rebalancing the budget in such a case, could mean cutting back on PPC search and display advertising which delivers short-term results and scaling up on organic search efforts that will yield long-term results.
Be aware of updates: It is useful at this point in time to also consider updates to search engines, especially Google. Take this time to research the latest changes and make sure that you discuss these with your digital marketing company who may know what strategic changes you need to make to be up to date. These changes are part of an ongoing process as you seek out competitive advantage over companies that are slower to respond to updates. In some cases, you can take up much more free online real estate simply by applying better structured data and other elements the competition may not yet be aware of. A good SEO company should be able to notify you of these changes periodically.
Each business needs to do the best they can in challenging times. Governments can only go so far to prop up local economies – and it is still down to the business to remain innovative and ahead of the curve through sound research and strategy. Indeed some online businesses that require physical delivery of goods may be disrupted in the unlikely event that COVID-19 affects supply chains and delivery. Yet right now, where postal services are in full swing – it is fair to say that online businesses are in a better position. Naturally those who have service-related businesses are much more fortunate. Cutting back on your digital marketing may not be the best thing to do right now: remember, often business owners make irrational decision based on feelings and perceptions. If the reality in your part of the world is that people are online actively looking – then that is what needs to be acted on, so do keep a close eye on analytics.