In these uncertain times, businesses are experiencing what is now being referred to as the “coronavirus impact,” otherwise known as the way in which this global pandemic is changing consumer behavior, and ultimately, the global economy. Small and locally-owned businesses are being hit the hardest, many being forced to temporarily close doors. However, even larger companies are struggling as supply-chain and manufacturing processes are being disrupted. These problems beg the question: how do businesses stay relevant and profitable in a time of economic crisis and consumer lockdown?
The answer? Through a strong digital footprint.
Now more than ever, businesses must rely on their digital marketing and online presence to support their business goals and brand recognition amongst consumers. A company website and social media is a tool utilized by most businesses to generate brand awareness, but in these times, these platforms can be the factor that determines whether your business temporarily closes, or shuts its doors for good.
Most consumers will search for a business online, with questions about current operations, if the stores are still open, and how to buy products. Therefore, it is also a good idea to ramp up SEO keywords and make sure that the website is visible on search engines. Businesses must evaluate rankings, and share any relevant information and content on your website.
Every business should have an operating website, but an updated and accurate website is crucial during this time. Think of your website as your storefront that every consumer and potential customer will see before they see your store. The content, colors, and messaging should reflect everything that your business stands for, and should communicate exactly what your business does.
As always, social media content must have the right combination of promotional, educational, and relatable content in order to keep audiences engaged and active. However in times of widespread crisis, such as COVID-19, driving traffic to the brand’s website will be essential as online e-commerce will most likely be a primary source of revenue during this time of isolation. We see this in recent news as Amazon plans to hire an additional 100 thousand employees for the company’s warehouse and delivery operations. Attracting audiences with relevant and engaging content will keep followers interested, entertained, and more likely to support the brand both during and after a crisis. In other words, followers will remember the brands that kept them uplifted and engaged when they were turning to social media feeds for updates and encouragement in times of uncertainty.
Many small food and drink businesses, like neighborhood coffee shops and bakeries, are getting creative in their marketing strategies to stay afloat. With options introduced by companies like Nekter Juice Bar, Starbucks, and Chipotle like no-contact delivery, curbside takeout, or online ordering, it is still possible for these businesses to stay open. However, with tactics like these, it is crucial to communicate that you are still open and operating online. Without a statement on your website and all social media platforms, your audience will most likely assume that you are closed. Promoting these new business operations on social media is essential to consumers actually using them.
For other retailers, however, it will be more challenging to keep a physical store open. Businesses like small clothing brands, home goods stores or hobby shops will need strong audience support on social media. It may be challenging to suddenly ramp up digital presence and e-commerce sites to stay relevant, but by focusing efforts less on foot traffic and more on digital traffic, small businesses can still stay profitable online.
Ultimately, the way that business owners react to this crisis will determine whether the economy slips into a recession or not. Thankfully, the internet allows businesses to stay connected to its audiences even during times of isolation. By focusing efforts on a strong digital presence and social media strategy, businesses can stay afloat during this time, and will come out of this crisis even stronger with a full digital presence that will last well beyond the virus.