We find ourselves in strange times. Life as we knew it, along with the “marketer’s playbook,” has completely gone out the window. In the COVID era, marketers can’t rely on the tried-and-true methods and behavioral patterns of the past to reach their audiences.
However, trends have emerged out of this new normal that are helping marketers make sense of the changing times. These four digital marketing trends might help you reach your customer base in this continuing uncertainty.
- Take this opportunity to bring your website and app up to scratch. You’ll have more time for research; developers and designers will be available too.
- If you’re a local business, update your Google My Business listing.
- Let your audience know that safety is paramount. But keep them engaged on social media.
The Search Is On
If potential customers weren’t already using Google to locate and learn more about local businesses, they definitely are now. In fact, a recent coronavirus report from Hawke Media shows that searches for “what’s open near me” have increased more than 60 percent, highlighting the importance of businesses keeping customers informed via their online listings.
Earlier this year, Google rolled out a feature allowing business listings to customize the types of service they’re offering. Now, brick-and-mortar locations can note, for example, that they’re offering takeout, but not dine-in or delivery.
When you make changes to your Google My Business listing, don’t forget to carry those updates over to your other digital properties. Check the information listed on your website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media pages. Using Google Chrome’s Incognito Mode, search for your business and view the results that appear on the first page. Make sure those sites have your most current information.
Additionally, if you already have a way to communicate directly with your customer base, such as an email newsletter or SMS marketing, send the update out in those channels. The idea is to make it easy for new and existing customers to visit your business to get the products and services they need.
Build/Improve Your Website or App
Marketers know the key to reaching customers is to meet them where they’re at. Where are most of us right now? At home and online. According to a recent GlobalWebIndex report, 45 percent of consumers in the U.S. report spending more time on their smartphone since the start of the pandemic. Nearly the same amount reported spending more time on their laptop. Because of this, putting some additional effort into your online presence is essential.
Never got around to a website redesign? There’s no time like the present. If a full overhaul isn’t in the cards, block off an afternoon to do some digital housekeeping. Proofread all the content on your website for grammar and accuracy, and switch out old photos for new ones. Check links to make sure they aren’t broken. One outdated listing or broken link might cause customers to doubt the accuracy of the rest of your site.
This is also an opportunity to check the mobile compatibility of your website. Visit the site using your phone’s browser, and click on every page. Make note of where content falls off the edge of the screen or where text is hard to read.
Additionally, plug your website into a search engine optimization evaluator, such as Ubersuggest. Search engines prioritize several factors, not just keywords, and page loading times play an important role. Simple changes, like compressing image file sizes, can make a big difference in how fast your site loads. Consumers are turning to search to find the services they need, after all, so improving your search ranking is important.
Show Off Your Safety
When planning content for your social media channels, remember the writer’s adage “Show, don’t tell.” It’s one thing to outline, in a lengthy text post, the extensive health and safety measures your business is taking. However, consumers don’t just want to know, in theory, that all your staff members plan to wear masks. Customers want to see proof.
Use image-forward social channels like Instagram and Facebook to show what the new normal looks like for your business. Post pictures of masked staff serving masked customers. Offer examples of how your staff implements physical distancing precautions and sanitizes high-touch surfaces regularly. Create a video to demonstrate how customers can use your contactless or curbside shopping options. All the major brands are doing it.
As you update your marketing assets, think about your tone. When weighing whether to use humor, for example, CMO advisor Steve Olenski suggests staying true to your brand’s identity while prioritizing empathy. Although consumers find comfort in brands that make them laugh, they’re sensitive to jokes that could be seen as heartless or off-color.
Be authentic, and show rather than simply tell customers that you care. Prove that they can have a safe and enjoyable shopping experience at your establishment.
Shift to Social
A recent Harris Poll showed that since the start of the pandemic, 51 percent of global consumers are spending more time on social media.
Now’s the time to dedicate some of your remaining advertising budget to digital paid ads, which are seeing increases in ROI since the pandemic began. The current excess in paid ad inventory is driving down the cost per click and making it more affordable than ever. If you’ve never tried it, or if it feels too complicated, there are several guides and videos online on how to get the most from your digital ad dollars.
One quick way to elevate your Facebook page is by boosting posts. Visit your page’s analytics panel, choose the three highest-reaching posts from the past month, and pay to boost them for a week. Additionally, make sure you’re adding relevant hashtags and account tags to every post to increase reach and engagement.
Keep in mind that just because a marketing tactic is trendy doesn’t mean it will bring long-term benefits to your business. Make sure you do your research before going all-in on the latest trend. Above all, consumers value a brand that meets their needs and maintains their trust.