The coronavirus pandemic has changed the economic landscape in many different ways, one of them being the significant impact it's made on digital marketing. Organizations who hadn't prioritized their online presence before COVID hit and triggered nationwide storefront closures, had to scramble to make up for lost time. Those that were already invested in online initiatives were wise to increase their marketing budget to maintain their brand awareness among the sudden surge in competition.
Digital marketers have always faced the challenge of congestion, but now new strategies will be necessary to stand out in an increasingly tight sphere, while old methodologies must be revisited and optimized to deliver the best results.
Whether you work for an in-house marketing team or represent clients, at the end of the day, data-driven results are all that matter in terms of success. Digital marketing will matter more in the wake of the pandemic — but only if you can prove its valuable return on investment (ROI).
So, what new trends are emerging as the online marketplace evolves? Here are several noteworthy movements to be mindful of; leverage these tips to effectively capture your audience's attention, drive traffic to your site, and convert visitors into loyal customers who will help keep the business afloat during the post-COVID months to come.
- Anticipate a Sence of Urgency
- Added Emphasis on Website
- Accessibility and Compliance
- Local SEO Will Gain Greater Significance
- Trust Strengthens Consumer Relationships
Anticipate a Sense of Urgency
No one can tell what tomorrow may hold, whether businesses will shut back down, or how wide the disease will spread, and most businesses don’t have time to wait around for hopeful outcomes. The challenge with search engine optimization (SEO) — one of the biggest components of digital marketing — is that it’s almost always a long play. It’s pretty rare to rise to the top of the search engine results page (SERP) overnight, so building enough traction for a worthwhile campaign often requires patience that’s hard to come by in these times.
Businesses need to drive revenue as quickly as possible so they can prevent layoffs, late payments, and, ultimately, bankruptcy. That explains why, when 4,500 digital marketing professionals were surveyed about the impact of COVID-19 on their work routine, 63% said they reallocated budgets on activities that deliver short-term results.
Does that mean you have to slash the entire SEO budget in favor of pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements? Not necessarily, but at the very least, you should take note of this increased demand and adjust your on-page copy accordingly. Create content marketing that uses urgency to hack your conversion rate and drive more sales. By tapping into your audience’s deep-rooted emotions and stressing that time is of the essence, they'll be more likely to make a fast purchasing decision. Take the example of an emotion provoking graphic here, from My SmartMove Tenant Screening.
Added Emphasis on Website Accessibility and Compliance
Business owners who operated a brick-and-mortar store pre-COVID should know the regulations on ADA accessibility, but they might not be aware that inclusivity must extend to their website, as well. If they rushed to build out an eCommerce store due to coronavirus store closures and happen to overlook this critical requirement, then their non-compliance might end up costing them a ton of money; ADA settlements can cost upwards of $25,000 while the Unruh Act — which covers businesses that have no physical presence — awards plaintiffs a minimum of $4,000, plus up to three times the value of their damages.
As people keep their social distance by sheltering in place or working from home, more users are surfing the web online, including millions of potential customers who live with a disability. Those with hearing and vision impairments must be able to access the content using certain widgets and web design strategies. It may seem like a small detail, but ensure your site is fully ADA compliant before legal complaints throw another hit to your bottom line.
Local SEO Will Gain Greater Significance
We’ve seen the increased weight placed on local SEO over the last couple of years, but if those brick-and-mortar businesses want to stand a chance of survival among the growing number of consumers who prefer to shop online from the safety of their home, they’ll need to put extra energy into their digital marketing efforts.
Fortunately, the strategies involved with getting a website to appear high within Google’s local search results are fairly easy and very affordable. All you need to do is claim the organization on Google My Business, but be sure to optimize it by going beyond the basic information (name, phone number, hours of operation) and placing strategic keyword targets within the copy.
It’s also smart to include details regarding current sales or promotions that hopefully offer savings sweet enough to lure customers to shop in-person rather than online — unless, better yet, consumers can select a contactless pick-up or delivery service.
Trust Strengthens Consumer Relationships
Trust has always been the hallmark of every successful customer relationship, but it will be far more precarious post-COVID. It will require more effort to earn consumers’ trust and convince them to spend their dollars on your goods or product, especially while unemployment rates are still at an all-time high and money is scarce. And it’ll be much easier to lose in an instant if any negative publicity comes to light, whether that may be patrons without masks or a product that arrived far past its promised delivery date.
Brands will be wise to position themselves as credible retailers by adding customer reviews to their websites. The glowing feedback on display can help convince visitors who may be on the fence to pull the trigger and make the sale. Another way to build consumer trust and nurture long-lasting customer loyalty is by using this downtime in business to interact more on social media. By sharing, liking, commenting, and replying on the account, it helps personify the brand identity to a “person” your target audience can relate to, rather than just a cold business entity.
No one knows when “post-COVID” will arrive or what it will look like, but digital marketers should weigh these changes and bolster their odds of successfully making it through to the other side of the pandemic.
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Robb Fahrion is a Co-Founder and Partner of Flying V Group. He is passionate about helping businesses grow using the power of the internet. Robb graduated from Chapman University in Orange, CA and currently resides in Costa Mesa, CA. Robb enjoys writing about digital marketing, helping his clients turn their dreams into reality, and he is a HUGE Mike Trout fan.