As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread and business see less and less in-person traffic, it becomes even more essential to have a digital strategy for your marketing.Digital activity, comprising of strategies such as Google ads and SEO, is essential for maintaining business and market presence in as physical storefronts become less viable.
Although advertising spend is often one of the first things cut in difficult times, this is not the time to pause or postpone your digital strategy. Continue reading to find out why you should avoid stopping your digital efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. People are online
People are currently spending a lot of time at home and on the internet. Whether they’re killing unwanted downtime with online entertainment or working remotely, they’re in a better position than ever to encounter your online presence and ads.
Although conversions aren’t likely to be high at this time, impressions have the potential to increase dramatically. The COVID-19 pandemic may not be a great time for direct sales, but it’s a great time for brand and service awareness.
Email lists don’t grow on trees, brand awareness generally doesn’t come on its own, and your online reputation won’t continue to gain momentum without a bit of effort.
Even if your overall sales drop during the pandemic panic, you can potentially offset losses by boosting your awareness and preparing your business and consumers for action after the pandemic crisis has come to pass. By continuing your digital activities, you can prepare for the post-COVID bounceback by readying the market for your full return.
2. Search grows in scarcity
As people spend more time at home and online, they’re searching more. If you’re offering an essential resource, medical necessity, or a temporary solution to the lack of either, the pandemic panic could be a great opportunity to make an impression online. Why? Because people search for products in scarcity, and search for alternatives if they can’t find what they need.
Think of the toilet paper market at the moment. Toilet paper is running out all over the world, and people are increasing their online search for it. The search term is reaching record interest rates, as seen in the Google Trends snapshot below.
Since toilet paper is currently in a global short supply and many retailers simply can’t keep up with demands, searches for competing products are also becoming more frequent. Below is a comparison of interest over time between the term ‘toilet paper’ and its most popular alternative, ‘bidet’.
Although toilet paper is still the most popular search, we can see that search interest in bidets has also grown as the original product becomes harder to find. In the absence of the product they need, people have started to look for an alternative.
The same concept can be applied to other industries, too. If your business is selling an essential or its alternative, staying open while competitors remain closed, or switching to an alternative business method which allows you to continue providing service to some degree, you are likely to benefit from continuing (or even increasing) your SEM. The search is there – just make sure you are, too!
3. Search engine ads are reactive
Unlike many other forms of advertising, search engine advertising reactive. It doesn’t waste budget on talking to the wrong people or advertising to an empty arena: you only pay for the impact it actually makes. This is because it’s charged per click: If no one clicks on your ad, no payment is made to Google.
It targets qualified leads, reaching consumers when they are in a state of need for your product or service. By minimising wastage on unqualified leads and those who aren’t likely to convert, a reactive search campaign can generate revenue and potentially offset losses.
However, ad campaigns can also be paused if it comes down to it. If saving is currently a higher priority than generating leads, your campaign can be temporarily reduced or switched off to reserve your investment for a later date. Although this may affect your campaign’s inertia, it can provide a short-term and a less drastic solution than stopping digital activity altogether.
4. SEO takes a while to recover
Unlike a paused ad campaign, SEO doesn’t recover at the flip of a switch. Because SEO is a long-term strategy, it delivers long-term results and needs long-term application to generate long-term value.
SEO is like a friendship between yourself and Google. It takes time and dedication to build, and thrives on your mutual input. If you decide to stop contributing to the relationship by ceasing optimisation or halting your content production, you can damage your relationship in a way that can’t be repaired in an instant – it takes more work, dedication, and investment for Google to see that you’re a trustworthy source again.
Meanwhile, click ads are more of a business transaction. Google may become unhappy if you stop paying it for a while, but will usually return to similar levels of collaboration once you decide to continue business. While pausing click ads may decrease the traffic directed to your site, it can generally be fixed with a campaign rebook and some tweaks.
While you may not see immediate impacts from pausing your SEO over the pandemic’s duration, you may begin to see unwanted side effects when it matters even more. Since the impact can take months to take effect, It may only begin to surface at the end of the pandemic period – right as business is getting back into usual, and a better online presence has more potential to dominate the competition.
While dialling back a little is understandable, this is not the time to completely halt SEO efforts. Doing so can disrupt your existing progress, complicating your return to regular business when the time comes.
5. Digital can be tailored
The beauty of digital activity is that it’s not stagnant. It’s open to optimisation as it goes, and it responds to edits when they’re needed.
Because many digital activities can be tailored as time progresses and your business needs change, it’s ok of you need to change things up a bit to make an impact at the current time. Just like the ever-evolving nature of the situation at hand, your digital strategy doesn’t have to be the same forever – it can be altered as needed to keep up with changes in the way things are run.
If your current advertising strategy is becoming less effective, you can switch to advertising a different product or service, an alternative or temporary solution (like telehealth or other virtual services), or even simply advertising the fact that your doors are open (a drawcard, since many businesses are temporarily closing).
Your digital activity is uniquely positioned to promote your business and services in a way that matters at the moment, both to you and your client base. This is the time to make the most of it, not to shut it off.
6. Things will improve over time
The most important thing to remember is that the current situation will not always be the case. Eventually, standard business operations will resume.
There will be an end to panic buying and damage control efforts, we will be able to leave our homes without fear, toilet paper will be back on the supermarket shelves, and marketing efforts will likely increase as businesses try to recover from temporarily abandoning their campaigns.
Once things return to normal, we will likely see a rapid increase in service availability and demand. Ad space will be flooded as competitors return to their original marketing plans, and services may quickly book out as elective procedure restrictions are lifted and patients begin making the appointments they’ve been putting off.
During this time of influx, having a market position ahead of the competition will be essential. Businesses will be competing for space, and the newly-open market will give consumers a wide range of options. An established and functional digital strategy – one reinforced over the COVID break to have maximum effect – will likely go a long way in kickstarting your return to business.
Need a hand?
If you need a hand in making things work – whether it’s communicating your plans, making the switch from in-person to online presentations, or adjusting your current marketing plan to fit your current business needs – give us a call. We’re here to help keep your business on track and ready for the post-COVID bounceback.