The coronavirus has changed the way that we interact with the world. Malls are under threat. Some stores are closed and others are accepting only limited customers. Fitting rooms in clothes stores are shut, and shoppers are being discouraged from handling goods. It’s only natural for customers to shy away from the high street and considers shopping online. Digital marketing offers many potential benefits for business owners in almost any niche.
Every Crisis is an Opportunity
COVID-19 presented many opportunities for companies that already had a strong digital presence. Perhaps the most obvious ‘big retailer’ that cashed in on the coronavirus situation is Amazon. The digital giant posted first-quarter profits of $75 billion and says that it expects to spend just $4 billion in coronavirus costs.
Amazon stared the crisis from a strong position because it is a company that stocks a wide range of products, has an international audience, and is able to offer fast delivery. In a world where people aren’t able to, or willing to, leave the house for casual shopping, having a huge catalog and offering convenience is a huge selling point.
Carving Out Your Digital Niche
A business doesn’t have to be as big or as powerful as Amazon in order to succeed digitally. Indeed, many consumers are opting to avoid Amazon and instead support smaller, independent retailers. There are entire “Buy Local” or “Love Local” movements that aim to support smaller businesses. If you can find and reach that audience, you can turn your business into a success.
The challenge, for a smaller retailer, is reaching your audience online and providing them with a good experience so that they feel willing to open their wallets.
Building an Online Audience
Having an online presence is essential for almost every business. Even if you aren’t able to sell products online, promoting your business online can still help, and providing information online can save customers time, and help them find out what they want to know without picking up the phone or having to make an unnecessary journey. Remember that people search online for three things:
- Information that they want to KNOW
- Things that they want to DO
- Places that they want to GO
What does your business do? What product or service does it provide? What problems does it solve? Think about those questions, and think about how your website could improve the experience for your customers. That could be taking online bookings, offering information about products online, or actually selling products online.
The popularity of online shopping has increased dramatically in recent months. Even sectors that aren’t traditionally exciting are seeing a change. For example, abandonment rates for insurance shoppers have fallen by 11%, as people are using the time in lockdown to sort out their policies.
Cashing in on that increase in online shopping will take consistency and creativity. Some niches, such as groceries, electronics, and takeaway food, already have a lot of demand and ready-made audiences. Retailers in other niches, and those who were not already known for selling online, may need to invest in digital marketing. There are several channels that could be used to build an audience:
Social Media and Digital Marketing for Retailers
The coronavirus has changed a lot about the way that people interact with each other. As people spend more time at home, this means more interaction is taking place on social media. This means that there’s a golden opportunity for businesses to reach their ideal audience through social media marketing and through word of mouth.
Paid social media ads can be highly targetted, and reach specific age groups, genders, family sizes, or interest groups with just a few mouse clicks. Organic social media posts, blog posts, or videos can be used to spread the word, too. If your business already has a web presence, using that platform to share how-to guides, funny sketches or carefully crafted opinion pieces can be a good way of reaching your existing audience, and if the content is good then those users may share it with their friends and family online. Turning your current customers into brand advocates is an incredibly powerful marketing tool.
Many small businesses struggled to adapt when the coronavirus hit, and their first few attempts at posting to social media may have been awkward or inconsistent. If you haven’t historically made use of social media, and you’re not sure how to strike the right balance between engagement and information, or you’re not sure about how and when to get involved with certain contentious issues on social media, then working with some marketing experts to formulate a social media policy is a good idea.
Done right, social media can build up your brand name, increase awareness of your products and services, and create the trust that you need to become a household name in your niche and start selling more online. A quality digital marketing agency can design you a brand, help you come up with interesting creatives, automate posting content, and build engagement with your followers.