The pandemic has completely blindsided us all. Within a month after COVID-19 was declared a world pandemic, it has crippled businesses (especially brick and mortar stores to mid-size entrepreneurs) and workers as governments lock up major cities, shut down flights, and encouraged the public to stay at home.
In the Philippines (for those who don’t know, this is where I am based), all cities in Metro Manila and in the provinces were locked down. Businesses have stopped operating except for those catering to basic necessities such as food, water, and medicine. Even public transportation was put to a halt except for a few services but even those were directed to prioritize medical workers first. Only a handful of restaurants operate and dine-in orders are discouraged. Everything is served to-go or for pick-up.
And it seems like a month in enhanced community quarantine won’t work. Although there’s a slight dip in the curve, it’s not enough to say that everything can go back to normal. In fact, there are rumors that the lockdown might continue for another 10-20 days or go full on two months.
So what happens next to businesses? Should you stop altogether to cut back on the loss? Not quite. Although foot traffic has significantly dropped or stopped (if you had to shut down your store), there’s still one place where traffic never ends; and that’s the Internet.
What are the Facts?
The beauty of digital marketing lies on our ability to track our target audience – their behavior and what sites they visit online. While store visits may be down, internet use has gone up by more than 50% since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. The thing is though, they are not on Google.
Google Search and Google Shopping traffic have taken considerable dives and mobile use has been significantly reduced. On the Brightside, traffic to other websites like news sites, social media, and video streaming platforms have increased.
What does this mean for businesses? It means that if you haven’t built an online reputation, this is the perfect time to do so.
Don’t Stop Doing SEO
Continue working on your SEO now means you don’t need to fight for your spot in search engines in the future.
Start with optimizing your website. If you don’t have one yet, build one. There are so many apps available in the market that would help businesses owners to create a simple, basic website. You can work on the design later on once you get the ball rolling.
If you already have one, start doing site audits and fix any errors. You want your website to be as functional and effective.
Stay Relevant, Write Timely Content
Another area to look into is your content. Make sure you keep your content updated as you can expect customers to visit your site for new information. This also goes for your social media profiles.
Don’t be shy to look into trends. You’ll be surprised how some queries that are not even directly related to the virus have spiked in search volume during the past days. Example: work from home tips, recipes, activities to do with kids, how to start live streaming or podcasting, or even fun facts like how Tangled mentioned ‘Corona’ as the kingdom where Rapunzel lived.
If your business can cater to some of the concerns of people locked indoors, it would greatly help your brand stay on top of people’s minds if you share some expert tips or valuable information. However, it is easy to get tagged as someone who’s taking advantage of the situation. The key is to focus on putting your brand on the positive side of this fight – provide assistance. It may not be monetary but giving out tips and just spreading the positive vibe will greatly help.
Example: I’ve seen ads by popular milk team shops here where they’ve shared homemade versions of their bestselling drinks. Not only does this reflect a positive image that their company is not hesitant to share their ingredients to the world, it also helps get their brand get remembered.
Allocate More Budget for Online Ads
Start reassigning your budget from offline promotion to online ads. Though, you might want to cut back on doing Google Search ads a bit. Instead, invest in Google Display Network. Just a couple of weeks into March, traffic from Display Network grew by 13% while YouTube views are soaring up to 21%.
Now more than ever, it’s critical to advertise across networks. Advertising across multiple networks can cut the loss of merely depending on Google search. This is also the perfect way to find new audiences or build a new following that might search for you later on in Google.
Last but Not the Least, Stay Home, Stay Healthy
Times are challenging indeed. But it will come to an end. Maybe not soon, but eventually it will. You want to be healthy, strong, and mentally capable when that happens. We’re not only dealing with the virus, we also have to look into our mental health as we go through stress, anxiety and fear.
No one likes to not have control of what happens in the future especially for businesses. All we can do is pray, follow health and safety protocols, and hope that eventually all our efforts work to flatten the curve.