Digital marketing for the (dare we say it?) ‘new normal’
With that in mind, we’ve put together some tips to help businesses respond to these changes. From the tools and services we’ve used to help drive brands forward during this period to tips and strategies to ensure you’re getting the most out of your website and digital marketing campaigns.
Monitoring and performance
This may sound like a basic one, but making sure your website is online and performing is crucial. To minimise the effects of any kind of service outage it’s important to know what’s happening with your site at all times. Creating a list of resources and logins linked to your website will help to quickly spot and react to any issues. This should include your website administration panel, your hosting account, any third party services you are using (i.e. payment processors, mail services, search providers, etc), your analytics accounts, and any other related services.
Services like Uptime Robot and Solarwinds Pingdom are quick and easy to set up and can be configured to send you an email or text message if your website is offline, meaning you can quickly raise support tickets with your provider if needed.
Increases in your traffic will mean more bandwidth useage and more load on your server. Testing your website with free tools such as Google Pagespeed Insights or GTmetrix will show you if there are issues that might cause your website to load slowly. Faster websites not only improve user experience and conversions, they also help you rank higher in search engine results, so it’s well worth testing.
Ensure that you have full remote access to your website and marketing tools. Again, it may sound obvious, but some services require you to validate your login if you’re accessing the resource from a new location. This is a security measure to prevent unauthorised access, but whenever you log in from a new location (i.e. working from home), it could ask for an additional password or mobile number to validate your login. So you will want to make sure you have access to these numbers or accounts.
Setting up team communications can help here. At Absolute, we use Slack so that the team can stay in touch when working remotely. It allows quick messaging and file sharing between team members. For meetings, we use a combination of Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Slack. This allows us to host meetings both internally and externally and easily allows face-to-face communication with our clients.
If you’ve not already done so, now is a good time to move any shared resources to a cloud instance. Here we use Dropbox and Google Drive cloud storage to share files amongst the team. This makes it easier for team members on different platforms to access files. Instead of emailing attachments back and forth, which can get lost or mixed up, a cloud storage platform will ensure everyone is working on the right document, and, in most cases, version of the file so that you can go back and see what’s been changed. Having good quality product imagery and brand assets on hand can help when putting together social media content.
Being able to process payments through your website is essential, while face-to-face sales opportunities are still limited. We’re seeing a large increase in the number of online transactions* [https://eiuperspectives.economist.com/healthcare/covid-19-pandemic-accelerates-rise-digital-payments]. Fortunately there are several payment service providers out there which are growing to meet this demand. Services such as Paypal, Stripe, and Paddle can help you manage all aspects of payment processing including Payments, Billing, Refunds, etc.
These services are designed to be integrated with your existing website. At Absolute, we can configure and implement payment processing providers into our custom built CMS: Absolute Control. Using payment processing services like these takes the headaches out of processing payments online. The payments are processed in a seamless and secure way on the provider’s servers that are trusted by banks and customers alike.
Communication and virtual events
Ensuring you keep your customers informed and up-to-date is important. There are multiple ways to do this. Updating your website with COVID-19 related information and points-of-contact can be done by creating blog or news articles. Following this up on social media and with email newsletters is an effective way of ensuring that your customers receive this information. Make sure that all of your social media accounts are well managed as this is the first port of call for a lot of customers.
Many companies are hosting virtual events and seminars as social distancing and travel restrictions mean events can’t be staged physically. They can take various forms, sometimes they’re live-streamed on services like YouTube or Twitch, usually for larger audiences. Or, on video conferencing platforms such as Zoom or Google Meet for small groups.
Marketing and e-commerce
Adjusting your marketing message to better reflect the realities of the pandemic such as working from home, remembering your face mask, washing your hands etc can help foster a sense of authenticity and relatability whilst maintaining your marketing presence.
As we’re seeing an increase in e-commerce, and more businesses transitioning from store-based sales to online, keeping the sales coming in can be challenging. If you’ve recently made this transition here are a few ideas that might help you boost your cash flow:
If the pandemic has restricted production or caused delays in getting products into store, consider introducing pre-orders. As global supply chains are affected, having a way for people to pre-order product means you can keep taking orders and provides the customer with peace of mind that they can get their hands on the product as soon as supply becomes available. An alternative to this might be gift cards. Depending on your business this can be an effective way of getting and maintaining support from your customers.
If you’re experiencing supply-chain issues look at discounting older stock, this can help boost cash flow in the short-term and free up space for more new stock for when the supply chain issues are resolved.
Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic is creating lots of challenges for businesses, it can also be a time to discover emerging markets. It can open up new opportunities to offer products and services directly to the consumer. If your business doesn’t offer e-commerce for all the products in its range, there has never been a better time to introduce this. If fulfillment is an issue, the ‘click-and-collect’ approach is becoming more popular, where transactions are handled online and the customer can arrange to collect their order safely. It’s an opportunity to get creative with your brand and explore new avenues to reach your audience.