Even before the pandemic, the gap between businesses leveraging digital and social media marketing and those that aren’t doing it properly or at all was growing at an alarming rate. Factor in all the COVID-related things impacting businesses—including restrictions limiting hours and capacities, safety and cleaning guidelines, and businesses permanently closing their doors—digital marketing and social media become even more important. If you’re not posting content on the internet and social media on a regular basis, your business doesn’t exist.
Still, small businesses are drawn in by things like print, radio, and even TV advertising, which carry huge price tags and don’t have anywhere near the impact or reach they had years ago. Times have changed. More and more people are consuming content online—specifically through smart phones, tablets, and other mobile devices. People don’t read newspapers and magazines anymore, listen to the radio, or watch TV like they use to. They rely on the internet and social media for their content, download or stream music and podcasts, and have cut the chord in favor of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. This is why digital marketing and social media marketing have become so important for the survival of businesses.
Digital marketing and social media marketing doesn’t have to cost a lot of money either. In fact, a lot of it you can do for free- all it takes is some time and effort.
Here are the main things businesses should focus on to help increase business:
- Website: You need a website. It’s not even an option any more. Your website needs to be mobile-friendly too, because that’s how people are visiting your website.
If you haven’t updated your website in a long time, now is the time to do it. There are many Content Management System (CMS) based website platforms, like WordPress and Wix, that are easy to use, require little to no web design knowledge or experience, and are built to be mobile friendly.Your website also needs to be easy to navigate and have all the necessary information (hours of operation, location(s), contact info, menus, etc.) easy to find.
- Email Marketing: You need to have an email list of all your customers/clients. Email marketing is still very effective and lets you reach people directly. Past customers/clients are more likely buy from you or use your services again and are great at helping you spread the word and recommend you to new potential customers/clients. The cost of acquiring a new customer costs 10 times more than getting business from a previous one. If you already have this information, why not use it?
- Google My Business: Google My Business is a free profile for your business on Google search results. You can manage your location(s), hours of operation, contact info, do posts, and even showcase products and services. Having an up-to-date Google My Business profile helps your business get found (especially locally), helps with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), provides people who are searching for your product or services with all the information the need, and shows your business is operating during the pandemic. Google My Business even has special COVID-relating settings.
- Social Media: At the very least, you need to be posting on Facebook, especially if you’re a B2C business. If you’re not posting, people won’t even know if you’re still in business. Facebook also allows you to create a “Shop” right on your company page where you can showcase your products and visitors can purchase them directly (or than can be re-routed to your website to complete the purchase).
If you’re a B2B company, you should post on LinkedIn. Make sure you have a company page set up and that it is filled out completely with all your information.
- Facebook Ads: Facebook ads allow you to geo-target people within a certain mile radius based on multiple variables, including their interests (i.e. the pages/profiles they follow, what they have listed in their profile). They are extremely affordable (you set the budget and the length of time the ads run for) and easy to use. Other social media platforms, including Instagram and LinkedIn, also offer very affordable advertising options with audience targeting features as well.
Other things you can do to help your business:
- Partner with other local businesses: Come together with other local businesses (especially if they are located near you, say in a downtown area) and put together promotions, sales, offers, or just advertise together. You’ll be exposing your businesses to each other’s audience/clientele and give people more of a reason to take action. Do cross-promotional social media posts or emails encouraging people to share and spread the word.
- Work with your local Chamber of Commerce: The reason local chambers of commerce exist is to help small businesses. They can help spread the word on your business through their social media channels and emails to members. They also offer also offer different types of groups and networking events (including virtual networking events) to help business owners make connections. There’s typically a fee to join a chamber of commerce, but the good thing is that you usually write it off on your taxes as an expense.
Digital marketing is an investment you need to make- it’s not going anywhere and what you do now will still be valuable to your business when the pandemic is finally over. It just takes a little effort—Because of COVID, many businesses find themselves with down time and extra bandwidth that they didn’t have previously, which is perfect for working on your business’ digital and social brand. If you’re still overwhelmed or unsure of what to do, it’s worth the investment of hiring a marketing professional to help you out. If you need help with you digital marketing or social media, contact us today.