The first quarter of 2020 brought us an unprecedented situation with a global pandemic that shut down parts of the country and created economic uncertainty and record unemployment. For a lot of businesses, that meant taking a new approach to marketing.
Now, more than eight months into the pandemic, the road ahead is clearer than it was then. With multiple new vaccines announced and an end in sight, we still have a rough road ahead in many ways.
So… the big questions are:
With that in mind, I have some thoughts on what you can and should do in the next 90 days to get (and keep) your business on track for success.
The first thing I suggest is a thorough audit of your marketing plan. A lot of companies hit the pause button — or drastically reduced their marketing spending — when the pandemic hit. For obvious reasons, that’s not a long-term strategy.
I suggest creating a short-term plan that takes the current climate into consideration, and then mapping out some long-term plans as the situation evolves. With COVID cases spiking in the final quarter of 2020, we’re not in the “after” yet — but it’s getting closer every day.
In the early days of the pandemic, you may have been reluctant to drastically rethink your SEO, both on your website and in your ads. I think now is the time to make changes and do some planning.
If there are changes in the way you do business that may impact the way people search for your company, then you’ll need to incorporate them into your Google Ads and possibly your website. For example, if you’re offering Zoom consultations or curbside pickup, then you should be using those things to your advantage while the pandemic is still top-of-mind for consumers.
At the same time, I suggest choosing negative search terms — keywords that might be bringing you useless traffic. For example, if people are Googling “athletic shoes curbside pickup” to get to your site, and you don’t offer curbside pickup, you should list “curbside pickup” as a negative search term.
I’d also suggest keeping a close eye on your traffic and search terms and updating them as needed. If you add a service or find that a term has become more or less relevant, you’ll want to act to refine your traffic.
This next topic is a tricky one. As of the time I’m writing this, in December of 2020, much of the United States is shutting down again as COVID-19 cases spike. Back in March and April, marketers noted a slow-down in mobile search as many people were working from home and glued to their computers all day.
Mobile traffic picked up again over the summer, but I expect to see it decrease again now and probably into the spring. The key is to do some non-mobile marketing while teeing up your mobile marketing strategy for the future.
Prior to the pandemic, estimates were that 75% of all digital traffic would be mobile by 2026. I don’t think there’s a reason to doubt that we’ll get there, but mobile traffic is down now and you should be aware of that — and market accordingly.
It’s always less expensive to retain existing customers than it is to attract new ones. It’s possible you might have the marketing budget to prioritize new customer acquisition but if you don’t, I suggest a focus on retention instead.
That may mean:
Of course, all these things may change as we get closer to the roll-out of new vaccines. It’s important to review everything periodically and tweak as needed.
A lot of the business owners I talk to have told me that advertising channels that used to be fruitful are less so now. Of course, the reverse may be true as well.
That said, you should be tracking your ROI on every advertising and marketing channel and eliminating those that aren’t delivering the results you want. Doing so will then allow you to redistribute funds to the channels that are working.
Finally, I believe that using this time as an opportunity to streamline your marketing and set yourself up for future success is the smart thing to do. Marketing automation will save you a ton of time and money in the long run.
You may want to consider:
Best of all, using automation will make it easy to collect data and fine-tune your marketing going forward. If you can afford to do it, this is the ideal time to get automated.
These are uncertain times but doing the things I’ve outlined here can help you to navigate the remainder of the pandemic and be ready to adapt when it ends.
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