The COVID-19 pandemic has left no industry untouched. In one way or another, everyone has been affected. Governments worldwide declared a mandate to stay at home, and the road towards recovery for the New Normal is slowly being realized.

2020 is indeed a daunting time for businesses.

While other businesses brace themselves towards recovery from the business ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, SMEs remain highly vulnerable at these uncertain times. Without a doubt, they are one of the sectors that have been hit the hardest by the pandemic.

Big businesses have a better chance of surviving; however, small businesses tend to live only with a few months of cash flow.

When a black swan crisis like COVID-19 disrupts small businesses, it can be devastating not only for the small business owner but also for the workforce they support. Many small businesses have reacted by reducing or suspending their operations, but those actions are only stop-gap solutions.

Most SMEs are now already feeling the toll on their bottom line. In order to keep their business afloat, SMEs need to — reassess, rethink, and reinvent themselves.

SMEs need to learn how to sustain their business operations by crafting their own digital marketing strategies for the New Normal.

Consumer insights to drive an SME’s digital marketing strategy

To recover from the impact brought about by COVID-19, businesses need to conduct rapid reviews of consumer insights that will drive their strategy. With a majority of people staying home worldwide, the purchasing behavior and media consumption habits of consumers are also rapidly changing. 

As SMEs start to reimagine their digital marketing strategies, it’s essential that they also understand the nuances regarding the changing consumer behavior for the New Normal.

It’s the key that will help them be more equipped to respond to the dynamic environment of the post-COVID-19 world.

Here are five key consumer behaviors that SMEs can take note:

 

BEHAVIOR 1: Consumers are using multiple devices to go online at record levels.

Connecting to the world online has never been more crucial than before. Consequently, home media consumption has been increasing dramatically and pervades in all aspects of life for at-home consumers.

In the US alone, government-imposed lockdowns have led to a 60% increase in the amount of video content watched online. It amounts to around 12 hours of media content per day. Across the globe, it was reported that consumers are spending 20% more time on mobile apps than they did a year ago.

BEHAVIOR 2: Consumers are searching for critical news and information to get the essential content they need.

COVID-19 has essentially changed the way we live our daily lives. As people adapt to digital models and online delivery transactions, consumers need clear and specific information about where, how, and when they can get what they need.

Google searches for “online grocery shopping” and “grocery delivery” grew by about 23%. Consumers are watching videos related to cooking and recipes at 31% higher than they did last year in the US. 

BEHAVIOR 3: Consumers are discovering new connections and nurturing virtual relationships.

Even as people are now social distancing, they are using technology to connect with their loved ones. Around 50% of consumers in the US used video to communicate with friends and family. Google searches for “virtual happy hour” is also rising. On YouTube, there has been a steady rise in “with me” videos, where people film themselves cooking, cleaning, and doing other mundane tasks at home.

BEHAVIOR 4: Consumers are adjusting their new routines to be Internet-first.

As consumers scramble to adjust, adapt, and meet social distancing and isolation demands, online habits also followed suit. Google searches for “telecommuting” has reached an all-time high. Home workout routines are also getting an overhaul worldwide. Trending searches for “stationary bicycles” and “dumbbell set” in the UK, Spain, and France have become more prevalent.

BEHAVIOR 5: Consumers are practicing self-care.

At-home consumers focus on taking care of their own physical and psychological needs, including their friends and loved ones. Consumers turn to watching online videos to help cope with anxiety and stress. In the US, meditation-related videos are 51% higher compared to last year. 

Optimizing strategies by assessing business impacts

Every business has its own unique goals and objectives. As such, the road to business recovery will be a different scenario for everyone.

Google has noted four distinct ways in which a business has been affected by COVID-19. Identify which of these four situations relates most to your business then consider the corresponding digital marketing strategies to help you recover: 

SITUATION 1: Your business is experiencing new challenges.

 

Are you experiencing supply and demand as well as logistical disruption?

COVID-19’s effect on businesses has presented various supply-and-demand challenges, including logistical disruptions. For companies facing these challenges, optimizing digital marketing initiatives might be an excellent way to start positioning the firm for business recovery. Here are several strategies you can utilize to navigate these uncertain times:

STRATEGY:
·   Focus on your most valuable customers.

Adjust your target audience using marketing localization. Prioritize consumers who are near your business location and those who are more likely to take action. Businesses should also exclude locations where it has paused or significantly reduced operations.

·   Make sure that your updated offerings are well-communicated online.

Use video creatives to drive your digital marketing performance. Firms should also update their video creatives to reflect changes in available products or services, limited hours, and other special terms or conditions.

SITUATION 2: Your business is reassessing priorities.

 

Are you reassessing your approach and focusing on mitigating risks until you settle for the next steps?

For businesses that are currently reassessing their approach, mitigating risks from the COVID-19 disruption may be one of the best ways to move forward. Companies need to think critically about how they can weather the disruption of cash flow management and fluctuating customers. Here are several ways to adapt to the situation and optimize your approach:

STRATEGY:
·   Ensure that your new priorities are well communicated to your consumers.

Review your online digital creative campaign to make sure that it reflects your current business operations. Businesses also need to adjust the messaging of their video creatives based on the current local situation. Find the right messaging that will resonate with your local consumers.

·   Engage with your consumers where they are online.

Adjust your target audience to prioritize local consumers. Identify local geographies with high-intent and high-converting groups. Review your localization strategy to reach people with localized video ads online.

SITUATION 3: Your business is pivoting to adopt new products and services.

 

Are you quickly pivoting to create new offerings and reach consumers in new ways?

Companies that pivot quickly to adapt to the current situation are creating new offerings such as new products and services. They also understand the need to reach their target audience in new ways due to the current consumer trends. Here are some recommendations on how to shift your strategy toward new objectives.

STRATEGY:
·   Align your campaigns based on your new goals and priorities.

Update your content and video creatives to reflect new business priorities. The new digital marketing campaign should also highlight your “hero” products and services. Continue to do A/B tests on your creatives and iterate the best possible combinations based on current consumer trends.

·   Match your approach according to changing consumer behavior.

Align your marketing objectives based on current trends. Reallocate marketing budget to reflect business priorities and meet current consumer demand. If your store operating hours have changed, update all your online assets and business profile to reflect the changes.

SITUATION 4: Your business is investing to meet increased demand.

 

Are you focused on meeting increasing consumer demand across product categories and markets?

The abrupt shift in consumer behavior has led businesses to experience fluctuating demand for its products and services. If your company is poised to meet the increasing consumer demand, it’s better positioned to expand into new audiences, markets, and customers. Here are several strategies to help your business operate efficiently during uncertain times:

STRATEGY:
·   Make sure your creative stay relevant to the changing consumer needs.

Reassess campaigns, assets, and creative guidelines as market dynamics change. Try connecting in helpful and human ways by creating video content from home. You can also re-edit existing video assets to give it a fresh and new look.

·   Reach more people with targeted approaches.

Expand your digital marketing campaigns by using new and creative formats to maximize your reach. Use various formats and targeting approaches to broaden your reach with a targeted audience across a variety of products.

FAQs for SMEs: Key questions to help small businesses survive and thrive in the New Normal

Let us help you explore the top three questions that SMEs have about digital marketing. Here are several tips and strategies to help you kickstart your business recovery plans:

FAQ 1: What digital marketing strategies can help us encourage our local consumers to shop with us again?

Of course, the most pressing concern for SMEs is how they can use digital marketing to attract consumers to shop with them again. With the government-imposed lockdowns worldwide, consumers have been apprehensive to shop in-stores and opted to use in-home services and delivery to minimize physical contact. Here’s how you can get started.

·   Optimized Website

A website serves as a foundation for everything that the company does online. Ensure that the website is optimized for both users and search engines. It should serve as your online storefront and a portal to introduce your products, services, and resources. 

·   Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing, especially inbound blogging, will help your business win search results online. Write relevant industry-leading blogs containing your own know-how and the things that your consumers want to read about.

·   Social Media Campaign

Social media is one of the most popular ways to reach consumers online. Create a social media account for the business and start posting regular updates and uplifting thoughts related to products and services. 

·   Email Marketing

Email campaigns are an essential tool to rebuild and reconnect with your consumer base after the lockdown has been lifted. Keep them informed about your updated safety protocols to reassure them that you’re back in service. 

FAQ 2: Which digital marketing strategy is essential to prioritize first?

Every business needs to specify what should be given priority as the foundation of your brand’s digital marketing strategy. These are essential strategies that will help the business gain traction online and regain attention, once again, to your local business.  

·   Search engine optimized website

An optimized website helps improve the presence of your business online. Make sure that it also includes the following features to highlight the firm’s COVID-19 precautions:

·   COVID-19 Policy on Homepage

A banner that announces the firm’s COVID-19 safety requirements is essential to let your website visitors know that they are ready to serve their customers. You can also have a banner linked to a dedicated COVID-19 FAQ protocols page that shows your updated safety procedures for the New Normal.

·   Online Marketplace

Customers need to have the option to order online. Whether it’s for in-home services or delivery, customers are still apprehensive about visiting your store like before. The next best thing is that they can make orders online.

·   Google My Business: Update Listings

Put your business on the map and make use of Google’s My Business platform. Use this free location and business listing and update your store hours whenever necessary. Google will help local consumers find your business online using their search engine or Google Maps.

·   In-House or Outsourced Delivery Channels

While consumers may still be unable to come to you, you can always find new ways to reach them. If you don’t have the resources to provide in-house delivery, consider partnering with one of the gig-economy delivery services like Grab, Angkas, or Mr. Speedy.

FAQ 3: What can a service-oriented business do online to provide safe on-site services?

Service-oriented businesses that provide services for clients at home or on-site are facing new challenges for the New Normal. Basic safety protocols for technicians need to be implemented. But of course, clients should also be informed and reassured that their services will remain safe. Here’s how you can do it:

·   Develop No-Contact Service Policies

SMEs need to come up with a solid no-contact policy. Define how the staff will wear the right protective equipment and publish it on the website and social media pages, so the customers will see how the protocol will be implemented. 

·   Schedule Online

Add an online scheduling tool to your websites. Make sure that clients can seamlessly schedule their own services without the need for in-person assistance. You can also add a live chat feature so that clients can talk with an agent while making the schedule. 

·   Provide Remote Consultations

Service-oriented businesses will often have in-person consultations. However, that should not always be the case. Clients can have video consultation meetings with the team where they can visually inspect a case before arriving in-person to limit the contact between employees and clients.

·   Share Pre-Service Troubleshooting Tips with Clients

It’s always a good thing to share best practices with clients. Share information via your website or email about troubleshooting tips or how-to videos to help your current client base.

·   Accept Digital Payment Systems

Enable your clients to sign the necessary paperwork and make digital payments. This will help minimize contact with staff when service technicians arrive at your client’s location. 

Content Hacker is here to help SMEs develop an effective digital marketing strategy.

As we forge our path towards business recovery for the New Normal, this is the best time for SMEs to reevaluate their business strategies, explore innovative approaches, and connect with consumers in more meaningful ways.

Adjusting and adapting to new digital marketing strategies is essential in giving your consumers the support they need during these challenging times. Content Hacker is here to help provide expert advice to SMEs.

We’re here to help your firm market and sell as we transition for the New Normal. Schedule a free consultation with us and get in touch now!

 

Reference:

2020 Google COVID Ads Playbook. (2020). Retrieved 16 August 2020, from http://services.google.com/fh/files/misc/2020_covidadsplaybook_en-us.pdf

Mid & Post-COVID Digital Marketing Strategies for Local Businesses. (2020). Retrieved 16 August 2020, from https://www.cose.org/en/Mind-Your-Business/Business-Growth/Mid-and-Post-COVID-Digital-Marketing-Strategies-for-Local-Businesses