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The past five-odd months have been terrible for businesses of all kinds, and all sizes. An unexpected phase that no one was prepared for. No one ever thought that their businesses will come to a grinding halt with almost no scope to grow. That tried and tested marketing strategies will not appear to be a smart move anymore or that manpower will have to pay the price that money should.
And yet… there’s hope. Emerging through the despair are newer ways of growing your business and revenues; new strategies, driven by technology, digitalisation, automation. Newer platforms and channels of reaching out to people and selling your wares.
Welcome to the world of new age marketing, of new practices that are here to stay for a long time. Strategies considered ‘marketing gimmicks’ in the pre-pandemic world, are now a ‘must-have’. In fact, digital marketing is playing a crucial role in holding afloat many a one-foot-in-the-grave business. For, lockdowns might have forced people to stay indoors, but not their needs. Driven to surf online content endlessly, consumers are forcing companies to rethink their online marketing plans like never before.
Emerging trends and smashing success stories point out at some strategies and channels that all businesses should try. They don’t require a lot of investment if implemented smartly and yet, promise phenomenal gains were you to put your finger on the pulse accurately. But before we explore those strategies, a quick look at how and why some of these channels are gaining momentum even as COVID-19 rages on…
Newer ways of marketing, and their role during the Corona pandemic
- Big or small, all businesses now seek newer ways to reach out to the audience that is mostly sitting at home these days.
- Increasing brand awareness and reaching the right kind of audience can be a guaranteed factor in digital marketing if the key metrics are set right.
- The internet, if used smartly, can become a full-fledged strategy to target potential consumers and convert them into loyal brand advocates.
- The right marketing channel helps you build long-term bonds of trust with the customers.
- Technology and automation help create user-friendly interfaces that can keep customers coming back to you for more
- Most of these plans require minimal or nil investment, and yet, you can bring you revenue.
- These practices give small businesses the scope to scale up rapidly.
The real catch here is that digital marketing strategies do not cost a bomb to implement but can help the business grow exponentially. What is more, they also allow for a fair amount of trial and error processes without damaging businesses much, provided you figure out what’s not working and steer your plan away from that course with alacrity.
Having said that, the internet is one vast space with immense possibilities – and this can sometimes be its bane. Unless you don’t know exactly what it is you want to extract out of it, you might get lost in a mire of unwanted datapoints and dashboards. Therefore ‘strategies’, ‘plans’, ‘channels’, etc are more than mere buzzwords… Let’s now look at some strategies that can help every business to grow during and after COVID-19; remember, all these strategies involve zero spending or minimal costs.
SEO (Search engine optimization) – why it is the best tool to beat Corona impact on your business?
The pandemic has completely changed the consumer’s purchasing behaviour. One, it has hugely impacted their buying power thanks to salary cuts and shrunken pay-packets. Two, they are no longer able to physically go to supermarkets or shops and browse through the options of what they intend to buy. Result? The whole world is furiously searching the internet to order home what they want.
This means as a seller of a product or services, you also need to rank up your business online. SEO is the simplest and the most powerful tool for enhancing your online presence. SEO is the ‘word of mouth’ of the digital era – a proven way to bring you high ROI. It helps your business gain more referrals at lesser costs.
What makes SEO the top online tool for long-term business growth?
SEO is about making your website content relevant to what most people are searching for online. When the search engines figure out that most people are searching for what’s on your website, it will amp up the ranking of your site, which means your site will be visible to more people. When this happens, your page will start appearing on the top of the first search page, which automatically increases your chances of converting more customers.
Throwing up some statistics related to the pandemic-driven search patterns here might help:
- 90% – the overall traffic generated by search engines on the internet
- 81% – people who use search engines do compare products and do their homework before making a big buy
- 57% – the number of B2B marketers who believe SEO is the top leads generator for their business
- 64% – the number of users who go by what their search engines throw up to decide whether to buy something or not
So, you see, during COVID-19 or even after that, SEO has become a business growth tool that can no longer be ignored. Making your website easy to find and easier for customers to navigate (website architecture) will have a direct impact on your sales and growth in the long run. The trick is to get to know your correct target audience so that you can draw up a custom-made SEO strategy that will
- Get you a high organic search traffic
- Give your brand visibility and exposure
- Attract people who are potential clients
Email Marketing – the art of reaching out to people staying indoors due to Coronavirus
In a pre-pandemic world, there were multiple channels to promote your brand and to communicate with your existing and potential customers. Print and TV ads, billboards, signages, meeting them physically… But all of these cost huge monies, which, at the moment, many companies do not have. So, how to effectively merge cost-cutting measures and marketing strategies?
Email marketing. When used as a business-growth strategy to drive sales, email marketing can generate a sizeable profit as you can build a list of dedicated customers, potential clients and subscribers who look forward to hearing from you. To quote the famous investment advisor and financial planner, Ramsay Leimenstoll, “A small list that wants exactly what you’re offering is better than a bigger list that isn’t committed.”
Before the world cowered indoors due to the Coronavirus, a McKinsey survey found that Email is 40 times more effective in gaining new customers than Twitter or Facebook.
Here are more telling statistics that show why companies think email marketing gives back “excellent to good” ROI
- 86% – existing customers who look forward to receiving emails
- 80% – the number of respondents who said email marketing is the best practice for customer retention
- 72% – people who prefer to get promotional content via email
How email marketing can help build business even in a corona-created recessionary market
Bored and stuck-at-home people are checking their emails a greater number of times these days. An email campaign with a special offer from their favourite brand is just what many are looking forward to these days. Reach out to them in the right way, and you have a buyer! Plus,
- Email marketing is very inexpensive.
- Email automation lets you segment customers and funnel down their interests so that you can make them more targeted, personalised offers.
- It’s a flexible way of presenting your brand – you can include freebies, printables, promotions, coupons, messages, easily
It’s a business strategy you can build into your after-COVID-19 growth plans, too. It is a great way to canvas your business – and once you get your segmentation in place, you can reach out to an entire family, community with one email – and at negligible costs.
CRO: helps you figure out how the pandemic has changed your customers’ needs
COVID-19 is changing people’s mindsets, lifestyles, their buying patterns. But how do you come to know of this? Customer Rate Optimisation (CRO) is a good tool to know the ‘intent’ of your customers – potential and existing, by tweaking search words. For instance,
- A study found that a firm saw a whopping 120% conversion rate increase when they shortened form fields
- Spellchecking software Ginger increased their conversions by 15% by placing a video on their home page
- Another study found out that 61% customers rely on user generated content to decide which product or service to buy
In a way, CRO is about retro-fitting your service or product to the current needs of the consumers. No point wasting time and money on servicing customers who aren’t going to convert, right? Discovering what works and what people are searching for can help you improve/re-direct your marketing strategy. Hence, CRO can find you the right customers by telling you what they value at the moment; you can even out new user acquisition costs by ensuring you get maximum people who buy your products.
At a time like this, this will add the much-needed momentum to your business. Also, CRO enhances your SEO – together this deadly duo can help you retain your customers as well as gain new ones right through this pandemic and beyond.
Referral marketing – letting your customer sell your wares
Nobody wanted this pandemic. But it is upon us, forcing most of the world indoors, upping family screen time, egging on an economic crisis that has everyone second-guessing their buying choices. This is the time when positive customer stories are more likely to be lapped up online, or over the phone in a few hours.
- So, now is the time to add impetus to your peer-marketing strategies by building an effective web-network of word-of-mouth publicity, aka referral marketing. When a customer recommends your product or services to a friend or colleague, it’s taken to be the most authentic review and almost immediately converts into a sale at a time like this. It’s a circle of semi-automated sales that can continue well into your future business growth.
- As a marketing tool, referral is absolutely free as opposed to the humungous budgets other forms of advertisements demand. You keep customers happy with free upgrades and premium giveaways, and they advocate your product.
A study by Nielsen proved that 92% of consumers are convinced by a referral from a friend. Bottom-line? Keep your existing customers happy, and you stand to gain a lot even beyond the post-pandemic era.
Retargeting – reminding the surfer why he needs your product
As people reconcile with the situation the pandemic has placed them in, get comfortable with newer ways of work, life and doing business, they will come back to the things they shunned when in the throes of uncertainty. So, now is the right time to track back up the funnel to grow your business.
Retargeting helps you ask customers to rethink their buying options when they are better-placed.
Not only now, going forward, too, retargeting is emerging as a powerful conversion tool because returning visitors show more interest in your wares and are already committed to buying – so they’re easier to convert. On your landing pages, for e.g., you can retarget visitors to show them a matching ad, tempt returnees with better pricing plans, or upsell, go back to those who almost converted, but didn’t…
Leaving you with a few statistics here, on the effectiveness of retargeting…
- Just before the pandemic set in, 41% of marketing allocation to paid display spend was on retargeting.
- Retargeting can increase conversion rates by as much as 150%.
- B2B retargeting outperforms B2C retargeting by over 400% on conversions per impression.
- Retargeted visitors are 70% more likely to convert post COVID-19.
As the virus rages on, economies are being driven by some of the digital marketing strategies mentioned above. These strategies, coupled with tech and automation, if implemented effectively, can boost revenue without you having to increasing spending. What’s more, these are recurring channels of revenue generation henceforth, for businesses, and therefore, best practices to follow now and for years to come.
One more thing: don’t underestimate the power of ‘online surveys’. They’re can throw powerful insights on your business by gauging customers’ attitudes towards your product/service. Run free polls/questions on social media. Take email surveys, ask questions, test and regroup. Befriend Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube – they’re consumer voices. It allows you to reach out to customers and tweak your plans to suit the market sentiments.
Influencer marketing, thought leadership articles, product-driven posts… all these will supplement your analytical strategies. A good combination of all the above practices will ensure you capture a sizeable chunk of the customer’s heart and mind space, and therefore, market share, well beyond this pandemic.