Digital Marketing and Covid-19: Your Toolkit for Right Now

By David Wharram, CEO of Coast Digital

During the current climate, retailers are trying to adapt to this ‘new normal’. Some businesses are experiencing growth, while others are slowing down and facing significant challenges. The way the retail industry reacts during these challenging times can be the difference between bouncing back and failing.

Digital marketing has become the primary mode of engagement and communication during this time. Within the past few weeks, high streets across the country have kickstarted their operations as retailers attempt to return to normality. However, with safety measures still in place, shoppers may be hesitant to respond so quickly. Therefore, retailers need to ensure their digital online presence is still working for them; whether by converting sales online or driving foot traffic back to stores. Digital marketing provides retailers with the opportunity to add value to customers while also preparing their positioning for the post-crisis market.

There are numerous methods businesses can focus on to prepare for a comeback.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

One technique that businesses should look to be doing right now is to review their Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Interest will return and therefore ensuring an SEO strategy is in place is critical; particularly when so much business these days is having to take place online. With competition more potent than ever before, retailers are going to be fighting against each other to rank well in search engines. Ensuring businesses focus on SEO will ensure they rank high and attract possible leads that will help them bounce back. SEO is both time and resource-sensitive, so spending time on it now and bringing it up to date will be hugely beneficial after lockdown.

Ultimately, as consumer interest returns and even increases, search rankings will be in a better position than they were before, ensuring they will continue delivering results. Although it is an excellent time to focus on specific aspects of SEO, such as technical auditing, updating ‘Google My Business’ and topical content creation, it is also not the time to put effort into other parts. For example, it is best to avoid backlink acquisition and keyword research, particularly around evergreen content. Number and data samples surrounding both of these will not be reflective of the typical normal during this current climate.

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)

Another point to consider within digital marketing is the review of Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO). When some normality returns, businesses need their websites to be converting as efficiently as they can and as high as possible. Although now is not the time to make massive changes that could have long-standing implications, creating small, simple changes to your website can help improve it. Additionally, it is essential to rely on expertise and heuristic review, as well as best practice advice during this time. It is imperative to have someone involved who understands the user journey and will be able to provide an opinion on how to smooth out possible user pain points. It is essential not to make considerable changes to product pages during this time, simply because the data is not currently available to make smart decisions on this.

Utilising Data

Another factor to consider during this time is the type of data available and how retailers are using it. Even though marketers rely heavily on data, it could be leading them astray. Therefore, considering what you use data for is crucial. We currently have access to outdated data from before the Covid-19 crisis, and we also have data from right now. If marketers try to analyse something that they have been working on for the past year with data compiled today, they are likely to see an outcome that doesn’t make much sense. On the other hand, it is ok to use existing data if you are trying to optimise for right now and is likely to give a clearer idea of how a campaign might go if it was to happen in the present time. Therefore, being cautious about where you obtain data and what you are using it for is essential.

Upskilling your team to navigate the current retail landscape

Many digital marketing techniques will not mean a lot if your business is not equipped with the skills to implement them, which is why upskilling staff with the necessary training is hugely beneficial. Ongoing training can help improve performance and develop a deeper understanding of specific areas. It also allows businesses to build a marketing strategy while also preparing them for new digital opportunities, both now and in the future. With digital currently playing a predominant role, every opportunity needs to be explored.

If businesses do currently have a digital offering, it is the time to push it more than ever before, and if they don’t have one, it’s time to create one and evolve. With digital becoming more prominent than ever, businesses should consider these digital marketing tools so that when they are ready to bounce back, not only will they be prepared but also armed with more skills to drive further growth.

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