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Four tips to strengthen your digital marketing strategy during unpredictable times.

Practical ideas to survive and thrive now and long after COVID-19

We’re all feeling the business impact of COVID-19 and the massive shift that has resulted from remote working and stay-at-home orders.

With more time on our hands, small business owners are looking for ways to keep their business thriving, and many are asking themselves questions like:

  • Is your website working hard enough?
  • Are you selling the right things to solve your customers’ challenges?
  • Do you use the right content and social media approach to generate leads and build sales?
  • Is your email marketing program effective? Is it automated?

And perhaps most importantly, how have you pivoted to reinvent your business online and make it more resilient during unpredictable times?

As part of our Small Business Webinar Series, “SmallBizLady” Melinda Emerson walked small business owners like you through an Internal Digital Marketing Reboot, giving attendees insights to improve their ability to better understand digital marketing strategy and find potential untapped marketing opportunities.

When it comes to keeping your business moving during this public health emergency, Emerson says, “We all know no matter what you’re doing you gotta be doing it differently right now.” Here are four digital marketing tips to help you do just that from the webinar “Making a Digital Marketing Strategy for Unpredictable Times.”

1. If you haven’t yet incorporated a digital approach for your business, now’s the time. Consider how quickly we’ve all moved to using cashless payment at grocery stores and takeout at restaurants, and making more of our purchases online with so many physical storefronts closed during this public health emergency.

“Right now, no one wants to touch cash. That’s an opportunity for you as you look to reinvent your customer experience,” says Emerson. “No matter how you engage customers, 97% of all interaction is digital. Looking at your digital marketing strategy is what you need to be doing. And no matter what you sell, you better be selling online.”

Having a unique value proposition is key, says Emerson.

2. Ask yourself if you need to pivot your business model. If your value proposition isn’t optimized, Emerson suggests several ways to come up with a modified approach to your business offering: Can you combine services together to develop a new innovative solution? What changes do your customers need now that their needs have changed? Can you put your products and services to another use and serve another market, even temporarily? Can you use different vendors? What do you need to stop doing? And how can you reorganize to be more effective?

“It doesn’t make sense to talk about digital marketing if you need to talk about what you’re selling and how your business is doing,” says Emerson. “Until you get clear on that, you can’t get clear on messaging and marketing.”

3. Analyze your marketing channels. Once you have a clear business model for the changing times, it’s time to analyze whether your marketing channels are working the way you need them to. The key question around that is, how is your approach working individually on each channel and together across various channels such as your website, pay-per-click ads, social media, email, content marketing and SEO, and word-of-mouth referrals and online reviews?

“Email is king,” says Emerson. “If you have a customer list, you have gold. You have the ability to make money right now.” Testing your email approach and components is important so you can know what’s most effective for your audience. “Test subject lines with different audiences to see which open better. Test the time of day you send. Test the day of week. Test everything.”

When it comes to social media, Emerson says, you need to make sure you’re part of the conversation and seen as a valuable resource. But do you need to be on all platforms? Maybe not. She does add, however, that, “All of this stuff needs to look like it’s a concert of music and every piece of marketing is playing the right note.”

4. Make sure your website makes a good first—and next—impression. Emerson recommends that you review your website strategy with four best practices in mind:

  • Conduct a site audit
  • Test your user experience (UX)
  • Check your lead magnets
  • Use Google Analytics™

“You can spruce up your website even on a budget,” Emerson adds. “Check all the links, see how fast it loads on mobile and on laptops,” and make sure the lead magnets include great content that will get people to give you their email address. 

When you’re analyzing how to optimize your website, Emerson says, “You need to dig into your analytics. Who’s coming to your site? What’s your bounce rate? Where do referrals come from?” Look to the information and insights available from Google Analytics to help you figure out your strengths and weaknesses.

Emerson also recommends that before you make sweeping changes, ask people what they think of your site. “Pull people together to ask questions. Offer a $5 gift card for their opinion. Ask several people their impression of your UX.” Once you have that insight, you can then start making tweaks.

And again, when you look at your website metrics, consider Emerson’s advice: “Your website is your #1 sales tool. Ask yourself, does this site make money?”

Do you have a post-COVID-19 marketing action plan?

During the webinar, Emerson also underscored the importance of creating a post-COVID-19 marketing action plan, and offered eight insights to help you better understand how to solve your customers’ problems and  position your business for success during unpredictable times and beyond. Access a playback of the complete webinar and additional handouts here.

Attendees of the webinar playback can also download Emerson’s free e-book, “How to Recession-Proof Your Small Business.”

Note: This article is a summary of a webinar session that was held on April 16, 2020. The opinions and advice belong to our webinar guest, and do not represent Verizon-specific opinions or advice.

Get more insights on ways to help your business thrive from the Verizon Small Business Webinar Series.

Webinar: Making a Digital Marketing Strategy for Unpredictable times

With Melinda Emerson

Melinda Emerson

  • Entrepreneur and host of #Smallbizchat on twitter
  • Regarded as America's #1 Small Business Expert
  • Bestselling author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months