If you told your January 2020 self that one year from now, you’d be sitting down looking back on all the craziness the rest of the year would bring, would you believe any of it?
Needless to say, this year has been bursting at the seams with changes; not all of them welcome. Businesses all across the globe have had to reshape the way they operate to stay afloat in an already marketing-flooded world — and not to mention that the individuals behind those businesses have had their entire way of living ripped from the ground like a weed.
But before we move on, pause for just a moment, and give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve made it through almost a whole year of living with COVID, and that’s something to be proud of.
Whether you’ve found a way to successfully navigate your business through these times or you’re still trying to find your footing, let’s take a peek at what we’ve learned from 2020 as marketers — and what your business should be doing going forward as we move into a new era of digital marketing.
What We Learned from 2020
Online Marketing Has Seen Incredible Growth
Where physical doors shuttered and closed, those online flew wide open, what with working from home instead of an office, attending Zoom classes instead of on-campus lectures, watching live-streamed events instead of going to in-person conferences, to name but a few.
Ecommerce in particular saw a huge amount of increase as more consumers opted to shop online versus in store — in fact, it was up 32.4 percent year-over-year.
In addition, more than 40 percent of consumers said in a June 2020 survey that they expected to shop online more frequently moving forward.
So yes, the real world might have quarantine rules and curfews — but lucky for us, the world wide web doesn’t follow suit. And if you haven’t hopped on the digital-marketing bandwagon yet, you’ll want to grab your computer and start running to catch up.
A Strong Digital Foundation Remains Vital
As more and more businesses move online, having a strong digital foundation becomes incredibly more important.
A strong digital foundation basically means you have a concrete online presence across all platforms: Your branding is the same, your voice carries the same tone, everything is visually cohesive, the information you list online (like business hours, addresses, and phone numbers) remains consistent no matter where people go to find it, etc.
Think about it like this: If people can’t find you, and if you don’t know where to go to reach them, that’s only going to open up a whole other world of unanswered questions — especially when it’s harder for people to walk through our doors and ask us about our products and services in person. However, constructing and maintaining a strong digital presence takes all that out of the equation.
Moving forward, consistency is key.
You Absolutely Must Maintain Brand Awareness
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, our team at OpticTour has helped tons of businesses understand the power of marketing in a changing world, and we’ve found that it’s absolutely vital for them to do what they can to keep their brand top of mind.
Those who have spent the necessary funds to put their name out there by advertising on Yelp, Facebook, and using other digital marketing tactics have been able to stay open, provide their customers with what they need, and continue to increase their revenue in a world that’s got “business as usual” in a chokehold.
As future COVID waves loom ominously on the horizon, you might be thinking it’s better to save all the money you can by only spending on essentials that directly relate to your business — but generating brand awareness is the most essential thing you can do if you want to ride that wave to its completion.
And the cold, hard truth? If you don’t spend the necessary funds to get your name out there, you’re going to be surpassed by those who did — or by those who already have brand awareness, like larger companies and chains.
That’s why it’s increasingly important to spend the necessary time and money to effectively market your business — especially since one thing that’s gone up over the course of COVID has been the amount of time we spend scrolling through our phones.
Social Media: Communication & Commerce
Another thing we’ve seen in 2020 is the increase of using social media as a channel for communication and commerce.
Brands everywhere have turned to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tiktok, and more to do what they can to stay connected, offer updates and information about their operations, and continue to do business with consumers everywhere through regular postings, ad campaigns, and more.
In fact, 66 percent of consumers believe it’s comforting and reassuring to hear that a brand they follow is doing what they can to mitigate the dangers of COVID, and 46 percent said they look to brands for optimistic messaging about the future.
Going forward, maintaining a strong social presence becomes increasingly important, especially because 30 percent of online shoppers said they’d likely buy products directly from social media platforms — and 70 percent of shoppers said they look to Instagram in particular for product discovery.
Think that posting on social media won’t get you any new customers? Think again!
According to a June 2020 survey, over one-fourth of consumers have started shopping with a retailer they had never used before.
Alongside the consumer drive to shop on social media comes their desire to be communicated with — so as we continue to make our way through the muck, it’s vital that we do all we can to provide information to our customers through these channels and continue to drive sales.
You Absolutely Have to Stay Flexible, Aware, and Up to Date
In today’s world, it seems things change at the drop of a hat.
That’s why it’s become even more important to stay up to date with all the latest tools, technologies, and marketing news so you can create the most effective plan going forward.
Especially with Apple and Google’s ongoing privacy war, the way marketers operate is set to drastically change — and if you’re not staying on top of the news, you’re at risk of being crushed beneath it.
What You Need to Be Doing in 2021
Once again, congratulations for making it through 2020! You’re doing a great job, and after you read the remainder of this blog, you’ll have a few more tips about how to keep your head held high as we make our way through the new year.
Remain Focused, Yet Flexible
The linear way of living is no more — the COVID world is full of twists and turns, and it’s important that we’re able to successfully navigate them if we want to make it to the final destination.
It’s no longer “run advertisements, get money.”
It’s “run advertisements, look at data, learn more about our audience, retweak our marketing plan, run more advertisements, wash, rinse, repeat, and THEN get money.”
Going forward, do what you can to make a plan, but understand when and how you might need to change course.
Track Your Data
If you’re not already tracking your data, then you’d better start.
If you don’t understand where your visitors are coming from, what they’re doing, who they are, what they want, where they make purchases and where they abandon them, and all that other fantastic information that will help you solidify your digital marketing plan, then you simply won’t go very far. The devious world of COVID will ensure that.
We can’t rely on a loose idea of who our target audiences are and how they operate — we have to understand them on a molecular level and do everything in our power to reach them.
And tracking your data? Measuring results? Reformulating a plan to be more effective based on your findings?
That’s the most lucrative tool you can use to get you there.
Embrace the Digital World
In 2021, you’re gonna absolutely have to accept that you’ve gotta go digital to stay afloat.
Keep people safe by offering contactless options for your services, turn any in-person events into an online conference or webinar, livestream about company ongoings and what you’re doing to stay safe — the possibilities of the digital world are endless, and they’ll all serve to help you withstand the trying world of COVID.
A final reminder?
Keep your head up — you got this!
We’d Love to Lend a Hand
At OpticTour, we seek to guide our clients through any marketing endeavours they’re trying to undertake, building them a strong digital foundation and teaching them how to effectively share their products and services with the world, create authentic connections with their audience, and grow their company to new heights.
Whether you’re ready to run Yelp advertisements or still don’t even really know what they are, we’re here to guide you along the path of digital marketing and out through to the other end. We can run personalized advertisements, take care of all your social media and review platforms, shoot promotional videos, create a Google 360 tour to give people an authentic feel of your space, and so much more.
The possibilities are endless, and they’ll all serve to help you not only survive but grow your business for years to come — COVID or not.
Let us help you the way we’ve helped so many others. Whenever you’re ready, you can fill out this form to schedule your free audit.
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