It is difficult to make predictions in such unprecedented times but as new research data emerges businesses can get a better grasp on how to proceed. Most states in the US are now well over a month into quarantine shutdowns, so it’s a bit easier to understand consumers’ changing purchasing habits. We will be exploring these latest trends, as well as covering a few ways that you can change your marketing strategy to help in communicating with your clients. We are also covering some of the most important recent changes that have affected popular free media sources such as Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook.
Data from Hubspot says that, among many recent business declines, there’s been an unexpected increase in the ratio of marketing email engagements to open rates. If you don’t already, it could be a better time than ever to begin implementing regular email communication with your clients. This sudden increase in expendable time at home has additionally caused consumers to spend more time researching brands and products. For this reason, it’s hugely important for you to make your brand and relevant information readily available by doubling down on your SEO strategy. We’ll talk more on this later. Along with the surge in brand research, customers have also become more likely to initiate direct communication with your brand. With this in mind, be sure to alter your language to be kind and empathetic during this unprecedented time.
Alter Your Language
It’s important to be mindful of your language when speaking with customers or posting online. Coming across as compassionate and understanding can help you to earn your customer’s trust, which is important in difficult times. Avoid being too upfront and “salesy”, as this can be off-putting. When you can, offer resources and reassurance to your valued clients. Finally, don’t forget to reevaluate any campaigns you may have scheduled for the future! Alter any necessary wording to avoid coming across as insensitive.
Put More Thought Into SEO
As mentioned above, many consumers are finding themselves with more time to put towards researching brands. To make your business’s information easier for prospective customers to find, consider improving your SEO performance. Not only will this assist in bringing your brand to the forefront of search results during the quarantine, it will have lasting long-term effects. According to Conductor, “SEO is an especially smart investment… during economic downtimes” particularly because of its small upfront investment cost and long-lasting benefits. Optimizing for SEO allows you to pick and choose brand-specific vocabulary that will differentiate you and allow you to gain an advantage over your competition.
Online Directory Updates
To support your SEO strategy, DSG recommends keeping a pulse on the online directory landscape, including your business profiles on sites such as Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, and others. Take advantage of this free media to provide your potential customers with multiple means of staying up to date on your business information. These free sites are making constant changes in light of COVID-19 to facilitate communication between you and your valued customers. It’s important to read up on the latest changes so you can know how to best manage your profiles.
Google My Business has added and restricted certain features to protect businesses during this time. Google has prioritized edits to health-related businesses, so those looking to edit, claim, or seek supportfor other business categories should expect delays. GMB has also temporarily disabled new user reviews, photos, and the Q&A section; review responses were also disabled, but have since returned. Expect these features to gradually return in the near future. As for feature additions, you can now mark your business as temporarily closed, and post using the new “COVID-19 Update” posting category.
(UPDATE as of 8/20/2020: All GMB functionalities have returned to normal, with the exception of prolonged wait-times for Google support as a result of a limited team. View all details of GMB functionality here.)
Yelp has added similar features. The new COVID-19 advisory alert banner displays on all Yelp profiles, and allows users to customize their messaging. Some new pre-set call to action options let businesses highlight crucial services offered during COVID-19 such as pick-up, delivery, online orders, and more. Finally, similarly to GMB, Yelp has added the ability to mark your business as temporarily closed, or with reduced hours.
Facebook reminds businesses to utilize their Facebook page to share the most important and up to date information with customers. Keep your hours up to date to notify your clients when you are available for service. You can also proactively share business updates and pin your most important post to the top of your page to be sure it is seen. Facebook also suggests creating an FAQ to assist with the influx of questions. If your business is looking to utilize different ways to generate revenue, you may also consider selling online goods, starting a fundraiser, selling gift cards, or offering online services through video conferencing.
Staying informed on the ever-changing online listings landscape will help support your business amidst the economic uncertainty. Be sure to check back regularly with DSG to ensure you are making the most of your profiles. Visit DSG’s blog to stay up to date on all the latest marketing news.