How Digital Marketing Is Combating The Coronavirus Ecommerce Crisis

It goes without saying that we’re experiencing some truly strange times, and for many businesses it’s an understatement to say that adapting is proving to be an uphill battle. For some however, this is a moment where they’re finding the ability not just to survive, but thrive. Using strong and agile digital marketing, brands are seeing record-breaking figures and ecommerce turnover doubling or even tripling.

Within this unsettling period we’ve shared our top 7 tips for ecommerce businesses, but now we want to discuss how businesses have adapted their online marketing strategies to fit the new economic and social climate. We’ve selected some of our favourite tips, trends and tools to show you how digital marketing has responded and risen to the challenges COVID-19 has created. Keep reading to find out how you can apply these ideas to your strategy today.

Make the most of the online space

With a nationwide lockdown and strict social distancing measures being put into place, it was inevitable that retail stores were going to take a big hit. High streets now resemble ghost towns, with only supermarkets, convenience stores and other essential goods shops remaining open.

Brands with an ecommerce store, or also known now as a pandemic contingency plan, have mostly managed to evade loss of profit thanks to their transactions moving online. Brick and mortar stores, however, have experienced the first hand effects of not having an ecommerce website.

For example, retail giant Primark have seen average monthly sales of £650 million disappear overnight due to a lack of online trading. This only solidifies the belief that in order to thrive, or even just to stay afloat, brands need to make their businesses mobile and operate remotely.

For those who already have their ecomm stores up and running, the public’s response to COVID-19 has shown us how crucial conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is. A proactive approach is needed, now more than ever, to help guide people and match them to the products and services that are most relevant to them.

So what is CRO? It’s reviewing your customer’s online journey, from start to finish, and making notes on how you can improve that experience for your user. Here are some points to consider:

  • Can you eliminate unnecessary steps in the process to make your customer’s journey smoother?
  • Are your landing pages optimised with clear calls to action?
  • Does your blog provide useful, extra value information to your users?
  • Does your homepage effectively retain customers and guide them further into your site?
  • Is your website providing enough onpage support?

The process of CRO won’t trigger results overnight, so split testing over a period of time is key. The benefit to conversion rate optimisation is that when done effectively, you’re likely to see results across all of your marketing channels.

Change with your audience

When it comes to a paid approach, you can’t just throw spend at your ads and hope for the best.

Be smart with your budget and know which campaigns you should be pulling back and which you should be putting more money into.

Take a moment to learn about your audience. Or relearn we should say. Where are they browsing, and on what platforms? 

One huge change is the fall in mobile activity. Mobile traffic fell an average of 24% from between the months of February to March – a clear symptom of lockdown and less people using their mobile devices to search. This offers up the case of whether paid search experts should be reducing spend on their mobile ads and reallocating it to desktop, which has only seen a 18% fall within the same period.

As there’s no overall trend in buying behaviour, for retailers who are selling goods that aren’t considered “essential”, it might be best to treat this time as an investment period. Set up your website, your content and your audience to convert in the long-run. Expect a lot of virtual window shopping for now, but hopefully you should see sales pull through at a later date. 

Cover all of your bases

This might seem like an obvious point, but we’re going to highlight it anyway for the people at the back. Don’t put all of your eggs into one metaphorical marketing channel basket.

People have a lot more time to spend online now. Whether they’re shopping or consuming content, it all adds up to the fact that online engagement is reaching new all time highs. 

To put this into context, we’ve pulled together the following statistics:

Digital content consumption has taken over a lot of web activity, so catering your marketing to reach people where they’re now spending time is definitely a strategy to consider.

Content for all

As important as transactions are, brands also need to be focusing on retention and consumer satisfaction. This is especially important for businesses who may be struggling to convert users.

We’ve seen a lot of companies adjusting their social media strategies by offering bonus content, or even free content, to help their customers during the lockdown period.

Gym chain, Planet Fitness, and exercise class, CorePower Yoga, have adjusted to social distancing regulations by setting up virtual work out classes. These are being streamed online through the brands’ social media channels. It complies with COVID19 quarantine measures and gives their loyal customer base content that allows them to continue working out at home. 

In another sector, restaurant chain Wagamamas has found a way to continue giving their customers a chance to enjoy their delicious dishes – despite their 135+ physical establishments being forced to shut.

The Japanese-inspired chain has launched Wok From Home, a series of free cooking lessons taught by their executive head chef. Each of the lessons cover a well-known and well-loved Wagamamas dish, and are being posted across the chain’s YouTube, Facebook and Instagram channels.

Even Google, notorious for its profit-driven ways, has found a way to reward its users by offering free advertising space for businesses. Before, Google Shopping ads were a paid privilege run by bidding and product data, but now the tech giant is making the ads on its shopping pages free. This is to help out businesses who may be struggling from the economic effects of COVID-19. Traditionally, the top row of ads on the SERPs is occupied for paid ads, and this will still be the case on the Google Shopping page. However, all the ads beneath this row will be free to advertise. This change is being rolled out across the US this week and will be available for the rest of the world in the coming months.

These examples of bonus content are not only useful and entertaining in a time when consumers need it most, but they’re ways in which businesses are showing that they care about their customers. 

Foster a community feel, strengthen your online presence and connect with your audience by making the most of your brand’s organic social channels. If it doesn’t make sense for your business to be creating recipes and streaming exercise classes, there are many other ways you can engage with your followers. Hosting Q&A sessions, offering self care tips, home activity guides and ideas for entertainment can be really helpful for your audience. 

Be social, virtually, when we can’t be physically.

Listen to the people

The uncertainty of the current times mean that it’s nearly impossible to predict what’s coming and plan a response without inside information. Or a data analysis program that can highlight upcoming trends. This is when search query and insight tools will become your best friend. 

Google Trends is Google’s own platform that tracks the popularity of search terms. This data can be mapped out geographically, compared with other keywords and Google Trends will also suggest related queries too. A Coronavirus Search Trends page has also been created as a sort of spin off where users can track keywords around COVID-19 and how it’s being searched all around the world.

Similarly Exploding Topics, the brainchild of Backlinko’s founder, Brian Dean, and Josh Howarth, “analyzes millions of searches, conversations and mentions across the internet” before their algorithm identifies which queries will soon become trending. 

Using these tools is quintessential for making sure that the content you’re creating is relevant and ontopic. They’ll help you to put out the right content at the right time, ensuring you stay up-to-date and don’t fall behind amongst the millions of other brands who are striving to do the same.

While Google Trends and Exploding Topics can’t tell you what to do, they can tell you exactly what people are searching for. They make it easy to find a popular keyword or topic that aligns with your brand. The rest is up to you to create data-led content that answers your customer’s queries.

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