There is no doubt that the global COVID-19 pandemic changed the daily lives of many consumers and their shopping behavior. As people started to stay home to limit the spread of the virus internet usage has spiked by up to 50%, but on the other hand eCommerce conversion rates went down 14%. So people are more online but they are hesitant to make purchases. As such, many businesses had to adapt to these changing circumstances and increased uncertainty.
36% of retailers believe that COVID-19 will have a negative impact on their business no matter if you have just an online shop or if you also have physical locations. Even some major retailers had to adjust their operations and strategies to cope with the changing eCommerce landscape. But in the middle of this global crisis and for a future crisis like this one, there are always opportunities for businesses to thrive.
Adapt Your Marketing Plan to New Ecommerce World
Although it brought many challenges to almost all industries, the COVID-19 has enabled a lot of positive long-term results to happen for the eCommerce industry.
It changed how people shop for both essential and non-essential items and they have been forced to shop in many different new ways and from new online stores that maybe they had never shopped before. People who used to do their grocery shopping by going to the stores have now switched to online ordering and people from 60+ age groups have started to explore eCommerce as a whole. They have started to realize how convenient online shopping could be.
This learning process will have positive long-term effects on the shopping behaviour of many people and on eCommerce. As customers adapt, businesses should adapt to the changing conditions too, or otherwise, they risk falling behind and losing out to their competitors. While this time was a global pandemic that shifted the eCommerce landscape, economic uncertainties or other types of crises can happen in the future, and businesses should be ready to respond quickly.
So here’s what your business can do during these uncertain times or when another uncertainty arises in the future:
Have an Effective Online Advertising Strategy
Only 8% of consumers believe that brands should stop advertising due to the Coronavirus outbreak, as Kantar’s global survey found. As people started spending time in their homes, eCommerce sites are used more frequently and brands now have the chance to increase their online visibility by using online advertising on channels like Google Ads and Facebook Ads. Although at the beginning of the pandemic we saw businesses stopped or limited their ad spends due to uncertainty so the cost per clicks dropped, now that they see there is a demand for online shopping, we see that cost per clicks has started to increase again.
Ecommerce brands can leverage this low cost per click as many brick and mortar shop owners stopped with paid advertising. Although this could depend on the industry, as a business you can analyze your current situation in the market and consider investing in online advertising to increase your brand awareness. So if you can afford it, build a paid ads strategy and experiment with platforms where your target audience is to turn this into your advantage.
Use Content to Retain Organic Reach
In terms of organic traffic, investing in SEO is always going to be your best bet for an effective long-term strategy. People will always be searching for information online so make sure to have the relevant answers on your website to increase your chances of visibility.
Treat your homepage as your storefront and make sure to have all information your customers might need. Having a website that is user friendly and allows users to find the information they are looking for quickly is crucial for your website’s success. Also, make sure that your website is mobile friendly and your mobile speed is optimized because more customers are using their mobile phones or tablets to browse and shop. If you haven’t started already start optimizing your content for voice search as almost half of the web users are expected to use it in 2020.
Increase the Use of Social Media
Being the most social platform of all channels, communicating with your customers via social media is especially important during times of uncertainty and change. As people spend more time online, they will be using social platforms a lot more than usual. That is why if you haven’t been using social media actively, now is the perfect time to start doing so.
During the pandemic, we have seen that people want to connect with brands they trust and relate to. Your social media platform can be a powerful tool to build trust and relationships if your brand can act like a person, be engaged, and show emotions. Always make sure to give your audience credible and helpful information they need. Start conversations with your audience, listen to the problems of dissatisfied customers, and engage with your community more than normal. Remember to keep the conversation organic without creating an off-brand and forced perception.
Consistent Messaging Through Email Marketing
One of the effective communication tools that you can use to connect with your customers is email marketing. (link to email marketing blog) 59% of the people say that email marketing impacts their purchasing decisions, and it’s now more vital than ever to actively use email marketing for your business to let your audience know about the recent updates and promotions about your brand.
Adapt your email marketing plans and make sure to provide information about your updated delivery times or shipping conditions. Be transparent with the issues your business may be facing. In times of crisis, real-time and frequent communication will help tremendously for your customer satisfaction by providing transparency. Your customers will understand changing conditions might be disrupting your normal schedule but will lose trust if they are not communicated about it.
Keep the Communication Transparent
In times of uncertainty keeping an honest and transparent communication with your audience is crucial for your business to not negatively affected by it. Delays in deliveries can be expected as more likely that most of the businesses will go through it so your customers will understand it as long as you give them a heads up and don’t allow them to get anxious about their orders. Include these type of delivery and shipment information on visible sections of your webpages and also on your emails. Additionally including any changes in your delivery processes and stock updates on your website will improve your customer experience, make sure to also:
- Add an Alert bar to your site
- Add a dedicated COVID-19 page that gives special instructions if necessary
- Build special instructions into the process as necessary
- Update your Google My Business, Facebook and Yelp Accounts if your hours have changed
- Keep updating your site with non-COVID-19 information
With other aspects of the global business landscape, the world of eCommerce has started to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic and there’s no guarantee that it won’t happen again. How businesses prepare for these types of changes and how they respond will determine their success in the long term.
While being a huge setback for many industries, this pandemic also created an opportunity for many eCommerce businesses that choose to adapt to these changes. There is no doubt that customer care will continue to be the focus of many eCommerce strategies in times of uncertainty. It’s crucial for brands to stay true to their identity and establish transparent communication with their audience.
If you’d like our team of experts to help you find effective ways to strategize in these challenging times, get in touch with us. We’d love to help!
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