It’s a scary time right now — not only for businesses, but also for everyday folks like you and me.
Here at SEO Advantage, our team has never been more thankful to work remotely. But we — like so many others — are still feeling the deep repercussions the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has made in our lives, our families, our relationships and, of course, businesses and the economy at large.
When times get tough and the future is uncertain, it’s understandable that the initial “knee jerk” reaction of many businesses is to retreat and reduce. Perhaps this instinct is why toilet paper is sold out at your local store. But as with the toilet paper phenomenon, allowing panic to drive important business decisions can have unpleasant consequences — both now and in the future.
Many business decision makers are taking a hard look at their budget right now to see where they can cut back. One such area that might be on the chopping block is your business’s investment in digital marketing.
Every business is different and the hard decisions you may be having to make right now are unique, so I will not presume to tell you what is or isn’t best for your company’s future — nor should anybody else. Only you and your team can make those decisions.
However, what I want to do is share a few reasons why I believe digital marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) is more essential than ever — even especially during a pandemic.
More people are going online
At the time of the Dot-com-crash in the late 1990s, less than 7 percent of the world was online. By 2016, 76 percent of people in the U.S. were online and internet access increased substantially in many other parts of the world.
Now, in light of the coronavirus, with schools going online, people working from home and non-essential businesses closing, it appears as though peak internet usage is becoming the new normal. In fact, according to CNET, home broadband networks across the nation are under tremendous pressure to handle the increase in online traffic. Providers like Verizon, AT&T and Comcast have reported skyrocketing traffic.
According to the World Economic Forum, “internet usage is up 50% in some parts of the world as more aspects of our daily lives have moved online.”
Such massive increases online, particularly on social networks, offers more opportunities to leverage digital marketing to drive traffic and conversions to your website.
Local search is more vital now
With more and more people restricting their travel and staying home, searches for services and products “near me” are bound to rise. When they do, you want to make sure that it’s your business that shows up in the local search results — not your competitor.
Local SEO strategies can help position your website to rank well in local searches. But it takes time and effort to get there, which is why the sooner you can invest in this area the better.
Generate quality leads online
Uncertainty impacts all sectors of the economy, and many small businesses and companies around the globe are feeling the pinch already. This impact is only likely to increase in the coming weeks and months.
In times such as these, attracting not only more traffic but also quality leads and conversion is a top priority for struggling businesses. Since trade shows and other in-person lead generation events are off the table, it’s essential that brands shift their focus to more “non-traditional” digital lead generation channels like paid (PPC) and organic search, social media and content marketing.
Adaptability can give you an edge
For many companies and industries, trade shows, face-to-face meetings, sales pitches and in-person marketing events make up a large chunk of their revenue generated through marketing. On average, up to 30-40 percent of a company’s marketing budget is allocated for trade show sponsorship, travel, expenses, attendance and collateral, according to NewsCred.
In light of the unprecedented cancellations of these events nationally and worldwide, shifting your focus to the digital and website marketing space can help to supplement some of the loss you might be experiencing in other areas and give you an edge over your competitors who are less adaptable.
For those of us who worked through the Great Recession in the late 2000s and early 2010s, here’s an important PSA to consider:
It’s 2020, not 2008.
Obvious? Sure. But it’s important to remember and here’s why:
In prior financial crises such as during the Recession, it was common for businesses — particularly B2B companies — to tighten their belts and cut back on their marketing budget. However, technology has changed immensely in the last 12 years (let alone 20 or 30 years). Don’t be so sure that your competitors will respond to this crisis like they did the last one.
If you can redistribute even a fraction of your overall marketing budget that was planned for trade shows and other cancelled events to digital marketing, this can help give you an edge over your competitors.
Radio silence can be deadly
One of the many downsides of all the cancellations is that your customers, clients and partners may not be getting the quality face-to-face time that you originally planned. While this is discouraging, now is NOT the time to slack on communicating with these key players. After all, times like this are when you need them most — and they need you!
Likewise, your customers and partners want to hear from you and be reassured that your company or organization is prepared to meet this crisis.
Content marketing is an efficient and effective way to connect with customers, clients and partners, as well as keep them engaged through blogs, email campaigns, social media, paid search advertising and other campaigns.
Now is the time to create original content that not only educates and informs, but also entertains, connects and inspires.
Cost-efficiency is the bread and butter of digital marketing
I get it — with so much uncertainty, budgets are strained and times are tight. But this is yet another reason to consider refocusing on digital marketing.
Here are just a couple reasons why:
For starters, unlike many other lead generation channels and tactics, the return on investment (ROI) of digital marketing can be easily measured, tracked and analyzed. The last thing you need right now is to waste precious resources on efforts that are paying off.
Fortunately, by using performance tracking tools like Google Analytics, you can readily keep tabs on important metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) such as year-over-year comparisons, lead/goal conversion rates, on-page performance and click-through rates to determine if you’re truly getting the right bang for your buck.
Digital marketing is cost-effective because it allows businesses to continually evaluate if and how it’s working.
Secondly, unlike temporary marketing campaigns and events, digital marketing is the gift that keeps on giving.
For example, let’s say you publish a blog post. It’s super trendy and immensely popular, resulting in a wave of new traffic and fresh leads to your website. By the time the traffic finally dies down a couple months later, you consider it a success.
But then, years later, the topic you wrote about starts trending again. You “refresh” the old blog and republish it on your blog, resulting in a whole new wave of traffic. With little time and effort, you were able to generate more leads.
My point is that digital marketing is super cost-effective when you look at the longevity of the benefits earned from your efforts.
Survivors play the “long game”
The most successful leaders refocus rather than cut spending, prioritizing future sustainability over present gain. For this reason, consider a digital marketing and SEO strategy that focuses on long-term benefits, not just short-term profits.
In 2010, the Harvard Business Review published the results of a year-long project analyzing strategy selection and corporate performance of 4,700 public companies during 3 past global recessions: the 1980 crisis (which lasted from 1980 to 1982), the 1990 slowdown (1990 to 1991), and the 2000 bust (2000 to 2002).
Here’s what they found:
“According to our research, companies that master the delicate balance between cutting costs to survive today and investing to grow tomorrow do well after a recession. Within this group, a subset that deploys a specific combination of defensive and offensive moves has the highest probability—37%—of breaking away from the pack. These companies reduce costs selectively by focusing more on operational efficiency than their rivals do, even as they invest relatively comprehensively in the future by spending on marketing, R&D, and new assets.”
In other words, with the right long-term approach you can not only protect your business during an economic downturn, but plant the seeds for even greater success once the downturn ends.
Any reputable digital marketer will tell you that good “white hat” SEO takes time and strategic optimization. Pausing your optimization efforts now is one of the worst mistakes you can make because you’ll start slipping in the search results at a time when lost revenue could bring down your business once and for all.
Even though the crisis might seem never ending (especially when you’re stuck at home with kids or roommates for days or weeks at a time), it’s important to remember that it won’t last forever. As British rock musician and Beatles guitarist George Harrison said, “All things must pass.” And when it does, making sure your business is positioned to outperform your competitors online is vital to your recovery and success.
For these reasons and more, I believe that right now is the best time to make sure your business is investing in the right long-term search engine optimization strategies to get your site to rank on Page 1 of Google and in the local search results.
Wondering how much optimization your site needs to rank well? Consider getting a free SEO analysis. Our team of SEO, digital marketing and content experts possess decades of experience and are skilled, educated and certified in multiple disciplines. We employ a 360° approach, working from every angle to build a website that helps you meet your goals and grow your revenue.
Hang in there! And, as always, stay safe and healthy.
What big challenges is your business facing right now?
Let us know in the comments below.