Think back to 2019…do you remember how you shopped? Groceries. Services. Entertainment. Gifts. Cars. Homes. In 2020, what services and purchases weren’t affected by the COVID-19 pandemic? Your shopping habits changed because businesses changed. Businesses were forced to find new solutions to keep their operations running during stay-at-home orders. Many businesses migrated to digital payments, automated processes, remote work, and enhanced delivery services. They were adapting for the survival of their business.
Now in 2022, consumers still expect the conveniences of online ordering and delivery. We aren’t buying less, in fact, we’re buying more. With inflation the highest it has been in decades, consumers are still marching forward with purchases. The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates a 2.7% increase of consumer spending in January 2022 followed by a 0.2% uptick in February.1
Consumers are spending and your business has adapted — what’s next? Growth. Have you adjusted your marketing to meet the digital customers’ needs and habits? If you haven’t looked into digital marketing in the past, now may be your opportunity. Whether you are able to deploy these tools in-house or through a third-party service (or commonly, a mix of the two) — your company can move your COVID-19 adaptions into a new era of growth, profitability, and sustainability. And the best part about digital advertising? Artwork, budget, and targeting can change instantly. Advertising across the world or down the street has never been so convenient and streamlined.
First and foremost, start with investing in your own website. Digital marketing is a driver for website traffic and sales. Review and critique your website’s customer experience. Is good information accessible within a click or two? Are there strong calls to action on your pages? Does your page load and process payments quickly? Is your page mobile friendly? Do you cross-sell effectively? As the end game of digital marketing, your website has to be the first priority.
After reviewing your website’s experience, don’t close the web browser yet. SEO is optimizing everything that a search engine “reads” to determine which webpage is the best result for a consumer’s search. Search engines continually change their algorithms as they strive to find consumers the most relevant information based on their keywords, location, habits, and more. Basically, the better your SEO, the higher your webpage will organically appear on a web search. Some strategies are easy to implement such as strong webpage titles, good content with keywords, and linking to and from other credible webpages. Other strategies such as HTML programming, Google Developer™, Google Analytics™, and tracking codes may take some more expertise. In-house or outsourced, SEO is always a work in progress. You can have the most amazing website, but without SEO, it risks never being seen by potential customers who are actively searching for what you offer.
Sometimes competition is stiff, and SEO gets increasingly difficult to master with more competition. SEO sometimes isn’t enough to get your webpage ranking where you want it to be. When this happens, budget for paid search results through Google Ads™ (formerly Google AdWords™). Google’s platform allows you to target consumers and advertise specific advertisements based on searched keywords and phrases. Businesses small and large can use Google Ads as it can grow with your business. You can start with one small-budget ad and work your way up to a complex offering of targeted ads and budgets. Results abound with Google Ads, so you can track your ROI and make necessary modifications. Google also reaches out with quarterly recommendations from their support team should you have questions or need help getting to the next level.
Have you ever spontaneously clicked on an ad for a product only to have that product or company forever follow you around the internet? Are you ever surprised by the relevancy of the ads you see next to news articles? Or notice your spouse’s web searches appearing on your phone? Display advertising is showing an advertisement to targeted consumers based on content, geography, behavior, cross-device, and interaction with your webpage. The options are robust and impressions can thrive with the right strategy and budget. This is another type of digital advertising that can start small, but scale to meet new and changing needs for your business. One growing component of display advertising is geofencing. With geofencing, you can target a specific business or location during a specific time frame. Perfect for vendor events, to advertise within competitor doors, or target nearby businesses to visit your restaurant for lunch. “Local” is a huge driver for consumers.
Ready to have your mind-blown? The streaming television you watch with your smart TV (think YouTube™ or Roku®, etc.) is actually internet advertising! Similar to display advertising, OTT offers very specific targeting capabilities, but showcases video ads. OTT is far less expensive than traditional TV advertising and can follow consumers across multiple devices. Thanks to the availability of high speed internet, watching shows and movies is no longer for TVs alone. “Amid the COVID-19 crisis, the global market for OTT Devices and Services estimated at US$77.1 Billion in the year 2020, is projected to reach a revised size of US$217.5 Billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 18.3% over the analysis period.”2 With streaming services growing in households year after year, this projection seems highly probable. Next time you watch streaming video — notice the paid ads. You can’t skip them and they often reflect your interests. Did you ever go to the web after seeing a relevant ad? That’s the opportunity you can create for your business.
Who hasn’t gone down the rabbit hole on social media? One minute you are viewing a friend’s vacation photo and the next thing you know, you are touring million dollar homes across the country. We’ve all been there, and social media sites know how to get you to keep coming back for more. Part of the reason social media advertising is so successful is because businesses can target consumers on a much deeper level than display advertising. Social media is able to gather more information about consumers and their habits, which leads to more effective ad targeting for businesses. Facebook™ and Instagram™ partner their services and offer a rather user-friendly platform. Create a message, add a photo, choose your audience, and you are on your way to reaching potential customers! Facebook also allows you to advertise for dollars a day giving small businesses the opportunity to jump in front of local consumers with instant offers, sales, and events. To start, define your target audience and match the social media sites that appeal to them.
As your business continues to develop a digital marketing and sales strategy, keep your eyes open. Opportunities present themselves all around us and are within your grasp (and budget!) as a small or mid-sized business. Have you witnessed the advertising above? Have you clicked on the ad or purchased the product? This is modern day shopping — so take care to ensure that your business is on the shelf!
1 (2022, March 31) Consumer Spending. Bureau of Economic Analytics. Retrieved April 13, 2022, from https://www.bea.gov/data/consumer-spending/main
2 (2021, December 1) Global OTT Devices and Services Market Report 2021: Market to Reach $217.5 Billion by the Year 2026 – Opportunities for VOD Services in Non-Entertainment Sectors to Fuel Future Growth. Research and Markets. Retrieved March 24, 2022 from https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2021/12/01/2343968/28124/en/Global-OTT-Devices-and-Services-Market-Report-2021-Market-to-Reach-217-5-Billion-by-the-Year-2026-Opportunities-for-VOD-Services-in-Non-Entertainment-Sectors-to-Fuel-Future-Growth.html.