Brick and mortar sales dropped dramatically during COVID-19, and many were forced to shut down. However, eCommerce stores have managed to increase traffic by about 125 percent from March through June this year, and sales continue to climb.
In fact, many brands that were previously primarily brick-and-mortar stores, such as Pier 1 Imports, are now planning to reorganize as eCommerce-only stores.
While eCommerce is a wonderful solution for selling during a pandemic, it’s crucial brands remain sensitive to the current hardships customers face and adjust their marketing messages accordingly.
Therefore, here are some essential marketing tactics your eCommerce business should leverage during the Coronavirus and how you should shift your vision for the duration of the pandemic.
How Businesses Should Shift Brand Focus During COVID-19
While there are plenty of marketing tactics to increase sales during COVID-19, it’s important to reconsider your overall marketing vision for the next several months. As many of your customers are likely in financial distress, realize that while they may not have the means to purchase your products at the moment, they may be able to purchase them at a later date.
Therefore, shift your goals from driving revenue to increasing brand loyalty and engagement.
This will keep your brand top-of-mind and ultimately encourage prospects to purchase from you at a later date. Here are a few tips to deepen your customer relationships and allow your brand to thrive.
Leverage New Communication Options
As more and more people are stuck at home, new digital communication channels are becoming popular, and businesses can take advantage of them. In fact, research shows that content consumption from social channels has increased by almost 60 percent.
One channel experiencing a significant spike of activity during the coronavirus is TikTok. The app’s user base grew by 27 percent in the first seven days of March 2020. As more public attention shifts to TikTok, eCommerce businesses can leverage it to advertise.
Elf Cosmetics is a wonderful example of how eCommerce businesses can thrive on TikTok during the coronavirus. It grew by collaborating with several influencers to generate interest. The result: its hashtag was shared over 3.5 billion times.
Instagram TV is also a popular communication tool that has been useful to a handful of smart e-commerce marketers during the pandemic.
For example, Under Armor’s successful Healthy at Home campaign used Instagram TV to share branded home workout videos from influencers.
Another way that eCommerce brands can communicate with customers is by hosting open Zoom meetings. Unlike Instagram TV and TikTok, which are one-sided communication tools, Zoom allows the audience to enter the conversation.
Then I Met You, the luxury cosmetics brand, used Zoom to host open meetings with customers to discuss challenges during the pandemic. The brand is known for its kindness and compassion, so it took this opportunity to build loyalty with its audience.
Online events are also an option for eCommerce brands that typically attend trade shows to build customer relationships.
Invest in SEO
Consumers are transitioning to a primarily digital shopping experience, and statistics show that transactions have increased by nearly 40 percent during the pandemic. Therefore, websites that appear at the top of the search results will undoubtedly perform better.
Even after the pandemic, you’ll continue to see value from the SEO efforts you make at this time.
If you have an in-house team, consider allocating more budget to them, or hire an agency if you don’t currently have an SEO team.
As you begin working on your SEO, update title tags and product descriptions with keywords that the page ranks in positions two through ten.
In addition to doing keyword research for the product pages, conduct keyword research for blog posts. As 34 percent of marketers claim that they have experienced strong results from updating old blog posts, pick a few pages that previously performed well. Update them with new information, images, and statistics. Combining and pruning posts that didn’t perform well is also a great way to increase search traffic.
Additionally, your website should load quickly and provide an amazing user experience on both desktop and mobile versions. Mobile shopping is becoming increasingly popular during the pandemic, and a poor mobile experience will cost your business sales.
Finally, be sure to also invest in Amazon SEO if you sell on Amazon. This includes optimizing your titles and bullet points for keywords and even asking customers to leave a review.
Adjust Your Messaging
Many of your customers may have been directly affected by the pandemic, and your message must be sensitive. As mentioned earlier, now is not the time to sell, but rather an opportunity to build trust and goodwill with the audience.
For example, Nike produced its Play For The World campaign to encourage social distancing, and it performed spectacularly with millions of shares and influencer engagement.
You may also consider creating campaigns around charity efforts your company makes. For example, if you’re donating one face mask for every product purchased, create campaigns around the effort. This is an indirect way of building customer loyalty and staying top of mind.
While you’re welcome to send a letter or create campaigns informing users of new policies, avoid using the coronavirus as a sales tactic. For example, while promoting a collection of items ideal for lounging at home is fine, creating a “Coronavirus Sale” is insensitive and should be avoided.
Another example is Corona. Its ad, Coming Ashore Soon, was not meant to touch on the coronavirus subject. Their unfortunate branding, combined with “coming ashore soon,” caused quite a stir on social media and offended many people.
Your brand should also avoid using any phrases that suggest breaking social distancing guidelines, such as anything that refers to gathering or going out.
The Bottom Line
While your business may be experiencing a decline in revenue, there are plenty of ways you can build brand loyalty and awareness to make next year your best year ever.
Double down on marketing efforts and focus on long-term growth rather than quick wins. If you keep your customer’s best interest in mind, you’ll be rewarded in the long run.
Marketing Tactics eCommerce
Christopher Moore is the Chief Marketing Officer at Quiet Light, an entrepreneur-led organization that aids in preparing, marketing, negotiating, and closing sales and acquisitions of six, seven, and eight-figure online businesses. He has a strong background in non-profit management and media.