When stay-at-home orders due to coronavirus are finally lifted, how ready will you be to drive business back in through your doors? As harsh as this downtime can be, this makes an unprecedented opportunity to audit and sharpen your company’s digital marketing strategy.
When times are good, many business owners and even marketers complain that they don’t have enough time to focus on improving their online promotions. While business is slow, even if working from home, here are some best practices to help strengthen and fine-tune your company’s presence: from SEO and content, to social and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
Take this time to review
One of the biggest advantages of digital marketing is that it’s extremely measurable. Using easy to use (and in some cases free) marketing tools like Google Analytics or HubSpot, you’re able to track many essential metrics. These can lead you to a better understanding of your company’s audience and what actions they take. You’ll also get a good picture of what content and marketing activities drive the most traffic and quality leads — and at what expense — so you can track ROI and make smarter decisions on your upcoming marketing spends.
Analytics can get overwhelming. Matt Bailey, best-selling author, marketing expert, corporate trainer, and the founder and president of SiteLogic Marketing, suggests honing in on a measurable business objective. Matt says, “Just look at your existing campaigns and cut through the data dump to figure out: ‘What are the two or three absolutely essential metrics I need to know if someone asked me how our marketing is doing?'”
Look into and optimize your SEO
With constantly-changing algorithms from Google, Bing, and others, it’s essential to stay on top of your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) health. What that worked just a couple of years ago could be getting your pages penalized today. You can take this time to get up-to-speed with current SEO best practices by reading trusted SEO blogs, like MOZ or Search Engine Land.
According to research from the Hook Agency, improving organic SEO presence is the #2 marketing priority of small businesses in 2020. Because establishing a good SEO strategy can be extremely complex, it may be in your best interests to undergo a comprehensive SEO audit using a checklist like this.
Research your (and your competitors’) keywords
Conducting meaningful keyword research is critical for improving not only your content’s SEO but also your paid search and other PPC advertising efforts. If you have a Google Ads account, you can start by using the built-in Keyword Planner. There are also dozens of premium keyword research tools on the market. (See who tops the list when you search for them).
“Keyword research is probably the most underutilized form of market intelligence,” says Bailey. “I always recommend that people find out what words people used throughout the buying cycle, depending on where they were in the funnel — because the words someone uses when they’re trying to educate themselves can be very different from those they use when they’re making a buying decision.”
Get smart on your social
Social media can play an increasingly pivotal role in your small business’ success. Not only can an effective social media strategy help to increase your brand recognition and promote your products and special offers, but social media has become a major channel for customer service. If you lack the bandwidth to monitor and interact with your social accounts at least every day, consider using an automated social listening tool that can alert you in case of an uptick in activity or potential complaints.
Matt Bailey suggests you can also use social media to gauge if you are talking about the right things that your customers are actually interested in. “Many small businesses have their own internal vocabulary that’s made up of words that don’t really reflect the use or demands of their consumers,” says Bailey. “Keyword tools can also provide you with a social perspective of trends throughout the year, to help you know when people are most interested in talking about something.”
See how well your PPC clicks
Left alone to its own algorithms and competitive bidding, search engine marketing (SEM) like Google Ads and other pay-per-click online display advertising can become ineffective, confusing, and expensive. Another helpful audit that can improve your digital marketing ROI is an audit of your PPC accounts.
A periodic audit can take as little as 20-minutes, but can catch small issues before they become big issues. For example: make sure you’re tracking your conversions, review keyword match type settings (broad, modified broad, or phrase, vs. exact), and build-up your negative keyword lists to reduce unqualified searchers.
Many small businesses go months or even years before getting the right people together (even virtually) to talk about marketing strategy. “Don’t wait for that to happen; these are the times to start having those high-level strategic re-evaluations of your processes,” says Bailey. “Have those conversations now, because once things get back to normal, it’s gonna be hot and heavy and much harder to catch up.”
If there is any silver lining in this pandemic, it may be that it gives you the breathing room to plan improvements. The companies that will recover fastest will probably be the ones that have been putting in work in the meantime to gain a competitive advantage.