Right now, countless businesses all over the world are re-evaluating their budgets due to COVID-19, including their marketing spend. But don’t stop SEO!
COVID-19, or the coronavirus, is having an unprecedented effect on our daily lives, to the extent that most of us have never lived through a situation like this in peacetime. The threat it poses is two-fold – not in terms of the risk to our physical health, but also in terms of the huge impact it’s having on the economy. Understandably, this economic impact is extremely worrying for business owners, including many of our clients here at 21Digital.
If you’re looking to reduce costs, you may already be eyeing up your marketing spend, and possibly even your SEO budget. And while that’s understandable, stopping your SEO campaigns might not necessarily be the best move for your business. There’s a long list of reasons why, but since many of them overlap with each other, we’ll give you three of the biggest.
Obviously, your business is going to take a hit. It would be naive to suggest anything otherwise. But instead of scaling back, in challenging times like these it’s often a smart move to try and drive as much new business as possible to compensate. You’ll want to make your business more visible to customers, not less, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly your rankings can start to drop if you stop SEO. Staying adaptive and changing your strategy is one thing, but bringing it to a complete halt is likely to negatively affect the influx of new leads and sales, which can quickly end up causing you even more difficulty if you’re already feeling the effects of the crisis. And it’s not like people will stop searching in the meantime, especially since the pandemic is already changing our spending behaviour!
The world is reeling, but it certainly hasn’t stopped turning. Everyone still needs to work, and they still need to live – we just need to find new ways of doing it. In the wake of government advice on social distancing, we’re seeing a big shift to online shopping, as consumers and business owners seek to get what they need while putting themselves at minimum risk. In other words, don’t be too quick to abandon your online marketing – as what some stores might lose in physical footfall, you can make up with in SEO and savvy marketing.
If you’re a B2C business, don’t assume that people will stop buying from you just because you’re not the world’s foremost retailer of toilet roll. People will still be searching for products and services they need to live and work. In fact, depending on your business, it’s possible you may even see a slight increase in conversions.
A shift to home working means that a probable rise in online searches for anything that could provide some welcome distraction from the crisis, as everyone looks for new ways to help themselves and their families to pass the time in self-isolation. For example, there have been reports from across the world that sales of notebooks, gaming consoles and TVs are up – so if they’re still seeing sales, you can bet your business will be too!
It’s not just leisure stuff either – lots of people are trying to use the time constructively. Just here at 21Digital, we’ve noted that the Home & Garden sector is looking particularly resilient, as customers take the opportunity to get themselves DIY parts and tools to finally get those household jobs done.
From a commercial perspective, every business owner is doing their best to keep their company running as normal. That means if you’re in the B2B sector, you’ll probably find that your customers still need business assets like physical equipment and specialist services (although the way they order and use these might be different with the shift to home working). Let’s be honest – if you’re a specialist service provider, most customers won’t have suddenly found the time or resources to take your job on themselves, so they’ll still need your skills and expertise!
The world hasn’t seen a global pandemic on the scale of COVID-19 in a very long time, and the after-effects will likely be felt for many years to come. But the key thing to remember is that we will at some stage return to normality, and that means it’s important to think long term.
Doing SEO is like going to a particularly competitive gym. To be the best in the room, you need to make a regular commitment. If you stop for even a few weeks, you’ll quickly start to lose what you’ve gained, and everyone else will start to overtake you. So from a business perspective, when stuff starts to go back to normal, you could find yourself a long way behind your competitors. This could easily end up costing you in the long term – effectively lengthening the impact of the current crisis way beyond the immediate effects. You may be spending a long time playing catch-up when the worst is over – as plenty of businesses discovered in 2009, right after the global recession.
All the reasons we’ve discussed have been broadly practical so far. What we’re about to say is more about your content in general rather than strictly SEO per se, so doesn’t quite fit in that mould. We still think it’s equally important though – it’s about connecting with your customers.
Right now it’s an intensely scary time for everyone, all over the world. One of the few mitigating factors is that it’s not limited to a small corner of the globe – we are all in this together. After all when it comes right down to it, you are not your company, and you are not your brand – you are a human being. Your customers are too, and in times of crisis we value more human connection more than ever.
So while the situation is far from ideal, it does give you a valuable opportunity for you to re-emphasise the importance of your customer relationships, both through the messaging of your campaigns and the content on your site. After all, without your customers, you don’t have a business. Use reassuring language and tone of voice across your content to show them what they mean to you, and they’ll be sure to remember you when this is all over.
Now, this sort of thing is an extremely delicate line to walk, because it’s not about trying to make sales, or turn the situation to your advantage (however tempting it might be to make up for those short term losses). Instead it’s about communication, and trust. By openly recognising the changing circumstances, you’re acknowledging that your customers may be making changes to their spending and lifestyles. This is a public demonstration of respect from you to them, and one that they’ll hopefully repay you in kind when things improve.
Don’t forget that people are watching businesses closely to see how they behave in times of crisis, and they’ll be quick to turn their back on you if they think you’re attempting to profiteer from COVID-19, or openly preying on people’s fear to make sales – as some companies have already been accused of doing with masks and hand sanitisers. Acknowledging the situation is not the same as actively trying to capitalise on it. Be respectful with your content and messaging, and focus on the long term. If you can prove to your customers that it’s still a valuable relationship even in times of crisis, their loyalty will pay dividends in the long run.
If you have any questions or you need any advice about your campaigns or projects, that’s exactly what we’re here for at 21Digital. We’re committed to helping your business grow, whatever the circumstances. We’re still carrying on as normal – you can read our full update here – so you can count on our staff to still be available to address any questions or concerns. We’re here to help!