COVID-19: 10 Actionable Marketing Steps To Succeed Online

March 31, 2020
Although these are strange and difficult times for small business owners, this is now a great opportunity to develop an online presence. Many people are at home now, so being in front of your customers during these times is a no-brainer.

10 Actionable Marketing Steps to Online Success During COVID-19


Although these are strange and difficult times for small business owners, this is now a great opportunity to develop an online presence. Many people are at home now, so being in front of your customers during these times is a no-brainer.


In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to establishing a marketing presence as a small business owner that is sure to engage your customers. We’re all in the same boat across the globe, which means your customers want to see their favourite businesses online so you can both continue to support each other.

1. Create Digital Marketing Action Plans in Line With Business Plans

Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do online without spending a penny especially during these trying times. But in order to get started, creating a plan to achieve your business goals is essential. 


In order to get online, it’s important to know WHY you want to go online:

  • Think about the kind of impact you want to make, 
  • What do you want customers to know about your brand? Do you want to spread brand awareness?
  • Do you want to use your online presence to reach new people who’ve never bought from you before?
  • Do you want current customers to buy more products from you? 


In line with these questions, you can then create a specific goal. For example, you want a % of follower growth on X social media within 2 weeks



We mention Google My Business later on in the tools section – it’s great for gathering customer reviews.



2. STP – Segmentation, Targeting & Positioning 

Due to these unusual times, having a plan in place with a defined strategy is key because you can easily assess what’s working and reevaluate the plan quickly to try new concepts. Do a SWOT analysis of your competitors and your brand. From there, create SMART goals to develop your business online.


The crux of your online marketing is your target audience. Develop personas around who you want to reach online, figure out their problems, and make your online messaging resonate with them. How does your product or service align with their values?


Knowing who your audience is makes it much easier to write content and post messages online because you’ll feel like you’re talking directly to them




3. Digital Marketing Tactics 

Once you’ve figured out your goals and who you want to reach online, you then need to see  where your audience is. The great thing about digital marketing is that there are many channels to choose from and after developing personas, it’s easy to discover them.


Social media, blog posts and SEO are great to attract new audiences and increase your brand awareness.


Email marketing, sponsored social media posts and other forms of content (video, infographics and ebooks) are a great way to build relationships with your prospective customers. 


Customer advocacy programmes help grow your current customers and enable them to engage further with your brand as they know they’re being looked after. 


You then need to engage and reply to comments on a weekly basis to ensure people look up to and trust you online. You can encourage your customers to share their purchases on social media and create a hashtag specific to your business to build on your community. 




4. Track and Document Analysis 

Once you know what channels you’ll be using online, it’s important to measure your performance so you’re reaching your goals effectively. You can measure a whole host of things (metrics), but the benchmarks you set (Key Performance Indicators) depend on your business goals and outcomes


For example, if you set up a new Instagram page you can track how many followers you get every week, how many likes each post is getting and engagements on your stories (how many people answers your question box) and if people clicked through to your website. 

Tools such as Google Analytics and Facebook’s Creator Studio are amazing at tracking all kinds of metrics and KPIs you set.


5. Always-On Marketing vs Campaigns 

Relay your core brand values on your About Us webpage and ensure it is reflected throughout everything you post online.


You might feel like you need to start posting ads everywhere in the midst of COVID-19 to make quick sales and hype up your brand, but you should be using this time to aim for long-term strategies. If you develop content that helps your customers through these stressful times, rather than pushing sales at them, they’re more likely to trust and like you when you display offers and promotions. 


Gathering testimonials, ratings, and product reviews from your existing customers will propel your brand rather than running ads right now. 



We mention Google My Business later on in the tools section – it’s great for gathering customer reviews.


6. Search Intent 

Search intent is the reason behind your customer’s search. Knowing why your customers are searching for products or services can reframe and position your business in a way that can help your customers. 


Search intent goes hand in hand with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO); finding keywords your customer uses in relation to your business, so when they search your product, your website will show highly (when done right!) in the search rankings

During COVID-19, searches will change because people may have less money or different needs. Tracking these changes in Google Trends and Google Analytics will help you better optimise your website and content for consumer dynamics.




7. Adapting your service and offerings  

During uncertain times like theses, consumers are more conscious than ever of their spending habits. 


  • Adapt to the needs of your marketplace: If you’re a restaurant and can’t open right now, offer a discount on click and collect service, non contactless delivery options,  gift vouchers or options to book ahead now to your regular customers for when things return to normal. 
  • Reduce the risk of buying from you by examining everything a prospective buyer could possibly want, and then build those wants into your services. Highlight these online. 
  • Introduce flexible payment options. 
  • Offer free delivery, 2 for 1 deals, or refer a friend if you want to increase followers. Host a challenge or giveaway that would help promote your business and get people talking about you.




8. Essential Digital Marketing Tools 

During unprecedented times, it’s important to be savvy and resourceful where you can. Having a list of  easy-to-implement tools that you’ll get full use of is important to keeping your online marketing framework stable and easy to navigate


  • Ubersuggest: A free keyword analysis tool that lets you plug in website addresses and display the high ranking keywords. Use this to revamp your website and SEO strategy so your ranking high in your customer’s searches.  
  • MailChimp: What better way to remind your customers of all those delicious recipes they can cook in self-isolation, or those gift vouchers you’re offering for when you reopen than by using email marketing software. Mailchimp is free and easily customisable for all your business needs.
  • Buffer: When you get your social media marketing up and running you’re going to need quick and easy tools at hand to schedule all your posts and track various metrics. 

Google My Business: Allow customers to leave reviews, get directions and check your opening hours through the Google My Business app whenever they search. Google My Business allows you to post offers and photos when you have upcoming promotions or of the business itself so people know how to find you. It’s also linked to Google Maps so when a customer is in the area and searches for things to do or places to eat, you will most likely rank. Take the time now to set up this app presence for when you reopen.



The Buffer tool also lets you collaborate with others on your team if you need to share ideas.


9. Examine Your Website User Experience

Websites are often left neglected and are probably the most important part of your online presence! People look at your website to find opening times, menus, products, services and read your blog

User experience is all about making the website easy to navigate and help your potential customers find what they are looking for in a simple way.


Ensure your website works on any device, not just laptop/desktop. More customers are now using their mobile to search, especially for restaurants as they are on the go, so customise your website for smaller screens.


10. Organic Search Content 

What with current events, people are curious and willing to try new recipes and read blogs online. Why not start a website blog, or create video content to inspire your customers? Keep COVID-19 in mind and be sensitive to what your customers may be going through – again, no need to be pushy with sales.


Use content mapping and ideation to develop a content calendar full of useful tips for your customers. Sit down for a few hours and batch content to ensure you’re always showing up on social for your customers and not relying on motivation to post (remember the Buffer tool mentioned above!)


Use site-wide prompts to generate leads on your website – pop ups are great to capture emails to build your subscriber list. 


Develop an email newsletter strategy to deliver these recipes and product launches to grow your community and are in line with your social media posts


We hope over the coming weeks that our clients and other businesses take the plunge and get their creative juices flowing online, not only for the benefit of business but to reach out to their customers too! At Escalate, we have experience helping our clients through all of the above stages and move throughout the digital marketing plan, so if you have any questions or need any help please feel free to reach out


We’re using this time during COVID-19 to maximise our own marketing presence and would love for you to chat and join us!