April 24, 2020 Coronavirus en_US Marketing during the coronavirus pandemic has created forced small business owners to get creative. Here are a few you can keep customers engaged. https://quickbooks.intuit.com/cas/dam/IMAGE/A8tkTOcFm/How-to-market-your-business-online-during-the-coronavirus_featured.jpg https://quickbooks.intuit.com/r/coronavirus/market-online-coronavirus/ How to market your business online during the coronavirus

How to market your business online during the coronavirus

By Myranda Mondry April 24, 2020

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As the coronavirus ushers more consumers inside, businesses across the country are struggling to stay afloat. Especially those that rely on foot traffic or face-to-face interactions. These businesses, and many others, have had to rethink how they communicate with and market to their customers. Read on to find out how social media marketing, digital marketing, and email marketing can keep your revenue streams open while your storefront is closed.

5 tips for effective social media marketing

Billions of people around the world use social media. And they spend an average of three hours each day doing so. Over half of them are using social media to research products and services. And the majority of marketers who use social media for marketing think it’s a pretty effective platform.

If you’re not using social media to connect with your current and future customers, there’s never been a better time to start. Social media marketing through the coronavirus holds a few key advantages for small business owners:

  • It’s free to get started.

Creating a social media profile or account for your business is free. You can build your social media presence and start interacting with your customers immediately, without spending a dime. Advertising on social media using platforms like Facebook Ads or Instagram Business will cost you, but more on that in a bit.

  • It allows you to meet your customers where they live.

Social distancing might prevent your customers from leaving their homes. But the only thing between them and social media is a cell phone battery. Social media marketing puts your business in front of your customers—no matter where they are.

  • It works in real-time.

Consumers are turning to social media to keep up with their favorite local businesses during this time. They want to know when you’re open, how you’re operating, and if they can help. Social media allows businesses to communicate with customers in real-time on a very human level.

Ready to start social media marketing? Here are five tips to help you get started.

1. Choose the right platform

Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, the social media landscape is expansive. Focus your efforts on the social media platform your customers are using the most. If you’re not sure which one that might be, take a look at the demographic information to get some insight. When in doubt, Facebook is a good place to start. Roughly two-thirds of U.S. adults are Facebook users.

2. Be human

Social media is just that: a place to be social. Engage and interact with your followers. Be open and vulnerable about your situation. Treat your Facebook friends the same way you would treat your other friends. Consumers who thrive on social interaction will appreciate your candor.

3. Post consistently

Social influencers will tell you that posting consistently is more important than posting frequently. So choose a schedule that works for your business. But keep in mind that you’ll need to create or curate quality content to fit that schedule. For some businesses, one or two posts a week is the right amount. Others post several times a day. Posting poor-quality content or content that doesn’t provide value is a surefire way to lose your social following.

4. Use visuals to encourage engagement

Users respond better to photos and graphics than they do to walls of text. Keep your audience in the loop by posting photos of your business, your team, your dog—whatever you think will resonate. Use free graphic design sites like Canva to create professional social media posts from pre-designed templates.

5. Get comfortable with hashtags

Using hashtags can feel kind of silly. But in reality, they’re a great way for social media users to track down posts on the topics they care about. Use hashtags to join bigger conversations, like #SocialDistancing, #StopTheSpread, and #SmallBizRelief. Look for trending hashtags on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and use them as they apply to your business.

3 hallmarks of digital marketing

Digital marketing encompasses social media advertising, search engine marketing, and how consumers find you online. Digital marketing for your small business helps you reach new audiences and consumers who are looking for your products or services. Here are three hallmarks of digital marketing.

1. Search engine optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about optimizing your website and content for search engines like Google. The quality of your SEO depends on several factors, like page speed and how often you update a page. In a perfect world, you could hire an SEO expert to help you optimize your website. But in the absence of an expert, start with the basics and ask yourself the following:

  • What keywords best represent my products and offerings?
  • What are consumers searching for when looking for businesses like mine?
  • What keywords are my competitors using to drive consumers to their sites?

Search for free keyword tools like Wordstream, KeywordTool, or Wordtracker to get started. Once you have a solid keyword list, look for opportunities to feature those keywords on your website.

2. Search engine marketing

Search engine marketing, using a tool like Google Ads, can boost your website when people search for keywords related to your business. But those ads come at a price. How much you spend on search engine marketing depends on how many clicks your ads generate.

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising might not be a great fit for small businesses interested in eliminating costs on the backend. So you’ll have to decide if it’s worth the cost to drive more consumers to your website.

3. Social media advertising

Without an established social media following, it may be challenging to get your content in front of an audience. That’s where social media advertising comes in. Social media advertising helps you build your brand awareness, find new customers, and promote your products and services to people who want them.

Social media ads are user friendly and easy to customize. If you’re not ready or to invest in social media advertising fully, start by boosting posts on Facebook or Instagram. Boosted posts are an inexpensive way to get your posts in front of targeted audiences. You control the audience, the budget, and how long you run the boosted campaign.

3 tips for email marketing

Email marketing might seem old school, but it’s one of the most effective ways to attract and retain customers. Best of all, email marketing is cost-effective. For every dollar you spend on email marketing, you could see a return of $40 (or £32), said a 2018 report by the Direct Marketing Association (U.K.).

1. Encourage customers to subscribe

Create a subscription page on your website, promote it on your social channels, and incentivize future subscribers to sign up. Let them know exactly what they can expect when they subscribe. How often will you send them emails? Will they gain access to exclusive announcements or coupons? These are the things your readers will consider when deciding whether or not to hand over their email addresses.

2. Create enticing content

Your subject line is one of the most important parts of your email. Some recipients will base their decision to open your email on the subject line entirely. When crafting a subject line, follow these tips:

  • Inspire urgency. Only a few hours left!
  • Be mysterious. You’ll never believe what we did.
  • Be playful. Using emojis can increase your open rate.
  • Avoid words like “free” and “sale” that could quickly land you in the spam folder.

3. Include a clear call to action

Each email has a purpose. You’re not sending emails for the sake of emailing. Consider what you want your readers to do when they’re done reading. That’s where your call to action comes in. Start with an action word like “buy” or “download.” Stick to just one clear call to action per email. If you ask your readers to do too much, they might not do anything at all.

The resources described above are made available to businesses within the United States of America.

COVID-19 relief programs are evolving regularly. Please visit SBA.gov for the most up to date information. This content is for information purposes only and information provided should not be considered legal, accounting or tax advice, or a substitute for obtaining such advice specific to your business. Additional information and exceptions may apply. Applicable laws may vary by state or locality. No assurance is given that the information is comprehensive in its coverage or that it is suitable in dealing with a customer’s particular situation. Intuit Inc. does it have any responsibility for updating or revising any information presented herein. Accordingly, the information provided should not be relied upon as a substitute for independent research. Intuit Inc. cannot warrant that the material contained herein will continue to be accurate, nor that it is completely free of errors when published. Readers should verify statements before relying on them.

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Myranda Mondry

Senior Content Creator

Myranda Mondry is a senior content creator for the QuickBooks Resource Center. Her work has been published in Forbes, The Huffington Post, and other top-tier publications. Myranda currently resides in Boise, Idaho, where she runs an Etsy shop selling handmade heirloom quilts. She’s passionate about her dogs, '80s rock music, and helping small businesses succeed. Read more