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The valuable role Ecommerce/Social Media marketing will play in keeping businesses afloat during lockdown

By Tim Hyde, Founder and Director of Social Media Marketing Agency, TWH Media 

Most businesses have a website. Fact. But what role does it play in the overall strategy of your business? Now that global business is going through one of the toughest and most challenging times, you might need to blow the cobwebs off your website as it could be what actually saves your business.

2020 has been the economic sledgehammer that many of us were not prepared for and has damaged or destroyed companies around the globe in a few short months. But there are ways of salvaging your business from the wreckage if you are prepared to pivot your strategy and stick your neck out and re-evaluate your e-commerce and social media marketing.

Re-invent yourself as an e-commerce site

Over the last few months we have worked closely with a couple  of businesses which have had to completely shut down as a direct result of the lockdown, but they have significantly pivoted their strategy and re-invented themselves as an e-commerce site and reaped the benefits.

Although you don’t get the face to face customer relationship, being online still allows you to communicate with customers and develop a ‘virtual’ relationship with them. Via a range of social media channels, you keep them in the loop with what your business is doing, you reassure them that you are still there, you keep talking to them and in doing this, you will build and maintain their trust in you.

This adds value to your customers and by staying active on social media, they still feel connected with you. Now is as good a time as any to reflect that you are probably moving online to stay online as customer retail habits may not return to how they were before the pandemic.

Play on ‘support local’ messaging

Local businesses have been affected a lot more than the big corporates as they don’t usually have the bank role and the ‘padding’ or reserve funds to make it through something as hard hitting as the pandemic.

When it comes to local business, there has always been an almost tribal sense of people trying to support them.  If you are able to play on that from a messaging perspective, that’s a great way to make people stop and think and could work really well in winning customer support.

For some of you, it will be fight or flight, and you have to do what is best for you, but if you can reach out to your community there is a good chance that they will buy local. The retail inconvenience caused by the pandemic has made people realise what the value of a local business really is, and if it wasn’t there, how difficult life would be.

Get customers involved – get them to follow you, like your posts, comment, share etc By encouraging this they will feel they are still part of a community, albeit a virtual one!

There is a mini economy in local business, and it needs to be maximised.

Add value to customers lives instead of focussing on direct response marketing

We have definitely seen a shift in behavioural trends over the last few months, be it wearing masks, standing on circles in a queue, keeping our distance from people, but also in the way consumers are engaging with brands.

Those brands offering some kind of value, help or reassurance are leading the pack. Joe Wicks work outs were a prime example of this. The fitness guru wasn’t just pushing his book sales or the growth of his social media channel, his focus was to provide value to parents and young children and to help them to exercise at home, and his growth and popularity came by default.

Ensuring you push a strategy out there that adds value and helps first, typically earns massive dividends but a word of caution: Whatever comfort blanket you offer during these tricky times, make sure you maintain this as part of your strategy moving forwards or customers will lose faith in your integrity.

Your plans also need to be both flexible and scalable, can be turned on and off and with a tone of voice to fit more cautious consumers who are newer to the whole digital experience.

Generate trackable returns

Paid media, in whatever guise, ensures that your brand and your content is seen by a targeted audience compared to many other marketing channels and a big benefit is that it is also scalable.

You don’t have to fork out big money for a billboard and then hope that you make a return from it; paid media means that you can categorically see that, for example, you spend £1K and you made £5K. In an era where we are all being a little tighter and more conscious of the ins and outs of our cash flow, it really is essential that you can track your spend to the nearest pound/pence and see that your returns are on your actual marketing endeavours.

It doesn’t have to look perfect

When it comes to content, brand and comms in general, especially when it is your own business and something you are passionate about, of course you want your platform to look amazing, sound amazing and to be really polished; but it costs to achieve this perfection.

Right now, most businesses don’t have the budget or the time to do that and customers are much more forgiving.

If your proposition is so enticing that people are going to focus on that, the image, the USB and your amazing content, you will already be in a strong position to be successful.

E-commerce/Social Media marketing can save your business if you make it an integral part of your strategy. You need to think fast, be creative and importantly, stay true to your loyal customer base and keep your brand message consistent.

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