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Digital Marketing Adjustments for 2020 and Beyond

by Michelle McNally | Sep 29, 2020

This year has thrown retailers for a loop like no other year in recent memory. If you had told business owners at the end of 2019 that they’d soon be counting the number of customers in their stores, disinfecting shopping carts, and taking the temperature of employees as they reported for work, most would have had a hard time believing it. Yet, here we are. 

With consumers being selective about which in-person interactions are really necessary, retailers have had to rethink how they do business, and many have been able to pivot in order to remain relevant in 2020.

Online Ordering and Curbside Pickup

Big retailers like Kohl’s have had “Buy online, pick up in store” (BOPIS) options for a few years. Ordering online and picking up the same day at a local store used to be a convenience. Now it’s a matter of health and safety. Smaller retailers and restaurants have followed suit. Those who have an online store or ordering app have a streamlined way to manage same-day orders, but businesses have found that simply accepting orders by phone works well, too. 

An Example of Successful Pivoting

In 2018, BoxCrush built an online store for a local client. Virtual store visitors would often browse the online product selection, then go to a brick-and-mortar location to make a purchase. The client offered an “Order Online, Pick Up in Store” option, too. Starting in mid-March 2020, however, the messaging changed to include curbside pickup, and their online business grew exponentially. 

Sales and web traffic remained strong in April 2020. While many businesses paused their Google Ads in April 2020, this BoxCrush client doubled down on promoting curbside pickup through Google Ads, which boosted their online sales from organic, direct, and paid search traffic. 

UP Online sales_traffic comparison April. - MarchWebsite traffic, user behavior, and conversions for April 2020, compared to March 2020.

UB-Online-Sales-April-2020 

Importance of Local Listings and Social Media Updates

During the first few weeks of the pandemic when people were staying at home and not using Google Maps and other navigational tools, traffic plunged for local searches on Google and other local listing platforms. Since then, however, businesses have discovered the critical need to update their business listings to help customers know what to expect. 

Google, Bing, Yelp, and Facebook added fields for COVID-19-specific information to help businesses communicate new store policies. Updating your Google My Business page as well as Facebook is an easy way to help searchers to find if you’re offering what they’re looking for. If your website isn’t easy to update, make sure your information is accurate on Google My Business and social media platforms.  

In managing location pages for clients, BoxCrush has found that users who arrived at a website via Google My Business have a higher engagement rate and are more likely to convert than other web traffic. Businesses get phone calls from their Google My Business listing, and also from users who click on the listing, land on the website, then click on a website “call” button.

trafficsources-campaigns
Traffic and user behavior from Google My Business listings.

 

Reputation Matters 

In the early weeks of the pandemic, Google suspended the publishing of business reviews, for several reasons. Now reviews are published in a regular cadence as in pre-pandemic times. With consumers being selective about interactions and concerned about safety precautions, good reviews are more important than ever. 

Proactively seeking reviews is a cost-effective way to engage your customers. A simple email or text asking for a review after an appointment, visit,  or purchase gives happy customers a chance to sing your praises, and gives you a chance to address any concerns. Recent reviews also show potential customers that you’re actively open for  business. 

This year has proved to be a year of change in immeasurable ways, some of which are here to stay. Customers are enjoying curbside service and other personal shopping experiences that may have been considered a luxury prior to 2020. Adapting your digital marketing to match the new needs of customers will keep your business competitive in 2020 and beyond.