It doesn’t take a genius to realise that business opportunities are really uncertain at the moment. While many stores are closing, or at least limiting, their physical doors, there is a big opportunity for eCommerce to thrive. However, there is still a lot of uncertainty. Just being aware of the sheer number of people who have lost their livelihoods can make it difficult to know how to move your business forward.
The important thing to recognise is that you can move forward. The economy hasn’t stopped, it’s just changed. Shopping habits are changing, and being on top of those changes can help you find a way through. This is a good thing. Most businesses will make it through. With the right help, your business can also be part of the economic solution.
That said, it is important to operate with a clean conscience. It’s not a time to be adding to fears or being insensitive to the real and genuine grief that many people are experiencing as they lose family, livelihoods, and the experience of normal life. Be a business that offers real and genuine solutions to consumers. People still need goods and services. If you have an eCommerce store that can help provide consumers with what they need, then you can be there for them.
This is the key. It’s about figuring out how eCommerce has changed as a result of the coronavirus and knowing how your eCommerce store can work with these changes. Fortunately Facebook has revealed what we need to know.
Facebook, as one of the biggest social media platforms available, has published a guide to help advertisers navigate the COVID-19 crisis. This guide offers valuable insight to how the successful eCommerce stores are navigating the coronavirus. Take advantage of these strategies and your eCommerce store can grow too.
One of the important things to note is that many of the large retailers are taking a long time to adapt their strategies. This means they’re reducing their online presence and marketing push. There are two benefits of this for the smaller business. The first is that you’ve now got a better opportunity to be seen. Secondly, by jumping in now you’ll be getting a better deal for your dollars. Discounted sales rates and less competition will both help your marketing ROI.
Here’s what else Facebook reveals:
- Understand that it’s not as simple as just having an online store
- Recognise the social media landscape
- Consider your actual industry and the unique way in which it has been impacted by the coronavirus measures.
- Simplify your strategy
- Re-evaluate tests designed to inform future decisions
- Use A/B and multi-cell lift testing to quickly optimise your ads and continually evaluate your strategy and your measurements of your strategy.
Keep reading to dig deeper into each of these tips.
Your Online Store
When it comes to online stores it’s clear that there are some big winners, like Amazon. What is perhaps surprising, according to CNBC, is that many of the online retailers who were expected to dominate in 2020 are not looking so hot right now. These direct to consumer providers were offering highly desirable brands and they were looking good when 2020 rolled around. Unfortunately many of them are realising that products are no longer hot commodities. This is because consumer habits are changing. In other words, it’s not JUST about selling online.
Many stores have had to close their physical doors. The ones that are still open are operating under restrictions that require them to limit the number of people in store. But it’s not just closures that are increasing online sales. More people than ever are working from home or just sitting at home all day. While they’re home they use their phones and computers to shop online, even for products that they could still be going out to pick up.
To thrive in this online market your eCommerce needs to be accessible, trustworthy and providing consumers with what they want right now. With many people now limiting their purchases to essentials, this typically revolves around supplying the products, services, and PPE that they need right now.
Social Media Use
Even before COVID-19, social media use was a huge factor in most successful marketing strategies. With in-person shopping now limited social media use is rising even more rapidly. In fact, this shift in shopping habits is so significant that it could permanently shift consumer behaviour. With many businesses rushing to get their eCommerce stores running smoothly, these changes could have an ongoing impact on business operations.
For an eCommerce store with an established social media presence you have the perfect opportunity to tap into the sky rocketing social media use. There is a growing number of people who are shopping online to fulfill strong needs for education, interaction, and fulfilling content that you could help provide.
This can be a little tricky though. It is very important to remain respectful. If you market your business in a way that even appears to be taking advantage of the situation, be prepared for fallback. Keep your target market in mind and remember that many of them may have lost their livelihood, or be struggling to balance suddenly reduced income levels. It’s not the time for a hard sell. It’s time to relate, provide, and engage.
Be a brand who cares. A brand that is accessible. And a brand that meets people where they are at.
Understand the impact of marketing conditions on your industry
Not all businesses are in the same boat. While we are all being hammered by the same storm, each industry is riding it out in a very different way. Some are managing massive demand spikes while others are trying to get any nibbles at all. The location and restrictions faced by your customer base will further impact your opportunities.
It is more important than ever to tailor your goals and assess your adaptability to your specific conditions and customer base.
Complex strategies that work under normal conditions may no longer be relevant. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change everything. If you can simplify your strategy you may even be able to adapt more quickly as the market changes.
The following lists a few things that your simplified marketing strategy should cover:
1- Selling Essentials
In times of crisis people still need essentials. Food, medical care, household basics, protection, education, entertainment for the kids, and products that help them keep a hold of their sanity. Even online clothing stores have started selling soap and sanitisers as well as homewares to help people function from home in their daily and work life.
There are plenty of opportunities to work within these changing shopping habits. It’s more than just the bare necessities, it’s also about helping people relax and enjoy their new normal, as much as possible. For example, if you sell bed linen this is a great time to remind people to get a fresh, clean set. Something that helps them feel better about the home and feel more comfortable. Home improvements are on the rise as people take the opportunity to tackle jobs around the house. Comfortable clothing for exercising, or spending time playing with the kids is also important.
If your eCommerce store already offers the essentials that are in demand then you’re set. You just need to get the word out in the right way. However, if your eCommerce store is selling things that have suddenly lost consumer appeal, you may need to consider adding something that is essential to your product line.
It’s also important to remember that things won’t always stay this way. While shoppers may be holding off on buying the latest fashion accessories while they’re stuck indoors, they will be looking for them again. There is every chance shoppers will move towards wants as they take look for products that function as pick me ups, amazing gifts for loved ones, and, of course, as shutdowns lessen and people are able to get out and about again.
2- Managing Discounts
Discounting your products can be tricky. You don’t want to undervalue your product, but you do want to make it affordable within the current climate. At the end of the day the usual market rules apply. Your business needs to be bringing in enough income to cover costs and make a profit. The prices need to be attractive enough to ensure the right level of sales volume.
Basically, what you need to do is figure out how your product can meet people where they’re at. Discounts, bulk offers, vouchers, and other strategies can help you make it easier for consumers to afford your product, which in turn helps your business keep running. But this isn’t the right move for everyone.
3- Building Relationships
Social media and email connections give you an ongoing opportunity to build those relationships. Everyone is connected online, now more than ever. Send a genuine message to your client list to check in on them and ask how your business can help. They may return ideas that you hadn’t even thought of, and in the process you are creating stronger bonds.
As we’ve touched on before, a very important part of this is being sensitive to the massive life changes, the grief, and the fear that consumers are living through right now. With most people concerned about their finances they will be wanting to work with businesses that they trust. If things go wrong, such as stock delays or product quality, a consumer may be particularly sensitive to dealing with this. Be prepared by focusing on strengthening your client relationships and managing any issues that do arise with the appropriate sensitivity.
4- Navigating the Challenges
None of this is simple. Depending on your business, there will be challenges to navigate. For stores that are already established eCommerce stores, these challenges can be quite different to those being faced by bricks and mortar stores.
Many eCommerce industries are actually facing a challenging wave of demand spikes paired with limited supply. With the whole world changing how it relates, limiting travel, and even diverting manufacturers to focus on creating emergency supplies and essentials, supply chain issues can be a real problem. Adapting your business to the new norm of working from home can also present many challenges to overcome.
The sheer lack of certainty makes it hard to plan and strategise. Ultimately this means you can’t run a campaign that is based on old principles. You can’t rehash an old marketing strategy then set and forget. You’ve got to be ready to ride the changes that happen at faster paces and in greater swings than they have before.
Reassess tests that inform you of consumer decisions
In case the message hasn’t sunk in yet, times are changing. Previous consumer habits don’t exist anymore. This makes it extremely important to evaluate what market research and consumer predictions you are relying on. When were your marketing tests taken and how do they fit in with the current situation? Tests pre-COVID-19 will now give you information that is now completely out of context. On the other hand, tests taken during this time may only be applicable for short times within the COVID-19 crisis.
Be prepared to adjust your understanding of consumer choices, not just now, but as the coronavirus situation continues and passes.
A/B and Multi-cell Testing
Run these tests to measure and learn real time information about your audience and the impact your advertising is having with them. Don’t assume that the measures that worked last week will continue to work this week. We are in a time with a lot of unknowns, which leads to rapid changes.
It is more important than ever to stay on top of measurements and be adaptive.
Summary of How To Do Well with your eCommerce Store
eCommerce stores have the advantage of being online. This is where the shoppers are now, more than ever. But it’s not enough just to be online. To remain a successful business in this climate you need to:
- Make good use of your social media platforms to build on your positive brand image and remind consumers that you are here and ready to provide the goods or services that they’re after.
- Be sensitive to the unusual conditions of the markets, including the fears, grief, and stress, and financial strains that your market base might be under.
- Sell the products that people need right now.
- Manage your discounts so that you meet your client base where they are at, without shooting yourself in the foot.
- Focus on connecting with your audience and building relationships with your clients.
- Be prepared to navigate the challenges. While there are many predictions about what may happen over the next few months, the only thing we know for sure is that things will continue to change.
- Help your business to be adaptable by simplifying your strategy.
Ultimately this means that you need to be selling the right product with the right content. Your message is extremely important right now. It tells consumers whether you are there for them, or just there to take advantage of them. The right content is essential, as is building a solid, ongoing system of measurement in place. This way you can still achieve your business goals and generate tangible ROI on your marketing spend.
To truly make the most of these tips contact 500 Digital. We will give you a free, no obligation social media strategy. This means doing more than taking the above marketing strategies and applying them on a surface level. It’s about tailoring these strategies to your specific business and your specific market.
You’ll find out how to:
- Use the daily insights Facebook are giving us for businesses to adapt their marketing strategies online
- Reach more customers online and deliver your message straight to their handheld device
- Funnel and nurture cold traffic into people hungry to buy
- Boost your conversions without spending anything extra on traffic
After the session you’ll get a free social media funnel that will show you exactly what you need to do to convert cold traffic into highly engaged traffic and sales
500 Digital Media is a Melbourne-based production studio with a national focus. Fluent in every stage of production – from concept and creation to social media strategy – we provide a full-scale and integrated end-to-end service delivered by our team of in-house experts.