Back in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to modify day-to-day operations and adapt to start doing business primarily online. Those one-time “nice-to-dos” when it comes to online marketing became a necessity, as digital channels became the only way to stay in contact with customers. 

Even as COVID vaccinations continue and we look ahead towards something resembling normal business operations, businesses that embrace a digital-first marketing strategy are the ones that are thiving in a transformed marketplace.

We’ve spent the past couple of years working with small businesses to help them make the smartest use of digital marketing tools, so their businesses could thrive into 2021 and beyond. In this guide, we’re going to share with you the top three lessons that small businesses have learned as they adapted to the new marketing landscape of 2021.

1. Don’t be afraid to try something new

Most small businesses start out light and agile. However, once business picks up and there’s a ton of stuff on your plate every day, it’s easy to get stuck in the same old routine. It’s the, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” syndrome.

In 2020, the pandemic took away the option of staying in familiar routines that had been working in the past. Adapting to changes in health and safety protocols became a necessary part of life and everyone was forced out of their comfort zone. This resulted in small business owners around the world becoming more creative and inventive in how they did business. 

For many, this “forced restructuring” resulted in finding new ways to conduct business that will benefit them outside of the pandemic situation. So, while you’re getting used to how things have changed, be aware that they’re still changing, and don’t settle into a “new” routine. Instead, keep exploring new ideas, trying new things, and innovating creative ways that you can do business. 

Actions you can take

  • Conduct a survey. Send your customers an email survey asking what you’re doing well and what they’d like to see you add or change. And don’t stop at just one survey. Think about adding a small survey section, with one or two questions, into your regular newsletter. That way you can receive regular feedback from your most loyal customers.
  • Try new tools. If you’ve never used it before, and you think it might fit with your business, try it out. Think about trying things like live video. You can “go live” with your staff as they unbox new merchandise, create a new dish, walk through a new real estate listing, fix a pipe… basically, you can go live with anything you do at your business that might be interesting to your target market.
  • Embrace the change. Take a lesson from restaurants around the globe who, since 2020, tapered down their menus, added options for delivery and takeout, and moved indoor dining outside — just to name a few of the creative ways they pivoted their day-to-day way of conducting business. Think about what you’re doing now that could be slightly modified to adapt and respond to new demands and requirements.

2. Stay in touch and top of mind

One of the biggest benefits of online marketing tools is that they give you the ability to stay in touch and top of mind. 

When the pandemic hit, everything changed. Communicating online became more important than ever before. And due to all of the changes, small businesses learned they needed to keep their customers informed more frequently.

Communicating clearly and often is still important in 2021 and will remain so going forward. You’ll want to keep customers informed of additional changes, how you’re meeting their needs, and how you’re making them feel safe. Of course, you’ll also want to keep them engaged and interested in your products or services.

Use the following tips to ensure you’re effectively staying in touch and top of mind this year.

Update all communication channels

When it comes to communication for your business, you want to use a variety of different channels

No matter the change, it’s important to ensure that anyone can find it no matter where they may be looking. That means updating the information on your:

  • Website
  • Listing and review sites
  • Emails
  • Social media channels

Actions you can take

  • Update all communication channels, Don’t just post an update on one channel and expect everyone to see it.
  • Watch your stats to see how people react to your frequency.
  • Reach customers where they are. Use a variety of channels to communicate with customers and communicate when you need to.

3. Do more business online

COVID-19 brought many challenges that forced us all to think differently about how we live, interact, and do business. 

For small businesses, surviving meant a shift in how you operate and meet the needs of your customers. With ongoing concerns about the health and general well-being of friends and families, customers continue to look for safer ways to get the products and services they need. 

Namely, they went online.

Actions you can take