In the COVID-19 crisis, businesses that were once offline have had to make a swift transition into the online space. In fact, a fifth of micro businesses said that they went online for the first time during lockdown, and half of those businesses said that their use of digital and social media tools had since increased.
The move makes sense considering that 36% of consumers shop online weekly since the onset of the pandemic, and that 28% of people say they will continue to shop online even once the pandemic subsides. Going online isn’t just for survival in the short-term then – it’s a long-term strategy for businesses to thrive in the new normal.
The problem, however, is that online competition is fierce, and small businesses may not have the necessary budget or resources to outshine larger players. Not to mention, navigating the online sphere can be overwhelming and it’s easy to miss opportunities that can maximize your brand’s visibility. The good news? Some of the most effective solutions are also the lowest-cost, and if implemented correctly, can give your business the foundation needed to dominate online. Here are four affordable ideas to promote the digital transformation of your business:
People are naturally curious about themselves. We want to know what categories we fit into, what level of knowledge we possess, and who or what we compare to. A great way to tap into this curiosity is with interactive content like quizzes, which are a playful way to establish a dialogue with online users, as opposed to a one-way conversation where your brand speaks at (rather than to) customers. Quizzes are mutually beneficial too: users are rewarded with information or accreditation, while your business gets key insights about your audience.
Quizzes are also proven to spark engagement – 82% of people were found to engage with quizzes that were exposed to them on their social media newsfeed, and 96% of users who take a Buzzfeed quiz finish it. As you move online then, a quiz can help you build relationships with new users because it instantly calls their inquisitiveness. And, digital quizzes can utilize gamification features and sophisticated design tools to be extra appealing and intuitive.
Despite being so powerful, few brands currently utilize quizzes, so they could help you earn a stark competitive advantage. Plus, not only do quizzes keep you ahead of the curve, they actively establish stronger consumer connections based on trust. Unlike other marketing techniques which can be misleading about how people’s data is used, users accept that they voluntarily submit their information to generate a result via a quiz. This transparency goes a long way at such a crucial transition for your brand, and powers lasting customer loyalty.
There’s strength in numbers, and in the recent digital shift, brands have been quick to leverage other businesses’ might. That’s not to say that you have to spend thousands on a deal with a big name. In the age of social media, there’s significant scope to work with individuals who dominate niche markets and don’t require large partnership fees. In the past 16 months, 40% of all brand partnerships have been with small social media influencers (people with 10,000 – 50,000 followers).
Spend some time researching thought-leaders and experts in your industry, and then contact them to discuss ways you can support one another. This could be exchanging products in a giveaway, sharing time and resources, adding affiliate links to each others’ websites or anything that provides value. The partnership doesn’t have to be based on exchanging money but it should have a clear purpose – the most successful pairings are the ones that have a common mission or messaging and strengthen both parties’ standing among specific audiences.
A partnership can additionally empower you to evolve with people’s needs. For instance, consumers are more ethically-driven in the pandemic, so you could work with an influencer or company to assist with local causes or donate to charity and showcase how your brand is giving back while online.
The rise of platforms like Snapchat and TikTok have formed a video-led online space, where users expect some form of video to educate and entertain them. What’s more, consumers are 64 – 85% more likely to buy a product after viewing a product video, so it’s a strong way to boost conversions.
Beyond sales, videos also bridge the gap between offline and online worlds – which is extremely important if you’re hoping to bring existing customers with you on your digital journey. For example, you can make videos for one-on-one tutorials to reassure customers about any changes and updates about your company policy or COVID-19 plan. You could also walk customers through your virtual store, demonstrate product samples, offer a staff ‘meet-and-greet’ or address FAQs and customer feedback.
As you go online, video content conveys your brand specialty and positions your company as an authority. Be sure to make the videos publicly available (at least initially) and similar to partnerships, welcome any opportunities to collaborate with other experts in your videos – this will boost your visibility even further.
Just as people are curious, we’re also competitive. A competition is therefore ideal to both grab people’s attention and let everyone know that you’ve arrived in the online world.
Your competition should be a reflection of your brand personality and should draw on any aspects of your company that have changed since you’ve gone online. For example, if you have a selection of new products, incorporate that as part of your competition angle. Generally speaking, the prize should always be your products or services, as you want to make your goods desirable to anyone who enters the draw.
Competitions with the most traction are the ones that get the most creative – caption competitions that ask users to write a line of copy for a photo are particularly popular, or you could ask people to submit videos of themselves doing something that relates to your brand mission. Remember that a competition is about people connecting with your company, so it should be a chance for them to reveal a little about themselves while also being able to win a prize. And don’t forget to add a voting or applicant mechanism where people share the competition or their activity with friends to spread your reach.
Quizzes, partnerships, videos, and competitions will not only promote your transformation but can push it forward too. The more of a presence you have online, the greater engagement you’ll receive from customers, and the more of a sense you’ll have about how to grow in the future. Gaining this momentum is crucial for any business going through a change, and is what will help you to build a solid, successful online footing.
Don’t think of your digital transformation as a painful ‘must do’ – instead, view it as a time to offer an updated experience for customers, and more importantly, the start of something big.