If this coronavirus covid-19 lockdown has taught the world anything, it’s the precarious nature of life. Anything can happen… Staying indoors for the covid-2019 quarantine has led nearly everyone to rely on the internet to keep themselves informed, entertained, and stocked.
This is precisely the theme of today’s blog post. It is the renewed resurgence of importance given to ‘content marketing’, whose value has only grown during this lockdown.
SEO – Search ‘Emotion’ Optimization
Branding is basically an Emotion. You communicate an emotion through your brand; its logo, colour, shape, and design. Much the same can be said of the kinds of words you use to new and old customers alike who are currently indoors during the lockdown.
• The word ‘traffic’ feels almost soul-less. Let’s use the actual word it stands for: People. People are who make the internet what it is.
• One of the best moves you, as a business or service provider, can make during quarantine is to reach out to the humanity in people.
The core aim of this relatively slower approach to SEO is to get ‘forever-customers’, namely people who will remember your kindness during this corona lockdown and be ready to support you once the lockdown has lifted.
Know Thy Customer…Truly Know Them
Moz.com says that SEO ‘is a great way to increase the quality of a web site by making it user-friendly, faster, and easier to navigate.’ What better way to do this than to actually connect with consumers and customers.
All over the world, people respond to a kind word or a good deed. Let us break apart the earlier website quote and see it from an emotional perspective…
• User-friendly: The quality of your business will improve because you were friendly with your clientele, who currently happen to be stuck in lockdown.
• Faster: The speed with which you interact is not important, but the very act itself is. This relationship will bloom and grow even after the lockdown, making it a powerful long-term speed-growth booster for your business.
• Navigate: Easy navigation can also mean how smoothly you ensure a bond between your business or company, and the people who are destined to help grow it.
How do I start doing this?
Simply begin with your in-house marketing and social media team. Get them on board the ‘new idea’ of actually messaging people during quarantine and simply asking them how THEY are doing, and if they and theirs are safe.
• It really is as straightforward as that. Simply getting to know your customers requires not-so-simple effort on your part.
• As a business, you need to understand that people see you as a far away cold and untouchable entity, by default. They need to feel the human core of your business.
• The best way to communicate that is to actually communicate it. Slogans and fancy advertisements are not always guaranteed to draw more customers, especially during this time of trial and tribulation.
• In fact, you can save more money simply by chatting or emailing people, and/or seeing if you can help them out with a care package.
• Obviously, you will need to set up a corporate fund to buy said supplies. But if you can help people/customers in lockdown with groceries or safety supplies, say, once a week, it will genuinely improve your standing with them.
• Their opinion of you will go through the roof, even if you drastically discount said package as opposed to giving it away free to a select few customers.
The above ideas are not just intended for the purpose of growing capital, but for forging authentic connections between you and your customer base. To know them is to serve them better.
Where Does SEO Come In?
By using the right keywords for a target audience, you make sure that search engines like Google and Bing bring it to their attention when they search for, say, ‘best ice-cream to pair with fruits’.
• Using the above example, and supposing you have an ice-cream business, simply reaching out to people who order ice-cream online will give them a ‘feel good’ sensation (like ice-creams are known to do J).
• Quarantine and lockdown during the global covid-19 crisis (that sourced in Wuhan, China) can prove a difficult time. A kind word from any business is sure to impress a customer who is probably waiting to get back to their lives.
This is especially important for local businesses. According to SearchEngineJournal: “Local SEO… optimizing your digital properties for a specific vicinity… [P]eople can find you quickly and easily… one step closer to a transaction.”
Even an infographic will do wonders for your business, not just written content. These picto-versions of your content can be used on various social media platforms. This is detailed below under its own heading.
What are some instances where ‘Emotion Optimization’ can be applied?
This has become something of a curious query, because the aim of content marketing is to reach out to people. And the best way to reach out to them during this quarantine period is to stir their emotions.
• Admitted, and sadly, that some businesses will take a cold clinical approach and simply reach out with the intention to grab attention and earn purchases instead of a long-term customer base.
• Building customer trust is crucial, and kind words with absolutely nothing to get in return is the best way to go about this.
• Go out of your way and do something for your most loyal customers while giving a little something to your new ones.
• Acts like these ensure that those very customers come back for more. They will even talk, tweet, and share all about it.
THIS is what every business needs in a time where job losses and a plunging economy is the new normal.
Reliablesoft phrased it well: “SEO can put you ahead of the competition. If two web sites are selling the same thing, the search engine optimized website is more likely to have more customers and make more sales.”
SEO performance is calculated as ‘rank’. The right words will rank you higher on search engine results pages. By being ‘emotionally intelligent’ with your customers and clients, you ensure regular traffic to and from your site, which in turn boosts your ranking.
[Image Source/Credit: Reliablesoft]
What to do with distraught or upset customers during this quarantine?
It would be easy to say there is little or nothing you can do about customers who see you as the ‘bad guy’. However, with a little patience and calm you can appeal to their better natures and help them realize that shopping with you is a step in the right direction.
• If you come across customers who reveal they need help or are in serious trouble during this covid-19 pandemic, assure them that you will reach out to the authorities and see how best to help them out.
• In case of customers who complain about having a bad experience with your company pre-pandemic, convince them that you have new personnel and better management this time round.
• Remain calm and polite throughout. This is the best way to make customers feel wanted and supported in these dark times.
• Use your clout as a business to connect them to services that (and authorities whom) they cannot find on their own.
Social Media Marketing
When you so much as think ‘social media marketing’, one of the first things that springs to mind is an array of products on your screen. You can scroll for days and not see the tail end of the list. This is not truly the case. Here’s what social media marketing honestly consists of: People!
• You are not marketing products. Rather, you are marketing products TO people based on WHO this or that person is.
• This key perspective shift has silently been taking over the social media marketing realm.
[Image credit: NeilPatel]
According to NeilPatel.com, this is how many users the Internet has collected over time. The sheer number of people who are online, more so now during the covid-19 quarantine, has certainly streamlined marketing strategies for all sorts of companies and businesses.
How do I start? Where do I start?
You are already late to the game! That was not meant as an insult, but rather a call to action.
• Millions of people are following and subscribing to hundreds of brands and services almost every hour.
• They are keeping track of their favourites, and discovering something new everyday.
• Your brand or service can be that ‘new’.
They say the first step is often the most difficult. If you haven’t already done so, these are the main social media sites you need to infuse your presence in: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and YouTube. Other players include: WeChat, Messenger, Tumblr, and Whatsapp.
Not only will the people you reach out to help drive leads, you will also encourage them to buy (i.e., sales).
1. Your aim is to grow ‘devoted brand advocates’. These are people who love your brand, product, or service so much that they share everything you do, and pay attention to any fresh announcements coming from your side.
2. You get loyal customers by spending time with them online when they are strangers.
3. You spend time with them by offering them discounts, value-for-money deals, opportunities to win something, a chance to showcase their own interests through your brand-lens…
4. But most important of all, you show them that you care by writing thoughtful content, and tailoring it to them as an individual.
5. Such content has to take into consideration the current covid-19 crisis.
More on that last point: If, for example, you know that Mrs. Singh is a homemaker, your content to her (and others like her) should reflect the hardwork she does everyday (and has been doing to date) in raising a family and keeping her marriage going.
There are so many variations you can use to spin your content. The women and men in question can be single, divorced, re-married, with kids, without them, in same-sex relationships, or waiting to find The One.
To answer the question we started with, your care for such details and appreciation of people’s life choices is a means for you to start learning more about your potential customers. Such acts will, over time and with consistent effort, lead to a customer base filled with ‘devoted brand advocates’.
Alright, that makes sense. Now, is there a technical strategy I can implement?
Once you have embarked on the ‘emotionally intelligent’ idea detailed above, here’s the other side of the coin ready to toss…
• When it comes to ‘engagement’ and ‘brand awareness’, you need to stay consistent on social media.
• Select your top-3 social media platforms based on the type of content you create. Example: Entertainment and Education are two similar but distinct areas, and they can inspire either written or videographic content.
• The best thing about social media marketing is that you can be flexible. Meaning, you can change online e-strategies if they do not suit your brand. This level of digital adaptability is outstanding, and is in fact required for small businesses.
• The previous point is even truer during this coronavirus lockdown, when you yourself are guessing your way through a fast-changing digital landscape.
• According to Buffer, almost 3 billion people use social media! By relying on a core set of post scheduling tools, you can create posts to engage with all the right people in all the right times (and timezones).
• You need to generate an atmosphere of open dialogue. Meaning, people should be encouraged to comment on your posts, share and re-post them, tag you in their own posts, and so on. This further increases your online presence, reach, and visibility.
• Varied analytics tools are open to you via social media platforms themselves. Your team needs to keep track of these numbers, so they can better advise you on where to invest your energies.
• While advertising has hit a new low during the covid-19 crisis, it can prove to be an ally to help ‘spread the word’ about your business. The only real change you need to make is to choose specific niche areas to target using your advertising campaign(s), as opposed to throwing the net wide.
• People can be sub-divided into: demographic, interest, behaviour. These three factors are all you need to help you understand an individual, or a group of like-minded individuals. This in turn helps you target all the right customers with apt campaigns and posts.
A good idea at this time will be to focus on offers that genuinely help people who could be going through a hard time during the coronavirus crisis. This will take some brainstorming, perhaps even a little expenditure on your part, to accomplish. However, the long-term results will speak for themselves.
You are looking at winning the hearts of customers who, till the very end, will be your ‘devoted brand advocates’ once all this is over. Long-term goals should certainly eclipse any short-term gains you might conceivably earn.
New and risky ideas vs. Established trends
The internet and its search bars are programmed to show customers what they want to see. They reinforce the ‘particular demand’ of what people want or need. People naturally lean towards something familiar instead of something new.
But think for a second, if it were possible for you to change that. If you could make customers latch onto something or someone new and unique – something or someone they might never have heard of before. This is where ‘continuation’ evolves into ‘innovation’ in the lives of those people.
• People’s perspectives about, and associations with, certain content and how it makes them feel is essentially what drives the internet.
• This is, after all, the core logic behind search engines. They rely on spiders and bots to gather data concerning what people are actively looking for.
• This in turn helps businesses come up with digital content using keywords and phrases that are oft-used online, i.e., SEO.
If you can use the current coronavirus situation (which is relatively new to them) and connect it to content that people are actively seeking (which is familiar to them), you got yourself a magical moment. The game therefore changes from following trends to actually starting them.
Pay Per Click
PPC (pay-per-click) is the term used for marketing content that you pay for ONLY if there is legitimate interaction to it from a person online. Instead of directly encouraging people to come over to your website and check out your content, you advertise through search engines; and other online portals.
• The clicks that people perform through such sites becomes ‘traffic’ sent to your website.
• The advantage of this marketing technique is that you only need to pay for clicks performed, as opposed to paying a large amount beforehand and hoping for the best.
• Not only is it safer and more cost-effective (small businesses, take note), PPC marketing has long established itself as a potent way to earn more website traffic by paying less than expected.
Disclaimer: This technique is in no way a guaranteed means of success. You should have confidence in your products and services, because if they do not entice customers to buy then you will end up unnecessarily paying for advertisements using money that can be used to evolve your business standards instead (no insult intended, just commonsense advice).
GoogleAds vs Others
The reason we mention GoogleAds is because it serves everyone quite well when it comes to Quality.
• You bid on keywords, which when they appear in the Google search bar, lets you earn money by presenting your advert, if it has won the bid, to the person who is searching.
• You win said bid by providing all the right keywords, and having quality content in relation to that ad.
• If your content and keywords provide ideal information, it is considered ‘relevant’ by Google’s powerful program.
• Your ‘Ad Rank’ therefore goes up. How much you are ready to spend on your advertisement (i.e., your CPC bid) is coupled with your content’s relevance and usefulness (i.e., its Quality Score).
Your cost per click is adjusted accordingly to ensure that you pay only what is needed each time a customer clicks on your ad after searching using those keywords.
How do I know if my keywords are ideal?
This is a work in progress, to be honest. Keywords do not always come easy, because that depends heavily on the type of content you choose to write/upload/publish.
• Keyword Planner is a great place to start. However, there are other resources for you to check out as well.
• The most important thing for you to remember is Simplicity… Keep your keywords relevant to what you are offering/selling. This ensures that your content generates leads by packing the substance needed to increase your PPC click-through rate.
• During this covid-19 quarantine, all sorts of new keywords have popped up on the relevance meter. Tailor your content to suit the idea or theme of what your site is all about, more so in connection to the lockdown that’s currently ongoing in several global hotspots.
• Good keywords ensure a low cost per click. This means you pay less for better content, especially those containing properly integrated keywords.
• In addition, you do not always need to rely on commonly used keywords for your type of service or product. You can use niche or ‘long tail’ keywords too.
• Whether it be online users who know a great deal about what you are selling, or if it’s just to further infuse your content with quality and variety, specialized keywords are never a bad idea. Also, they attract less competition, which means you pay less for them in the GoogleAds bidding arena.
• As a clever rule of thumb, negative keywords also help your content accrue quality. Through such keywords, you tell search engines that you are not selling this or that. Meaning, certain particular users will not waste their time and yours by clicking on your link. This in turn leaves room for relevant customers, which further raises your rank in GoogleAds.
A little more about negative keywords
The decision to use negative keywords in your content helps you rid your site of ‘unqualified traffic’. Whatever your choice of keywords, if an online user happens to append the word ‘free’ to their search, then there really is no point to you putting your product or service up for ‘sale’, is there.
Even at discounted rates, that user is most probably not looking to spend a penny. This makes them ‘unqualified traffic’ for your site. By adding words like ‘free’, ‘bargain’, and ‘cheap’ to your list of negative keywords, your advert will not show up on search results pages for those who might only end up wasting your time.
On the other hand, if you are actually planning to set up a free campaign to help customers during the covid-19 lockdown, you can adjust your keywords accordingly.
A quick-guide to PPC Marketing
Your basic aim during this Wuhan virus-induced quarantine is to keep your business afloat. Below are two of the key players in the PPC marketing circuit who can help you do just that:
1. Google Ads
2. Microsoft Advertising
Here are some of the core elements involved in crafting a good keyword-rich advertisement campaign…
• Keyword themes – These are directly connected to your product or service. For instance, if you are selling wardrobes, then that right there should be your keyword theme.
• Ad groups – Using your keyword theme, craft multiple ad groups. Taking the previous example, you can create ad groups like: tall wardrobes, short wardrobes, thick wardrobes, wooden wardrobes, etc.
• Keyword variations – This is just as important as the other steps. You essentially extend your ad group words. Using the same example as before: tall wardrobes for bedroom, short cupboards for office… You can also modify the capitalization of letters to suit your need.
What are the different types of advertisement campaigns available for me to try?
This can get slightly complicated for some business owners looking to take their service and/or catalogue online. Fret not, below is a simplified version, the detailed version of which you can find on PPCHero.
1. Display Network
Granting access to video ads, images, and Google text, millions of such sites make up this network. Instead of relying on conventional keyword targeting, your display network ads target demographics and audiences. In such instances, it is not uncommon for your ad to show up on a visitor’s screen whether or not they are interested in buying your products or availing your services. The fact that they visited a site or blog that featured your sort of ‘goods’ made them ‘eligible’ for certain display network ads.
2. Search Network
Google’s manifold search partners comprise this sort of network. As conventional as it gets, this network is all about keyword based targeting. As detailed above, users find ads specifically linked to what they typed into the search bar.
3. Search Network /w Display Option
This is a hybrid version of the previous two network types. Aside from your usual search network accessibility options (in Google Ads experience), you can also opt for a display network ad. However, what you gain in options you lose in choice. Meaning, Google ‘arbitrates’ which of your ads go where and to whom. As an advertiser, you will have no control over your ad campaign(s) past a certain point.
4. Product Listing
After submitting apt content to the Google Merchant Centre, you can then go about creating shopping campaigns via Google ads. Instead of directly dealing with keywords, you get to access ‘feed attributes’: brand, product type, item ID, condition, and other custom features. Google then matches a seeker’s need to the type of attribute they are most probably searching. This links your product to their demand. Your titles and descriptions therefore need to be spot-on.
How do I go about Targeting the right customer base?
With PPC, it is all about targets. Whom you need to impress, entertain, encourage, and convince all depends on the type of ad campaign you plan to run. But this also means your business relies on WHERE you choose to send those ad campaigns.
1. Device Targeting
It is not just desktop PCs that you need to focus on but sundry devices like laptops, mobile phones, and tablets too.
• Formats and alignments change based on device, adding to your marketing design capabilities.
• Based on the device you choose to target, you can alter or modify your business designs to better reach out and attract varied customers.
• ‘Bid modifiers’ are open for mobile devices. As for the others, the same bid can be integrated without any major distinction.
This further expands your cost-saving potential, a point that most small businesses need to note as they try to swim in an increasingly digital world, especially during this covid-19 quarantine.
2. Location Targeting
You can couple your PPC campaigns with certain specific locations. Your bid modifiers can also be crafted accordingly. These modifiers can be ‘modified’ based on different location targets, adding to the flexibility of your marketing options. The power of location targeting during the coronavirus lockdown is exemplary. When you know that cities and districts are labelling red zones, and closing them off for safety purposes, why would you want to waste time catering to an area to which you cannot deliver anyway? Why build hopes in potential customers only to have them dashed?
Digital marketing during the covid-19 lockdown can prove to be life or death for small businesses. In fact, the big fish aren’t swimming that strong either. Finding a way to adapt to the new logistical situation that the Wuhan virus has brought into all our lives is a major way to stay afloat commercially.
Through online content, keyword-sprinkled sentences, and smart targeting strategies, you can make sure that you do more with less during this lockdown period. You need to become a business owner who is understanding of people’s current conundrums. You need to be human.
Gradually dying are the old ways, when people felt they could get away with ‘cold distance’ approaches in business and sales. If the coronavirus ‘surprise’ has taught us anything, it’s how fragile life can be, and how we are all connected. One government’s attempts to hide the truth has resulted in the whole world, including them, paying a hefty price for it.
Reach out to people in this time of need. Your ideal customer base desires to feel a human side from the brands and services they often rely on. They need you to check up on them, and to help them save money during this ‘tight crunch’.
Such customers become devotees for life, so to speak. They will never forget that a ‘person’ was there for them when the world was in a near-apocalyptic state. People need people, not distant entities.
That said, sit down with your in-house business team over a video conference call (preferably not Zoom) and redo your strategies. Make sure that you craft your advertisement campaigns with a human element. Make all needed modifications if it means new and old customers alike benefit in some memorable way during this covid-19 virus quarantine.
Go, and make ‘devoted brand advocates’. Go, and simply be human.
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