COVID-19 and Small Business Marketing & Sales

Marketing budgets during COVID-19

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Written by Binh An Nguyen

Marketing budgets can be difficult to secure at the best of times. During times of economic uncertainty, it is challenging to find the marketing funds for your small business. Many small businesses are cutting their marketing budgets to stay afloat. 

While this short-term survival strategy is tempting, it could harm your business in the long run. If you’re not investing in online marketing or you’re slashing your marketing budget, you are making yourself vulnerable to competitors. Brick and mortar shops, did you know that 20 per cent of Australian online retailers reported an increase in sales during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this article, we discuss 3 ways that can help you efficiently make use of your marketing budget, even if you’re unsure about the future.

  1. Focus on data-driven decisions

Making business decisions during times of uncertainty is stressful. Nevertheless, don’t let your emotions impact your marketing decisions. Make use of all your available marketing data to devise your budgeting strategy.

Ask yourself the following question:

  • When, where and what are people buying your product at the moment? 
  • Is a product or service, in particular, outperforming others?

Going with the flow can be easier than trying to modify customer behaviour. Answering these questions will help you see where your priorities are. Putting  your marketing dollars towards what customers want to buy right now should be your next logical step. 

Data and analytics are key to making the most out of your limited budget in these hard times. Spend your marketing budget to promote products and services that bring you a return on investment as this lowers the risks for growing your business. For example, if you are running a marketing campaign and don’t see positive results after a week, this indicates you might need to tweak or even cease your campaign. 

  1. Rework your PPC strategy

If your budget permits, you can still run PPC ads and campaigns during tough times. Small businesses across various industries have paused or slowed their PPC campaigns in the last year due to COVID-19. Business has been uncertain and customer trends have changed rapidly. 

On a brighter note, since competition has slowed, the average cost-per-click has gone down for Google Ads. If this makes sense for your business, then leaning on PPC can seriously boost your visibility. This is especially true if your brand falls in those industries that now have scarce competition.

However, some marketing strategies that may have been effective before the pandemic will no longer cut it anymore. Your ad copy, message tone and audience might need to be reworked. Tweak your landing pages to reflect the ‘new reality’ for your customers. 

For instance, avoid running ads that ask your customers to attend an event or visit your physical location. People are leaving their houses less, and may even be in lockdown, depending where they live. You need to optimise your landing pages and improve your website conversion rate to capture any potential customer coming your way.

If you are in an industry that has been hit hard by the pandemic, such as real estate or travel, it may be wiser to pause your PPC ads at the moment. Instead, put your marketing budget towards other initiatives, such as building an organic marketing strategy.

  1. Work out an organic marketing plan

Your cash flow may have stalled, and you may have less money on hand to put towards marketing. If that is the case, it might be a great time to invest in organic marketing tactics. Sure, you will still have to fork out some cash to cover the costs of implementing organic marketing strategies. But working on organic methods to promote your business can be very effective will usually bring in strong and sustainable results.

Organic marketing is especially useful if you are running on a tight marketing budget and you cannot afford running high visibility PPC campaigns, which can often cost an arm and a leg. Instead dedicate your time (or your team’s time) to less costly efforts, such as SEO or content marketing. The only catch here it takes longer to see organically-driven results.

It might sound tempting to write about the COVID-19 pandemic on your business website’s blog. You need to remember that at some point soon the world will return to normal. Instead, focusing evergreen content today will give you the upper hand tomorrow, with a collection of content that has been maturing in Search Engine Result Pages. This means writing blog posts that will look relevant even in a few years.

Working out an organic social media strategy is also a budget-friendly solution. The pandemic outbreak has positively influenced the number of online users. A study recently found that social media users have grown by more than 10 per cent over the past year, taking the global total to 3.96 billion at the start of July 2020. This means that more of your customers are now online. Share useful resources, engage your audience with thought-provoking topics and gradually build your brand’s engagement. 

As mentioned earlier, reducing your marketing budget during tough days is a tempting way to cut costs for your business. But this can easily have a much deeper impact on your business in the long-term by reducing your visibility, website traffic and potentially valuable leads. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many to rethink their marketing initiatives to stay in the game. Follow the strategies mentioned in this article to make the most out of your available marketing budget. Combining data and logic is a surefire way of adjusting to changing customer behaviour and making your business sustainable.

“The opinions expressed by BizWitty Contributors are their own, not those of BizCover and should not be relied upon in place of appropriate professional advice. Please read our full disclaimer."

About the author

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Binh An Nguyen

Founder & CEO of Market Ease Digital, Binh has worked with, and advised, some of the largest national campaigns and biggest brands in Australia and around the world, including Hyundai Motor Company Australia, Subaru Australia, Etihad Stadium, yd., Tarocash, Connor, Cartridge World Australia, and the Australian Federal Government.