5 tips to boost your digital presence during and after the national lockdown

6 April 2020

Creative Director, Christelle Grobler, provides a few ideas on how to keep your brand’s communication lines open and boost your digital marketing.

There is no sugar coating the fact that many businesses across the world are facing unprecedented times during the current pandemic. There is great uncertainty ahead for all business owners and those who are self-employed. But, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis we can be sure of one thing: we are indeed experiencing a more connected world than ever before. We are living through a crisis where strangers across the world are sharing information, as well as motivating, entertaining and comforting each other like we’ve never seen before.

On the local front, we are benefitting from huge price drops in data by the biggest network providers like Vodacom and MTN. MTN has announced a drop in their prices of up to 50% from mid-April. There is no denying that South Africa’s data prices are the highest on the continent and while these price drops aren’t directly linked to the current crisis, accessible data is a step in the right direction. It will increase our connectivity and it will further encourage our focus on life online during these challenging times.

Dave Nemeth, a local trend forecaster and business consultant at Trend Forward wrote in an article: “The effect of this global disruption will change the course of business forever, hence the term New Normal. Anyone who expects things to be the same as they were pre-COVID-19 is in for a rude awakening.” Businesses and entrepreneurs will have to adapt to this New Normal to survive – new digital marketing strategies and carefully crafted communication will play a big part. No one is an expert in pandemic marketing, but with a dash of creativity and a shift in thinking, there are a few ways you can enhance your digital presence and communication during and after the storm:

1. Be transparent

If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to communicate to your customers about the actions you’ve taken to ensure a safe working environment for your staff, as well as how customers can still enjoy your products or service offerings with peace of mind. People will be sensitive to hygiene and by identifying their concerns, you will be able to address this by explaining the steps you have implemented in your business. An article by Jodi Harris from the Content Marketing Institute says it best: “Deliver it when your audience members want or need it, where they want it, at the right frequency.” So, make sure the timing of your communication is right.

2. Boost your social media presence

People are staying up to date with friends and checking the news more frequently on social media. You can still entertain your audience, push products and direct them to your website, but make sure it’s done in a tasteful manner and make sure that you don’t take advantage of the situation. Pick your words carefully and consider what your post would look like next to the worst possible news on someone’s social feed. Re-adjust your social media strategy to suit the times we’re in while still providing benefits to your audience and your business. Imagine if businesses pushed ahead with their April Fool’s Day jokes this year – it is just not the right time or place. A current meme describes it best: “April Fool’s Day is cancelled this year. No made up prank could match the unbelievable crap happening in the real world right now.”

3. Re-evaluate the purpose of your website

How do we shift our mindset from offering an offline service to a delivery-based online platform? Is your website merely a brochure for your business? Now is the time to re-evaluate its purpose and find ways to convert your website into a tool that works harder and drives sales. Dave Nemeth wrote, “Most large-scale retailers have invested heavily online over recent years with some really seeing the return on their investment. Smaller operators will be looking for affordable solutions in improving their online presence as well as promoting online shopping of their products.”

Let’s say you’re a hair salon owner – your website probably didn’t start out as an e-commerce platform. Imagine converting it into a space where people can make future appointments, shop your range of hair products and have them delivered to their homes, or be made into a portal to buy vouchers or gift cards for friends and family.

Pay attention to your website’s user experience; is it functioning optimally? Make sure that the information you supply is up to date and of value to your target audience. What does your SEO look like? Is it easy for someone to stumble upon your service offerings? Make the most of your online presence.

4. Put your mailing list to good use

Build your connections by dusting-off your mailing list and putting it to good use. These days, email marketing – and digital marketing in general – is the most cost-effective way to get your message across. Buying habits for many will undoubtedly change. More and more consumers are turning to e-commerce for their everyday shopping. A well-crafted newsletter that answers to the needs and wants of your customer could be the nudge they need to use your services or buy your products.

Let’s say you’re a restaurant owner and you have signed up for a variety of new food-delivery services. Let your loyal customers know in a nicely designed infographic-style mailer about your new, convenient offerings. The bottom line: re-investigate your client’s needs and offer them information that will be of value.

5. Content is king

Last but definitely not least – content remains king. The Kleen Bin mailer below is a great example of how well-executed content marketing can boost customer loyalty, and build awareness and trust, even in difficult times. By law, Kleen Bin is unable to provide their main service during lockdown and their clients will have to tend to bin cleaning themselves if they are up to it. Kleen Bin sent a mailer to their customers with some useful bin-cleaning tips for when they take on the daunting task themselves. Kleen Bin is investing in their customer relationships and continuing to build a community. Through their content, their clients will likely be reminded why they signed up to “the convenience of a clean bin” in the first place.

Robert Rose from the Content Marketing Institute said in his podcast, Weekly Wrap: “Today, letting everyone know what we want to say is easy. It is understanding what needs to be heard that is exceedingly hard.” It ultimately comes down to researching and discovering your client’s new wants and needs. What people were yearning for yesterday is not the same today and it won’t be the same tomorrow. Your content and digital strategy in general needs to match the changing times. Just having a website is like owning a shop in a dead-end street. You have to give people a reason to want to go there.

An extract from Dr. John Demartini’s book, Boost your Immune system, has some positive food for thought: “It is the challenges in life that often initiate great innovations, creative solutions and ingenious actions. During this period of collective social challenge, it is possibly a time for even more determined action, a time for renewal, or a time for a new direction. There is no crisis without a blessing, no challenge without an opportunity, no set back without a step forward and no experience that can’t initiate greater meaning. It is not what happens to us that matters as much as how we respond to it.”

Unfortunately, no one can truly predict what the future holds and how the current situation will impact us in business or in everyday life. However, this doesn’t keep us from being creative and innovative. We need to find new ways to deliver solutions and services in line with today’s New Normal.



Retailing Africa:

US Chamber:

Content Marketing Institute:

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