COVID-19 has affected small businesses around the world. Each country’s economy and business structure are unique to their area. The pandemic caused a rapid digital acceleration in markets all around the globe. Challenged with this changes, SMBs had to conduct business in new environments in a socially distanced world. Businesses without an online presence have had to go digital to survive.
We spoke with top global thought leaders about their markets and how they’ve had to pivot and adapt their strategies to help their clients survive and thrive in the new normal.
Watch the broadcast here, or read on for some of the key takeaways.
Kimberli Lewis, General Manager at SIINDA
Europe went into lockdown sooner than the United States. At the start of COVID-19 in Europe, 60-80% of SMBs already had a website but were lacking SEO and backlinks. COVID-19 hit so quickly, the SMBs that pivoted easily were the ones who already had a strong digital foundation and dove into new digital integration head-on. The businesses reliant on foot traffic were slower to adapt. Digital agencies must focus on and help companies who don’t know how to expand their reach online.
Communication with your customers is crucial for both retention and growth. Continuous contact with your customer base, whether by email, direct mail, or social media is vital. Customers need to know your business hours and how your business is adapting to keep them safe, especially during events like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many SMBs had to shift their strategy to e-commerce. The e-commerce space was confusing for those not already utilizing it but these new challenges create opportunities for SMBs. Now with e-commerce, you can service a larger audience and even outside of your local region. SMBs have new needs and digital marketing agencies need to rise and meet these needs to help teach their clients different strategies and tools to remain successful.
Miguel Angel Vives Garcia, VP Product Development at ADN – Seccion Amarilla
SMBs feel more pressure every day that Mexico remains shut down. The businesses with delivery and e-commerce options have the advantage, but many companies did not offer those services to help keep their business moving. Many businesses in Mexico had a social presence on Facebook but no website. They’ve had to pivot to meet delivery and e-commerce demands. Businesses now needed to make a digital transformation and create a website for their business.
As an agency, ADN created simple online classes and tools to help their clients working as their storefronts close. They partnered with BANAMEX, one of the biggest banks in Mexico and started a program for SMBs to acquire e-stores and websites at an affordable price. For smaller businesses not prepared for e-commerce, they helped them create a basic website to boost their visibility. The campaign, with the hashtag #tiraesquina, has more than 2000 businesses registered from all over Mexico currently enrolled. This program has been a big change as they guide them through this new digital space.
Byron Moorgas, CEO at Always Innovative Solutions (PYT) LTD
In South Africa, small businesses had social presence with a Facebook page but not a website. SMBs realized quickly that as fantastic as Facebook is to help market their business, a website is absolutely critical to their survival. Always Innovative Solutions have received many requests from clients on how to build a website. Due to a strict lockdown, businesses revolving around tourism have had to find new ways to attract local travel vs international travel. With borders closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a huge surge in local search as people adjusted to staying close to home.
SMBs want inexpensive ways to market themselves. A great solution is Google My Business profiles. Keep them updated with great images and information about your business as well as your hours of operation and description. Content creation is paramount as SMBs pivot strategies. Post relevant content to your profiles as well as your website.
COVID-19 has pushed e-commerce in a big way. A lot of big brands in South Africa that were set up as e-commerce were able to expand their reach farther than they did before the pandemic. There are a lot of questions and confusion, but with the right education for your clients, you can help meet their needs. The community has worked together in a very positive way. There a lot of new and healthy conversations with the government to set the economy up for success. There’s a massive opportunity in the future of e-commerce as well as innovation for SMBs. As SMBs adopt a “business unusual” mindset and learn to pivot and adapt, they can find great success.
International SEO is a little more restrictive in how Google categorizes and separates information. You need to set your website up correctly to cross borders with SEO. The key search input factors are:
- Device Type
- Query Type
- Search Language
Search inclusion factors include:
- URL Structure
- Content Language
- Content Context
When businesses build the right international SEO campaign (SEO with a twist), they can reach customers from all over the world.