At ePresence, we know first hand about the difficulty of being a local Irish business navigating a path through another level 5 lockdown. At both of our digital marketing agency offices, in Cork and Tralee, our teams work with business clients of all shapes and sizes from around the country. Over the last six months, we have heard a lot about how Covid 19 is impacting businesses from clients in all kinds of sectors in nearly every county of Ireland.
How The Lockdown Is Impacting Irish Businesses
Regretfully, due to Covid 19, more than a few businesses have had to close their doors for good. The challenges that businesses are facing in 2020 are unprecedented. Who would have ever thought to include a strategy in their business plan for just in case a global pandemic struck? No one. Even more businesses have found themselves in a situation where they have no choice but to pull down the shutters and wait out the lockdown as best they can. We look forward to seeing everyone bounce back stronger than ever.
The last few months have been trying for everyone and it has been heartening to witness businesses showing one another support and to see communities championing their local businesses more than ever before. A reminder that no matter how hard things seem, this is a setback that can get through together.
Every week, another Irish business surprises and inspires us with the creative ways they have come up with to adapt or even completely pivot and head in a new brave direction.
Though businesses are restricted by the level 5 lockdown in Ireland, there are ways to work around the restrictions. Amongst others, we have heard about publicans that have switched to serving takeaway food, stylists giving online tutorials, farm marts that have gone virtual, breweries delivering to doorsteps, hotels offering day rate rooms as work from home solutions and gyms moving their workouts online.
Have you considered how you can help your customers to continue to enjoy your products and benefit from your services whilst stuck at home? Sometimes it may mean tweaking what you do or how you do it, but the results will include keeping your customers happy and your lights on.
Businesses Are Turning To Digital Marketing
Many businesses have turned to digital marketing in one way or another to help them through. Businesses that were store based are now selling online. Service-based businesses have improved their online booking services and revamped their customer experiences.
There has been a surge of online traffic in Ireland since March. So much so that broadband providers struggled initially to meet demand. The surge is a mix of people working from home, streaming online entertainment, and also shopping online. Recent research by Virgin Media showed that 90% of people are now regularly buying goods online. Half of whom say they are shopping online more than ever before.
As things have settled into a strange but more familiar pattern, more and more businesses are using social media and digital marketing to keep in touch with their customers. One of the best things about social media is the ability it gives businesses to build communities of customers and supporters. Did you know that more than 54% of customers use social media to research products?
Start Planning Now
No matter what your business is, now is the time to make a plan, so that you can make the most of digital marketing opportunities ahead. Try to be open to the possibility of new approaches as you make you plan and think about what you could offer your customers for these key dates.
Thanksgiving, 26th November – Technically an American celebration, Thanksgiving does come with opportunities for Irish businesses too. Can you extend deliveries to international customers for example? There’s also an opportunity to encourage Irish customers to celebrate their own form of Thanksgiving as a distraction from the restrictions of lockdown.
Black Friday, 27th November – Once a date exclusive to retail, Black Friday has been creeping online and into non-retail for some years. With some savvy planning and pre-event digital marketing, you can get on board the Black Friday bandwagon with just about any product or service.
Cyber Monday, 30th November – Just 48 hours after Black Friday ends Cyber Monday gets started. This used to be the online sale event of the year until Black Friday crept online too. The beauty of the crossover is that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have morphed into four-day shopping extravaganza with heaps of opportunities for businesses to reap the benefits as shoppers flock online for deals.
Christmas, 25th December – It may just be one day a year but Christmas for many people starts much earlier. December 1st has become the accepted conservative date to put up your tree and a huge number of people are already shopping for gifts. With the year that we’ve had, people will be planning an extra special Christmas this year with added treats. Some loved ones will have to spend the holidays apart and will be looking for novel ways to connect. Think about how your business can add magic for your customers, as what gifts you can offer.
New Year’s Eve, 31st December – 2020 is a year that won’t be missed. New Year’s Eve this year might not have the usual parties and events but people will still celebrate. Whether they are having a cosy night in, a celebratory meal at home or a socially-distanced party – how can your business help them count down to 2021?
Trading Online Is Easier Than You Think
If you are not currently trading online you might be surprised how uncomplicated it is to get started. The great thing about trading online is that it puts your products in front of your customers at home. Have you considered:
Selling Products Online?
Selling online is a safe and affordable way to get your products to your customer. It is also a much simpler way to open up your business to new markets that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach. Gone are the days where you needed to redo your entire website to sell online. Your options are more flexible now.
An under utilised business opportunity is the humble gift voucher. People love what you do and people love getting gift vouchers to spend on what they love, so it makes sense to put the two together. Thanks to digital marketing technology, it is easier than ever to set up a gift voucher option for your business.
A gift voucher is a versatile option that lends itself nicely to not only products and services but to experiences too. A gift voucher means that customers can shop online or book ahead for when your doors are open. What is also great about gift vouchers is that the recipients usually use them to supplement a bigger spend on a product or service they have had their eye on.
Click & Collect?
For some businesses, delivery is just not an option. Businesses of all kinds around the country have started offering Click & Collect services. Letting customers buy online and then collect their purchase in person. This is an option being used by food retailers, fashion stores, toy shops, fitness retailers, restaurants, gift shops, homeware store and so many more.
Offering Online Consultations?
There’s been a Zoom boom that no one can deny! With such a simple process to set up and use, Zoom and similar video conferencing sites are being used by pharmacies, nutritionists, financial advisors, beauticians, business advisors, digital marketing agencies, stylists and so many others for online consultations.
Consultations might not be something that you’ve considered but people are lining up (virtually) for advice and expertise. Online consultations allow you to bring your expertise directly to them at home.
The lockdown is the most opportune time to set up an online appointment booking system. By setting it up now you can allow your customers to book ahead ready for after lockdown. Letting you get organised and giving them something to look forward to.
A good appointment booking system lets the customer choose what they require and when (be that a table for two or a full head of highlights). It also sends reminders and any necessary details, like directions or payment options. This may sound like a lot of work but with the right tools, this whole process can be automated.
No matter how good your website is, it doesn’t matter unless people can find it. Online advertising is the digital marketing equivalent of signposts to your store. No matter which of the many advertising options you choose, all of them will lead customers directly to your site rather than letting them stumble across your competitor instead.
There’s an online advertising option to suit nearly every budget. With a little research into where your customers spend their time online, your advertising can be targeted specifically to them.
Online advertising is available on every digital platform. So if your customers primarily use Facebook, Google search, Twitter or even an online news site you can get in front of them on that platform. For the customer who spends their time browsing the web, retargeting adverts are a great way to nudge them back to your website. The options for online advertising are endless.
Lockdown Is A Good Time To Review Your Customer Experience
If you are already trading online, now is a good time to look at the experience from your customer’s point of view.
With an open mind, visit your website as your customer would. Look at how easy or awkward it is to navigate. Can your customers easily find what they want or do they have to click through several pages? Look at how your products are presented too. Product images should reflect the quality of the product and the business. Having amateurish photos of what you sell can do more damage than having no image at all.
Customers want their experience to be transparent so look at everything from your shipping and returns options to your product descriptions. Consider if they could be rewritten in a way that makes them easier to understand. Make sure that your product descriptions are full and have the details that your customer would look for.
Once a purchase is made, the customer experience should not end. Nor do your customers expect it to. At the very least, a customer should receive a confirmation email with details of delivery or collection. Put yourself in their shoes and think about how you want the experience to feel for them.
Talk To Us
Talk to us at ePresence Digital Marketing. We take the time to understand your business needs and offer solutions to help you achieve your goals and finish the year on a positive note.
Gillian Brennan is a Certified Internet Marketing Specialist and has been very successful in creating and maintaining strong relationships with her clients.
With a Computing background from Cork Institute of Technology, Gillian has over 20 years experience in the IT sector.
Working in both Technology and Customer Service capacities, Gillian’s roles included IT Support, Network and Systems Engineering, Computer Retail Management and Training in companies such as Summit Tecnology Inc, BG Turnkey Ltd and Compu B Ltd.
Gillian’s technical ability in the IT area, along with a long history of customer service allow her to understand her clients’ needs and offer both practical and effective online solutions to fit their budget.