The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we live, work, and do business. Companies of all sizes are facing financial hardships and an uncertain future. 

No longer is it business as usual but a challenging environment for companies struggling to survive during a global crisis. 

The good news is that there are ways to keep growing and ensure your business’ future health.  

Depending on the industry you’re in, some losses are unavoidable, but it’s about minimizing losses and finding ways to capitalize on opportunities for many businesses. 

Your followers are spending more time online than ever before, so it does present you with a unique opportunity to deepen your relationship with your audience and increase brand affinity. 

According to eMarketer, Facebook saw a 70% increase in usage of all of its apps in Europe and TikTok a 47% increase in use in Cyprus for the past year.  

What does this mean for your business? It means that unless you re-examine your marketing strategy, your ability to grow and expand your business is under siege.

Below are five tips on best focusing your company’s time and resources to maintain a bottom line and even grow during the pandemic. 

Be strategic about your marketing 

In an economic downturn, every euro matters. 

Now, more than ever, marketing decisions need to be targeted and data-driven based on insight and analytics to return the best results. 

Use marketing technology and platforms such as Khoros or Salesforce, which integrate with all your channels so that you can track which posts are performing best and how your customers are responding and use that information to drive your decision-making.  

And consider hiring agencies or consultants who have marketing expertise in your industry to immediately boost your profile and drive-up customer interaction across your social media platforms.

Leverage on content marketing 

A well-thought content marketing strategy has the potential to generate substantial benefits in traffic, leads and ultimately revenues for your business. 

However, brands must keep content relevant to the current Covid-19 reality while working to achieve goals. 

For example, a social media post that portrays a brand at a large gathering of people could be ignored by consumers who perceive it as outdated. 

On the other hand, many consumers are fatigued from content that centres around the virus. 

To resonate with followers, social media content must have a balance. 

An excellent example of this is the Stella Artois Staycation Swap. 

This contest matches would-be travellers who had planned trips to each other’s cities that were cancelled due to Covid-19 to swap itineraries on TripAdvisor for an all-expenses-paid staycation instead. 

Expand into new channels  

A recent study by Statista found that a positive experience with a video ad increases consumers’ purchase intent by 97% and brand association by 139%. 

Videos provide more context than still images, giving people all the information they need to know about a product or service in a short amount of time. 

Instagram Reels and TikTok proved to be the best channels to deliver short-form video style and build a unique connection with consumers. 

Micro-influencers 

Some 93% of marketers now practice influencer marketing, and for a good reason. 

Social media influencers yield immense power over their audience’s purchasing decisions because their recommendations are perceived as dependable. 

While people distrust traditional ads and even use ad-blocking software to disregard them altogether, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends, family, and influencers, making them more likely to purchase a product and see brands as reputable. 

Influencers are a great way to build trust and authentic relationships with followers. 

However, you need to choose the influencers you hire wisely. 

The temptation to hire a celebrity influencer is generally high, as it seems like the most lucrative option. 

But that’s not necessarily the case. 

Trust levels and conversion rates often tend to be low, yet price points are always high. 

The best alternative for small businesses is to hire micro-influencers in your niche. 

Micro-influencers tend to have a lower average cost, while their conversion rates tend to be higher because they operate in particular niches.

Move sales online 

This will naturally be easier for some businesses than others. 

If you run a software company or e-commerce firm, you probably carried out the bulk of your operations online anyway. 

But if you were previously a primarily face-to-face business, it’s time to think about ways to move your business online. 

For a gym owner or fitness instructor, this might look like switching to online classes. 

Retailers might consider connecting online stores to Instagram and Facebook Shopping to be able to tag products in posts and stories. 

Whatever business industry you are in, stepping up your digital marketing efforts will be paramount. 

Moving operations online, where possible, helps keep the cash flow coming in without putting people at risk by physically reopening too soon. 

In a nutshell, the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t have to spell doom for your business. 

It can be the best time to ensure your marketing channels and strategies are relevant and responsive to the prevailing business climate going forward.

With vaccines rolled out, the road to a post-pandemic world is hopefully being carved out, and now is the time to make the changes to ride out the rest of the storm.

Mariana Antonescu is a business consultant and a PhD Candidate with a special interest in the field of Digital Marketing 

This content was originally published here.