The novel coronavirus outbreak is not just a health crisis, it’s a huge disruptor of global economies sweeping the old ways we were doing business and marketing away.
From now on, across all economic sectors there will be “before COVID-19” and “after COVID-19”.
This is where the concept of the “The next normal” comes in: The new era of business management and marketing that was born in the midst of coronavirus lock-downs, and will remain alive and well afterward.
The global marketing world has transformed, corporate teams have learned to operate from home and shopping behaviors have been fractured dramatically.
Digital transformation is inevitable for just about any business that wants to survive and enter the next normal that is being built as we watch.
No one knows exactly what the future will bring, except for it is likely to be forever different. Businesses all around the world are trying to come up with all kinds of contingency plans which will allow them to operate no matter what.
Schools are trying to figure out the new classroom layouts, Twitter will let employees work from home securing uninterrupted operations in case of new lockdowns, and businesses build new partnerships to streamline on-going training and digital education.
Depending on your unique business operations now is a good time to sit down and plan how you manage to operate under the worst-case scenarios (e.g. more lock-downs).
Whether it is creating new digital products (courses, subscription-based products, etc.) or new ways to sell and deliver your products, or several options combined, you need to figure out all options you have.
Chances are, your business will not be able to operate as it used to. Don’t anticipate that reopening will solve all your current problems: You need to innovate and innovate now.
A collaborative brainstorming dashboard could help you and your team come up with various scenarios for how your company can adjust and innovate to keep operating under each one. Zenkit is my preferred brainstorming tool because it also keeps everything very well organized and structured:
There are, of course, more business collaboration tools if you want to explore your options. For example, creating a company intranet for consolidating all your internal resources, training options, updates, etc. is a great digitization idea. If your industry is opening up soon, you may want to create a timeline outlining how your business is going to be operating in the nearest future.
While business digitization has been coming for almost a decade now, it is no longer a matter of choice. From invoicing to workflow operations, everything possible should go online.
Accelerated business digitization comes with an increased risk of data security. Digital transformation inevitably results in more data flowing in more different ways, so security factors need to be put into focus.
Marcus Hatten of Mondo lays out the steps for enterprises to ensure cybersecurity enhancement. And here’s a DIY guide on performing your first security audit.
Finally, digitization comes with one nice bonus: You open up your business to an unlimited potential of digital marketing possibilities. By setting up your business identity online, you can now start collecting data about your audience and engage your current and potential customers in new ways.
Brick and mortar businesses do have some data on buying trends, popular products, seasonality, etc. They can also buy some data from third-party market research companies and try to make sense of that. But that is still limited.
What business digitization brings is a priceless capability to gather, store, and own your data.
Website analytics offers in-depth insights into your target market, and this data only gets better with time. The more data you accumulate, the more insights you have. With time, you will be able to personalize your loyal customers’ experience or engage returning users with more success.
Platforms like Finteza allow you to analyze your audience and set-up smart retargeting campaigns to personalize the experience of those who return, based on all kinds of criteria. You can also build and analyze your sales funnel, as well as understand your digital cash flow:
Business digitization means access to free data that will help you increase your ROI in the long run.
Once you have data collection set up, you can experiment with all kinds of digital marketing tactics to determine which ones work best for you:
Lots of tools you or your team will be exploring when experimenting with various tactics are likely to open up your eyes on your niche, so you will learn a lot during your digitization process.
For example, Text Optimizer will let you better understand your niche and its associations by using semantic analysis to cluster your core keyword into underlying concepts and entities:
Beyond that, there are lots of competitive intelligence tools uncovering some innovative marketing tactics, product gaps, new opportunities, and potential negative marketing attacks. These are SEMrush and Owletter to name a few.
Going online does come at a cost. You are exposing your brand to an open public conversation and it is not always possible to foresee where it is going until it blows up. Your newly trained customer service employees may be unaware of risks their customer-facing roles are now posing.
One of the most effective ways to avoid an online reputation crisis is by keeping an eye on your competitors’ digitization efforts by monitoring their brands’ mentions across social media and news outlets. This is especially important for you to avoid or promptly fix mistakes your competitors are doing and avoid risks into having any negative sentiment publicized around your brand.
Agorapulse is a good reputation monitoring platform that can be used for competitor tracking.
Here’s also a more detailed guide on spying on your competitors.
The global economy is being disrupted at an unprecedented rate. There’s no time for thinking any more: Your business needs to change now. Driven by urgency, business and marketing leaders are increasingly willing to embrace digitization.
Is your business flexible enough to innovate now? If so your company will continue thriving no matter which turn this pandemic is going to take.
Guest author: Ann Smarty is the brand and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas and co-founder of Viral Content Bee, the free platform helping your content reach social media influencers!