Thanks to the pandemic, US ecommerce sales increased by 32.4 percent in 2020 according to eMarketer—jumping from $600.10 billion in 2019 to $794.50 billion in 2020. Moreover, ecommerce sales in the US are projected to reach $843.15 billion in 2021 and $952.76 billion in 2022, according to eMarketer. Brick-and-mortar sales, however, declined by 3.2 percent in 2020—and the pandemic has forever changed how consumers shop and retailers do business.
While coexisting with major ecommerce retailers like Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Apple, and The Home Depot certainly isn’t easy, there are five things small businesses can do to boost their online profits throughout COVID-19—and stay profitable well after the pandemic ends.
These five tips from MRHerrera will help small business owners with everything from selling their products and services on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to launching an email marketing campaign for the first time, so read on!
1. Think Long-Term
According to Forbes, 63% of small business owners only plan for the next year in advance. If this sounds like you, consider broadening your time horizon. Forbes suggests five key steps to get you started:
- Write down your mission
- Set goals for your business
- Identify broad key strategies
- Measure ongoing results
- Stay positive
To help you stay on track with your renewed focus and planning, it’s important to consider your time management. Using tools like Miro’s Monthly Planner Template can help you break down your day-to-day and week-to-week tasks that build to your long-term goals.
2. Use Social Media to Sell
By now, you probably use your social media platforms to share business updates with your followers and post photos and videos that highlight your offerings, but some platforms—including Facebook and Instagram—can also be used to sell products, services, and gift cards online.
To get started, you’ll need to create a Commerce Account for your small business, add products and inventory to your Facebook catalog, and fulfill orders as they come in. Depending on your preferences, customers may complete their purchases on Instagram or Facebook, through your website, or by sending you a direct message. You can also choose to link your social media Commerce Account with an existing ecommerce platform such as Shopify or BigCommerce.
3. Look for Influencers
Thanks to the rise of social media, influencer marketing is much more affordable now that it isn’t confined to celebrities like Kylie Jenner, Selena Gomez, and Ariana Grande. In fact, some non-celebrity influencers will promote your business in exchange for free products and services—rather than charging a fee per post. As such, influencer marketing can be an effective way to market your products and services and boost your online profits throughout COVID-19—while honing in on your target audience.
Before launching an influencer campaign, there are a few steps you’ll need to take. These include:
- Setting goals and objectives (e.g. link building, sales, or brand awareness).
- Defining your target audience.
- Finding the right types of influencers for your brand.
- Choosing an influencer campaign (will you pay your influencers for each post, or will you offer gifts, discounts, and other perks in exchange for their services?).
4. Run Email Campaigns
Email marketing campaigns are highly cost-effective, offering an ROI of about $38 for every dollar invested. And according to findings from the Data & Marketing Association (DMA), 66 percent of consumers have purchased a product or service online after receiving a branded email from a company—proving that email marketing is well worth the investment! Plus, most internet users have at least one email address—even if they’re not on social media.
If you’re new to email marketing, it’s easy to launch a campaign with no prior experience. Neil Patel shares some tips for building an email list, launching an effective email marketing campaign, producing great email content, and understanding your email analytics. Plus, email service providers like Gist, Sender.net, MailChimp, and Constant Contact are affordable options for small businesses—or you can use free services like SendinBlue, Moosend, or Benchmark Email.
The Bottom Line
Electronic commerce and social media have been lifesaving for small businesses during COVID-19. Most businesses wouldn’t have survived the pandemic if not for these technological advancements, and others wouldn’t have been able to communicate effectively with their employees and customers if not for email, social media, websites, and blogs.
Fortunately, we live in a time where technology enables us to communicate with our customers online and sell our products and services at nearly any time—even when our brick-and-mortar businesses are closed. And while moving our businesses online was the first step to staying afloat during COVID-19, the hard work doesn’t end there. To remain profitable throughout the pandemic and beyond, we need to build and improve our business skills, take our digital marketing strategy to the next level, and remain as positive and flexible as possible.