A Covid-19 Survival Guide for Small Online Businesses

Tips For Thriving During the Pandemic

COVID-19 has not only changed human experiences, outlooks, and behaviors, but the crisis has also brought shifts in how and what consumers buy. Moreover, it has vastly altered the consumer goods industry’s structure. Businesses of all sizes have responded to these changes by offering products and services online to previous and new customers.

As more retailers jump into the e-commerce arena, the virtual marketplace gets even more competitive. This shift has made adapting to current changes essential, especially for online businesses. So, we’ve created this survival guide with key steps to help your business navigate and thrive in the “new normal” for online retail.

Maintain Your Online Presence

The internet has seen a surge in users throughout the pandemic, with more search traffic as buyers are always online. Thus, it’s best to keep your store visible. Even a toy and collectible store can benefit from a visible online presence, as seen in this toys e-commerce case study.

Buyers are browsing remotely, and many are using email and social media to engage with their favorite brands. Therefore, your business should keep on engaging with consumers and give them what they need through multiple channels.

If you’re already using search engine optimization (SEO), paid ads, and other digital marketing strategies, you’re on the right track. You’ll just need to tweak them so that they reflect current trends. But the question remains: how can your marketing strategies tackle the global crisis we’re facing?

Adjust Your Strategy

Digital marketing for online businesses during COVID-19 is a much more different ballgame than usual. From the biggest retailers to smaller stores, every business is addressing consumer needs and activities through new strategies. These strategies are helping online retailers maintain engaged and loyal customer bases.

Sending clear, brief, and accurate messages to consumers is the best strategy as this crisis continues. It’ll help your business move ahead and reassure customers in the best way possible. For one, running updated ads is an important step to take. It can involve ensuring that your shopping campaigns don’t feature sold-out products.

You can also introduce new types of content to keep buyers engaged during these times. The travel industry has adopted this strategy, with social media posts, photo contests, and more unique content. People may have their hopes of going on trips dashed, but airlines and other travel-focused businesses are helping them cope through engaging content.

Redefine the Purpose of Your Marketing Efforts

As you refine your online store’s marketing strategies, you should redefine their purpose as well. Informing consumers isn’t enough—your strategies can also keep them entertained. With fresh and creative tactics, your business can establish long-term customer relationships.

Take online influencers for example. Some are encouraging an active and healthy lifestyle by teaming up with fitness apps. Some influencers are helping students navigate distance learning through their partnerships with educational apps. And some personalities partner with gaming apps to keep people occupied while they’re at home.

Keep Your Customers Updated

We’ve already mentioned that keeping customers informed isn’t enough to fuel your marketing strategy. But it’s still an essential part of your strategy. Your online business can use a variety of channels and methods to update your customers on important developments.

Updates via Your Website

A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page can help provide customers with updates on your business. This page should tackle your current products or services, your store’s COVID-19 response, and other common customer questions.

Dedicated pages are also great ways to inform buyers about the current situation, especially if it has affected your business or other online stores.

Structured Data

Structured data is essential for highlighting your content and showing their scope to search engines. The “item availability” data type is one example — online retailers can let customers know about available items with this form of structured data.

Moreover, your business can use special announcements as structured data on its website. Relaying updates to buyers through this data type enables instant, accessible updates. You can also use structured data for the prices of products. Updated price for certain products could be highlighted especially when giving discounts wherein the words was, now, and save is added before the price, for example, was $15 now $10 save $5.

Social Media Updates

While some customers might search for updates on Google or your website, others will try looking for your online store’s social media posts. Get on your social media pages and update your customers about operations, stock, and other concerns. Plus, you can easily engage and respond to buyers if they have any more questions through your social accounts.

Adjust Your Store’s Operations & Customer Service

Preparing your e-commerce store for an increase in physical product orders is vital in these times. This holds true for food retailers and grocery stores. And that’s why it’s important to boost smooth store operations and customer service management. The following steps can help your online business fulfill consumer needs during the crisis:

  • Go through your inventory and separate essential products from non-essential items.
  • Inform your customers that order delivery to certain locations might stop temporarily.

In light of COVID-19, Amazon and several other e-commerce stores are mostly offering essential items. These products include medical supplies and household products.

Take Advantage of Omnichannel Marketing

As with keeping your customers in the loop, your business has options for leveraging omnichannel marketing.

  • Give rewards to customers through targeted campaigns
  • Personalize buyer experiences across channels and devices. Build these experiences using your customer data
  • Create specific content for each consumer’s buyer journey
  • Make sure channels and automated systems will help customers solve their concerns easily

Times of crisis make constant engagement with customers and marketing products or services vital, and our current situation has made an agile business approach more essential than ever before.

By keeping our tips in mind as you improve and roll out your marketing strategy, your business can thrive in the ever-growing online marketplace. And if you need a helping hand in managing your marketing campaigns, you can call on a reliable digital marketing agency.


SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. We have been doing this for over fifty years.

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