In Conversation with Kunal Shah over Digital Marketing and the Pandemic
The pandemic has turned the world upside down and businesses have been one of the sectors facing the brunt of the lockdown. Through it all, digital marketing is one field that has seen a tremendous increase with both businesses and the audience taking note of its potential.
Talking more about how the pandemic has affected digital marketing, Kunal Shah, the director of Rank My Business, a fast-growing digital marketing agency, talks about how agencies have waded into the dark waters and are still dealing with the aftermath of the pandemic.
Tell us something about Rank My Business and how it all came to pass?
Rank My Business is a digital marketing company operating in Melbourne, Australia, under the Appsbizz Group of Companies and services clients from areas across Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Brisbane, Hobart, and Adelaide.
A client-centric company, Rank My Business began in 2014 as an app development company and quickly realised its potential as a complete digital marketing solutions company. The company now offers comprehensive marketing services that include SEO, content marketing, website management, Google Adwords, social media paid ads management and retargeting.
How has the pandemic affected digital marketing and SEO agencies?
The first wave of the pandemic brought much anxiety and uncertainty. We all felt the blow and had to deal with the repercussion the best way we could. It is important to understand that SEO is a long-term process. For businesses that found it difficult to survive or stay stable during the pandemic, having a spending budget on digital marketing campaigns may have been a luxury. Smaller businesses decided to reduce their expenses and, in some cases, completely pause their marketing spends which, in turn, affected agencies.
But the thing about SEO is that it is a long-term, investment-oriented effort. As a business, if you want to think long term, you can’t have a stagnant presence or escape the audience’s eye. As an agency, we did our best to support our clients through this hard time. Many clients wanted to pull back and stop their SEO campaigns, but we helped them understand the long-term impact of a choice like this. We also decided to continue working for them and waiving off the fees due, for a limited time.
One thing that kept us afloat was our large Australian client base. Once the market there stabilised, we were able to bounce back and flourish.
Major changes in the education system are being observed. What are your thoughts on online education and the demand for digital marketing?
It’s great that a lot of institutes out there are recognising online platforms as a means to communicate and the demand for digital marketing has also increased significantly during the pandemic. The ease of access to online education has also proven to be a boon. But there is a downside to it.
The fact that it is online leaves no room for accountability. People find it easy to leave courses midway and there is a lack of a set timeframe with some courses offering lifelong access. Statistics have proven that only about 5-6% of people who opt for self-learning these courses actually manage to complete them. So, those looking from a career perspective rather than just piling up certifications may not really see the transformation they hope for.
Digital marketing offers a balance between theoretical knowledge and practical application. With the pandemic impacting the demand for digital marketing, the right balance is needed to really accomplish learning and understanding digital marketing as a whole. Live training, timely assignments could better help produce the outcome that is being sought through online education.
Would you like to share any tips and suggestions for clients who are looking to hire a digital marketing agency?
For most companies who are just starting to get into the digital marketing space, the common thought is either going for an agency that offers cheap services or going with the ones that have obviously ranked high. And that’s a pretty common mistake.
Most businesses have no concept of digital marketing or what can be expected of agencies, making them susceptible to scams and swindlers. To put it simply, digital marketing is a partnership between a client and an agency where both work in tandem to improve the brand’s online presence. It is not just the agency that does all the work. The business or client is equally invested. Any goof-up can cause the client to lose faith. And most clients may not know the right questions to ask the agency to keep track of what is happening with their brand.
The thing to look for is similar case studies. Ask the agencies about the kind of work they’ve done so far and if they have experience working in the same space or industry. Go for an agency that is patient in explaining the entire digital marketing process to you in a patient and empathetic manner. This can show you that they can be trusted with your brand.
People generally believe what they can see and when it comes to the right marketing agency, the work they’ve done so far and their compatibility with you will be proof enough.
How can one utilise the pandemic to increase their online reach?
Currently, everyone at home is using their mobile phones and the internet. And to make things better, advertising cost has reduced quite a bit compared to what it was earlier. This is the perfect time to ensure brand awareness through campaigns and engage with the audience. There is bound to be a high viewership and engagement rate.
Even with brands competing for online space, many brands have pulled back from advertising. Most platforms have reduced their costs to fill up that gap. This will allow other brands to utilise that space by advertising at a lower cost. While there is a lull in competition, brands can pick up the reins and use this opportunity to improve their online reach. Once more brands start vying for spots; the costs are bound to shoot higher.
What are the career options available in digital marketing or SEO?
Lately, digital marketing has been the one constant that has kept businesses afloat and the audience aware. And this to an extent where even those who had no clue about what digital marketing or SEO is, want to know more. Remarketing has also, to some extent, raised people’s curiosity about marketing in general.
There is no dearth of career opportunities in digital marketing since you don’t need specific degrees to get into this field. You could opt for anything, from SEO and social media marketing (SMM) to search engine marketing (SEM) and content writing. Web development or UX designing is another career option that people could opt for in the digital marketing field.
How has the pandemic affected the global market?
Both businesses and agencies have suffered quite a bit during the pandemic, both financially and in terms of other resources. Many companies have had to pull back their marketing expenses and we have heard of many agencies cutting costs by either letting go of people or carrying out pay cuts.
No one has been spared by the pandemic, irrespective of whether the business continued to serve their patrons or had to shut shop.
What are your tips for businesses to reach out to their audiences online?
With everyone becoming more comfortable using online platforms, making use of social media advertising, remarketing, or just simply posting online frequently can do more to reach your audience now than ever before.
The way you present yourself or your brand is also a vital factor. The audience is more drawn to empathetic brands. How you portray yourself and build your opportunity is also what will make people recall your brand.
Any company example that you know of that is optimising SEO services in current times?
A lot of industries (currently considered backbones throughout the world)have managed to pull off effective marketing strategies to their best advantage. Food delivery companies, educational institutions, commercial cleaning companies among others have learned to showcase their USPs in a way that has captivated their audience and compelled the audience to avail of their services.
Rank My Business has steadily become a trusted digital marketing agency with a client base spanning diverse industries and geographies and has managed to thrive even during the pandemic.