As brands and businesses continue to navigate the landscape created by the COVID crisis, it’s becoming increasingly clear that digital marketing and PR are crucial to connecting with consumers in a more digital-reliant world. New research from PR link building and outreach software firm BuzzStream and boutique content marketing agency Fractl examines how digital marketing efforts are changing during the pandemic.
According to the report, the majority of business owners surveyed (70 percent) agreed that digital PR is valuable when running a business—yet only 50 percent implement digital PR practices, and just 49.8 percent have a team dedicated to digital PR. While a slight majority reported personally handling digital efforts, they are only devoting about eight hours per week, on average.
So what PR tactics are business owners using during COVID?
During this time, business owners have used digital PR tactics such as: interacting with their core audience (44 percent), launching new social media campaigns (34 percent), maintaining their company presence through blogs (32 percent), and communicating with their customers through online newsletters (31 percent).
The findings show that entrepreneurs spend an average of $2,548 monthly ($30,576 annually) on digital marketing. Although during the COVID-19 pandemic, 1 in 4 have increased their budget, estimating that about 27 percent of their earnings resulted from these efforts.
One of the key benefits of having a designated digital PR team is that it frees up owners’ personal time (72.7 percent), allowing them more time to handle different aspects of the company. In addition, having a dedicated a team helps companies to stay relevant (58.4 percent), ensures that your core audience sees a consistent presence (58.1 percent), and helps the business remain competitive (56 percent).
In contrast to having a traditional PR team, digital PR specialists help businesses produce sophisticated backlinks (43 percent), increase their ROI (42.4 percent), obtain more accurate reporting (36.3 percent), and build rapport with publishers (31.6 percent).
Additional findings include:
- Despite business owners believing that digital PR is responsible for improving SEO (90 percent) and influencer engagement (77 percent), 49.8 percent do not currently implement digital PR strategies
- Over half of entrepreneurs don’t understand the term backlink or inbound link, yet 1 in 2 still handle their own digital PR
- Specifically, 44 percent of small business owners have an in-house digital PR team/specialist, while 29 percent have an external team and 27 percent handle their own PR efforts
- Other digital PR tactics used during the pandemic include: developing and sharing new content related to the situation (30 percent), improving SEO (25 percent), and receiving coverage by top-tier publishers (9 percent)
- Overall, 68 percent of business owners plan to increase their spending on digital PR efforts over the next five years, while 30 percent plan to maintain their current spending
BuzzStream and Fractl surveyed 504 business owners to understand their perceptions of digital PR.