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The Pandemic's Most Booming Businesses Might Surprise You Consider ways to capitalize on the growth of certain industries during the pandemic.

By George Kocher Edited by Amanda Breen

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

One thing is for sure: The last year hasn't been great for restaurants and brick-and-mortar retail.

Yet some industries have done extremely well. Online education, otherwise referred to as e-learning, has shown outsized sector growth. So has real estate and home improvement. Why have these industries fared well while others haven't? The simple answer is that consumers are acting differently than they have before.

Expanding a business is never easy. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, know-how and, many times, a superior product. But even with all of these things, the business can fail if the climate shifts from your area of expertise. In times like these, it's important to understand broader trends to know where you should focus your time and, ultimately, thrive.

Here are some of the industries that have experienced exponential growth.

Related: 198 Free Tools To Help You Through the Coronavirus Pandemic

E-learning

Online learning has become extremely popular. The world has turned to online classes, and with less time spent commuting, new skills are being acquired online. According to Global Market Insights, the e-learning industry is set to exceed $375 billion by 2026. If you have a skill, promoting it online is a great idea. Additionally, technology that enables online learning has seen a huge boom from public and private sector use.

Home improvement

More people have been remodeling their homes now that they are spending more time indoors. Kitchen Infinity put together a compilation of Google search trends, which showed that search volume has doubled for kitchen remodeling in the past 12 months. Appliance sellers have increased top-line revenue, and the Census Bureau states that 22 percent of homeowners will spend up to $15,000 in the next 12 months on home improvements. Not a bad time to be a contractor.

Digital marketing

This one might be self-explanatory, but with trends for businesses moving online, digital marketing is more and more in demand. This includes developers, writers, designers and anyone who can enable easier access to businesses through the internet. According to Hatch statistics, in 2019, there was a 12 percent increase in conversions for home-improvement retailers online, and online marketplaces for freelancers, like Upwork, have seen a huge use increase.

Related: 7 Things To Know About Digital Marketing

Online shopping has exploded

The e-commerce sector has exploded because everyone tries to do most of their shopping from home. While grocery stores, retail stores and other shops still welcome patrons through their doors, many people have decided that ordering online for front-step delivery or curbside pickup is the best option to stay safe from Covid-19. The e-commerce sector grew by 44 percent in 2020 in the United States. Additional data from the e-commerce sector in 2020 is as follows:

  • Online purchases accounted for 21.3 percent of all retail sales in 2020
  • Consumers in the United States spent $861.12 billion at U.S. merchants in 2020
  • The 44% increase was almost triple that of the 15.1 percent increase in 2019
  • In 2020, e-commerce penetration hit 21.3 percent
  • Covid-19-related online purchases accounted for $174.87 billion of the $861.12 billion total sales
  • Total retail sales increased by 6.9 percent in 2020 to $4.04 trillion

Now you can even buy a new car online.

How to make your business thrive in this climate

You have to be in the right sector. Right now, it's difficult if you're in an industry that depends solely on walk-in traffic or window shopping because the opportunities you have to serve customers have decreased drastically. If you're in the restaurant business, consider teaching people your recipes online or productizing your menu options to help other restaurants. Software will always be in demand, but sadly, going out to eat won't be. The same goes for the local boutique. It might be time to go 100 percent digital.

Universal truths

If you are in the right industry, one thing is more important than ever: a seamless online customer experience. It's important to have a strong website that answers questions about your brand and instills confidence in customers, regardless of the industry that you're in. A bad website kills great marketing campaigns. It's the first impression. Don't show customers a website that was built in the early-to-mid 2000s. Get their attention with graphics, pictures and a beautiful, user-friendly design.

Ensure the website is optimized

A strong website will only do so much for your flooring business if it's not properly optimized for search engines. Target keywords should be placed strategically throughout the content, which should be fresh and original. Never publish content from other flooring websites on your website, as it will flag your website and bury it in the search engine results.

Related: These 9 SEO Tips Are All You'll Ever Need To Rank in Google

Build a brand that separates you from the rest

You must build a brand that separates you from the rest of the competition in your town, county, state or industry. Results speak for themselves, and if you've done something great, make sure to showcase it on your website.

Create an email marketing campaign

You should keep in touch with your past customers. More people are opening emails now than ever before. Any customer you interact with should be added to your email list. You can also build your email list by adding a landing page on a Facebook ad.

Promote your business using customer testimonials

Customer testimonials make it easy to promote your business. A survey conducted in 2016 by Bright Local found that people trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations made by family and friends.

If you are starting a new business, be strategic

Don't jump in just because you have a lot of experience and knowledge about a business. It's important to choose the right industry and get savvy through your online reach. Consumers are spending more time at home and online, and every industry that supports that trend has done well. Those that rely on in-person customer interaction have suffered. There are many ways to pivot, but consider the options before you dive in. And if you're a contractor, oh well...you're probably too busy to read this anyway.

George Kocher

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO of Brand North

George Kocher is a data-driven marketing leader with experience building and managing high-performance teams. He is the founder and CEO of Brand North, an exclusive demand-generation agency that focuses on applying sophisticated data-science methodology to drive marketing growth.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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