As more and more people hunker down in their homes to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, one of the biggest questions we now face is how brick-and-mortar businesses will continue to operate while their customers stay at home.
In the midst of uncertainty, one thing that remains certain is that a strong online presence for your business is essential, especially during periods of limited foot traffic. Digital platforms have always been important for customers to learn about a business. But with the coronavirus threatening to severely impact the way people take part in the economy, many businesses are forced to reconsider their online existence.
The good news is that many businesses can shift a large portion of their operations online, creating an opportunity to build or refresh your digital strategy and identify the solutions that will continue to add value, keep your customers connected and deliver results—both short- and long-term.
There are a lot of different ways to bulk up your business’ online presence, and a lot of it depends on the kind of work you do. Here are some ways all businesses can shift their operations online. Or, if you feel like you could use some support taking your business online, schedule a free 30-minute strategy session here to talk with our founder and CEO, Katie Patterson.
Web and eCommerce
A good website that acts as an extension of your business is always important to maintain, but in a time when customers will increasingly seek online solutions to real-life problems, an excellent website is a must.
Many businesses already have a website that contains basic information about what they do, including their operating hours and contact information. Websites like this go a long way in helping businesses bring new customers through their doors. However, when health officials recommend limiting the time people spend in public, your website probably needs to do some more heavy lifting.
eCommerce functionality can be a make-or-break feature for a business website. The ability to sell products online is essential when in-store traffic is restricted. Even after resuming business as usual, eCommerce still provides a valuable asset for businesses. eCommerce spending increased by over 14% in 2019, compared to a 3.8% growth in retail spending, which goes to show the importance of eCommerce functionality for retailers.
Each eCommerce platform is a little bit different and the right one for you will depend on your comfort level with technology and the type of business you want to conduct. If you have any questions about finding an eCommerce solution for you, we can surely help you out.
Automating Social Media Content and Responses
A business operating entirely online will need a reliable platform to share information with its customers. Your website should serve as the primary hub for all important information, but social media is the most important way to provide relevant and timely information with customers and fans.
Keeping a social media presence that is up to date takes some work, especially when trying to handle other aspects of a business, which is why we recommend automating the process whenever possible.
There are a number of free or low-cost online tools, like Hootsuite or Buffer, that allow users to connect their social profiles and access important features, like scheduling content in advance, managing inbound messages, and analyzing social performance.
If you don’t know where to start even coming up with social media content, we’ve got you covered in this blog.
Without much physical store traffic, users may turn to social media to ask questions about your business, which makes it especially important to be helpful and responsive. But, again, this task requires focus and dedication, and automation is your best bet to let users feel like they aren’t being ignored.
Many social platforms allow business pages to set up automated replies, called chatbots, for inbox messages. These can be extremely helpful by automatically answering frequently asked questions, but there’s a big difference between an effective automatic message and an ineffective one. For a great list of chatbot best practices, check out this article.
Driving Digital Traffic with Paid Media
Offering eCommerce to existing customers is one way to keep business moving, but your existing customer base might not be as large as you want. In order to drive more traffic to your website, paid digital media is the best bang for your buck to get the job done.
Paid digital media includes things like search ads, video ads, display ads, and promoted social media posts. Compared to other forms of advertising, digital media gives you the most control over who sees your ads and what action you want your audience to take.
The world of digital media is vast and only gets more complex the deeper you go. To get started with paid digital media, we recommend starting with a platform that you’re familiar with, like Facebook. Or if you need a little more guidance, we’re available to help.
Encourage Customers to Use Digital and Mobile Tools
One of the most important things a business owner can do for their online business is informing customers about the availability of digital alternatives. It may be difficult to do at first, but encouraging your customers to stay home is the best thing to do right now. However, encouraging customers to stay home doesn’t mean you have to tell them to stop supporting your business.
With all of the digital tactics we’ve shared today, customers should have everything they need to continue being customers and business owners should have what they need to continue running a business.
Making a transition to operating online can be rocky, and you’ll inevitably run into some obstacles. Happy Medium has tons of experience helping businesses build their online presence, and we’d love to help you too. Connect with us!