Executive stay-at-home orders around the country are quickly transforming America into eerie ghost towns. The government’s shut down most nonessential businesses, and the few left operating must learn to survive with little-to-no foot traffic.
COVID-19 is teaching us some hard lessons, and the businesses that learn quickly are those that’ll stay afloat.
While your store might have been the go-to choice in town, it now needs to adapt to the impacts of the coronavirus. Now, small businesses must compete for sales in a completely new environment: the digital world.
In the digital landscape, your business can thrive amidst social distancing orders and mandatory storefront closures. An online presence empowers you to engage customers, make revenue, keep workers employed, and ultimately keep your business alive—pandemic or no pandemic.
An online presence is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s a need-to-have.
Businesses who already had an online presence before COVID-19 have an astronomic advantage. However, if you don’t fall into that category, then it’s better late than never to get started. Below, we’ll show you how a digital presence can keep your business from going under during the coronavirus crisis.
Keep Your Customers Engaged and Up-to-Date
High-quality communication is vital, especially during a pandemic. To maintain relationships with your customers, you’ll need to make sure you keep them engaged and up-to-date with what’s going on at your business. You’ll need to approach this tactfully so you don’t cause communication fatigue.
Quality communication is the critical part here. Don’t just send out an email or text to your customers because every other business is doing it (check your inbox and see how many emails have COVID-19 in the subject line, and you’ll know what we mean). Give your customers meaningful updates:
- New store policies or practices that customers need to know: For example, your customers should know if your business’s first hour of operations is only for seniors. But you don’t need to tell your customers everyone at your business is washing their hands—they expect you’re doing that.
- Updates on closures and when you predict you’ll reopen: The time for your customers to find out you’re closed is not when they read the sign on the door. And when it’s time to reopen, make sure everyone knows the date and time.
- Current products or services you’re offering: Let your customers know about your new offerings: takeout, delivery, virtual services, etc. Don’t wait for customers to come to you—you’re going to need to tell them about your alternative operations.
Interact With Customers on Their Domain
Customers aren’t going to be walking by your business, so you’re going to need to go to them. And, no, that doesn’t mean marketing outside their homes.
Right now, people are stuck inside swiping through their social media feeds, emptying (and re-emptying) their email inboxes, texting, and playing mobile games. These are the places your business needs to be!
You don’t need to create an account on TikTok, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and every shiny new app on the internet—go where your customers are. Identify the most important channels your audiences use, and make sure you have a presence there.
For some small businesses, that might be Facebook, email, and Google Display Ads. For others, it might be Reddit, Stack Overflow, and GitHub (if you haven’t heard of it before, it’s probably not where your customers hang out).
Update (or Create) Your Website
Keep your website fresh and up-to-date with relevant news and business offerings. If you haven’t yet, this might be the perfect time to experiment with e-commerce for your business. Think of things that you sell in your brick and mortar that you could naturally sell online, too.
And if you don’t have a website yet, now is the time to create one. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but you need to have a trusted domain where customers can visit. In this time when digital business is the only business, having a website is even more important than your physical storefront.
Website-building sites like Squarespace or Wix make creating a site as easy as drag, drop, and done. You could go from idea to .com in just a few hours—and that small amount of time investment could make or break your business.
The Future Is Online
COVID-19 proves that every business needs an online presence. Whether you like it or not, the world (even without the coronavirus) is becoming more connected digitally than it is physically. A digital presence is essential to staying relevant and connected to your customers—even if you don’t sell goods online.
Future-proof your business by establishing yourself online. It’ll not only help you through this pandemic, but it’ll also forever improve the way you engage with your customers—in real-life and digitally.