The coronavirus crisis has proved the value of online to small business owners more than ever before. If your business isn’t online already, it needs to be now!
The coronavirus crisis has particularly hit hard small business owners. Forced closures and social distancing restrictions that limit the number of patrons in a shop mean businesses can no longer rely on foot traffic and in-store purchases to get by. The new sales frontier is digital. Embracing online is essential.
Before the pandemic, just four in ten of the nation’s small business owners had a website. While there are no stats available to see how much that figure has jumped during COVID-19, the latest online shopping figures for April show a 31 per cent increase year-on-year in sales. The indication is an online presence is no longer a nice-to-have – it’s a must-have according to Greg Nicolle, Yellow Capability and Performance Manager
“The website is often the destination as a consumer moves along the path to purchase and during COVID19 lockdown consumers are spending more time online than ever, so it’s critical that businesses have a compelling website that clearly articulates the benefits of their products or services and promotes trust in their business,” says Nicolle.
If your business already has a website and social presence, you have the advantage. If you don’t, it’s time to catch up. Here are three reasons your business needs to adopt a digital-first strategy!
When digital business is the only business
We’ve all heard the stories of the gym instructors who shifted to teaching via Zoom or the musicians that have switched to online performances and the shopfronts that have busted open eCommerce stores. With restrictions to businesses looking likely for some time to come, it makes sense to pivot to sell online. Don’t be daunted by the thought of setting up an eCommerce platform. Getting a custom-built website up and running with an eCommerce plug-in is easier than you think. A trusted expert can get your business set up quickly and handle the tricky stuff – like SEO and SEM – to make sure your page ranks where it should. After all, it’s all about getting eyeballs on your business.
When you need to keep your customers engaged
If you want to keep your customers engaged, keeping up to date with your business is essential. Make sure to update your website with any information relating to opening hours or changes to delivery services. Keep in touch with your valued clients by EDM. However, resist the urge to send out meaningless communications. Decide the critical information that they need to know. For example, make sure to communicate your opening hours. Or if you are opening the first hour for seniors only – let them know. If you are only selling via your online store and your physical store is shut, be sure that they know that too. You don’t want them confronted with a closed sign when they arrive at your store. Lastly don’t forget to alert your customers of any new products or services you may be offering.
“A FAQs section on your website is a great way to keep your customers up-to-date with seasonal or topical details about your business,” says Anna Rogers, Senior Content Manager, Yellow. “It’s also an excellent SEO tool, with search engines receptive to new and original content, plus there’s plenty of opportunity to drop in additional keywords – just don’t overdo it, keep your keyword use natural.”
Get active on social
It’s not enough to have a website. You need a social presence too. That doesn’t mean you have to rush out and open accounts on every platform. Instead consider what channels your customers use, and which may best suit your business. Do your products lend themselves to great-looking visuals? Then Insta is for you. Perhaps you provide professional services so need to be active on LinkedIn. Interact with your customers on the domain they frequent most for the best results. With so many people still stuck at home swiping through their social feeds, your business must get in front of their eyeballs.
The coronavirus crisis has caused massive upheaval for small businesses. However, many of the changes swept into place due to COVID-19 can prove positive for those that embrace them. If nothing else, the pandemic has proven digital connectivity goes hand in hand with small business survival. Whether you’re ready or not – it’s time your business embraced online and developed a digital presence to stay connected with your customers. In doing so you can futureproof your business for the years to come.
This article was first published on Small Business First. You can see the original content here.