We hope that everyone around the world is safe during this difficult period. In a time of such uncertainty, small businesses are seriously at risk of closing their doors for good. In an effort to avoid permanent closure, it’s quickly becoming a good idea to strongly consider pivoting your business online. As face-to-face interactions remain limited, most businesses will be forced to conduct their business digitally.
To make things easier, we’ve got some tips on how to create or upgrade your existing website for your small business and break into the online landscape.
What COVID-19 Means for Small Businesses
With social distancing and closure of nonessential services, there is a lot of unpredictability that smaller operations are facing. If you don’t already have a website, it’s more crucial than ever to pivot your business to the online world.
The aftermath of COVID-19 will certainly change the brick & mortar landscape and e-commerce is likely to flourish. Even if your business isn’t positioned to sell products on the web, it’s still important to at least have an online presence and/or offer services that can be done or triggered online.
Now is the time to examine things and assess the best way of pivoting your business online before it’s too late.
Small Business Loans During COVID-19
Before you focus on building your presence online, it’s important to ensure that you’re financially stable. Thankfully in this difficult time, the US Small Business Administration has provided details on coronavirus relief options to help during this economic disruption.
You’ll find information on various funding programs that have been established to address this pandemic. There are guides to help you navigate paycheck protection, loan advances, debt relief and more. You can even contact a counselor if additional assistance is required.
Taking Your Business Online
The most important aspect to determine before creating your website 1) if you’ll be selling products online, 2) offering a service or 3) establishing an online presence for your company. It’s not unlikely that you’ll want to achieve all three objectives. Once you know the answer to these questions, it’ll be easier to determine what website platform is best suited for your business needs.
If you want to be up and running on an eCommerce platform quickly, we highly recommend uploading your best selling products first. Additionally, think about what is most relevant to consumer’s current needs and if you’re able to support them.
For service oriented business, think about what’s feasible during these complicated times and how to communicate those valuable services to your audience. With all these restrictions in place, you may find that your business as a whole needs to pivot for the time being, or possibly even longer.
Already Have a Website?
Do you have a website already? If so, then you may just need to make some updates or upgrades to reflect how your business model has evolved during the COVID-19 pandemic.
First thing is to consider how your company is reacting to the situation and post a notice to the website, preferably the homepage, with that important information. People are curious by nature, so you’ll avoid a lot of potential repeat communication by making this info readily available.
After that, move on to increasing the functionality on your site. This could include adding the ability for customers to submit information, request services and place orders. And it’s not a secret that most people nowadays prefer to not speak with people over the phone, instead opting for digital communication.
If you’re a small scale restaurant, do you already feature online ordering? That is a great way to improve customer experience and avoid losing potential orders from those who don’t want to dial the phone. It will also provide your employees a little relief from incoming calls. And if you’re not prepared for pickup orders or delivery orders, that’s an offline issue that you’ll need to address.
For businesses that rely on in-person meetings, you should make the option of a video conference front and center for your customers to easily locate. Putting this in a prevalent location on your site will increase the likelihood of a potential client reaching out. We also recommended notifying your existing contact list via email. There are plenty of free and simple video conferencing clients you can offer your customers, including Zoom, Duo, Hangouts, etc.
With a rapidly increasing unemployment rate, if your business is able to, see about offering financing options with payment plans so your customers can pay over time. There are options such as Sezzle or ViaBill that can promptly get you in position to do so and the rates are surprisingly competitive. This can be a great way to relieve some of the financial burden that so many will be going through while simultaneously keeping your business open. No matter the community you’re a part of, we’ve all got to be there for each other when we can.
Website Building for Small Businesses
If you don’t have a website, pivoting your business to online is not as daunting as it may seem. Celador Media offers web design and development services at very competitive rates. They can also help get your website up and running within just a few days while ensuring all your desired business functionality is in place.
We focus on keeping the customer in mind when thinking about the design, layout and functionality of your website. An additional benefit to taking your business online is that with software like Google Analytics, you’re able to get a very detailed view of who really makes up your target audience. This allows you to focus your efforts on ongoing improvements that continue to refine the customer experience.
First Time Digital Marketing
As small local based businesses begin to suffer, it’s important to maximize audience reach and optimize your ad spend. Google Ads offer amazing return on investment with their ads displayed on search result pages This highly targeted form of marketing also ensures you’re being viewed by those who are specifically searching for your products/services.
We encourage close monitoring of your target keywords to avoid wasting advertising dollars. If you’re not sure how to do that, get in touch with us and we’ll help perfect your Google Ads account. Getting to appear on the first page of results will increase clicks to your site and ROI.
Organic Growth with SEO
Along with the immediate efforts of paid advertising, it’s important to invest in SEO to position your business for the future. Organic growth means ranking high in Google search results without having to pay for it. This can take time to materialize, so the sooner you’re able to start, the more time you’ll have to benefit from it.
To see a noticeable increase in ranking positioning, it’s absolutely necessary to provide informative content to your audience. By creating resources that can be referenced over and over again, your site will become an authority for its industry. Releasing consistent content will keep things relevant and you’ll see the positive impact that pivoting your business to online really had.
Future of Business Online
There is no question that we’ll all feel the effect of COVID-19, but for how long is yet to be seen. A pandemic such as this will likely change the landscape of brick & mortar and online businesses in the future. The importance of having an online presence is clearer now more than ever.
We care here at Celador Media and are available to help small businesses navigate the digital world in these troubling times.