The personal and economic impact that we’ve seen over the past couple of months throughout the world has been once in a lifetime. Covid-19 has truly made some sort of impact on almost every person and every business in the world.
Our Personal Lives Are Affected
In people’s personal lives, this virus has affected people close to them. My very own brother-in-law contracted Coronavirus. Luckily he is young and will come out of it just fine; he’s doing very well. For others, especially people with older family members, this very well might not be the case. We have all separated from each other, so that later we will be able to come together.
Our Work Lives Have Changed
In people’s work lives everything has changed. Going to the office is no longer a daily routine. A lot of our country is working from the comfort of their homes (Only 5% of us worked from home before COVID-19) Other less fortunate people have seen the business they work for either have to close or reduce their workforce temporarily.
One Thing Hasn’t Changed…
Luckily we live in an age with the internet. Can you imagine going through a global-impacting event like this, without being able to keep connected with everyone like we can today? The one positive thing is that the internet can keep you connected to your family and friends, let you shop online to pass the time, donate to charities in need right now, and listen to your favorite songs and watch your bingeable shows.
The other benefit is that businesses – even while their doors may be closed – are not completely closed thanks to the internet. With this in mind, I’ve been asked the question a ton of times in the past couple of months: “What should my business be doing?”
So…what should my business be doing?
Our Businesses Have Changed…
Businesses have been hit incredibly hard by this virus. Some industries much more than others. In fact, the Michigan restaurant industry lost $491M in sales, 72,000 jobs, in a single month, according to a survey completed. Some businesses – those deemed essential – have been “luckier” than others, in that they still get to maintain some form of operation. But even that form of operation is either limited in scope or limited in the amount of output/production that they can do at this time. There also isn’t much of an end in sight – with many states, including Michigan, electing to extend the stay-at-home order by an additional 3 weeks.
Since the beginning of both the pandemic and the stay-at-home orders issued by the Governor, we’ve gotten the same question over-and-over. And now we have an additional 3 weeks of that order.
- The question we’ve been getting: What should my business be doing?
- The answer we’ve given: What are all of the ways you can service customers right now – all online?
Our DIGITAL Businesses Haven’t Changed…
The internet has never been used more than it is being used right now! In fact we’re seeing more than 30% increase in all web traffic (from the first few weeks of the first stay-at-home order). Just look at some of these stats from top companies:
- Facebook: 50% increase in traffic
- Verizon: 44% increase in data usage, calls, & texts
- Netflix: 20% increase in video streaming
- Zoom: 800% increase in video conferences
Other technologies are seeing a significant bump with a 75% increase in online video gaming and a 30% increase in the use of VPN Networks (now that more people are working from home).
So what does this mean for my company?
If people are utilizing the internet today more than ever then your business needs to be utilizing it more than ever as well. It’s simple: if you aren’t visible to your customers – especially in the moment where they are all on the internet – then it’s like your digital doors are closed (along with your physical ones).
Just like before COVID-19 spread across the world, your business should be doing the most it can possibly do to gain attention from customers online. Specifically, let’s talk about some of the best things you can do right now digitally for your customers.
The Top Things You Need to Do Digitally Right Now
- Update Hours on Your Website, Social Media & Google My Business: It’s never been more important to let your customers know what’s happening with your business at this moment. Are you open? Are you closed? Have your hours changed? Make sure customers know what to expect right now.
- Your Website is Open 24/7 Online: This is by far one of the most important things that customers should know from you. That they can look at your products & services on your website, maybe (depending on your website) they can buy said products & services on your website, and that they can reach you digitally by sending you a message on your website & social media accounts.
- Sell Your Products & Services Digitally: Promote your online store on your site as much as you can. This is the best way your business can still make money right now (especially if your doors are closed).
- Payment & Donation Forms: If your website has any type of payment forms or donation forms (especially for non-profit organizations & churches) you really need to be promoting the fact that people can utilize your website to do this.
- Gift Cards: If you’re a business that does gift cards – especially all of the restaurants & bars right now – it’s an amazing time to promote gift certificates. It gets people excited about the next time they will be able to leave the house. It also can push some sales for your business while you otherwise would not be making this revenue.
- Curbside Pickup or Delivery: If you’re a business that has a type of product that you can offer curbside pickup, let customers place their order on your website. This way your business gets a notification for each order, you can prepare the order, and know who’s picking it up & when. Honestly, this process is starting to become almost second nature to customers right now.
- Social Media:
- Share Updates About What’s Going On: The best thing you can do right now is share updates with your social media following about what’s going on. Whether that be updates about what you’re doing while closed, if you’re remodeling the business or doing something special while closed, or if you’re just bored and want to say hi & thanks for your business to customers from the past. Any update is good to remind your customers you’re still here.
- Answer Questions: A lot of people have been messaging businesses they frequently use with questions about hours or if they are still providing “this service” or “that service”. Make sure you’re communicating with every single customer that asks questions, whether as a comment on a post, a post to the page, or a direct message to your business.
- Post Creative Content: This seems like the hardest one. It’s easy to just say, “be creative” and a whole lot harder to actually be creative. What I mean by this is actually more simple than it sounds. Every business is going to post “Happy Easter” or “Happy National Beer Day”. That’s not creative & it has nothing to do with your business directly. Getting creative means doing a fun type of video or image, that can highlight your products and services. This can help you stand out.
- Go Live! Okay. This one might sound intimidating. But going live is a pretty great way for your business to gain attention. When you go live, typically a large number of your followers get a notification that you’re going live. Which means you can gain a lot of attention by doing this. Just make sure you have a good update or marketing idea for when you do go live. I’d recommend going live to highlight some of the products you have for sale on your website! This way it promotes those products and hopefully drives people right to your website!
- Virtual Communication: If you provide services to your clients, you can still meet with them. As alluded to earlier, Zoom is a great platform for free conference calling. If you have Google, we recommend & use as a company Google Meet. Of course, there is always FaceTime and old-fashioned phone calls as well. Overall the point is that you can still meet with your clients & potential clients digitally.
- Facebook & Instagram Advertising: You should be spending more than you typically do right now on your advertising on these platforms. Why? Facebook has reported that they’ve seen over a 50% increase in activity. For a site that already was one of the most visited sites in the world, that’s a massive increase. Meaning that never has there been a better time for your business to get maximum exposure than advertising on Facebook & Instagram. We’re here to help you advertise on the platforms if you want to make a big splash!
- Google Advertising: You should be spending more than you typically do right now on this advertising platform as well. People are searching now more than ever. As stated above, there has been a 30% increase in all traffic on the web. Meaning more and more people are online right now. Take advantage of this moment by promoting your products & your online store.
- Service-Based Business: The big debate with advertising on Google right now is while people are still searching for your services, how would they book an appointment with me? For example, if I’m a Heating & Cooling company people aren’t exactly eager to let me in their homes, let alone book an appointment online. My recommendation is to still advertise your business, promote your offers, and take in leads to your website. If you won’t be able to set up an appointment with them for 30+ days, let them know on the website. That way before they fill out a lead form/appointment request on your website, they know what to expect. The best part about this is that it gives you leads to act on when we “return to normal”.
- 5-Star Reviews: A great way to give your business a leg-up right now is for you to reach out to your best customers and ask them to leave you a 5-Star review on all the platforms that matter most to your business. Google, Facebook, HomeAdvisor, TripAdvisor, Yelp – any platform that you need great reviews on. Now is the time to ask your customers for it. Getting more reviews right now will help your business in the long run
One Business Did This Very Well Recently…
One of our clients is Lapeer Gold & Diamond in Lapeer, Michigan. They have been a staple in the community of Lapeer for a long time.. Due to this pandemic, they had to close their doors several weeks ago. Not only was it a part of the Governor’s orders, but it was important to do so for their staff being that they see so many people regularly in their showroom. For a business that’s been around for so long, this has definitely been an unprecedented time for them.
So, how can this business continue to make sales?
If you’ve been following along then you know the answer: their website. A large selection of their jewelry can be found on their website. However, up to this point they never let customers purchase the jewelry online. Mainly because there is some logistics to it. For one, you have to connect all those products with a credit card processing company. For two, they have to take in the orders, package them up, and ship them out. But with the help & encouragement of our team we helped to connect those dots for them so that they could get started. So here’s what we did:
- Connected their Website with a Credit Card Processing Company: this allowed them to take payments for their products on their website.
- Setup Shipping Options: this allowed customers to get shipping options for their products.
- Setup Management System for Orders: so that Lapeer Gold & Diamond knew when they got orders in, how much the order was for, what products the customer bought, what kind of shipping they need, and much more.
- Automatic Payments to their Bank: As orders roll in, the credit card payment company automatically sends the money from each order to their bank account.
- Promotion Codes for Marketing: Then we set up promotions codes so that they could promote this new feature to their customers on social media! Lapeer Gold & Diamond is offering a 40% discount on all their products with promo code “covid19”. This allows them to track how much business they get promoting this new offering for their business.
So, what can your business be doing online?
If there is one takeaway from this article it should be that you’re asking yourself a question. That question is, “What can my business be doing online?”. With all of the suggestions and examples that we have provided to you, some may apply and some may not but if you’re thinking about the ways in which your business can benefit from the current situation then this article will be a big help. The one thing that we’ve learned over these past months is that we can and will adapt to tough situations. With a lot of businesses having to close their doors temporarily, now is the time to adapt your business.
While those doors are closed, your digital doors have never been more open than they are right now. Make sure that your business takes advantage of this moment, so that you’re not having to wait another month or two to get back to business as usual. As always, the team at Web Centre is here to help you in every way possible. So…what can your business be doing right now?
On a personal note, the team at Web Centre & myself really hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy at this time. We will all get through this together!