COVID-19 completely changed life as we knew it. Almost instantly businesses shut down. Gone were the days of running simple errands like going to the dry cleaners or getting a haircut. Grocery stores were still seen as essential, but going seemed like a huge to-do. It required a mask in many locations, capacity limitations, and social distancing practices. All of these changes at the beginning of COVID-19 prompted businesses that had a digital presence to communicate the changes via their websites and social platforms.
As most states are reopening, life as we knew it may not return for some time but it allows businesses the chance to readjust and connect with customers in other ways. With all of these changes and limitations, it is crucial to frequently update your customers. If you don’t have a digital presence you run the risk of losing vital business during this time. This article will discuss how businesses have used technology to communicate, share their safety practices, and manage the perceptions of customers. Learn what you can do to enhance your customer experience during COVID-19 and thereafter.
Benefits Of Having A Website
There are numerous benefits to having a website and social media platforms in general, but it’s especially advantageous during COVID-19. This pandemic requires a company to be flexible and over-communicate to customers’ expectations set by the city and community. Having the ability to update customers on a website or social media outlet is useful since the information is accessible immediately and can be easily amended.
Having a website and social media pages allows customers to find your business easily and makes you seem more credible. According to a Weebly study, 56% of people would not trust a business without a website. Even if you don’t intend to sell anything on your website, it’s still in your best interest to create a website. The website should showcase who you are, what you do, and information people need to know; like where you’re located, and your hours of operation.
Having a social media page allows you to connect with like-minded individuals while a website helps you rank better on Google and other search engines. Let’s use the example of a business mentioned above, dry cleaners. Many cities have multiple dry cleaners within a five-mile radius. When someone searches “dry cleaner in ___” you want to be at the top of that search page. Being at the top makes you more likely to earn someone’s business, not only because you’re the first one they see, but you’re perceived as the better business because you’re in that spot. A Google Mobile Movement Study reported that 88% of people that complete an online search for a business, will call or go into that business within 24 hours. So having an online presence is crucial to bring in more business and improve the way existing customers interact with you.
The benefits of having an online presence include saving on print, collateral, and distribution, improved productivity, and instant and flexible promotion of products and services. When you have a website or social media page the need for print materials is almost nonexistent. The website becomes your print collateral, and social media becomes the distribution of the message.
Productivity will increase when a business invests in a good website and social media presence. The website can serve as an educational tool for customers and employees alike, a well-indexed website will make information easily accessible.
Lastly, if your business chooses to do so, you can sell products online. This can increase your bottom line and expand awareness of your brand to markets other than just the ones your brick and mortar location can reach. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the nation, many store locations were out of stock, and Amazon had reduced sales to only essential items. Many people were home and interested in shopping. However, they did not have many options. Many companies with a robust online presence benefited from increased and new customer sales.
For example, a Winston-Salem based health and supplement small business called House of Health made considerable profits from their website during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. They reached customers in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania whose stores were out of essentials like vitamin C, zinc, and face masks.
How Businesses Are Handling COVID-19 In-Store and Online
Businesses, whether they are essential or not, have posted COVID-19 processes and procedures on their websites and social media pages. Publix, a southeastern grocery chain, has an update banner at the top of their website with COVID-19 news and alerts. Large spaces on their homepage are dedicated to advertising their shop online option where someone can pick out your groceries and you pick them up in-store, curbside, or even get them delivered.
Nonessential businesses, like the Paris casino in Las Vegas, state clearly on their website that they are temporarily closed. They utilize their website to communicate updates on opening dates, safety measures they will, or have taken and link to other casinos that are already open.
Communicating in a timely, clear, and consistent fashion is imperative to keep your customer comfortable during this time. Not only do you want them to know you care, but you want their business when you reopen. If you are open you want to be clear what measures need to be taken for patrons of your establishment.
Assure Your Customers And Your Establishment Is Safe
Many businesses that have remained open or are opening are assuring customers that precautions and cleaning measures are taking place. For example, on many airline websites, they have articles and videos showing the precautions to take when you’re flying as well as their cleaning procedures front-and-center on their landing page.
This type of communication on your website will become the new expectation and norm. As a business, especially one that handles food or requires you to be within six feet of your customer, your website should outline what steps you will or have taken to provide a clean, safer environment for them. Curbside service, delivery, and virtual services are all things that have increased in popularity during the pandemic and should be presented to customers in an encouraging way even if your business is open to the public.
Alternatives To Make Money
If you’re a restaurant try putting your business on meal delivery apps like Grubhub or Uber Eats. Most are offering free delivery or discounts to customers right now, which should be enticing for your patrons.
Many gyms like Planet Fitness are offering virtual classes or workouts through their apps or websites. If your business could offer a virtual service it would be mutually beneficial and retain your current customer base. Who knows? This could open up an additional revenue stream now and in the future.
To gain market share or give back to the community, you could offer this service or advice at a discounted rate or free for an introductory period. Many universities and companies are offering free services during this time.
What Should I Post/Say On Social Media?
What should you post on your social media pages right now? While it’s gauche not to mention COVID-19 and pretend nothing is going on, not every post has to mention it. Keep it a part of your online conversation but also offer a bit of an escape and value to your customers with your posts.
On Instagram, you could have a COVID-19 highlight reel that shows your hours of operation, cleaning procedures, alternative services, and requirements for entry (masks, gloves, etc). Make sure to make posts about important announcements, like reopening or amended business hours so that your followers can be updated in real-time. You could even go Live for important business announcements since research shows people watch Live content for longer. Many sports teams have been going live for player interviews with questions submitted from the audience…when does that ever happen? At least COVID-19 brought us some interactive content!
Hosting Live trade on FB has been very beneficial to eCommerce business during this time.
Keep your messages light, concise, and engaging on Twitter.
Remember social media is an opportunity to build anticipation for reopening or keep your customers engaged so be consistent with posting.
Also, remember when posting about COVID-19 to be empathetic and remind everyone we are all in it together. A positive and supportive tone will go a long way since this is such an unprecedented situation.
Pivoting For Revenue
Can you pivot your business? There’s no secret that certain businesses have boomed as a result of COVID-19. Cleaning services, small grocery stores, meal prep services, and canned food makers are just a few. Does your business lend itself to being able to pivot into one of these categories or another successful one in the short term? This would be something to highlight online or on social media.
A popular example of a company that pivoted, and advertised it was Ford. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, they pivoted their business and started masking masks and face shields in their factory. This was not only helpful to those who needed the supplies, but it fit with their brand. An American company, helping Americans is a great ad. They posted this not only on their website, but social media, and other ad spaces like YouTube and TV.
How We Can Help
Since COVID-19 has hit the economy so hard it is crucial to have a website and social media so you can be found on search engines and seem credible. If you’re not sure where to start Ventura Web Design can help you create a website with all of the COVID-19 necessary features like online ordering, online stores, and COVID-19 update sections. We can help you set up your social media accounts and help brand your business. Call the Tampa office at (813) 556-7990 or the Las Vegas office at (702) 515-2057 or contact us online.