As we quarantine in our homes and social distance ourselves from friends, it’s no secret that we’re spending more time than ever on our computers and cell phones. Whether it’s an hour-long Zoom meeting with the office or searching for alternative means of entertainment, digital reliance is at a high. And now more than ever, it is important that you as a business owner match this demand with a website that’s relevant and easy to navigate.
Your Only Source of Brand Representation?
We all already know that the trend for consumerism these past few years has increasingly been dominated by online shopping. While a strong online presence was simply a major plus in those coveted pre-Covid days, it is now a dire necessity. As a digital storefront is currently all most cities and businesses can offer, your website is most likely your sole source of brand representation, making it a key component in the survival of your business during these difficult times. As many of our businesses remained closed for the foreseeable future, it is incredibly important to know that the internet will forever remain open. Just because shoppers are no longer able to walk into your store to make a purchase, it doesn’t mean that they’ve stopped shopping; they’ve simply found a new way to do so.
Accepting The Shift and Moving With It
Not only is the importance of having a website increasing, the amount of consumers searching for products online are as well. Despite some being in a position where they’re able to drive to a store and make a purchase, many if not most people are opting for the safer option of ordering online. So, whether or not your cities are mandating closures of non-essential business, consumerism in general is being driven globally towards a digital platform and away from an in-person purchase. Essentially, if you’re not already online and catering to the overwhelming size of the current digital population, it’s time you hop on board. Even if COVID-19 hasn’t affected your brick and mortar business personally, it will in the future as its drastic effect on consumerism continues to add a heavy favor to the already expanding platform of online businesses.
Making Lemonade Out of the Lemons
While your storefront may have been complete with a wonderful display of jewelry and the friendliest of staff, that won’t really do you any good if it’s closed. This is where the importance of having a quality website comes into play. The beauty and presentation of your storefront needs to be translated into a website that represents the style and values of your brand. Additionally, just like how customer service is a top business priority, an approachable and accessible website is intrinsic to the experience of your browsers. Most importantly, you want to take advantage of any sale you can get. Showing your customers that despite our global state you’re still operating business as usual-but just on your website-is the only way to secure a purchase. And in a world with ample competition, you’ll want to take advantage of every opportunity you get, because if you’re not online to grab that sale, your competitors most definitely are.
11 Things Website Owners Should Update During a Crisis
Ever since the coronavirus crisis hit, it can sometimes feel like it has affected every area of our lives. Anyone who is now homeschooling kids or suddenly spending way too much time over a hot stove can vouch for that! Of course, that includes business too, and if you’re a business owner, there’s a good chance you’ve really felt that impact.
To keep your small business on the up and up, we’ve identified 11 things website owners should update during a crisis. Let’s dive in.
Step 1 – Create a new landing page.
When people visit your website, your homepage is likely the first thing they’ll see. That’s why keeping it fresh is always crucial, but with things in flux during a crisis, that’s even more important.
To show that your business is on the ball and staying up to date, you’ll want to create a landing page for crisis-related content. Make sure to change the page often, especially when new information is released or policies evolve. If those affect your business, outline how you’ll be implementing anything new and how that will impact customers. Every time you update it, you can spread the word on social media by sharing a link.
Another reason to continue refreshing your landing page is that search engines will recognize it’s a key page on your site for the crisis, which will boost SEO.
Step 2 – Update your FAQ page.
If you don’t have a FAQ section on your business website yet, it’s time to add one! The COVID-19 crisis is changing every day, so a FAQ section is a great place to address that and share your updates. Local businesses especially need to answer common questions about their crisis management and how your company is adapting because of restrictions due to COVID-19.
To ensure that clients are aware of your FAQ section, you can spotlight a link to it on your homepage. Continue to add relevant information to your FAQ page, such as how you’re keeping employees safe, who comes into contact with your products, and policy changes, for instance.
The FAQ section is also an opportunity to share any changes in your supply chain, offerings or any potential product fulfillment delays.
Step 3. Change your menu/navigation.
To make it easy to find your crisis content, it’s a good idea to add a link in your main navigation or an alert bar that sits above the navigation to your crisis landing page. Be sure to keep the title of the new navigation item short.
Plus, regardless of the status of a crisis situation, it’s always a good idea to update your navigation to keep it timely and relevant, which should be part of a best practices strategy for your website.
Step 4. Review your product descriptions.
Have your offerings changed in any way since the crisis started? Then you’ll want your website to reflect that. Change the text accordingly and add item availability information to postings.
“A lot of small businesses that we work with are looking to add new services or products that are complementary and interesting to the audiences they have built both online and in previous customers,” says Chris Sica, Chief Revenue Officer, The Ronin Society. “We encourage business owners to step into their customers’ shoes, think about the new buying journeys they are going to be on, what new pain points they will be experiencing and attempt to solve those using the resources they already have available to them.”
5. Check your events page. If your business hosts events of any kind, you’ll want to give updates on how the schedule has changed, including if they’ve been cancelled, postponed or are going virtual.
To avoid confusion, continue to list the original event date so that clients can confirm the event. For events that have been changed from in-person to digital, be sure to link to the virtual location for easy access.
6. Make a homepage hero. In the midst of a crisis, everyone could use some good news. If you’ve realigned your business to help in any way, make it easy for customers to find out by updating your homepage. For example, if you’re now doing carryout or delivery, be sure to spread the word.
“A delivery option is absolutely essential now,” Sica says. “Lots of customers still want to get out of the house and curbside pickup gives them a bit of a break from being at home. [Another element to expand is] payment options to make it easy to afford your product or service.”
7. Utilize pop-ups or banners. One of the easiest ways to catch your clients’ attention and update them is to add a pop-up or banner. It’s an easy way to spread the word about reduced hours, limited inventory, shipping delays or changes in service availability. Make sure that it visually grabs people’s attention.
8. Refresh local listings. If your hours have changed, the world needs to know. Be sure to update your website. Additionally, you’ll need to adjust hours and temporary closures on platforms where customers go to find your hours, such as Google My Business, Facebook and Yelp.
9. Update your scheduled messaging.
If you regularly send out pre-scheduled emails or social media updates, be sure to adjust them to fit the current situation. Otherwise, if you send out the same old communication, it can make you appear tone-deaf and not up to speed.
“Customers are used to coming by your shop, seeing your advertisements, or whatever your traction channel is,” Sica says. “Their entire user experience with your brand has been removed or changed. Their fears and pain points have been altered. As a result, you need to make sure that you stay top of mind in a useful way. The easiest solution is by creating or updating your newsletters. We’ve also seen businesses create how-to videos for clients based on in-store or online products they like, and we’ve also seen customer happy hours.”
10. Change your social media accounts.
At the minimum, ensure that your business hours, closures, and product availability information remains updated for the duration of the coronavirus outbreak.
Just to be on the safe side, it’s best to post more than once on your regular social media channels about any business changes, since we all know how quickly a Tweet can disappear to the bottom of a Twitter feed. This increases the odds that customers will see the news.
11. Increase crisis communication. Ensure everyone is up to speed by sending updates via email, texts or blog posts — communicate with your customers in the way that is best for them.
“It is important to stay in touch with customers,” says Jaryd P. Kase, Principal at Kase Consulting, LLC. “First off, if you are open, your customers might not know and they should know you are open. Second, your customers are dealing with the same crisis as you. By communicating how you are working to mitigate risk factors in the pandemic or working hard to continue bringing them a great product or service (or pick up where you left off if you are closed), it helps put the customer at ease that their favorite store or an important supplier isn’t going out of business.”
However, there is a fine line between communicating too much and too little. “Communication with customers should be tempered,” says Deborah S. Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com. “It is important to not over-communicate or be too sales-y. Share information cautiously. Share content and information, but don’t try to sell. Inform and educate.”
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