Coronavirus Is Accelerating the Digital Age—What Small Businesses Need to Do to Adapt
In recent months, many experts have given their predictions on the long-term effects the COVID-19 pandemic will have on the world. While the lasting impacts the virus will have on our society and culture is yet to be determined, as it relates to business, we can see a drastic acceleration in the adoption of certain digital trends that we’ve been watching increase for over a decade.
Video streaming, online ordering, and food delivery have all taken a massive jump since the novel coronavirus first appeared in the US. At-home fitness, e-learning, and working remotely have also seen a massive spike. In contrast, in-store visits have plummeted due to mandatory shutdowns across the country.
But even as restrictions are lifted, it is highly unlikely that consumers will return to their regular consuming habits.
A global survey conducted by the EY Future Consumer Index that surveyed 4,859 consumers across the US, Canada, UK, France, and Germany found that 42% of those surveyed believe that the way they shop will fundamentally change due to the coronavirus.
So, what does this mean for businesses that have been able to maintain operations in a primarily offline context? In short, it means big changes are needed if they hope to survive. In this post, we’ll discuss the top 5 things traditionally offline-businesses need to do right now to adapt during this exceptional period of rapid change.
1. Build/Update Your Website
If you don’t already have a website for your business, getting one up and running should be the very first thing you do. No matter what kind of business you run, having a website that explains to customers who you are, what you do, and how to get in contact with you is an essential part of doing business today.
If you already have a website, now is a good time to reassess its effectiveness, design, and functionality.
It could be that your website just looks outdated or is suffering from slow load speeds. Or perhaps your business has gone through some recent changes and your website is failing to reflect that. Or maybe you could be selling merchandise directly on your website but it doesn’t have the capability of accepting payments or processing customer information.
Whatever it is that your website is lacking, getting those issues resolved should be at the top of your priority list. For some help on knowing when you should revamp your website, check out our post Top 5 Signs That You Need A New Website.
2. Increase Your Website’s Visibility & Traffic With SEO
A website that can’t be found on search engines might as well be invisible. Every user relies on search engines to navigate the internet and find the information they’re looking for. This means that you want your website showing up in search results for keywords that relate to your business.
As the algorithms used by search engines have become more sophisticated, optimizing websites for first page rankings has become a highly technical endeavor that involves many factors and on-going efforts.
Many business owners new to digital marketing will find it very challenging to perform their own optimizations to start bringing in traffic from search engines. This is why hiring an SEO company to perform these critical tasks is a great option to look into. Just make sure they offer the full package of SEO services needed to be competitive in today’s online space.
3. Get Your Business on Google My Business
As a result of COVID-19, many customers have increased their reliance on Google to tell them what businesses are currently open and their hours of operation.
A Google My Business account will allow you to display important information about your business across Google Search and Google Maps to keep customers informed.
Such information includes:
- Business hours
- Address and store location
- Contact methods
- Updates and changes around your business operations brought on by the Coronavirus
4. Establish A Social Media Presence
Social media, as it relates to business, is a great way to directly engage with your customers. At a time when uncertainty is at an all-time high, having a direct line of communication with your customers is more valuable than ever.
If you don’t have any social media accounts set up for your business, or if you have almost no followers, below are some quick tips to help fix that.
- Put social follow icons on your website.
- Put follow links at the bottom of your email newsletter and remind recipients to follow.
- Put your social links on your business card.
- Run targeted social ads to promote your business page.
The social media platforms you decide to create accounts with will depend on your business’s industry and customer demographics.
Below is a short rundown of the top social networks and how they relate to business.
- Facebook: Widest reach across most demographics and good for basically any business. Great for general advertising, creating groups, or using live chat to engage with customers.
- Instagram: Best for lifestyle brands and product-based businesses that want to sell to customers between the ages of 18 to 34.
- Twitter: Good for businesses that need to post frequently and update customers at a moment’s notice. Relevant industries include entertainment, sports, politics, and marketing.
- Linkedin: For highly professional businesses that rely on networking with decision-makers and forming B2B partnerships.
- YouTube: For businesses that want to post long-form to medium-length video content.
- Pinterest: Best for businesses involved in fashion, food, decor, wedding/event planning, fitness, and DIY-related products.
- Snapchat: Best for businesses that want to target a young demographic with user-generated content, behind-the-scenes videos, and exclusive offers.
- Yelp: Best for restaurants and service-based industries.
5. Use Pay-Per-Click Advertising to Promote Your Business
The final major tool that businesses new to the online space need to be aware of is pay-per-click advertising (PPC).
When you need to immediately start drumming up new online business, PPC advertising is by far your best option. It’s cost-effective and allows you to promote your goods and services across search engines and social media.
- Google Ads allows you to reach customers as they search using keywords you’ve selected to show up for. You pay only when your ad is clicked and can set a daily click budget to keep costs at a comfortable level.
- Facebook Ads work similarly except you decide who you want your ads to target based on a wider range of demographic filters. You can also take advantage of using eye-catching graphics or videos to draw in users.
Managing a PPC campaign can be daunting at first since many factors contribute to its success. Knowing which keywords and demographics to target may not be obvious for certain businesses. Plus, figuring out the right budget and schedule to run your ads can take time and experience.
Luckily, there are companies out there that specialize in setting up and managing PPC campaigns to ensure that every ad you run is giving you the best ROI possible.
Running A Successful Small Business During A Global Pandemic
As if running a small business wasn’t difficult enough, COVID-19 has taken that challenge to a whole new level. We at Barta Media Group have always made it our mission to help small business owners overcome obstacles to grow their business. In light of this pandemic, the obligation we feel towards our clients to uphold this mission is stronger now more than ever.
If your business is struggling and you think you could benefit from the many online marketing services we offer, give us a call at 678-464-5785 or fill out the contact form below. We are happy to accommodate your situation as much as possible.