COVID-19 and your online presence
It’s incredible to think that only a month or so ago COVID-19 was just something we saw on the news, happening in another part of the world. Now we’ve become so accustomed to this pandemic, it’s hard to imagine life once restrictions are lifted. However, it has brought a new digital era to Australia and the world – and small businesses have to adapt.
Ensure your website is up to date
One of the most crucial things you can do for your business is to ensure that your information is correct. Have your hours changed? Has your business model had to adapt to new contactless requirements? This information should be up to date across all your platforms – just because it’s on Facebook doesn’t mean a visitor to your site is going to know.
You should also consider a message specific to COVID-19 somewhere on your site. This should cover things like any potential impact on your customers, the steps you’ve taken to protect both customers and staff, and any other changes to your customer service as a result of the pandemic.
However, don’t make everything on your website and social media about COVID-19 – your customers are already being swamped with the same message from many directions, and are most likely seeking some normality.
When it comes to your website, it’s important to remember that online traffic will behave differently to what you have experienced in the past; depending on your industry it may spike or drop. For example, some of our clients offer essential services and have seen their site traffic increase dramatically since the restrictions began, whereas a couple of others have seen the opposite where their traffic has dropped. This doesn’t mean they’ve done anything wrong, they’re just part of an industry that has been adversely affected by the current climate. Instead, they’re taking advantage of this time to address parts of their online presence that needed attention.
When was the last time you closely looked at your own website? Is the content correct? Does it work on all device sizes? Have you placed an order through your own online store to ensure it’s doing what you assume?
While COVID-19 is dominating the world’s attention, Google’s website crawlers are still doing their thing and looking for fresh (non-pandemic) content – it’s understandably difficult to focus on other content at the moment, but it’s also good to be prepared. Consider what your business will be offering in the coming months regardless of restrictions, and start getting that information on your website.
Reassess your social media
Right now, almost everyone is inside and online. This means that you will never have a more captive audience for your social media. While you’re looking at your website, consider your social media channels too.
If your business has quietened, take advantage of the time you have gained to learn more about your preferred social media channel. It might be familiarising yourself with stories on Instagram, or delving into how to schedule Facebook posts.
Your social media channels are a quick way to communicate with your customers – though it’s important to remember that they won’t all necessarily see your posts at a specific time. So you can’t assume that your post from 10am will be seen by everyone by 12pm the same day, so if it’s important information it’s best to allow more than a few hours for users to see it.
During economic uncertainty, a lot of businesses tend to cut back on marketing. If your business can make the effort and spend the time now, you may find that you’re competing against less ‘noise’ than usual.
Adapt as much as you can
If your business usually has a ‘physical’ element (like serving customers in person, visiting residences for quotes) then think about how this might be converted to an online offering.
Cafés, bars, and restaurants have been forced to close their doors, but some have taken the opportunity to offer a smaller range of food and drinks online for contactless delivery or pick-up. They haven’t all rushed out and spent big money to do this, many are using existing channels such as Facebook Messenger or simple emails.
Some businesses that would otherwise need access to homes to offer quotes have switched to ‘virtual’ quotes, where they can use video calls to have face-to-face discussions with customers and see the space in question. The customer can provide measurements and arrangements can then be made to complete the work once the restrictions are eased, or – in some cases – if the residents are out.
If your business isn’t suited to this sort of change, then perhaps consider offering online vouchers which can be redeemed once restrictions have eased. This means income for your business right now, and also allows loyal customers to support your business at a time when they may not otherwise be able to utilise your services.
Seek expert advice
This may all sound overwhelming, and that’s okay too. If you’re not sure where to start, don’t stress – we know someone.