Many small businesses are wondering how to survive these difficult times, and one simple message is being repeated by experts everywhere which is to get your business online and start selling via e-commerce.
The uncertainty of it all has businesses of all types on edge, but not everyone sees budget-cutting as the answer.
The advice from many experts to businesses is that they need adapt to the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and weather the storm.
As people practice social distancing and avoid unnecessary trips, and as many businesses are forced to close their physical stores or limit their in-store capacity, most brick-and-mortar stores are feeling the pain of limited foot traffic.
While people may be spending less time out in brick and mortars, our internet use is up nearly 50% since COVID-19 became a pandemic. The good news is that you can still reach your prospective customers, they’re just looking in different places.
Now small businesses must focus on their online presence. We haven’t seen Google search traffic diminish too much since the COVID-19 outbreak, so all small businesses should take this time to improve their online web presence fast.
Here are the five simple steps to help do so
1. Design a simple website
Your company’s website is the cornerstone to your online presence. Your small business doesn’t need to have a complex website.
2. Get your business on places like Google My Business
As COVID-19 shuts down businesses, we expect more people to turn to Google to ensure businesses are even open during these uncertain times. By creating a Google My Business account, you can proudly display your business hours, address, posts, photos, and even reviews across Google search and Google Maps.
If you’re already running Google My Business for your business, be sure to update any your business operations if they’re changed by COVID-19. That includes updating your business hours and phone number, and posting a notice about any changes your customers should know about your business’s operations with respect to COVID-19.
3. Engage your customers on social media
Your customers expect that your business might change during the pandemic and they’re looking for updates to confirm whether and when you’re open. Some will turn to Google or your website, but many others will try to find your most recent posts on Facebook or Twitter. If they can’t find you on social, they’re less likely to trust you’re still open. Be sure to create a free business page on Facebook and give your customers a periodic update so that they know your business is still open.
4. Get your products online
Traditional retail is struggling with minimal store visits, but ecommerce is an attractive opportunity to keep your sales coming in, even if your customers are stuck inside. You can even use automated product feeds to help people find your products, and keep your prices and inventory updated on places like Google.
Once your first products are online, be sure to regularly optimize your shopping feed by following simple best practices for product titles, descriptions, images, and taxonomy to ensure that searchers can easily find your products online.
5. Promote your business online
You’d be surprised how many people can find your business online with just a few simple tools, but even the best search engine optimization can benefit from some additional traffic. Advertising across search and social is easy and these platforms can drive plenty of extra traffic, sales, and loyal customers for small budgets.
Google Ads: Reach customers as they search online for your keywords and pay only when interested customers click on your ads! Additionally, you can reach your ideal audiences across Google Maps, display ads, Gmail, and YouTube.
Microsoft Advertising: Expand your reach to the second largest search engine in the United States, with 36% of the desktop market share. Many advertisers see even cheaper clicks on Microsoft Advertising than on Google.
Facebook ads: With over 70% of the US online population on Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger, Facebook ads is the largest opportunity to get reach your audiences on social media. Facebook advertisers can wide, diverse audiences at low costs.
It’s important to remember that one day the COVID-19 pandemic, the lock downs, and this difficult period will come to an end, and when it does you will want your business to be best placed to move forward, It will undoubtedly be those that have adapted to face these new challenges to how we all do business who will come out the other side as the winners.