Digitizing Your Business During the Coronavirus
Fast and easy ways to transition your company online.
While businesses have been moving towards a digital platform for years, the amount of work plus the learning curve to digitize business is a lot for some brands, especially in the short timeframe the coronavirus has imposed. The goal of this blog is to give you some small but concrete steps your business can take to move your products and services online through your website, social media, and email. We’re not proposing that you transform into a 100% digital business. But, adopting some of these implementations can help keep your business running during this uncertain time.
There are a lot of different website features and tactics you can use to get more of your business online. Some quick fixes are ones you may be able to do yourself, others your marketing agency will gladly be able to help you with.
Redesign Page Layouts
After closing all of its facilities due to the coronavirus, the Charlotte YMCA swiftly updated the top of its homepage layout. The new layout directs website traffic to the services the organization still offers. One of those services–Virtual Y– is brand new and gives members access to online classes and resources. This is a great example of how you can adapt your homepage layout to streamline users to the most important sections of your website that will continue to support your business.
Setup eCommerce Capabilities
There are many ways to facilitate online ordering to keep a business running. So if you think you don’t have the resources or budget to set this up, you’re wrong!
There are brands that have a full eCommerce portfolio complete with images and a shopping cart. Then there are restaurants that have online order forms to support curbside pick-up. Local stores are selling gift certificates online, while others are accepting donations.
Adding eCommerce capability simply requires adding a plugin to your existing website and ensuring that it’s compatible with your site. Most eCommerce plugins, like WooCommerce, come with a preloaded payment gateway like PayPal. You’ll just need to create a free business account with PayPal and connect it to your website. If people are going to enter their credit card information, you DEFINITELY want to make sure your site is secure (i.e. have an SSL certificate). From there, you will need to input your products, prices, and any new images and supporting copy to fill out your store.
If you need to direct users to new information on your website, consider a fly-In, pop-up, or call-out. These alert users of new information or direct traffic to wherever you want it to go. Pop-ups vary from discrete top bar notifications, to fly-ins that occupy the middle of the screen, to smaller square ones at the bottom right of the screen. Setting this up just requires integrating a plugin like Hellobar to your website. You’ll find freemium and premium options, the latter you can customize with your brand colors and typography.
Add New Web Pages
If you need more space on your website for coronavirus-related content, like an FAQ list or new safety policies, you can quickly do this by adding new web pages. You can easily update these pages whenever new information comes in.
Web pages are also great if you’re integrating print content, like a brochure, to your website. Remember those pop-ups we mentioned earlier? You can use them to direct users to these new web pages.
Create Gated or Paid Content
The premise of gated and paid content is that users have to give something in order to get access. Gated content usually requires users to share their contact information, whereas paid content requires a paid subscription. This type of content is used by brands that sell downloadable PDF guides, online publications or articles, templates, and video tutorials (e.g. webinars, classes).
Adding paid or gated content to your website requires a compatible plugin, like Simple Membership or Passter, as well as developing the content itself. If you are delivering paid or gated content via email, you’ll want to make sure your email platform is connected to your website so the content is automatically sent to users after they’ve hit the submit button.
Create an Online Calendar
If you’re able to deliver your services virtually, like through video conferencing, consider adding an online calendar to your website. This will help you automate bookings and make scheduling easier for clients. This just requires a plugin, like Event Manager or The Events Calendar, and syncing it with a calendar, be it Google or Apple.
Add a Video Library
Instead of sending users away from your website to view a video, you can create a video library on your site. Within that library, you can integrate videos from third-party video hosts like YouTube or Vimeo. This approach will allow you to share a vast number of videos while preventing your website from being bogged down by large video files.
Add Live Chat Software
If you have a small team, you can explore automated bot templates that can help streamline common customer FAQs and issues. To install these, you just need to find the right plugin, like LiveChat, for your website.
Upgrade Your Contact Form
Another way to streamline user communication is to create a more robust contact form. Most plugins like WPForms and Gravity Forms (in their premium features) will let you include multiple dropdown options or conditional logic to better direct users to the best point of contact. This allows more members of your team to participate in responding to customer emails.
Posting on social media is something every brand can do. In the wake of stay-at-home orders, social media usage has skyrocketed. There’s a huge opportunity to use this tool to connect with audiences.
Be Sensitive to the Coronavirus
It’s important that your brand addresses the coronavirus in some way shape or fashion. We talk more about this in our blog Marketing Amidst the Coronavirus, but in a nutshell, brands that don’t say anything risk coming across as out-of-touch or insensitive. This is the time to find new and creative ways to connect with your audience.
Share Content Your Audience Wants
Ask yourself, what does my audience want to hear right now? A lot of people are stuck at home. They’d probably love a free tutorial or class. People who can’t imagine life without your products want to know whether you offer shipping or curbside pick-up. Everyone loves a special promo or to read a heartfelt story about ways brands are giving back to the community. Maybe your audience wants to talk to you and ask you questions. Maybe they just want to be entertained. You can use social media to deliver all this content.
You can also explore user-generated content like Triple C Brewing. Sharing your followers’ content is a great way to give customers a shout-out while showing your larger audience that your brand is still in business.
Exploring creative content that’s intended to serve your audiences is especially important for service providers like salons who are completely inaccessible at this time. This is how you can stay relevant and connected with audiences.
Use All Social Features
You can deliver valuable content with more than a picture post. Utilize all the features on your social channels. Post to your story in addition to your feed. Go live (but let people know beforehand!). Use Instagram’s Stay At Home sticker, or better yet, the Donation sticker if you’re a nonprofit. Upload a video. If you haven’t tried these features, now is the time!
Deliver Customer Support
If you don’t have a chat feature on your website or a dedicated customer service line, you can always use your social media as a way to deliver customer support. Consumers already use direct messaging, chatbots and comments to ask questions or report an issue.
We all know that organic content doesn’t get nearly as many views as paid, and the social media area is more full of brands than ever before. If you have the budget to run social media ads, they’re a great way to stay in front of your customers or even reach new customers.
The beauty of email is that your messages land right in the inbox of your subscribers, giving you more direct access to your audiences. For this reason, email is a great way to keep customers updated on what’s going with your company. Just make sure that your email platform is integrated with your website. This will ensure that new users can stay in touch with you by subscribing to your email list. And it will allow you to use automated messaging.
Design a New Email Template
If you need to communicate new or important information, designing a new email template can visually stress that the content within it is special or a part of a designated campaign. Take this email layout from Kendra Scott. It highlights the actions the company is taking in response to the coronavirus as well as links to new webpages with store closure information.
Review Your Automated Message Mapping
If you’re a small team, automated messages are your new best friend. These emails are automatically sent to customers in response to a trigger, like if a customer completes a purchase. If you’re adding eCommerce capabilities to your website, consider creating an automated message map to plan the responses you’ll want to send to customers. Examples include order confirmations, cancellation confirmations, shipping confirmations, asking for customer reviews, back-in-stock notifications, and more.
Use Email to Highlight New Web Content
To make sure your audience is aware of new and important information on your website, use your email to help promote it. You can give a brief highlight of the new content in your email, giving users a direct link to read the more in-depth details on your site.
Going digital may sound complicated, but hopefully we’ve shown that there are some really easy ways to get started. The goal of digitizing your business is not to add more stress or pressure to your business. It’s simply to make it easier for you to share information with your audience.
Interested in implementing some of these tactics? Give us a call!