The first half of 2020 was defined by the world-debut of COVID-19 but the second half is when we look to a brighter future.
Thankfully, the most drastic measures were temporary. As Virginia enjoys the growing freedom of phase 2 after June 5th, we leave behind sheltering-in-place. Non-essential travel, once strictly avoided, will soon be normal again.
We don’t need to dwell on the past, the uncertainty, the struggles of self-isolation and social distance. You’ve heard it all before.
But let’s consider the past for a moment only inasmuch as it helps us to plan for a brighter future.
Tough Times Build a Stronger Future
Small businesses struggled during the pandemic. We know that’s going to be a tough blow to the economy for a time.
For the pessimist, that’s the forecast for the immediate future.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of America. According to the Harvard Business Review, “Businesses with fewer than 500 employees account for 48% of American jobs and 43.5% of GDP.”
COVID-19 was an airborne sickness that spread rapidly throughout the globe. Because it was airborne, the best prevention measures were the ones that prevented people from breathing on each other in the same space. As a natural result, all the activities that involve hanging out in the same place screeched to a halt.
In-person activities are the lifeblood of many small businesses. Small businesses are the lifeblood of America.
It’s this threat that has posed a new necessity for the business world: how does a small business innovate around stuck-at-home customers?
Necessity, the Mother of a New Digital Direction
Learning to stay at home meant learning to live via virtual connections. Phone calls replaced coffeeshop chitchats. Video calls replaced classrooms, office meetings, church and family gatherings.
Finding a lawn care business on Google replaced passing an eye-catching sign in your neighbor’s yard.
Everyone has had to learn to make and maintain virtual connections.
For businesses, this means your online presence is no longer optional. Your customer base has had a crash course in how the internet helps them solve problems from the comfort and safety of their home. Even when it’s safe to go out, they’ll remember how much they didn’t have. If you can do more from the comfort of your own home, why not?
Even older demographics are shifting their habits. Statistics from post-COVID China are showing that online grocery orders were 4x higher than normal for users born in the 1960s. This shift can be the expectation for older folks in the U.S. as well.
Defining how your business connects with customers virtually is now a necessity.
4 Strategies to Secure Your Business’s Digital Future
The internet has always enabled connections across geographical and physical space. Now, we have a new necessity for bridging gaps like never before.
Here are 4 ways to future-proof your digital presence:
Be easy to find online with SEO
Potential customers are searching for you. If they’re searching for you by name, they might find your website even if your site isn’t optimized for search.
But what happens when they are looking for other keywords related to your services and your industry?
Optimizing your website for search engines increases the online visibility of your business. It helps your business show up in Google when homebound customers are searching for what you offer.
Create relevant content for your customer base
We all know that Google and other search engines are there to answer your questions, but who’s giving those answers?
Every day, more and more people in our current digital landscape are asking questions like:
Luckily, the best company to talk about how a lab tests for asbestos is an asbestos-testing lab. By answering that question, the laboratory puts themself in a win-win situation. The person who searched gets the answer they were looking for but, in the process, learns about the lab and grows to trust the lab as they learn more about them.
Your business might be in the same boat. Perhaps your customers are asking questions about your business or your industry. Perhaps they don’t know why they would need a service like yours. Maybe they are used to DIY solutions to what you could do much better for them.
Educational resources on your website are an investment in overcoming this learning curve.
When you write helpful blog posts or post how-to videos, potential customers become informed customers. When it comes time to call you up, they’ll be more engaged with the value that you provide.
Streamline online channels for talking with customers
In the Post-COVID digital world, customers will be looking for ways to talk to you without leaving their homes.
Phone calls still represent 60% of the ways customers prefer to reach out,
That said, COVID has accelerated the rate at which your customers are willing to reach out to you via digital methods.
A future-proof business should streamline the way customers reach out. The natural user flow on your website should draw readers toward easy ways to contact you.
Beyond having these online contact methods available, you should plan how to improve them. Does the visitor to your website need a reminder that they can instant message you on Facebook? If they do, can they expect a quick reply? What are some ways that you can smooth your online pipeline of contacts? How can the process be just as friendly online as in person?
In the digital future, there’s more demand for online contact to sometimes take the place of in-person interactions. If you’re not innovating, your competitor might be. Any hiccup in your process could send them straight to a more future-proof competitor.
Upgrade to e-commerce where possible
Depending on what you do, an e-commerce website might not be the best fit for you. Perhaps you can break your business down into shoppable items.
Sometimes, a web design firm like us can add an online storefront to your already-existing website. Sometimes, the whole website needs a redesign.
But, for those who can, e-commerce is a game-changer.
With e-commerce, your customers can browse through your website, learn about what you offer and buy your products right there. The whole process takes place without putting on a face mask!
The Future Is Digital and It Is Bright
With a little help from a web design firm that knows a little something about digital marketing, your business can have a strong future. We’ve worked with companies on their digital marketing strategies. We’ve designed websites that have helped them complete the goals of those strategies.
Above all else, our best offer for a business that needs to future-proof is our SEO services.
We can run the numbers on how your website is ranking. We’ll look at how it’s performing with key ranking factors. Then, we’ll discuss with you what steps we can take to position your website to be easy to find on Google.
We want to help your business grow into this exciting post-COVID world. You can learn more about our SEO process and how we helped one of our clients increase online contact form requests by 357% in our “Worth the Premium” article.