Unfortunately, we can’t hit the reset button on 2020, but with an open mind to adapt, your business can come out of this trying-year in a stronger position.
In some fashion, businesses across the nation are beginning to reopen. Reopening certainly looks different for everyone depending on your location, business size and industry. With all the business challenges surrounding reopening, we want to help you survive and potentially thrive in these uncertain times.
1. Make a Plan
Before kickstarting your reopening, layout a plan of action to increase the safety level for your employees and customers. To be most effective, really think through your customer’s journey. How many people can be in your location, will your staff wear masks, where will you put hand sanitizer stations, are you booking by appointment only, what social distancing measures are you taking, do you have curbside or outdoor options, can you help your customer virtually, what cleaning procedures are you taking?
COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE
2. Communicate & Train Employees
Once you’ve detailed how your business is changing, communicate your plans internally. Make sure each employee understands the safety procedures, especially those who interact with customers. Make it easy and give them a list to reference.
3. Communicate with Customers
Now that your employees understand your business’s new procedures, you’ll also need to outline your plan to your customers. By providing organized communication with a thoughtful plan with the customer’s best interest in mind, you can instill confidence in your brand.
Communicating with empathy is always essential, but now more than ever. Your customers are dealing with different levels of anxiety, and some have seriously been affected by the pandemic. Messaging and imagery that worked several months ago may not be fitting today. For instance, Hershey’s pulled an ad campaign that presented too much hugging and handshaking. Keep the “new normal” in mind with your messaging.
Just because reopening is beginning, don’t assume your customers know you’re ready for business. Your clients have a lot on their minds right now. Make sure they haven’t forgotten about you. Once you have your reopening plan detailed on your website, go ahead, communicate through social media and email.
Consumer behavior is changing from less in-person communication to online. The pandemic has made it clear, that an optimized online presence is imperative for survival as consumers are reducing person-to-person interaction.
4. Advisory COVID-19 Notice
Adding a COVID-19 advisory notice on your home page lets your customers know what to expect, and you are taking measures to protect them. Smart Insights outlines a few best practices to include in your Coronavirus business statement and provides a few examples here.
Strike a balance of being detailed, but concise. The essential info should be on the home page with important communication points such as the reopening date, hours of operation, contact information, and explain your new operation procedures and potentially new shopping options.
Lockdowns may be lifting, but people will research online before heading to your business. The news and likely your business operations can change rapidly, so be ready to update frequently to keep your customers up-to-date on how that affects your operations.
5. Use Video
Remember, not every piece of communication needs to be in the text. Videos on your website and social media covering the new customer journey or even showing cleaning procedures can reassure customers. Depending on your company size and brand, video doesn’t have to be an expensive Hollywood production project. Keep it professional and remember to communicate with an understanding of the current environment.
6. Add Online Chat
One recommendation that has been popular recently with clients to fill the need for increased ‘virtual’ communication is adding an online chat feature. An online chat feature provides a comfortable way for consumers to quickly connect and be sure they receive all the needed info. Chat can be implemented relatively quickly, it’s inexpensive and easy-to-use. Here are two chat vendors that our clients have had success with, Live Chat and Olark.
7. Embrace New Technology
Does virtual selling make sense for your customers? Some customers may not feel comfortable shopping in public yet or want to be sure you have what they are looking for before an in-person visit. Virtual engagement can help alleviate these customer concerns. As an example, real estate agents and home builders are providing virtual home tours through conferencing platforms such as Zoom. Some businesses are using Matterport tours, as seen here, created by companies like Outhouse. Others are providing home shoppers with self-service access to visit model homes through companies such as, NterNow.
Don’t limit yourself if you can’t afford expensive conferencing platforms. You can even use Facetime or Facebook Messenger. Your customers may prefer the convenience while creating a real-time human connection. Make sure the sales associate helping with virtual communication has a solid understanding of the technology to help customers with any issues.
EXPLORE DIGITAL MARKETING
There’s an opportunity to separate yourself from your competition by implementing a few of these ideas. People are spending more time at home and online, so a considerable opportunity exists with optimized digital marketing. Some of your competition may not take these ideas into account, and you can gain market share. The first step with any digital marketing endeavor is to look at your current analytics. Figure out where your digital marketing is falling short, what opportunities exist and set new goals.
8. Local Listings
With travel limited, consumers shopping locally can be advantageous for your business. Start with updating your local citation sources, such as Google My Business, Yelp and Bing Places. Many of the local listings and directories allow you to provide new operational info regarding COVID-19, and you may need to update your hours. Your target audience is likely searching for local information. HubSpot reports that 46 percent of Google searches are looking for local info, so this is a good place for consumers to find you and gather operational information regarding your business. (Hopefully, you’ve already set up and claimed your local listings. If not, there’s no time like the present. We can help if needed.)
Consider the changing SEO landscape in terms of new customer behavior. For instance, searches for “near me” have fallen, and terms for “delivery” and “open now” have jumped. Relevant content is more important than ever. Despite reopening restrictions being lifted, people are still working from home, and some are hesitant to leave their home’s safely. A strong digital presence is vital as customers are utilizing online searches now more than ever. Make sure you have a strategic SEO plan in place by starting with an audit of your site. Technical, “back end” optimizations can help you gain SERP ranking. Exploring and implementing the right keywords can pay off immensely on increasing qualified traffic to your site.
10. Paid Search & Social Advertising
When your competition is hanging out on the sideline, you can seize this opportunity to gain new customers. Now is a great time to start paid advertising campaigns. Many industries are seeing less competition in bidding for keywords. As an example, Facebook’s cost-per-impression has dropped, and traffic has soared, presenting a favorable opportunity to gain consumer mindshare. Be sure your ads and landing pages are consistent and communicating appropriately.
The new environment, no doubt requires agility, energy, and the willingness to try new methods. Your efforts to help must be communicated and appropriately implemented. Customers will see your commitment and appreciate your undertaking, and in the end, you can set your business up for long-term success.
We’d love to help! Contact us to talk about customizing a program to achieve your business goals.