As it becomes increasingly clear that the global coronavirus pandemic is likely to linger for several months (and possibly longer), topics like web design and online marketing might be the furthest things from your mind. However, this global health crisis is also putting the business world in a pinch. The companies that fail to adjust their strategies today are going to be hurting tomorrow—if they don’t disappear altogether.
So, while you shouldn’t spend all your time thinking about your website, it’s a good idea to explore some options to keep your business running in the coming months. And, with opportunities for meetings, conferences, and even simple one-on-one interactions being limited, the internet unquestionably is your strongest remaining sales and marketing tool.
With that in mind, let’s look at a dozen ways you can use digital strategies to keep moving ahead in the coronavirus economy…
#1 Adjust Products, Services, and Pricing
Most economists expect that current conditions will lead us into some sort of recession, at least in the short-term. At the same time, many of your customers or clients are probably feeling uncertain about their futures.
Knowing that, you might want to adjust your product and service offerings to fit the current times. Shorter contracts, flexible orders, and low-cost solutions might all be in steady demand. This will vary from market to market, of course, but your goal should be to give your buyers what they want. Now is the time to look ahead and adjust your website and social messaging accordingly.
#2 Install or Upgrade Website Ecommerce Features as Needed
Health officials are advising against unnecessary trips to the store, and particularly to crowded spaces. That means fewer shoppers and a big hit to retailers everywhere as customers either put off purchases or order online.
Depending on the products and services you sell, this might be the perfect time to improve your eCommerce game. Just because buyers can’t come see you in-person doesn’t mean they won’t want to order. Consider setting up faster shipping, online purchasing discounts, or even carryout-style service for those who are trying to practice social distancing. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to keep buying from you.
#3 Add Online Demonstrations to Your Website
Boosting online orders can be difficult if you are used to closing sales based on the strength of live presentations. One way to overcome this challenge is to film yourself (or salesperson) giving a great demo and then putting it on your website.
This might not be quite as effective as letting a customer try out a product themselves, it can go a long way towards answering the questions they have on their minds that would otherwise stop them from finalizing a purchase. And, shooting, editing, and posting online demos is easy. You can even make customized clips for special clients or individual buyer types.
#4 Increase Customer Engagement With Online Chats
The one thing that’s normally missing from eCommerce is the ability to ask good questions or get personalized advice like you would from a live salesperson or business owner. You can solve that issue and make the buying process more seamless by implementing online chat tools.
You’ve undoubtedly seen in use these already, but you might not realize just how valuable they can be. Not only can you use them to let buyers know when you are or aren’t at your desk, but you can even program automated responses to simple questions. If you want to boost online sales and conversions, integrated chat software could be the perfect solution.
#5 Improve Your Hosting and Web Security
Given that your website is about to get a lot more traffic and become an even bigger part of your sales and marketing plan, it makes sense to upgrade your hosting and cybersecurity plans.
Better hosting make your pages faster and more reliable. Improved backups, encryption, and monitoring all make it harder for online thieves to break into your site and get access to data they should. These are smart upgrades in any economy, but will likely prove to be especially crucial during the coronavirus outbreak.
#6 Fire Up the Home Office
The realities of social distancing mean that up to half of all Americans are going to be working from home for at least the next few months. Contrary to popular belief, that doesn’t necessarily need to involve a loss of productivity.
Besides setting a firm schedule and minimizing distractions, you can get more from your work-at-home time by utilizing remote access software such as TeamViewer and group chat services such as Slack. These tools let you tap into desktops and workstations from anywhere. That way you and your team never have to worry about missing out on important files or applications.
#7 Embrace Virtual Meetings and Conferences
At the time of this writing, thousands of local, national, and international meetings and conferences have been canceled in a period of 10 days. It’s uncertain when these activities will resume, but the smart money suggests it won’t be for many months.
If your business or industry is dependent on these types of sales interactions, then it’s up to you to replace them. That’s where online meetings, videoconferences, and online presentations come into play. With the right software, some good microphones, and nice lighting in a conference room you can host all kinds of virtual events. They might not be as effective as face-to-face interactions, but you can still use them to maintain relationships and close deals.
#8 Review Your Spending on Digital Ads
When times are good, you may be able to get away with setting your pay-per-click ads and forgetting about them. For the next few months, though, you would do well to keep a close eye on your spending and ROI.
It’s a virtual certainty that buying patterns are going to change in a lot of markets and industries. And at the same time, the potential for recession could cause the returns for certain types of campaigns to diminish. You’ll want to save every penny you can, so don’t waste any of your marketing budget on underperforming online ads that can be turned on later.
#9 Stay Ahead of Supply Chains and Schedules
Some businesses are already feeling the pinch in terms of incoming inventory, particularly if it arrives from China. Whether yours is one of them or not, it’s important to update your website as details change. The last thing you want is to make a bad situation worse by taking orders that can’t be fulfilled in a timely way.
The same goes for working schedules. You and your employees might be forced to miss time because of illness or a need to care for others in the household. Take advantage of file-sharing apps, slack chats, and other tools for work-at-home opportunities. And, be careful not to offer customers deadlines that can’t be met.
#10 Use Email to Keep in Regular Contact With Customers and Partners
Email marketing is always a crucial part of the online marketing mix, but in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s an important lifeline to your customer base. Let them know how you’re doing, offer helpful tips, and alert them to any opportunities or disruptions.
Email is fast, affordable, and targeted. Use it as your primary means of communication when you need buyers, vendors, or the general public to be alerted to changes in schedule, policy, pricing, etc. and you can avoid the kind of uncertainty that might otherwise hurt your sales and marketing efforts.
#11 Maintain a Strong Social Footprint
While email might serve as your primary means of communicating directly with individuals, this is a great time to keep your company active on social media. Not only is it completely free, but your profiles can be used to state in front of the public at a moment when they might not be hearing from your competitors.
Feel free to share tips, success stories, and personal anecdotes. Don’t forget that you can lift spirits (and help your brand) by posting positive messages and updates from time to time, too.
#12 Don’t Overcommit to Plans or Campaigns
Our final note of caution: preparation has to do with the unknown future. Events are unfolding incredibly quickly, especially when you consider that few could have anticipated exactly how sharply life and business would change in the matter of a few short weeks.
Keep that in mind as you think ahead to future plans and tactics. Until the economy stabilizes and it’s easier to see what medium or long-term outcomes will look like, you don’t want to make big decisions or investments. Your main goal for the next two months should be to look after your loved ones and keep your company moving in the right direction. If you manage that, you’ll have done enough to make bigger plans later.
Need Help Formulating Your Company’s Game Plan?
With new developments and information coming so quickly, it’s easy for business owners and executives to get overwhelmed with the confusion surrounding the current pandemic. This is no time to panic or take your eye off the ball, however. The future of your business – and the well-being of your customers, employees, and vendors—is on the line.