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PANDEMIC PREPAREDNESS: Part 1

How to optimize your web presence so you can sell to anyone, anytime, anywhere.

June 25, 2020

Last year, I would’ve felt like an apocalypse-crazed lunatic writing an article with this title. But in light of everything that’s happened in the last six months, I think we can all agree that a little forethought might be in order moving forward. After the abrupt, unprecedented shutdown of business and travel around the world, it may have made you realize just how non-bulletproof your business is, should this level of closure happen again. But there is one place that did not shut down – and that’s the internet. While socializing online has been a common practice since the dawn of AIM Chat and Facebook, it’s taken longer for many traditional companies to optimize their website to do business online. However now, it’s more important than ever to make sure your business and website are prepared should the internet once again unexpectedly become the primary wavelength where you communicate with your customers.  

 

So how do you prepare your business for a pandemic?  

 

Make sure your website is solid. Ask yourself these questions:

 

1. Can people easily find up-to-date information and announcements regarding my business?

When a pandemic occurs, your website officially becomes the most important place customers can find information about you. Whether that be amended hours of operation, important announcements related to a closure, or information for how to engage with you moving forward, it’s absolutely critical your website has up-to-date, important information available that's easy to find.

 

2. Is your website user-friendly?

Once your website becomes the primary touchpoint for your customers, it’s crucial that it’s simple to use on both desktop and mobile. Statistically, 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience. A “difficult to use” website can mean a variety of different things, but you certainly know one when you’re on one. The most major markers of a bad UX are no mobile optimization, slow pageload speed, poor design, confusing navigation structure, and a lack of obvious calls-to-action.

 

3.  Is your website SEO-optimized?

SEO is like the iceberg that sunk the Titanic – it might seem minor from afar, but there’s a LOT going on underneath. It’s imperative that you have a basic understand of SEO, how it can affect your business and what you can do to improve it. When consumers are limited to the internet alone when it comes to searching for necessary products or services, if you aren’t appearing in Google search results you will be missing one of the most important sales veins available during a pandemic. Learn more about SEO in our three part SEO series HERE.

Integrate online selling into your business.

Many traditional business types (restaurants, business services, medical, beauty, brick & mortar retail, health & wellness, etc.) run the majority of their operation based on in-person exchanges. Sure, they might have a website telling people where they are located and what they do, but the actual product or service is provided and money is exchanged in person. Not surprisingly, these were the sectors hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. To avoid a total business shutdown in the future, it’s critical for these types of businesses to create revenue-generating online products or services to fill the gap. This can mean a variety of things, depending on the industry. If you are a restaurant, for instance, you should have online ordering integrated into your website so people can pay directly online. If you are a brick and mortar retailer, you need an established e-commerce store to continue selling your wares even after people are confined to their homes. If you are a gym, you need online content and potentially even membership functionality to allow people to pay online to access your workouts or routines from their home. Any type of business can creatively assimilate an online sales channel into their overarching marketing strategy, and now is more important than ever to analyze the best way to do so. Learn more about how to transition from Brick and Mortar to E-Commerce in our recent article HERE.

 

Streamline your Online Customer Service.

When the whole world moves online, it’s important that your customer service does too – especially if you are offering products or services for sale online. There’s a variety of ways to ensure your customers can find the information they need quickly and easily. Incorporating an FAQ page or searchable Help Desk into your site is a great way to answer customer questions with little to no effort on your part. Zendesk, for instance, has a great self-service help desk software you can integrate into your website. Automating customer service tasks such as refund requests or appointment scheduling can take time-consuming activities off your plate. Many of our health and wellness clients use MindBody to automate online appointment booking. Moving all paperwork and required forms online is also a great way to minimize in-person contact and make it much easier for your customers to provide required information from the comfort of their homes. We typically use Jotform because it’s HIPPA-compliant and encrypted, ensuring the protection of your customer’s data. For more white glove customer service, integrating Live Chat technology into your website can not only help answer customer questions immediately by a live agent, but it can also help to close sales for any prospects that happen to visit your site. Using a company such as Flow Marketing to manage your Live Chat can also take the responsibility completely off your plate so you are freed up for other things. Providing valuable information and education to your customers on your website allows them to interact more easily with your business, and in turn, trust you more quickly as the expert and chosen provider in your field.

 

Needless to say, the world we are living in has changed. And for business owners, it’s important to evolve with the times using the information at hand. It's clear the threat of a global pandemic is now a very real factor to consider while developing you business strategy, and because of that, you must do everything possible to ensure your business can weather an unexpected event like this moving forward.

 

UP NEXT: Read Part 2 of our Pandemic Preparedness Series, which will take a closer look at what specific Sidekick Web Studio clients in industries most affected by the shutdown have done to maintain customer relations and business operations as they were pushed to function primarily online.

Please contact us HERE if you'd like more information on how we can help you with your website.

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