It has now been more than a year since the initial COVID-19 shutdowns across the US, and we’re finally starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. The pandemic is not over by any means, but according to the CDC, over 51 million people (15% of the U.S. population) are now fully vaccinated against coronavirus. That’s a much-needed positive to keep in mind after a tragic, stressful year that has put everyone through the wringer—especially local business owners.
Even with the speed at which people are getting vaccinated, experts warn that it’s going to be quite a while before things go back to normal. Many businesses are still operating at only partial capacity in order to keep their employees and customers safe. Customers are still being cautiously selective about where and when they go out. Safety constraints, supply shortages, and shipping delays are still affecting the way most industries conduct business. The upside? With a year of experience behind us, there are some lessons we’ve learned along the way. These are a few of our takeaways from the last year of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Business Lessons from the COVID Pandemic
Your Online Presence Matters
Unsurprisingly, we’re pretty passionate about the importance of digital marketing for small business owners. (It has been our mission for over a decade, after all.) As the global culture and economy have become increasingly focused on the internet, businesses have had to continually evolve, meeting customers where they are: Online.
If COVID has taught us anything, it’s the importance of a well-maintained online presence. Just as your brick-and-mortar storefront needs to be clean, efficient, and professional, your digital storefront(s) must be optimized in order to compete with other businesses in your industry. People are more reliant than ever on their smartphones, and that means search engine optimization (SEO) and algorithms are shaping the game.
In fact, many people these days don’t even bother to visit a website to gather information about a business; they simply turn to the knowledge panels Google provides on the search results page (SRP). It’s no longer enough just to keep your website updated. It’s as important—arguably more important—to keep your online listings accurate and up-to-date on sites like Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor. When customers do click through, they expect it to be easy to find the information they’re looking for, like COVID precautions, operating hours, and event details. Site visitors have notoriously short attention spans, so it’s imperative that the user experience (UX) of your site is intuitive and efficient.
Your Community Is Your Greatest Resource
Have you ever heard the saying, “Your network is your net worth”? It’s been around for a while, but after a year of COVID-induced isolation, the value of community has never been more evident! Your connection with your customers is a vital resource, so you should be making the most of that connection via social media.
It’s not all about making the “hard sell,” either. Cultivating an online community can help you retain existing customers and reach new ones. When you create customer loyalty and rapport online, you open the door for your community to show up for you. Many local businesses have experienced that this year, with customers rallying to support them by purchasing gift cards, booking future events, and shopping local.
Customer Service is Key
Limited capacity means that each and every customer interaction is that much more important. You can use the opportunity of this slower-paced period to hone your customer service and ensure that your entire staff has the training and resources needed to deliver a top-notch experience, every time.
Reputation management is essential. Pay attention to your online reviews, and remember that a negative review is still an opportunity. Even if you aren’t able to appease the reviewer, the professionalism and empathy of your response can be a powerful testament to potential customers who might come across it.
Are you making the most of your online presence during this pandemic? We’re here to help, so get in touch if you’d like to learn more about our digital marketing services!