Moving your business online during the Covid-19 Pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic is forcing businesses to consider how they conduct business online. Traditionally offline businesses have been particularly hard hit as world-wide we have been required to stay home and limit physical interaction. Here at Island Media Management, we are fortunate to have a team of technically competent employees and a business model that can be relatively easily moved online – even with all of this, our team has faced challenges and difficulties in implementing remote work.
Truth be told, we are all excited for the day when we can work together again in the office. However, for the moment the reality is that we must make adjustments to work effectively while maintaining safe social distancing measures.
We recognize we are not alone. For our friends and colleagues facing challenges moving their companies online, we have provided some information on how to work towards moving your business online as we consider significant social distancing for the coming year to 18 months.
1. Create messaging on how you change the way you do business
Creating clear and easy to understand messaging will be vital in guiding your clients on how to interact with you digitally. If your business was previously offline, you will need to change the way you engage with your clients - making this easy for them will ensure that you keep them on as clients. This can be done through notifications on your website, social media platforms or through an email campaign such as mailchimp). If your business was significantly reliant on physical presence and you don’t have a social media following or contact details for your clientele. Consider running a small digital campaign to get the message out there.
2. Build a website or update your existing website
If your business does not have a website, now is the time to get that online. Even a simple single page website will help your business to stay visible during this time.
If you already have a website, consider spending some time going through it page by page and updating that content you’ve been meaning to get to but just haven’t had time.
Focus on your brand messaging and ensure that your content is written in a tone that will resonate with your target audience. Update the images to align with renovations or updated service offerings.
Page speed is the number one issue we find with older websites that have not been updated. Ideally you want to see your page load speed between 1-3 seconds to ensure that your clients will not leave your site due to frustration with load time. Page speed is also a ranking factor - so it's vital to ensure that this is performing at an optimal level.
If your website is a bit older, it will be important to note the changes that have occurred since it was built, particularly with regard to the prevalence of mobile device use. These days, if a website is not mobile-friendly, it creates a poor user experience and a poor impression of your business.
3. Build an e-commerce website if you sell products
If you trade in products, make it easy for your clients to purchase online. With malls and physical premises closed for the time being, ensuring an easy and safe way for your clients to purchase your products is essential. There are many platforms available to support e-commerce websites. Start small and build your stock up – focus on getting something up immediately and updating your full product range as you go.
As mentioned above – make sure that this website is fast to load and supports a safe payment gateway so that customers feel safe to transact on your website.
In general, our suggestions are WordPress WooCommerce - this platform provides the biggest flexibility for design and an excellent foundation for SEO) or Shopify – this is slightly faster to build but has much bigger design limitations and less options for SEO.
4. Optimize your social media accounts
Provide a way for your clients to interact with you on a more personal level by optimizing and updating your social media channels. These are a great place to share updates and changes on your policies with your clients in a more relaxed and personal way.
Sharing news on your team, your business and updated practices will keep your audience engaged and connected with your business if they are not able to visit your physical premises.
5. Get involved in video conferencing
Move your meetings online! There are a multitude of video conferencing applications out there. Here at Island Media Management we use Microsoft Teams - but you can also take a look at Google Meet or Zoom to move your meetings online. All you need is a phone, tablet, laptop or PC with a video camera to meet your clients safely "face to face".
Keeping communication open, even through a digital lens is important as people are looking for a connection while we are all physically separated.
6. Move your files to the cloud
Accessing your files from a physically located server may be challenging for the next few months. If your business relies on files - consider looking at one of the many cloud-based file servers available. Make sure to look at the security and privacy options as not all cloud servers are made equal.
Depending on your business’s location, you may also have responsibilities in terms of GDPR and data security. Be sure to consider this and adjust accordingly.
7. Consider team communication and task management
While email is a great tool for clearly documenting team communications, it is fairly flat in terms of its utility. More robust team communications tools exist (such as Slack) which can enable channel-separated conversations and more granular control over conversation access. Using an online task management tool (such as Trello) can make it easier for teams to work on shared projects remotely.
8. Create a “return to normal” plan
It’s likely that the aftereffects of Covid-19 will create a long-lasting “new normal.” With that said, certain brick-and-mortar or service-based businesses will need to consider how and when they will reopen their doors to customers. Communicating this plan beforehand will help customers trust that your reopening plan is thoughtfully considered and that their health is in trustworthy hands. Ensure that your reopening plan follows guidelines from relevant authorities and is clearly communicated to both customers and employees in advance of reopening.
We hope that you’ve found this article useful. If you’re an existing client, a previous client or even if we have never worked together please don’t hesitate to reach out. We are happy to offer advice on how to navigate these times and how best to position your business from a marketing and communications perspective. There is no charge for the time, and certainly no expectation of ongoing services.