COVID-19 presents many challenges for SMB
We’re living in extremely challenging times with the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak. With many small and medium-sized businesses forced to close during restrictions to flatten the curve of exposures, it has created a tremendous amount of strain on businesses. While it may seem your digital marketing efforts are unimportant now, they are actually more important than ever.
Keeping your customers informed
The most important thing you can do is clearly communicate to your customers the status of your business operations. If your business is an essential service or if restrictions haven’t completely closed your storefronts, customers will still be looking for your products and services. Even if you have closed completely it’s important to keep them informed.
Types of information to provide
Across all platforms you should focus on a few areas to keep your customers up to date about your operations:
- Changes to days and hours of operation.
- Temporary closures.
- Availability of delivery or curbside pickup services.
- Any restrictions on entering your business or steps customers should take if they are going to visit.
- Steps you are taking to keep your store and employees safe.
- Communications you have had with your local government, such as your health department or other agencies, about your operations.
- Changes to any services due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Where to post your COVID-19 updates
Your website is still your digital home on the web and the most visible form of your presence there. Some ideas for updates to your website should include:
- A blog post outlining your response to the items listed above.
- A banner linking to the blog that can easily be found when visitors come to your site.
- Replace your hero image or slideshow highlighting your response, new services, or important changes to your business.
- Updating any location pages with changes to days and hours of operation or any temporary closures.
Your Google My Business Page
Google My Business (GMB) is like your homepage on Google. Customers searching for services will see this page on both Google and Google Maps if they’re searching for relevant products or services in your area. Updating your GMB page with COVID-19 information is therefore critical.
List your business as temporarily closed or update your hours on GMB
Google has updated GMB so that you can list your business as temporarily closed. If restrictions have closed any or all of your locations you should update them all as temporarily closed. In some areas Google may have already done this for you, so if you are still open it’s doubly important to update your status on your GMB page.
Normally you will experience a delay when updating your GMB page so that Google can confirm the changes. However, during the crisis, they have prioritized updates for temporary closures as well as business hours changes so they are nearly instant.
If you have had to change your hours or days of operations you should update your GMB page right away with these changes. Days and hours of operation are featured prominently on your GMB page and in search results so it is crucial you update them. If you don’t, potential customers will see incorrect hours or that you are open when you are actually closed.
Inform your customers with a GMB post
GMB also allows you to post messages to your GMB page that customers will see when they visit the page. You can essentially use this as a blog on your GMB page.
Whether you’ve had to make changes to your business operations or not, you should communicate them with a post. Create a post on your GMB page to communicate your response.
Your Yelp business listing
Yelp is another very popular platform for local business information. It is the default directory for services such as Bing and Apple iOS devices. If you haven’t taken control of your Yelp listing, no matter what line of business your local business is in, you should do so.
You should take many of the same steps as listed above on your Yelp listing. Yelp has also made several options available such as a banner alert you can place on your page to keep your customers informed about your operations. If you offer delivery services they have also implemented a contactless delivery option for their delivery features.
Your Facebook page
Facebook is another important directory for local business information you should be managing with a Facebook page for your business. Updates to your Facebook page are always instant so you should definitely update this page as well.
- Update any changes to your days or hours of operation.
- Create a post with a link to your blog or the full text of your blog.
- Keep a sharp eye on Facebook Messenger for customers that may be reaching out to you for confirmation.
- Add the Facebook Pages Manager app to your mobile device to quickly respond to customer inquiries and post updates.
Provide timely updates
Once you’ve made this initial round of changes it’s important to stay in touch. You should regularly post to these services with any updates or changes to keep your customers and potential customers informed. You also might want to consider an email campaign as a great way to directly reach out to your customers.
Providing as much information as you can keeps you in front of your customers and prevents them from getting confused or upset in this challenging time. Reach out as quickly, accurately, and as often as you can to show you are there and ready to help.
wtg is here to help
If you find these changes overwhelming, wtg provides an array of services aimed at helping small and medium-sized businesses. With people practicing social distancing and safe-at-home restrictions, their eyes are on the digital world more than ever.