The pandemic is dramatically changing the habits of consumers and businesses. Many of these changes will remain long after the virus has diminished. Is your business prepared to deal with them?
- 5 ways to prepare your business for the impact of COVID-19
- Offers and free resources for small businesses facing COVID-19
With each passing day, the COVID-19 is rapidly spreading around the world. As a result, most companies are struggling to improve their plans to ensure the continuity of their business. The impact that the COVID-19 has created around the world is unprecedented. The pandemic is expected to cost the world economy $2.7 trillion in production costs.
Given the lack of long-term forecast for the disease and the absence of an established response plan, most companies are not sufficiently prepared to manage and mitigate the risks that the pandemic represents for their business. While adapting to home working may cause some immediate drawbacks, there are other important long-term implications still to be considered.
Fortunately, there are still things you can do to help your business. Here are a few simple initiatives that, although they are inexpensive, can have a big impact now and after the current climate of uncertainty is resolved.
5 ways to prepare your business for the impact of COVID-19
1. Adapt your business to eCommerce.
If your business does not have an online presence yet, it is time to find out how to create an online component.
- Face-to-face services, such as personal trainers, can offer online appointments and virtual classes instead of face-to-face meetings.
- Small businesses and brick and mortar shops can offer online ordering with delivery or pick-up service.
- Businesses that sell products that can be shipped have the opportunity to sell them through Marketplaces and list them in different places: on their own website, on Etsy, Amazon, etc. They can also create their own online store from which to sell their products.
- Social networks can be transformed into sales channels to convert conversions directly into revenue. Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are providing brands with extremely useful sales and analysis tools, thus integrating social networks and eCommerce.
Offering your products or services online will add value to your business and generate immediate income since your customers will be able to start making purchases as soon as you prepare your business for eCommerce.
Learn about Social Commerce and discover how to transform your social networks into sales channels.
2. Keep your website up to date with the latest information.
The business world is changing enormously with the COVID-19 crisis. Most people don’t know which businesses will open their doors or return to normal after the crisis, nor do they know how they have changed their way of operating to cope with the crisis.
For that reason, it’s a good idea to keep your website updated with any important changes in that regard. Even if there is no specific change in your business, create a post explaining that you are still offering your products and services as usual.
And if you have a blog on your website, take the opportunity to check out older entries. Update outdated content, add new images and internal links to other posts and pages that were added after the original blog entry was posted. By updating old content you can give it a new life so that it can be reused in social networks and email marketing.
This practice of keeping customers up to date with the latest information can become a good habit for your business even when the virus and alarm situation passes. Monthly or quarterly updates can help people see that your business is working and available to serve them.
3. Include several ways for your customers to contact you.
Most eCommerce platforms and email marketing tools will require your brand to have at least one, if not more than one, contact option to use their services. This includes your email address, phone number and mailing address. However, you may want to include several ways for people to contact you.
Customers like to get in touch with brands in different ways. For example, 62% of customers say they prefer customer service by email, while 48% also prefer to access a phone number. If you don’t offer several alternatives for your audience to contact you, you may lose many potential customers along the way.
4. Add a page of frequently asked questions (FAQs).
In times of high activity, you have probably received many messages from customers asking about the status of their order or any other aspect of your business. Now that you have some free time, think about all those questions and solve the most common doubts in a FAQ section on your website.
Including a FAQ page on your website will not only save you time answering repetitive questions but will also help your customers resolve their doubts immediately, whether they are about your operations and products, their content, shipping times or return and refund policies.
Related: How to create an efficient FAQ page for your ecommerce.
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5. Run A/B tests.
You may think that your website is already working in the best possible way. However, the only way to be sure is to do an analysis and A/B testing (also known as split testing) on different elements of your website. Use your free time to configure different versions of your home and sales pages, and use A/B testing to see which one works best. This way, you’ll know which one converts better and what measures to apply to improve your opening and click-throughs rate.
It is possible that during this time of higher inactivity, you may not collect enough data to determine with absolute certainty which of the tested items is the one that works best, but you can configure the A/B tests now and carry them out when your business is operating at a higher capacity.
Offers and free resources for small businesses facing COVID-19
Since the emergence of COVID-19, more and more companies and organizations are offering special promotions for small businesses. These offers include grants, loans, marketing and promotional assistance, and various tools that can be very useful to your business.
Here are some of the best resources that can help you, your employees, your clients and your community to better deal with the impact of the pandemic.
Facebook for Business. A new business resource hub detailing the resources Facebook provides to businesses to help deal with COVID-19.
Google. Check out all of Google’s resources for businesses.
Microsoft. Office 365 customers can get Equipment (video conferencing) for free.
Salesforce. To help small businesses stay informed and ensure the safety of their customers and employees, Salesforce offers free access to their online resources and content, free Salesforce Essentials for 3 months, and a $10,000 grant financial assistance program to help small businesses weather the crisis.
Zoom. Connect with others through video conferencing. The free version of Zoom can host up to 100 participants for a maximum of 40 minutes.
Cisco. It offers free videoconferencing services for small businesses that are now working remotely.
LogMeIn. Get a toolkit for working remotely, including “everything you need to ease the transition to home-working”.
Atlassian. They offer free access to all their cloud tools to small businesses (10 or less employees).
Zenefits. The company offers a free year of payroll software with an annual subscription to any of its HR software packages.
Slack. During this period, Slack supports all nonprofits and other organizations that perform essential support activities with free access to a premium Slack plan for three months.
Marketing and promotional assistance
Google. Google will distribute 340 million dollars in advertising credits worldwide. They can be used at any time until the end of 2020 on Google Ads platforms.
Yelp. Read about the $25 million in grants that Yelp has announced to support local independent restaurant and nightlife establishments, in the form of advertising fee exemptions, and free advertising, products and services.
Kabbage. Offering gift cards online is another way for your customers to show their support at this time. Sign up and sell online gift vouchers for your business.
Facebook. Learn more about how to apply for part of the $100 million Facebook grant program for small businesses affected by COVID-19.
James Beard Foundation initiated a Food and Beverage Industry Assistance Fund to provide micro-donations to small independent food and beverage companies in need.
Fundera. Information and advice for business grants and a list of 107 verified grants for business start-ups and small businesses.
Many brands around the world are trying to keep their businesses alive during this period of uncertainty.
On the bright side, the current situation offers numerous opportunities for change and improvement for your business. Keep in mind that companies that act accordingly, communicate with their customers, and take a proactive approach in their ever-changing markets, will achieve better results than those that do not.
Take the time to implement the proposed changes in your strategy to keep your business alive, now more than ever.