Lockdown has been a strange time for all of us. It’s been almost three months of living in a very different world with everyone trying to adjust to “the new normal”.
However, things are starting to change. The lockdown has been eased a little and shops and other businesses are reopening, but what does this new normal mean for the many businesses who want to get back up and running and now only have a limited budget available to invest in their online presence?
One thing to be sure of is that online is key right now. During lockdown, as you might expect, internet traffic increased dramatically, with the ONS (Office of National Statistics) reported that ‘in April 2020 the proportion of online sales reached a record high across many store types’.
Even though brands are reopening their bricks-and-mortar stores, there is still likely to be a large percentage of customers who want to continue to purchase goods and services online, with no intention of venturing to physical locations for the foreseeable. This provides a massive opportunity for businesses operating online to get in front of a much bigger audience.
At this time (more than ever!) you need to get bang for your buck when investing in digital, so here’s our advice on where your attention should be focused so you can gain the greatest rewards and make your budget work just as hard as you are.
Reflect, Plan and Prepare: Are Your Business Goals Still Relevant in a world post-COVID-19?
Things aren’t set to go back to normal anytime soon and so it makes sense to build plans on the basis of things remaining like this for the long-term. In doing so you’ll be prepared for this new normal and if things improve much sooner, it’ll be a huge and very welcome bonus!
A key part of building your new plans will be to redefine your business goals so that they’re more in line with what customers want now. Habits have changed dramatically over the past three months, so it’s important that your goals are updated to reflect this, ensuring that your brand’s purpose and messaging are relevant.
Keep Championing SEO: Make Technical a Priority
Throughout the lockdown, Google hasn’t stopped, and the web continues to operate as normal. This means that any businesses that had to pause SEO efforts will need to do even more work to regain their visibility within search engines.
SEO is key to making sure that any users searching for the products and services you offer can find your site. With more people than ever using the internet to find what they need, it’s vital that your SEO is up to scratch. As a priority, this means fixing any technical issues as well as looking to see where there might be small wins, such as improving page load speed.
Unlike some other digital channels, SEO won’t give you instant results, instead, it’s designed for sustained growth. That being said, in our experience technical problems are often the biggest barriers to good performance and any fixes in this area are the ones which usually have the greatest impact.
In many cases, the results of fixes can often be seen in a matter of weeks (depending on how problematic the issue and how widespread it was across the site). We call these quick wins.
All this means that fixing your site’s technical issues will be well worth the investment, ensuring your site is able to perform at its best, when you really need it to!
Review Changes in Users Behaviour: What are Customers Looking for Now?
Consumer habits have changed dramatically over the last few months and so taking the time to know your audience better is essential in understanding whether your site is still able to meet their needs.
Some key areas to look at might include:
– Which pages are customers now looking at the most?
– What search terms are they using to find you?
– What search terms are they typing into your own site search facility?
– Which products/services are now getting a lot of interest and which aren’t?
All of this information (which should be readily available to you via Google Analytics and Google Search Console) is extremely useful for identifying which pages of your site now require the most attention and would benefit from some improvements.
It might be that a product or service you wouldn’t normally promote is now getting a lot of attention (a cleaning product for example).
Where this is the case you need to ask yourself if there is anything on the page which could be improved, e.g. are good quality images being used? Does the content on the page answer all the questions a customer would want to know? Are there any other barriers to conversion?
Making enhancements to these pages is not only likely to improve their visibility within the search engines, but it can also help towards increasing their conversion rate, making them well worth the time and attention.
Another useful resource for understanding audience needs is your customer service team. They deal with your customers on a day-to-day basis and should have a great understanding of what it is they’re looking for as well as any changes in behaviour.
In some cases, it might be a simple change which makes a whole lot of difference, e.g., offering longer return periods for goods at a time when the postal service is under pressure.
Now more than ever you need to know your customers and ensure that your site, as opposed to any of your competitors, is able to fulfil their needs.
Content and Messaging: Make Adjustments to Reflect the Current Times
The last thing any business wants to do right now is put off potential customers. Therefore, it’s important that you check your content and messaging to see whether it’s still appropriate for the times we’re living in.
Consumers in Britain appear to be particularly sensitive to brand messaging with research from Dyanta showing that 55% think that brands are taking advantage of the pandemic to sell more products. This makes it crucial that you be authentic in what you communicate. We’ll be talking more about this in a blog post coming soon!
Some sectors may need to make more changes than others. If you’re in the hospitality sector, a travel agent, or an estate agent for example then this is certainly something you’ll need to focus on. While most people want to get back to normality, they also want to keep safe.
They may also be unsure about any new processes which are now in place for certain activities e.g. buying or selling a home etc. It’s therefore important that the messaging on your site addresses these concerns to help customers feel confident about the decisions they are making.
There’s a lot of uncertainty at the moment and we’re all having to adjust. In tough times like this, it’s good to be informed and to understand what’s going to work best for you, so we hope that this has been useful and wish you the very best of luck in getting things up and running again.
If you need a helping hand, we’d be happy to have a chat.