No doubt, life has changed significantly in the past weeks, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. It is almost impossible to see any sector that has been spared by this plague. Travel is almost not happening again; schools are closed. Individuals can no longer move around freely in a bid to stop the virus from spreading.
In light of this, many small businesses have reacted by reducing or suspending operations, base on the importance of goods sold or service rendered. These businesses are already feeling the toll on their bottom line. As people’s behavior change, their search behavior change as well.
We’ve already seen how COVID-19 has impacted SEO, and our analysis in that post was mind-blowing. You see, regardless of public opinion, some industries were well-positioned for the shifting market, but many were caught off-guard. However, change doesn’t necessitate failure.
As more data emerges, and trends become so apparent, there is plenty of room for small businesses to adjust to the unprecedented challenges caused by COVID-19 and weather the storm. Here we will be looking at a trend caused by this pandemic and how to use it optimally as a business.
COVID-19 Reduces Store and Office Visits By 90% In One Month
At this point, it should be clear to state that people are practicing social distancing and avoiding unnecessary trips. Also, like many businesses selling non-essential products are under a strict mandate to shut down their physical stores, most brick-and-mortar stores, especially those without online structures and platforms, are feeling the brunt of limited pedestrian traffic.
In Google ads, many advertisers track store visit conversions to know the offline impact of their online advertising. A good number of local advertisers optimize their PPC campaigns using the metrics, and by this, they have noticed they have been able to see the significant challenges within the past months.
Advertisers began noticing a decline in-store visits as of February. But by the second week of March, store visits were down by 24%. As the virus spread exponentially, store visits further experienced an unprecedented decline of 46% towards the opening phase of the holy month of April.
Following the lockdown experienced in different countries around the world, the past weeks have seen virtually little of no visit to stores, especially the non-essential ones, as many stores have been on lockdown (even the essential ones), hence hitting a 90% downturn from a month ago.
How To Respond- Get Your Business Online
As traditional brick and mortar businesses suddenly can’t rely on foot traffic to fill their storefronts, now companies, especially small businesses, must focus on their online presence. We haven’t seen Google search traffic diminish as more people get online since the COVID-19 outbreak. So, small businesses should build on this foundation and take out time to improve their online web presence as quickly as possible.
Here are the five things we recommend.
1. Design A Simple Website
Your company’s website is the cornerstone of your online presence. Your small business doesn’t need to have a complex website, and you can create an essential site in the shortest possible time. As you build your website, don’t forget to add landing pages; be sure you’re optimizing your landing pages.
We can help you create a simple, yet professional website for your business at a pocket-friendly price.
2. Get Your Business On Google My Business
As COVID-19 shuts down businesses, we expect more people to turn to Google to ensure markets remain open during these uncertain times. By creating a “Google My Business” account, you can proudly display your business hours, address, posts, photos, and even reviews across Google search and Google Maps.
If you’re already running Google My Business for your business, be sure to update any of your business operations if Covid-19 changes them. This process includes updating your business hours and phone number and posting a notice about any changes your customers should know concerning your business’s operations as it relates to the global pandemic at hand.
3. Engage Your Customers On Social Media
Your customers expect that your business might experience a change or two this period. Hence, they are looking forward to getting updates from you that will relieve their fear, confirm their suspicions, clear their doubts, and know whether you are open for business or not.
Some will turn to Google or your website, but a lot more will keep tabs to find out your most recent posts on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, as the case may be. If they are unable to find you on social media, they are less likely to trust that you are still open for business.
Be sure to create a free business page on Facebook and Instagram, and give your customers a periodic update, so they know your business is still open.
4. Get Started With Google Merchant Center
Have you seen product feeds like this when you search on Google? That’s the sweetness of Google Merchant Center and Shopping feed.
“Google Merchant Center” is where Google wants you to upload products. Traditional retail is struggling with minimal store visits, but e-commerce is an attractive opportunity to keep your sales coming in, even if your customers are stuck inside. To start selling your products online, e-commerce website and take things further by creating a Google Merchant Center account, and upload your products online.
You can even use an automatic product feed to assist in keeping your products, prices, and inventory updated. Once your first products are online, make sure to regularly optimize your Google shopping feed by following simple best practices for product titles, descriptions, images, and taxonomy to make sure that searchers can easily find your products online.
5. Promote Your Business Online
You’d be surprised how many people can find your business online with just a few simple tools. But, even the best search engine optimization can benefit from some additional traffic. Advertising across search and social media work really well, and these platforms can drive plenty of extra traffic, sales, and loyal customers for small budgets.
It is now crystal clear that the novel coronavirus is going to alter our daily lives significantly and how we carry out our regular activities in the coming months (and perhaps, years). However, we still encourage staying safe and healthy, practicing social distancing, and maintaining personal hygiene.
While you are stuck inside, keep an eagle eye on your online strategies, and the blog session of The Brand Ally. Through regular posting, we will bring you up to speed with new information and strategies to best adjust your campaigns in these rapidly changing times.