April of 2020 changed everything for many people in Loudoun County, Virginia.
News of COVID-19 hit home as folks wearing masks in public affirmed everything we heard for months. It was finally here. Family, friends, teachers, neighbors, service providers, and business owners realized change was here to stay.
We all had to figure out how to continue living our lives while staying apart from one another. If your business survived through April, your problems were likely just beginning. All of a sudden the general public were advised to stay indoors, changing the dynamic of providing goods and services.
Delivery and curb-side service overnight became the new way. Restaurants scrambled to create outdoor seating areas. Places that never offered delivery, now did. People began searching online for food and goods they needed, rather than casually picking them up from the store. Those businesses that were able to swing into action were rewarded. Those who could not, folded.
Geographic patterns changed, regarding the use of online media. Many western Loudoun business saw their web audiences contract geographically with users coming more close to home. In more rural areas, users reached out further than normal, creating an SEO opportunity. Web hits for needed services jumped immediately. Some restaurants saw their website traffic triple overnight. Some of this has since relaxed, but a portion of increased activity remains strong.
Websites have become more critical due to distancing, and with social distancing, our habits have changed. We now plan things before jumping out into public. We gather information online to plan the trips. This means that your website is more relevant than ever.
Longer page views have been seen during this time. Folks at home have more time to spend looking for what they need.
Take note of these items to maximize your online presence:
- Make sure that your website theme, WordPress, and plugins are updated. Old code is a security risk
- Review the performance of your website. The speed in which it renders, and they server quality matter today in gaining the best search ranking
- Ensure that your website adheres to the basic expectations of HTML formatting
- Your photos should be cropped, sized, and compressed
- Your site should have several pages, that link to each other. A one-page website will not provide maximum search ranking
Different communication channels have emerged
Social distancing has caused a shift in the way that your customers interact with your business. With more time on their hands, your customers are more likely to call or send an email. While some segments of the population will continue to message or text, the more traditional methods of communication and picked in the recent months. Which is a reason to ensure that your contact information is up to date. Not doing so will cost sales for your company.
Watch for video communication to become more popular with your client base. We’re already seeing retail providing in-store video for those bound at home. This could present an opportunity for your company or organization.
Being mindful of your client needs will help to separate you from your competitors. This may mean updating the language on your website to be more mindful of the experiences your customer may be going through. We suggest going through each page of your website and reading your content while keeping in mind the virus-relates changes that our society is experiencing.
While you are doing that, take time to ensure that all of your online content is accurate and up to date. Not having accurate web info may result in your visitor leaving. This may include your hours, policies, practices, expectations, and accurate product and services.
Respond to your inquiries as soon as possible. This builds trust and confidence in your business. At the same time, use a level of professionalism and respect that your potential customers may not expect. Delivering a higher level of service stands out today, and is needed in this competitive environment.
Shift into what’s working
Your website traffic monitoring tool, such as Google Analytics, tells you critically important things about your website usage, and business in general. In order to stay competitive in this new COVID environment, reports are your friend. We suggest comparing web stats from before the pandemic, with those after. You want to look for new patterns that can help you be efficient and lean. For example, how have your buying patterns changed? What do folks favor now, that they didn’t before. Are you being found in search for new phrases? If so, how can you take advantage of that? Wicked Design can help you analyze all of these things.
Are your website referrals shifting? Pay attention to them. You want to know which website referral sources are sending traffic your way, and why. Then spend more time examining whether you advertise, promote, or partner with those sources. Sometime these referrals can be other business, local tourist bureaus, the press, a blog, or something else. Google Analytics provides you with a detailed view of how web visitors arrived at your site.
Did the pandemic shift your customer base? Did the demographic shift older, or younger? Are you seeing a customer change in terms of gender, or race? Are they now coming from different places than before? Recognizing these changes in your business can help you to create more efficiency, sell more services, market appropriately, and cater to the best of your ability. The bottom line is staying smart regarding who your customers are.
Because many businesses are suffering, competition here in Loudoun County has dramatically increased. You can see this in terms of the updated language being used, the type of imagery shared, and the tone of the message. We even saw signs that said “We need your help”.
Because of this, social media marketing has all of a sudden become much more interesting. We’re seeing better visuals and more thoughtful posts. Camera angles that are thought provoking, messaging is more meaningful, lots people sporting smiles and having fun. We’ve seen spilling beer, funny videos, lots of cute pets, and bright colors.
Because the economy took a hit, many people are searching for the best deals. Therefore, if you are able, leveraging a themed-sale could help make the difference. Promote it on various platforms so you stand apart. Be prepared to lose some sales to those businesses offering similar products and services to yours, but at a reduced price. Lower overhead is how some are offering lower pricing that you may be able to. Many folks, for example, are seeking the gig-worker community to get services done at a cheaper price. This can also erode your bottom line.
Regarding social media, watch what others are doing, and participate in the respective online communities. This means liking posts of others, commenting on posts, and sharing things you like. Successful social media it a two-way street. You cannot effectively promote without participating.
Be unique and don’t copy what you see. Instead, use cool things for inspiration. Then create your own versions of what motivates you. There is inspiration all around us. Find hot topics, products, trends, and more that you can leverage as topics for promotion.
Develop a marketing campaign with purpose. What do you want to happen? Sure you want more sales, but marketing should be done with a specific purpose and intent. For example, I want 20% more traffic to my website, or I want to sell 60 widgets this month, or I want five people to walk through the door tomorrow. While you always want to keep your name fresh is people mind’s, it should be done with purpose.
Wicked Design can help you with all of these things. We listen closely to your goals and then create a marketing campaign that explicitly described what kind of posts will be done, and when. Then, the results of these efforts are monitored and analyzed. Was the marketing campaign successful? What made the difference? Contact us for a free marketing and branding consultation.
Lastly,Wicked Design swung into the action by creating a website to help the Purcellville area community: PurcellvilleCares.com. It offers a list of companies and organizations that shifted practice to continue providing services. Like many of our neighbors, it was a time to help one another.