Coronavirus has thrust the world into a state of emergency. Regardless of your niche or sector, as a small business owner this is likely a challenging and daunting time.
Fortunately, though, we live in a digital age where much of our daily social and professional interactions exist online, so there are a multitude of tech tools available to help your business keep its digital doors open, even if your physical doors might be temporarily closed.
An online presence can help you to continue operating and maintain communication with your customers, helping you to manage their expectations and assist them through these uncertain times.
To help keep your customers and employees informed and involved in your business, it’s a good idea to consider various online channels and tools – such as a website, online store, social media, email or blog – and how each could help your business.
Each small business is unique, so consider your situation and options, and how each might help to improve your business before deciding on the most appropriate strategy and channels to utilise.
Here are some online tools and a few things to consider that could help you create an online presence or help strengthen your existing online strategy.
1. A domain name
Choosing and registering your business’ domain name is one of the first steps to help get your business online. If you’re not already online, a domain name is the combination of letters, numbers and symbols that someone types into their browser to access a specific web address.
In essence, it is your business’ address on the internet. It is important to ensure that you choose a domain that not only represents your business, but is simple and memorable so it’s easy to find and remember. If, for example, you’re the owner of a cookery business in the nation’s capital, a domain like cookerycanberra.com.au is memorable and succinctly explains what you do.
Once you have decided on the perfect domain name, and have confirmed that it’s available, you may want to consider purchasing all iterations – such as .com.au, .com, .net.au – of the name using a domain registrar like, for example, GoDaddy.
Your domain name can also add credibility to your venture – especially for an increasingly online-savvy population – and could be important if you want customers to transact digitally.
2. A website
With many physical stores and in-person services forced into temporary closure as a result of the pandemic, having a digital presence is no longer just an option, but should be a very important part of any business’ short- and indeed longer-term strategy.
With mobile now accounting for more than half of all the time people spend online, it’s important for businesses to have a mobile-friendly website and an engaged online presence. Website builder tools such as GoDaddy Websites + Marketing can help small business owners easily and affordably create and manage a website for their business, and engage with new and existing customers with the integration of marketing and e-commerce tools.
A website is also likely the first place that many people will look for COVID-19 information relating to your business. If you already have a website, consider adding a banner at the top of your website directing visitors to any important information, and ensure it’s large enough for customers to notice before they proceed elsewhere on your site.
If a banner isn’t enough, you may also want to create a page specifically dedicated to the changes you’re making and how they’ll impact your customers. This is something many businesses are already doing online, so for inspiration, take a look at other company’s websites to see how they are communicating with their audience.
3. Email marketing
83% of consumers prefer to receive communications from businesses via email, so consider putting in place a strategy to help keep customers updated through this channel.
Well-crafted, well-timed emails can help you keep your customers informed about how your business is operating and any changes regarding how, when and where they can connect with you. Email marketing could be an effective way to promote your available products and services, as well as a newly discounted offerings.
4. Online appointments feature
If you are a service business and you don’t already offer an online appointments feature on your website, consider setting up a dedicated landing page that features an online contact and booking and scheduling form, so your customers can drop you a line and schedule an appointment with ease.
Whether you own a yoga studio which is providing online classes, or you are a personal stylist offering digital consultations, an online appointments system could help customers schedule either online consultations or appointments or physical ones for when restrictions on physical gatherings have lifted in the future.
With staffing shortages an additional concern to many small businesses during this crisis, the ability to manage bookings digitally could be especially helpful.
5. Social media
Many social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, can be a good way to communicate important information to your customers – especially so considering roughly three quarters of Aussies are active on social media.
Use these platforms to, for example, display a link to your new e-commerce store or post about changes to your shipping and returns policy. Also consider not only posting, but interacting with your customers on social platforms.
Whether this be scheduling live video sessions or responding to questions and addressing concerns from those who comment on your updates. Especially during times like these, people value a direct line to your business, and social media platforms can be a great method to help you provide that.
6. A blog
A blog page on your website can be a useful platform to publish more detailed pieces of content. For instance, you could consider adding a blog explaining any operational changes that you are experiencing, or post useful resources and insights for your customers.
People might also now be looking to support small businesses, so you might also use a blog post to share your story and mission to help your customers feel more connected to you and your business.
Once you begin publishing content, it could be a worthwhile idea to share these posts across your social media platforms, and with your email database to help create increased awareness in what your business is saying and doing.
Right now, there’s little doubt there are challenges facing small businesses as they strive to respond and recover to what is – for most of us – an entirely unprecedented situation.
However, while your physical doors are temporarily closed, focusing on your online presence and the various ways it could help strengthen your business, could be the boost you need to help navigate the coming weeks and months.
Jill Schoolenberg is the Regional President for Australia, Canada and Latin America at GoDaddy. GoDaddy is the company empowering everyday entrepreneurs. For simple tech solutions to help make your life as a business owner easier, visit godaddy.com.au.