Customers go digital amid social distancing

By BlackDog’s Marketing team

With crisis comes opportunity — now’s the time to focus on your digital presence as well as future digital goals

We’re only a few months into 2020, and we already have an early candidate for term of the year — social distancing. It’s led to a seismic shift in our daily routines, and most importantly, our businesses. We were already moving toward a fully digital world, but social distancing just kicked that into hyper speed! So here we are — working from home, having daily Zoom meetings, and constantly checking our emails and social media for the latest information. Granted, we won’t be stuck inside forever, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to go back to exactly the way things were before. Companies will need to embrace and adapt to this heightened use and comfort in technology. We understand many businesses are short-staffed at the moment. But these are steps that require little time and monetary investment. This article will outline a few ways to prepare your business for this dramatic dive into our advanced digital lifestyle as a result of social distancing.

What you’ll learn

  • Adapting to the new normal
  • Optimizing your digital footprint
  • Five must-do website audits
  • Five essential social media best practices
  • Five outside channels to expand your digital presence
  • Diving into the digital deep end

Adapting to the new normal

All industries, big and small, are now expected to find nimble and innovative ways to lean into this technologically advanced world. Adapting to our new normal is imperative since our society is forced to rely on the internet more than ever. We’ve already seen the shift in various industries. Grocery shopping is quickly becoming a glowing example. Online grocery shopping wasn’t expected to really take off for another five years. It was still something people were trying to figure out. Well, social distancing has completely fast-tracked that trajectory. Now services like Instacart, Publix Online Ordering, and even Postmates and GrubHub for takeout deliveries, have skyrocketed. The movie industry is another great example. With cinemas across the nation closed down, big studios who once scoffed at straight to streaming, are now embracing this model and releasing their films via on-demand services to rave reviews.

Optimizing your digital footprint

But before your company jumps into the deep end of the digital pool, it’s important to make a digital checklist for your business. Are you reaching your target audience? Are you utilizing all available resources? Does your website have enough information on your brand? These are all vital elements of any organization’s digital presence. Although you may not be able to implement all your desired changes now due to lower resources, there are some vital online business fundamentals you can start to phase in. Take a look at these five must-do website audits.

1. Home page housekeeping
Now is the time to do a thorough inspection of your website. Take a glance with fresh eyes, and navigate through each page the way a customer would. Don’t assume that they know what you know. Your website must be welcoming and informative to strangers to your brand. Is it user friendly? How does it look on different platforms, such as mobile? Make updates in real time and ensure all vital information has been directly posted onto the home page so customers aren’t scrambling for answers, things like — Are you open during regular hours or closing early? Is your organization able to provide any type of virtual donation/relief support initiative? Anything relevant to these uncertain times should be easy to find.

2. Give them the answers with FAQs
Now that you’ve updated your home page, it’s time to move on to other areas of your website. Start by updating your FAQs page with the most current information. One of the most sought-after answers right now is refund and cancellation policy changes. Many consumers will be searching for this information, and their first instinct will be to visit your FAQs page. All answers should accurately reflect your active policies and any changes that will remain moving forward. This is also a great place to reaffirm your policies and procedures for following sanitation regulations, especially for food service and related organizations.

3. Proper tracking
Get the most out of your website by establishing the proper tracking system and utilizing those analytics to your advantage. We recommend Google Analytics tracking for its ease of use and implementation. Tracking who is coming to your website from what source is fundamental in measuring the effectiveness of your marketing and communications. Are you reaching the correct target audience? Are more people visiting your site on mobile? Are they placing orders through an app? These are all answers you can obtain through analytics.

4. Setting up a chatbot
Chatbots are a great resource for any organization’s website. They are completely customizable and can limit any frustrations a consumer may experience when trying to locate what they’re looking for. Have it set up and ready to answer basic questions or comments.

5. Establishing email sign-ups
Your audience wants to hear from you. Make sure you have a dedicated area on every page of your site to sign up for additional information. Verify that the email registration is connected to your email sending platform.

Updating your social media channels

Now that you’ve reviewed your website, it’s time to start thinking about social media. Now more than ever, people are on their phones scrolling through social media feeds. Take advantage of this and make sure your social media channels have been updated properly. Here’s our checklist detailing five essential social media practices.

1. Contact information
Make sure you’ve listed the most recent contact information. Remember to include telephone, email, and website links to make it easier for your audience to reach out.

2. Operating hours
Update all social media platforms to reflect your most current hours of operation. Also, list any days you will be closed early or open later.

3. Logo and profile image
Always make sure you have the proper use of your logo on all platforms. Some organizations are updating their logos to be socially distant — for example, spacing out the letters with a 6ft apart arrow in between. Consider a change like this, as social media is the place to show your brand’s creativity and lean into the cultural zeitgeist.

4. About section
Always verify that your About Us section properly reflects your brand’s mission, tone and values. It doesn’t need to be as long as the one on your website. Just a few sentences that properly inform people who you are and what you do.

5. Pinned post
Keep the most important information easy for all to see. Pin your most recent statements, changes, and vital information to the top of your feed. This makes sure that everyone who visits your social media page will see that pinned message as the first post.

Broaden your digital presence

Next, move onto brainstorming a way to incorporate other digital resources. Are you utilizing any third-party review or listing sites to reach a wider audience? These can be excellent tools to help you reach more customers and continue growing your digital presence. There are many third-party sites and applications to help you grow your brand. These are five outside channels to expand your digital presence.

1. Google Business
Creating a Google Business profile is a fantastic free way of reaching a larger audience through different platforms. This also allows you to be discovered via Google Maps, as well as increases your presence in Google search. They’ve also set up a “special hours” feature, allowing you to list any changes to your schedule due to the coronavirus.

2. Yelp
The Yelp community is incredibly active and dedicated to the brands they support. Set up your free Yelp page and start engaging with previous and potential customers. Many people visit Yelp for a review before trying the product out for themselves. You’d be blown away by the amount of digital impressions your website can attract with just a few positive Yelp reviews.

3. Tripadvisor and Viator
TripAdvisor and Viator are the world’s largest travel platforms, hosting more than 900 million unique reviews combined from a global audience. No question, these are two of the top free resources for any travel and tourism company. Before planning a vacation, travelers rush to these websites to gather as much information and as many reviews as possible. Users can even make reservations and contact companies via the app and/or website. This is a fantastic way to introduce your brand to someone who is either searching in your area or for similar products.

4. Facebook
Here, your audience can have a place to provide reviews on your products and services. This free service also becomes a great place for user engagement, as your followers can send you direct messages and post comments to your page. It’s important to always respond with accurate and timely information, as your social media followers tend to be the most vocal and engaged customers.

5. Postmates, DoorDash, and More
As customers are not leaving their homes to shop, bring the shop to them — well at least to their mobile devices. Services such as Postmates and DoorDash have been a valuable delivery resource for many companies. If you’re a restaurant, these delivery services can be an exceptional way for customers to discover your cuisine without physically being in the area. Postmates offers more than just food delivery too, making it a great way for customers to shop for various items quickly and efficiently. Both Postmates and DoorDash take a small fee from each order placed; however, both are said to be rolling out lower commission fees during these uncertain times.

In all five of the instances above, remember to include all updated and accurate information, including logos, descriptions, hours of operation, and ways to contact your business.

Diving into the digital deep end

At some point, we will all be returning to normalcy. However, this pandemic has pushed a new wave of customers to be more comfortable with technology, so we need to be prepared to dive into the digital deep end. Even after this social distancing period, customers who once exclusively purchased in-person will be more inclined to incorporate online actions into their buying process.

Use this time to establish a digital presence that a new technologically savvy marketplace will be ready and eager to use. Explore ways to adapt, diversify and profit from an enhanced presence in the new digital world. We hope this article has helped provide you with some useful tips to get started!

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