7 Ways Small Businesses Can Use their Website to Survive the COVID-19 Crisis
7 Ways Small Businesses Can Use their Website to Survive the COVID-19 Crisis
In the best of times, only a fraction of small businesses actually survive their first five years.
But these are not the best of times. The recent pandemic has taken a toll on the global economy. In fact, 23% of small businesses in the U.S. have closed their doors due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
Sadly, many wonderful small businesses will continue to disappear if they fail to adapt. Small businesses everywhere are being forced to think outside the box in order to survive. For many, who cannot conduct business as usual by being in the office, at the store, or seeing customers face-to-face, relying on a website is their only hope.
Websites are no longer considered a "nice to have" marketing accessory, but rather a necessary tool of survival. The writing on the wall has never been clearer - EVERY business needs a website now more than ever.
What does this all mean for web designers? The demand for affordable, professional websites has never been greater. Businesses with old, outdated websites are revamping their sites at a much higher rate. Businesses that never had a website before, now understand the value in having one, making it easier for web designers to win new clients.
It’s important for business owners to understand how having a website can greatly impact their overall success. Here are 7 ways small businesses can use their website to survive the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and make it through these challenging times.
1. Communicate with customers
Keeping an open line of communication is crucial for businesses. From changes in store hours and mask mandates to product availability and service reminders, small businesses are using their website now more than ever to share important updates with the community.
A website allows businesses to easily, safely and cost-effectively communicate with their customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s also a reliable platform for customers to access information quickly and easily. For loyal and repeat consumers, they’ll appreciate the consistency of knowing where and how to get the answers they are looking for on a business’s website. For this reason, it is very important that businesses maintain and keep their website up-to-date.
2. Sell products online
Think of a business’s website as a digital storefront. Whether they sell products, services, or something else, having a way for clients to purchase through a website will not only bring in more business, but it will be another relational touchpoint for keeping customers long-term.
For some businesses, online ordering has become the only source of revenue during the pandemic. In fact, e-commerce sales are on track to hit $5.4 trillion in the U.S. in 2022. If a business is not taking advantage of e-commerce, it’s likely they are losing out on a tremendous amount of revenue.
For example, restaurants restricted to carry-out or delivery-only are hooking their website up with popular platforms like Seamless, DoorDash, Grubhub and UberEats to offer online ordering to their customers. Other businesses such as hardware stores and pharmacies are using their website to allow customers to email their order for curbside pickup. Offering these types of convenience services could help a business reach new customers and increase sales.
3. Offer online booking and virtual appointments
Social distancing and limited traveling are changing the way people communicate. If a business is not offering online booking or virtual appointments, they could be missing out on tremendous opportunities to reach their customers. The easier you make it for customers to schedule appointments, the more likely they are to do it.
Offering online booking and virtual appointments allows businesses to make up for fewer phone calls or a decline in in-store traffic. Utilizing third-party booking widgets like Schedulista and Calendly, you can turn your client's website into a non-stop lead funnel. Video conferencing software like Zoom allows businesses to offer virtual appointments to their customers.
4. Stay visible
You know the saying: "out of sight, out of mind." If you’re not visible, you’ll quickly lose market share to the competition. A website helps businesses stay connected to customers and keeps leads coming in, especially when in-store traffic is down or stores are temporarily closed.
Remember: consumers are still searching online for local businesses and there is no better time than now for them to develop the client relationship, which can be done without being face-to-face. A website is a great way to establish this relationship with clients as well as helps build brand awareness.
5. Build trust and instill confidence
With the ever changing guidelines sanctioned by the CDC during the pandemic, it’s important for businesses to let customers know that they are staying apprised of the latest COVID-19 updates and enforcing the most recent health protocols. A website is the perfect place to let people know the steps a business is taking to create the safest environment possible and minimize risk. A COVID-19 information page or disclosure of some sort sends the message that the health and safety of its customers’ and employees’ are top priority.
Communicating this type of information builds trust and consumer confidence. Customers will be grateful for the business’s consideration and candor. Being open about it will also express a sense of solidarity and remind customers of the humanity behind a business.
6. Offer coupons and specials
A website is a great way for businesses to promote coupons and specials. And since some consumers are surviving on reduced incomes or have been financially impacted by the pandemic, offering discounts during this time is wise, and a very empathetic thing to do that can build up their reputation within the community. In some markets, traditional media sources like newspapers and coupon circulars have stopped printing altogether due to COVID-19 and a website is the only way for businesses to share their coupons and deals.
7. Post Job Opportunities
While some businesses are temporarily closed, other essential businesses like supermarkets and delivery businesses are flourishing and are unable to keep up with demand. These businesses need to hire new employees – and fast. A website is a prime spot to post job openings and accept applications en masse, online.
Job boards such as Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and Craigslist are helpful in spreading the word but businesses shouldn’t leave it up to these sites alone to post openings. With a website, a business can get creative with their messaging when listing the job opening, dictate the type of supplemental documents they require, and convey why someone would want to work for their company. And again, social media can be used to further promote the job opening by posting the link to the job description on the website, ultimately driving traffic to the business’s website.
Start your own web design business with SiteSwan
Since small businesses everywhere clearly need a website now more than ever, wise entrepreneurs who care about their local communities are seizing the opportunity to start their own web design business now.
When the actual existence of local businesses are practically hinged on whether or not they have a well-established online presence, web designers are coming to the rescue and quite literally saving them. With all this in mind, if you’re considering starting a web design business, not only will you be stepping into a high-demand industry, but you’ll get the satisfaction and gratification of truly helping small local businesses thrive.
Are you interested in helping small businesses in your area? Become a SiteSwan Website Reseller and start your own website design business today.
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