Localogy Insider invites experts in fields relevant to our community to share practical advice on how to do the business of local better. In this ExpertTake, Mono Solution‘s Jasmine de Guzman offers tips for helping SMBs use their online presence to navigate the current COVID-19 crisis.
COVID-19 is, without a doubt, a financial black swan. And as lockdowns persevere the financial burden is already beginning to weigh on small and local businesses.
As a digital services provider, it’s important to think creatively and help your SMB clients make the most of their existing digital presence (something that’s been much discussed in our industry), and in this blog post, we’ll take a deep dive focusing on how to support SMB websites during this time.
What website updates need to be made? How can their website function as their new digital storefront? We’ve compiled eight important ways to help your SMB clients keep their customers updated, continue to drive sales and boost cash flow, and stay afloat during this unpredictable crisis.
No. 1 Help SMBs Update Their Opening Hours
First things first. Help your small businesses update their opening hours. As we all need to limit our movement and contact with others, it’s important that when we do venture out, we do so minimally and quickly. For small businesses that sell necessities and can stay open, it’s important to have updated opening hours to ensure that consumers don’t go out unnecessarily. Make sure that opening hours are marked up with structured data, so that it is easily identified by search engines. Even better, make sure your updates are synchronized with Google My Business or a listings management provider, like Yext or Uberall. Need advice on whether to set opening hours to temporarily closed or special hours? Google is saying it doesn’t matter.
No. 2 Add COVID-19 Specific Content
Communication, and perhaps even over-communication, is key right now. If your small business client is still offering services (and even if they’re not) encourage them to publish some kind of COVID-19 specific content. This can be an open letter to their customers in the form of a blog post, or a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section, or even a dedicate page. Setting clear expectations for the new rules of engagement during this period of social distancing is important for customers to feel safe and secure.
Here’s an example from a bakery that helps assure customers of how the SMB is handling COVID-19.
No. 3 Help Them Keep Website Visitors Informed
Again, this relates back to point No. 2. Don’t just put out content. Also, make sure that website visitors are aware of the content. Create personalized pop-ups or eye-catching new banners to help direct their attention to this important information immediately upon landing on the SMBs’ website.
Here’s an example from a restaurant. The pop-up ensures that visitors immediately know that they’re open for takeout.
No. 4 Showcase Expertise
Encourage your small business customers to showcase their expertise and create new content for their website. Share tips and tricks via blog posts, video tutorials and more. Adding new and refreshed content not only helps boost SEO, but it also drives new business either online (if their business allows) or drive bookings and/or purchases in a post-COVID-19 world.
No. 5 Pay now, Service Later
Another great way to help your SMB clients boost cash flow is by putting together a special “pay now, get your service later” offer. This creates a de facto zero-interest loan for the SMB to remain in business. Setting up the sale of gift certificates is also a great way for your SMB clients to offer a pay now, service later type of deal. Here are examples from a bakery and carpenter.
In this example, a form is added to their website to request pre-orders
In this example, discounted pricing is promoted for the upfront payment for purchasing of home services
No. 6 Take Their Business Online
Social distancing means getting creative and using digital tools to our full advantage. Encourage small business clients to offer online consultation sessions, and set up an online scheduling tool to help them accept bookings. In the example below, website visitors can book an online consultation with a skin provider – and as a follow-up, the SMB sends recommended testers and/or products to the customer’s home.
No. 7 Get Started With Online Sales
This is probably the most obvious option. For many businesses that are selling physical goods, your assistance in setting up an eCommerce solution is key. But remember, it’s not only about setting up an online shop. It’s important to do it in a way that lets them run their business safely during COVID-19. For example, remembering to set up intervals for pick up options to reduce the number of people at their physical location. Or helping them embed an option for local delivery services, such as DoorDash, if they’re unable to offer delivery themselves.
No. 8 Be Their Biggest Supporter
As their digital service provider, be their biggest support. Center your own marketing and promotions around your small business clients. Start a campaign highlighting a local business each day. Or share tips on how to support local during COVID-19. Every bit of exposure helps and as actors, whether it be technology or B2SMB sellers in the local SMB space, we need to make sure everyone knows that it’s important to #supportlocal.
To Wrap It Up
Helping SMBs through this crisis will require serious effort – and most importantly, an effort on their website and digital presence. If you’re curious to learn more, you can also check out the webinar my colleague and I put together on How to support SMBs & their digital presence during COVID-19.