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Although the U.S. civilian labor force was comprised of approximately 162.07 million people in 2018, nearly 50 million Americans have now filed for unemployment as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. And while many self-employed individuals, entrepreneurs, and owners of essential businesses have been able to continue operations in at least some capacity, there’s little doubt that your enterprise has likely taken a bit of a hit during these uncertain times.
That said, not everyone is floundering. Like it or not, some industries are thriving as a result of COVID-19. But even if your business has struggled, there are ways to turn things around — even as we brace ourselves for a potential second (or worsening first) wave.
It might surprise you to learn that this is actually a great time to focus on your branding and your marketing. After all, consistent branding maintained across all channels can increase revenue by 23% — and during times of economic downturn, that’s more important than ever. Even though many businesses will choose to cut back in these areas when things get financially tough, others can come out on top if they stay the course. That might involve tweaking your marketing strategy a bit, but it could also require you to pay closer attention to your website.
Making adjustments to your business website — from small additions to a complete overhaul — can actually be a good idea during times like these. If operations have slowed down, you could have your design process fly a bit under the radar and you’ll be able to work behind the scenes to ensure these changes have positive effects on your search rankings. Moreover, making pandemic-related adjustments can help to build trust and allow you to relay both empathy and important information to your customers. But which changes should you concentrate on making right now? Here are a few website design ideas to keep in mind.
Make Offerings Clear
With some businesses reopening and others remaining closed or continuing with limited operations, consumers will rightfully have questions about where your organization stands. If you’ve been able to continue with operations remotely throughout the entire pandemic, it’s well worth noting that on your website’s homepage and in other key areas. Likewise, if your organization is offering something new — like facemasks and hand sanitizer or shifted operational hours — you should make that obvious when someone comes to your site. Make it a habit to update your website regularly with offerings as they evolve. One week, you might be handling online ordering and curbside pickup only, but you might be able to accommodate customers in-person with restrictions the next. No matter what, you shouldn’t leave customers guessing about what they can expect. Otherwise, you might have some customer service issues on your hands.
Streamline E-Commerce Features
If you weren’t already set up to receive online orders for physical products, future services, gift cards, and more, you’ll want to address this as soon as humanly possible. And even if your website was already equipped to take orders, you may be finding that your current system hasn’t served your needs. If you’ve had issues with inventory tracking or you’ve noticed that customers seem to be abandoning their carts during one specific step of the buying journey, you should take a close look at what’s going on and come up with a solution right away. This will not only ease frustrations for your team and for customers, but it’ll show that you’re dedicated to improvement and may help you limit any reputational damage in the future.
Prioritize Mobile Responsiveness
Did you know that 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if its content or layout is unattractive? If you’ve only viewed your site as a desktop version, you might be missing how your website is driving people away. Since nearly 60% of all web searches happened on mobile devices in 2016, you’ll need to make sure that your site is mobile responsive. In other words, it needs to provide the same high-quality viewing experience on a smartphone as it does on a laptop computer. Not only will this ensure that mobile users will stay on your website for longer (and will be more likely to place an order), but it may also improve your search rankings and subsequently drive more traffic to your site. During the pandemic, we’re spending more time on our phones than ever — so don’t waste the opportunity to appeal to your customers where they already are!
Add Alerts and Useful Content
We already talked about the importance of making your current offerings clear. But it’s also a good idea to prioritize regular updates pertaining to changes you’re making to serve both your customers and your team during COVID-19. That might involve updating your headers on every page or adding alerts at the top of different pages to let customers know how operations might be impacted by COVID-19 (e.g., shipping delays, staffing shortages, out of stock notices, sanitization procedures, social distancing measures, virtual meetings, and more). It’s also a good idea to publish some blog posts related to COVID-19, as long as they’re relevant to your business. Search terms surrounding the pandemic are quite popular, which might provide some opportunities for your website to rank. But more importantly, these are an excellent way to share helpful information with your audience and encourage the spread of reputable solutions. As a result, you’ll be able to position yourself as an industry leader and ease the concerns of consumers, thus improving your brand perception.
If you’re struggling to adjust to this new normal, website updates might be the furthest thing from your mind. However, it’s important to recognize that solo entrepreneurs and small business owners stand to benefit by giving some attention to their sites during the pandemic. With these tips in mind, you can set yourself apart and boost your brand visibility at a time when it matters most.