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Do Or Die: Post-COVID Digital Transformation
COVID-19 brought us a world of questions: What is a novel coronavirus? How does the virus spread? How long will the pandemic last? What can I do to keep my family safe? The outbreak changed life as we knew it—and most of us are still waiting for answers.
Small to medium-sized business owners also faced no shortage of questions: How can my company adapt to the new normal? When will the economy reopen? When will I receive my PPP loan? How will my business survive the outbreak? Most of us already know the answers—and many are the ones we least expected.
Perhaps the biggest question confronting today’s small to medium-sized business owner is: Are you willing to invest in one last-ditch effort—an all-in bet—to save your business and source of your livelihood? In our changed world—with diminished foot traffic to the brick and mortar business and virtual conferencing replacing face-to-face meetings in the office—that one last Hail Mary can only happen in one place: on the web.
Not Just E-Commerce. E-Commitment.
There has never been a more important time for small to medium-sized businesses to carve out a space in the digital sphere. Those with a poor digital presence are struggling to stay afloat. And those with no digital presence at all are already dead in the water. There are no two ways about it: a digital presence is the life preserver of the post-COVID business world.
In the past, a digital presence was a competitive advantage. In our new normal, the ability to sell products and market services on the web is the very fabric that holds a small to medium-sized business together. Shopping and face-to-face business encounters as we knew them are gone—and there simply is no reaching your target audience without digital transformation.
The luxury to keep digital transformation on the back burner—inside your pocket as something to consider down the road when the time is right—is also gone. The “right time” you are waiting for is right now. If the post-COVID business climate taught us anything, it’s that going digital is more than just urgent—it’s do or die.
The Brick And Mortar Metaphor.
There is more to digital transformation than launching an e-commerce platform. It’s about building your brand, creating your messaging, designing your website, and getting all your digital ducks in a row before you even begin to market your products and services.
Think about building a digital presence like building a brick and mortar business. You rent a space that houses your product inventory in a storefront designed by an architect and built by a contractor so that your salespeople can spread the word to the masses. And that’s all before you even cut the ribbon and open the door.
Everyone plays a role and the right strategies tackled by the right teams give the business the best chance to succeed. It’s the perfect metaphor for what a small to medium-sized business needs to succeed in the post-COVID business landscape.
Selling On Emotion.
For a service-based business, the inability to meet face-to-face brings its own set of challenges. Think of a real estate agent that depends on open houses to connect buyers and sellers. Most homebuyers agree that falling in love with a house begins with walking in the front door. Real estate sells on emotion—and a picture on the internet rarely does a dream home justice.
However, what if a prospective buyer could walk through a virtual tour of a home, guided by a real estate agent who can describe features and answer questions in real time? This middle ground between the digital and physical worlds shows promise for real estate agents and clients hoping to continue business as usual in our post-COVID world.
Digital transformation can connect roofing contractors and homeowners in a similar way. Home remodeling is a big investment and most of us want to meet a contractor face-to-face before trusting them to start ripping down shingles and siding. The virtual home consultation gives contractors the opportunity to make an impression that solidifies the type of trust a homeowner needs to take on a large home improvement project.
Regardless of industry, the struggling (or worse, drowning) SMB needs not just a new website or e-commerce platform but a transformation agent—a company to build (or rebuild) their entire business experience in a budget-friendly and digital-friendly way primed for the way that people conduct business today.
Meeting Consumers At The (Digital) Door.
A savvy brick and mortar business owner knows to focus on three things: location, location, location. An equally shrewd e-commerce marketing company focuses on the digital equivalent: website, website, website.
The website is the vehicle that drives the messaging to your target audience—and a business without a strong digital presence can expect to fade into the background in our post-COVID world. The web is where today’s consumer wants and expects to do business. The best thing a small to medium-sized business can do is meet them at the door with a powerhouse website built for success.
How To Build Your Digital Storefront.
Performance and speed matter—and load time can make or break a website. Slow-loading websites are a recipe for high bounce rates, which send negative feedback to search engines about non-relevant content—and that means lower rankings.
Here are four more data-backed reasons why speed matters in 2020:
- 1 in 4 visitors would abandon a website that takes more than 4 seconds to load.
- 46% of users don’t revisit poorly performing websites.
- 64% of shoppers who are dissatisfied with their site visit will shop somewhere else next time.
- A one-second delay reduces customer satisfaction by 16%.
A Word About Website Hosting.
Website hosting is the backbone of performance and speed—and it pays to make the right choice. A thriving business website demands a solid infrastructure built to handle high traffic without slowing down. (Something you could never build on a Wix or Weebly website.)
Growth From Organization.
A fast-loading, high-performing website creates a positive first impression—but that will only take you so far. Real growth and progress find the businesses that maintain positivity across the entire web experience, starting with simple, strategic website organization from navigation and schema to taxonomy and more.
Like performance and speed, website organization falls under the umbrella of bounce rates and other negative ranking signals. A user that struggles to find information in a couple of clicks or less is usually another click away from the “back” button on the browser to find the next company listed on the search engine results page. Poor organization isn’t just doing you a disservice—it’s doing your competitors a favor.
Content Is King.
When keeping a user on the page is the goal—which is always the goal—website content is another make or break component. Good website content caters to both the user (the human) and the search engine. From the home and about pages straight through to the product and category pages, quality content can mean the difference between a user that engages and one that abandons their shopping cart.
Progress Or Perish.
Standing still is a prescription for failure—and the secret to getting ahead is getting started. In the game of keeping up or getting left behind, knowing what your competitors are doing with a multi-channel audit gives you the framework to map out a plan for growth.