Given the recent changes in public health and the economy, many “nonessential” businesses have been forced to migrate their day-to-day meetings, customer service, and selling online. Additionally, consumers are spending more and more time online due to the various quarantines put in place across the United States and the world. Small and medium-sized businesses are taking the biggest hit right now; many had not prepared their “digital marketplace” and are limited in the ways they can serve their customers. These strange times have forced a rude awakening on many business owners: it’s more important than ever to have a strong website and virtual services in place.
Those businesses that have a strong website that can play more of a role as their virtual storefront and have means for their workers and customers to interact online experienced a brief, awkward transition over the past few months. But if you haven’t prioritized upgrading your website and digital marketing channels, you may still be in an uncomfortable position. While the current health crisis and economy should stabilize, the world will remain as digital as ever. There will be more customers looking to spend virtually and more competition trying to stay in front.
So, if you’ve been contemplating refreshing or revamping your website, now is the time to do so. Below, we’ll give 5 reasons why you should upgrade your website and digital presence to sustain your business during these unprecedented times.
Reason 1: Right Now, Sales are Everywhere
As demand declines due to market dips and faltering consumer confidence, businesses are offering various sales and discounts to attract new customers. Additionally, online B2B deals are popping up more often as businesses come together to support each other during this time. For your company, these sales could mean you can boost your digital marketing efforts for a much cheaper price, or even free in a few cases. For example, Google Ads is giving SMBs up to $340 million in free ad credits for those who’ve had an active account since the start of 2019. PersistIQ, an automated drip email platform, just announced it is offering its first ever freemium plan.
Since digital marketing efforts are centered around a strong website, it’s important that your online presence features a website that quickly and clearly tells people who you are and what you offer. While some website agency price tags can exceed $20,000+, you don’t really need to break the bank for a solid website. Firms like StyleSite provide custom website services within your budget, and may be offering deals at this time. In our case, StyleSite is offering up to 50% off our services to help SMBs find budget-friendly web solutions, especially during these challenging times. If you’re interested in learning more, get in touch with us.
Reason 2: Now is the Time to Focus on Infrastructure
Companies of all sizes are experiencing lulls in sales. In addition, many states have banned gatherings of over 10 people and/or have at least strongly encouraged limiting unnecessary face-to-face contact. For most businesses, this means that they’ve devoted more effort to building out their infrastructure to support a partial or even fully remote work environment, investing in conference call software like Zoom, WebEx, or Skype.
As an often overlooked but crucial part of a business’ infrastructure, your website should also be well-maintained and running smoothly during these times. For the people that are still looking for your services, nowadays pretty much the only way they can find you is if you have a website that captures (and holds!) their attention. A prime example of this is with restaurants: because dine-in/order-in is no longer a viable option in most places, if your restaurant doesn’t have a website and/or isn’t listed on a delivery app like GrubHub, you’d be relying solely on customers who can find your phone number to call in their orders to keep your business running. However, if you had a solid website you’d be able to at least let more customers to find your contact info online to place orders, and likely earn even more business if your site offered online ordering options. Therefore, having good infrastructure which includes a strong website could be the key to keeping your business running.
Reason 3: There are More People Online than Ever
As mentioned earlier, the shift from commuting to work to staying in and working from home has given people even more time to be online. This has predictably had a positive effect on online retail: according to Quantum Metric, there was a 52% increase in money spent online from the first week to the last week of February this year. While there are debates whether this spending increase will last, given the extension of social distancing guidelines until at least April 30, it’s at least unlikely that time spent online will decrease.
To use a metaphor, if you’re a fisherman and the fish are swimming away from your current (brick-and-mortar) spot, you should strongly consider moving to the new (online) location towards which the fish are going. Like we said in the previous section, having an online presence can help you keep your business running by taking advantage of the greater number of people and time spent online. Combined with a good digital advertising strategy, this can allow your business to gain exposure and appear in front of an even larger audience before; so, even if people don’t buy from you know, once the current situation passes and people return to normal life, they may remember your business and buy from you then. Others may find that they now enjoy online shopping more than traditional shopping after these events: if so, you’ll be well-equipped to serve these customers with your website.
Reason 4: Virtual/E-Commerce Storefronts Make Economic Sense
Unless you own your company’s property, you’re probably paying thousands of dollars (if not more) every month for rent alone. Combine this with other overhead costs like utilities, and very quickly you generate quite the monthly bill just to keep your storefront up. Given this, it’s no surprise that 9,500 retail store locations closed in 2019, a number which could be as high as 15,000 in 2020 given current events.
Unlike physical storefronts, virtual and e-commerce storefronts require minimal overhead cost. There is no need to pay for rent, property taxes, etc. and buying a website domain and a reputable site hosting service could cost as little as $25/month, perhaps even lower with special deals. In addition, there’s less worry about inventory logistics, as an online storefront will never be “out of stock” unless your distribution center(s) are all truly out of inventory (not to mention shoplifting is far less of a concern). Additionally, shoppers are never limited by store hours: someone could visit your website at 1:00 AM and shop just as easily as they would at 1:00 PM, opening your sales to a larger audience. It’s no surprise that businesses are thus looking to go virtual, with some even adopting exclusively online storefronts.
Reason 5: Having No Website Hurts Your Business
At this point it should be obvious: a website is crucial to driving awareness and sales for businesses of all shapes and sizes during these times. However, even beyond current events, a website is a critical component to business success and the lack of one can be detrimental. For example, a whopping 97% of customers go online to find local businesses or services. In other words, if you didn’t have a website, you’d be relying on as low as 3% of the consumers in your area to both find your business and make a purchase. Similarly, up to 80% of people research a small business online before deciding to buy from it, demonstrating that without a website, your business will be relying on a small minority to keep your doors open.
On a positive note, the numbers show having a website opens your company to more business. For example, over 60% of people shop online at least once per month, and 63% of all shopping begins online. Having a website not only provides a way to conveniently provide information to interested consumers, but it also gives your businesses access to more customers than you otherwise would have.
For the reasons listed above, more than ever before, now is the time to invest in your company’s infrastructure and more specifically your website. The current public health and economic changes have led to a highly virtual marketplace that has forced businesses across all industries to evolve and adapt or risk the consequences. Restaurants are offering delivery, curbside and pickup; fitness centers are offering video courses and personal training; schools are moving entire curriculums online and teaching through platforms like Zoom.
Due to the sudden pressure put on SMBs, StyleSite is offering services discounted up to 50% off, as well as free consultations. If you’re interested in discussing working together, please don’t hesitate to get in touch through our website.