It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on brick-and-mortar businesses. Some have seen a steep decline of foot traffic, others have had to temporarily close up shop.
But amid all this chaos is some good news: the internet is very much open for business. Everything from florists and salons to restaurants and clinics have learned how to move and market their products and services online.
And while e-commerce may sound intimidating or complicated, there’s never been a better or more profitable time to market your goods digitally—especially considering that this shift to digital will likely remain the new normal, even as economies begin to reopen. Customers are actively supporting local businesses, and there are even reports that e-commerce sales may double amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whether you’ve always had a virtual presence or you’re pivoting from brick-and-mortar for the first time, here are some ways you can market your online business.
1. Revamp Email Communications
If you’ve built up a collection of customer emails over the years—either through your website or your point-of-sale system—now is the perfect time to reach out. Ease customers’ minds with an email about what your store is doing to adhere to social-distancing regulations, and follow up with info about how they can continue to support your business with gift card purchases. Keep in mind that a simple, empathetic subject line can go a long way in times like these.
2. Experiment with New Social Content
Update your followers with posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter—and remember to add your store’s URL to each of your profiles, so that news about your online shop is easy to find. Sharing helpful content on social media will help keep your brand top of mind when shelter-in-place policies are lifted. A hairdresser, for example, can share at-home styling tips with followers.
3. Post a Sign on Your IRL Storefront
A simple sign on your brick-and-mortar storefront will keep passersby in the loop. There may not be a lot of foot traffic out there these days, but you’ll definitely want to spread the word about your online store—and how your operations have changed in light of COVID-19—to those attempting to pop by your shop. (If they braved the city streets, they must really like you.)
4. Invest in Online Advertising
To attract more people to your e-commerce landing page, first you’ve got to tell them it exists. Set up social ads (on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn) or PPC ads (on Google) that target your ideal audience and invite them to come check out your shop.
5. Go All-in on Google
If you haven’t taken advantage of Google’s marketing tools already, today’s the day. You can list your products for free under the Shopping tab, and add your URL and details on Google My Business so they appear in Maps and search results the way you want them to.
6. Put Pop-ups and Sticky Bars to Work
A popup or sticky bar on your landing page or website is a quick and easy way to highlight your e-commerce offerings to customers. Follow Xplora’s lead by sharing a message about both COVID-19 safety and shopping options at the very top of your homepage.
7. Create a Timely, Can’t-miss Deal
Give your customers an exciting reason to try out your e-commerce offerings, like Flower Factory did with its discounted “Launch Bouquet” to celebrate the business’s new online ordering. Occasions like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are also great for offering special pricing, bundles, or subscriptions—and the right landing page can help customers convert.
8. Offer Contactless Pick-up or Delivery
With social distancing rules in place, contactless delivery and curbside pick-up have gained popularity. You can easily set up an order form on a landing page and charge customers right at the door—take inspiration from craft brewery Yellow Dog.
9. Partner with Others in Your Space
Delivery services like UberEats or SkipTheDishes can help you easily get food to customers—just look at how Meet on Main is promoting its takeout and delivery options via a landing page that clicks through to DoorDash. For service providers, secure digital video software can similarly help you connect with clients from afar (physical therapist Myodetox is using Jane App for its virtual sessions, for example).
10. Take advantage of Free or Discounted Software Offers
Several software companies have created special offers for businesses that have been negatively impacted by Covid-19. Mailchimp is offering a free standard account to eligible groups sending critical public health information about COVID-19 through June 30, 2020, Unbounce is also offering a free 90-day account to organizations in government, healthcare, non-profit and education until August 31, as well as countless other software companies offering their platforms free of charge to those who need it most right now.
These are uncertain times for small business, but e-commerce offers a real opportunity to weather this storm, and maybe even thrive. See you online.
Want more advice for stepping up your e-commerce game? Head over to the Unbounce resource centre for small businesses.
Luke Bailey writes words and stuff for Unbounce. While he likes to use a little alliteration in his work, he’s also aware that readers aren’t always in awe of his atrocious adjective additives. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeBailey.