Your Guide to Transitioning Your Business Online Featured.jpg

Your Guide to Transitioning Your Business Online

The coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult if not impossible for many small businesses to operate in person. For many businesses, the answer to staying afloat has meant moving their operations online.

This, of course, looks different for businesses in different industries, and each industry has its own unique challenges that go along with it.

For example, a restaurant that starts offering online orders must also create a carry-out and/or delivery system, and a retail store that starts selling its products online must also determine the logistics of delivery or curbside pickup.

Suffice it to say, moving a business online can be complicated. However, coronavirus is just one of the many reasons to do so, so if you haven’t made the leap already, it’s still worth doing, even as some states are starting to loosen restrictions on activity.

Why transitioning your business online is the right move

Obviously, with stay-at-home orders still in place in much of the United States, it makes sense to move some of your business online. But, what happens when all this is said and done, and people start going about their normal lives again? Here are a few reasons why making the transition is still a good idea, even if restrictions might be lifted or reduced soon:

  • Your website never sleeps - Think of your website as an extension of your customer service team. It guides your visitors by giving them the helpful information they need. And unlike any human customer service representative, your website works all day every day without taking breaks.
  • Save on operational costs - Your website provides information, as a customer service representative would do, and it helps to make sales, as a salesperson would do. It’s an extension of your team and, therefore, helps to take some of the burden off of your team and reduce your operational costs.
  • Widen your customer base - When a small business starts operating online, it gives them access to a much wider audience and makes them more visible to more potential customers.

The truth is that there are a plethora of reasons to transition your business online. It also doesn’t have to be an either/or type of situation. Online operations don’t have to replace your in-person business; they can complement them beautifully.

How to transition your business online

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Step #1. Start with a great website

A business’s online presence consists of far more than just a website, but the website is key. A business’s website is its main hub online, and that means that it needs to meet the needs and expectations of the modern consumer. If you don’t have a website, or if you do have a website but it’s outdated, it’s time to consider building a new one.

A few things any great website needs:

  • A mobile-friendly design - Most people who visit your website nowadays are doing so from their mobile devices. It’s imperative that your website is designed to provide them with the same kind of experience they get on a desktop computer.
  • Speed - Your visitors will decide within a few seconds of landing on your site if they want to stick around or not. Don’t waste those precious seconds loading your site, or they’re going to press the back button. In addition to affecting your bounce rate, slow load times can also negatively impact your website’s visibility in the organic search results.
  • A user-friendly navigation - When someone visits your website, it should be easy for them to find what they need right away. If your visitors can’t find what they need, they aren’t going to stick around for long.
  • A central call to action - What’s the point of your website? Is it to sell something, or maybe to entice visitors to call for a free consultation? Whatever the point of your website is, make it your call to action, and make that call to action clear.

Step #2. Make your checkout process quick and easy

Once your website is built, you need to start selling online! This can mean many different things depending on your industry and goals. For your business, a conversion might mean a visitor signing up for an online class, purchasing a product, ordering dinner online or even selling gift cards for future business.

But, whether you’re a restaurant offering online orders or an e-commerce store making online sales, the last thing that you want is a clunky checkout process. If the process takes longer than it has to or is more complicated than it has to be, it can lead your customers to abandon their cart.

The most effective online e-commerce experience involves a quick and easy checkout process.

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Step #3. Make your business visible

There’s very little point to having an online presence if no one will see it. Making your business visible is one of the most important aspects of transitioning your business online, and there are a few great ways you can go about doing so.

How to make your business more visible online:

  • SEO - With search engine optimization, you can help your business rank higher in the SERP (search engine results pages). Although SEO is a long-term strategy that takes time, it’s well worth your efforts in the long run.
  • Search ads - It can take time for your business to show up in organic rankings, but until then, you can make your business visible through search advertising.
  • Local listings - If your business is local, you can gain more visibility easily by ensuring that your business is listed on all of the most popular local business directories and review sites, like Top Rated Local®.

Step #4. Get active on social media

Humans are social creatures, and since we can’t gather with one another in person, we’ve started to gather with one another more and more online through social media platforms. Not only does all of this increased social media activity help us to stay connected to one another during this challenging time; it gives small businesses a powerful new way to get in front of new people and establish deeper connections with the customers they already have.

Social media is one of the best digital marketing channels for building relationships with your customer base, because it allows small businesses to let their hair down a little. Social media gives you a chance to show your customers a different side of your business and company culture. In essence, it humanizes businesses, which allows consumers to relate to them more easily.

In addition to getting your name out there to a wider audience and helping you build stronger connections with your customers, social media also helps you gain powerful insights from your customers, which can be used to fine-tune your services or products and better serve your customers.

Making the transition is worth the work

There are so many great reasons to transition your business to online, but there’s no denying that there will be work involved and that you might benefit from having some experience on your side.

If you’d like help making the transition online or you’re looking for expertise in developing your digital marketing strategy, learn more about how Marketing 360® can help. And, if you’re ready to begin the transition by building a great website for your business, start by picking the right Websites 360® design template.

Originally published 4/23/20