Marketing Tasks for your business during Coronavirus (COVID-19) Downtime
With so many of us facing a downturn in our commercial efforts, now could be the right time to focus on our marketing and internal processes to make sure we are ready for when things return to some semblance of normal.
We’ve put together this quick guide on some of the things you can look at from a marketing perspective, a checklist of ‘getting your house in order’ when it comes to winning new business and increasing spend of existing clients.
General Website Tasks
As your website is your 24-hour round-the-world shop window, you want to be putting your best foot forward at all times.
Is the information about your products/services up to date?
It’s vitally important that you have all the latest information available to your visitors. Not only does this make your product/service available to the widest audience, if your offering has changed over time it also looks good for Google that your site is kept up to date.
Are your communication channels up to date and working?
Take a moment to check that all the links are working for your site – are the social media links working? Do the contact forms work?
Also, have you changed any contact details recently, perhaps a change of address and/or telephone number, quite often updating the website is overlooked in this situation.
Can visitors easily find important information they’re looking for?
The quickest and easiest way to turn off your visitors is to make the information they’re looking for difficult to find. If your key products and services are anything more than a click away from the home page, you need to look at making the journey easier.
One piece of advice we always advocate is to ask your friends and relatives. It’s very easy to get wrapped up on industry knowledge and jargon (we’re as guilty as the next person), so to get an ‘external’ perspective on the message you’re putting across is invaluable.
When was the last time you added a blog post?
If you’ve got a blog on your website, when was the last time you posted to it? There are lots of reasons for keeping your website content fresh, from letting Google know your website is alive and being updated, to keeping your clients and community engaged, it’s a tool that’s worth using.
If you need inspiration, look at what’s going on in your industry and what your competitors are doing, and write something better!
Are you up to date with website maintenance?
These days a lot of websites are running on CMSs (Content Management Systems) such as WordPress. Whilst this is great for giving you a platform that you can self-update, it also requires maintenance, just like your car. Have you made sure the site is up to date recently?
If you’re unsure what kind of website you’ve got, now is the time to figure that out so you can be proactive going forward.
When was the last time you did a backup?
This is something that nowhere near enough businesses consider (apologies for the sweeping statement, but its true!). When was the last time your website was backed up? With so many websites now running on Content Management Systems, as great as they are, they’re also prone to issues through clashing updates as well as security.
As with maintenance, now is a great time to make sure you’ve got a recent backup and to work out how you’re going to take regular updates from here on in. If you’re unsure, the first place to ask is your hosting provider, many come with a free backup service, some you can pay extra for a backup service, and some don’t offer anything.
Who looks after your hosting and domain?
With the maturity of the internet, a large proportion of our clients are coming to us for website rebuilds, as opposed to starting from scratch. Quite often when we ask for the hosting and domain details, it becomes a struggle between us, the client, and their previous designer, as the previous designer has all the access to the relevant accounts.
This is something you should have in your own control, and know the details of, regardless of how happy you are with your current design provider.
You need to be in a position where you can act fast if the worst happens, if you fall out with your designer, if your designer goes out of business, or you simply want to go with someone new.
Take this opportunity to get those details to hand, and make sure your online presence is designer agnostic.
If you do find yourself with a bit of spare time on your hands, now would be a great time to check in on how your website is performing. This is especially the case if your site is a key part of acquiring customers.
Review your website goals
If you’ve done most of the general website tasks above, you should have a good overall feel for where your website is currently at. You can then use this intuition to see if your website is performing to your expectations.
If you think it’s not, or you don’t have any goals set for your site, now is the time to review, realign and put together a plan to achieve those goals.
Of course, along with a simple ‘feel’ for how your website is doing, it’s also important to back it up with measurables, be it number of visitors, number of conversions, or other metrics (or a combination). We’re now going to look at some of those common metrics, how to measure them, and ideas for improving upon them.
A hugely important metric for most – how many people are coming to your website? However, we feel it important to add that this metric isn’t taken as the be all and end all and should be used in conjunction with others to give you a better picture.
For example, let’s say you have a brochure website (one that describes what your business does, but doesn’t sell directly on the site) and its primary purpose is to get potential clients to get in touch.
In this situation, whilst number of visitors is useful for measuring trends (ie are you growing your visitors over time), it doesn’t tell you the whole picture – if 10 people visit your site and 5 get in touch, the website is performing far better than if you had a million visitors but only 2 get touch.
So how do you measure visitors?
The most common tool for this is Google Analytics. It’s a very powerful platform for measuring numbers of visitors, their source, their journey around your site, and so much more. There are other platforms available, but if you’re unsure or don’t have anything set up currently, we’d recommend sticking with this.
How do you increase visitors?
This is a massive topic that we could literally write blog post upon blog post about. Therefore, we’ll give you a quick list of initial ideas that you can look into further (or ask us about!):
- Improve ‘organic search traffic’ through improving your SEO
- Increase your social media presence (or start if you don’t have one!)
- Improve upon existing content to make it even more attractive to your audience
- Write some relevant content that will bring people to your site
- Reengage with existing/past clients
- Have a look at what your competitors are doing
- Research your industry’s publications – magazines, websites, etc for website ideas
- Ask anyone you know (family, friends, business acquaintances, etc) what would get them interested in your subject
- Make sure your site/business is registered with both generic and industry specific directories
We feel strongly that conversions (and increasing them) should almost definitely be on your goal list.
There are two ways to look at conversions – on their own purely the number of people that that perform the action you want them to on your site. You could track this as a number you want to increase – more sales, more people getting in touch etc.
However, this becomes more powerful when used in conjunction with visitors to produce a conversion rate:
Number of Conversions / Number of Visitors * 100 = Conversion Rate
If you already have the numbers for this, and work out the conversion rate, that’s a great start and gives you something to work on.
Why is this helpful? Well, it gives you a baseline for informing your future decisions. If you go on to double your traffic, but your conversion rate halves, then it’s likely a large proportion of your new traffic is not in your target audience.
How do you increase conversion rate?
Similar to increasing traffic, this is something we could talk about for days, but again, here’s a list of ideas to follow up on:
- Make sure your contact details are easily visible
- Make sure your website is easy to navigate to get to the important info
- If you have a contact form on your site, make sure it’s never more than a click away for the user (and check it’s working!)
- Reread your content and make sure it is speaking to your target audience.
- Are you selling the benefits of your products and services, or just spitting out spec lists?
- Work on your CTAs (Call to Actions) – make sure there are always plenty of ways for your visitors to click/contact/call
- Look at your images and make sure they’re not detracting from the quality of your proposition
- Take a look at what your competition is doing to see what you can do better
- Look at your industry publications and see what they (and others advertising in them) are doing to sell to you, there may be some ideas you can expand upon
Is your website using an SSL certificate (https)?
An SSL certificate is what gives you the https in your web address, and encrypts the data going between the website and users’ browsers. Whilst it’s optional in the fact that you don’t need one for your website to work, from a trust/ranking/user experience perspective, it’s essential.
Adding in the fact that most modern browsers are starting to flag websites without SSL certificates as ‘not secure’, we strongly advise that every website has one.
How do I get and install an SSL certificate?
If someone else manages your website for you, the first port of call would be to ask them. There are now free SSL certificates available via Let’s Encrypt, so if you haven’t got anyone managing your site, speak to your host about Let’s Encrypt.
There are paid certificates available too, starting at around £30 a year going right up to hundreds of pounds per annum. They all offer different levels of protection, but if yours is a relatively simple site (no transactions/ecommerce, etc) the free/cheapest options will be fine.
Once acquired these can then be installed by yourself, the company/person that manages your site or your hosting company (which ever suits you best).
After the SSL certificate is installed, you’ll need to configure the website to use it. This can get relatively technical, so depending on your knowledge level / bravery it might be worth reaching out to a professional.
Once all up and running you then need to tell Google that you’ve added this by adding the https version of your site in Search Console.
Lastly, it’s time to go and update your address everywhere, social media profiles, anyone linking to your site etc. It might be a good excuse to reach out to clients you’ve not spoken to in a while too!
Is your website mobile friendly?
More than 50% of Google searches are performed on a mobile device. Due to this, Google has moved to a mobile-first indexing model, which means it scans your site as it if were using a mobile to determine everything about it. What does this mean for you? Your website has to be mobile friendly – built in such a way that it is easily usable on mobile devices.
How can I tell if my site is mobile friendly?
You can use your smartphone to look at your website and see how it looks and works, but that only gives you an indication of it’s mobile friendliness. The better way to know that it works well across a number of devices is to get Google’s opinion on it. Thankfully, they have a tool for doing this:
Pop your web address into the tool, and after a quick test it’ll give you a thumbs up or a thumbs down, with suggestions for improvements.
How do I make my website mobile friendly?
Sadly, this isn’t a particularly easy one to fix (most of the time).
If you’re on a content management system (such as WordPress), you could perhaps look to change the theme, but that might mean a lot of rejigging of your content, with varying results.
Alternatively, if yours is a static website, it will probably need a complete rebuild. If this is the case, take it as an opportunity to improve on as many areas as you can, content quality, ease of site navigation, getting an SSL certificate, etc. If you use a web design company to do this, you’ll have someone to lean on in terms of technical knowledge and advice for areas of improvement.
How fast your website loads is important to both your visitors and search engines. Google uses the speed of your site as a ranking factor, so it’s best practise to speed things up as best you can.
How can I test my website speed?
Google has a tool for doing this, found here:
As with the mobile testing tool, it’ll take a short while to assess your site, and give you a score for your mobile and desktop performance. As a minimum you should be aiming for greens in both.
How can I improve my website speed?
A lot of the elements in this can be quite technical, so you may need to consult a professional. However, if you manage your own website through WordPress or another CMS, here are a few things you could try:
- Make sure the sizes of the images on your site are kept to a minimum (there are plugins available to compress the images on your site, but use with caution and make sure you have a backup)
- Have a look and see if there are images you can remove without compromising the aesthetic of the site (e.g. whilst carousels of images can look good, it takes a lot of resources to load all those images, as well as scripts to make the carousel work so consider doing without it)
- Look in to caching plugins (be warned, these can cause unexpected side effects, so only delve into this is you’re comfortable on how to revert quickly should something go wrong, and you have a backup!)
- If your CMS supports themes, do a bit of research into themes that might be a little more lightweight, trade off some of the bells and whistles for the benefit of speed
Whether it’s on printed material, at the top of your website, or positioned professionally on your business card, your logo creates every first impression of your business.
Is your logo up to date?
Does your logo still reflect the quality of your work and your overall proposition? Did you ‘put something together’ to get the business started, and now it’s time to upgrade?
There’s nothing wrong with sticking with what you’ve got, especially if changing it would come at huge cost (if you’ve got it on products, stationery, etc), but sometimes a minor tweak can be enough to give you new impetus to ramp up your marketing activity.
Is your branding consistent?
There are occasions, especially when business owners have created their own logo, that there are several different versions of the logo kicking around. If you find yourself with some downtime, now is the time to look at your branding holistically and make sure all your materials, both internal and external, are consistent.
Consistency breeds trust and a feeling of professionalism, if you’ve everything in order from your side of things, it will be perceived that you are more likely to deliver on your promises to your customer.
Your Business Card
Your business card is one of the best ways to create a lasting impression, how’s yours looking?
Are the contact details up to date?
Sounds like an obvious one, but some have been caught out – is the address and are the telephone numbers, website, etc up to date?
What about the design?
Does your business card inspire people to get in touch and buy from you? If not, it might be time for an update. Maybe you got a load printed when you first started out, and it’s time to update the quality of card it’s printed on to reflect your better position in the market.
Your printed materials
Flyers, brochures and leaflets are still a great way to market your business. When was the last time you checked in on them?
Are your printed materials up to date?
As with the website and logo advice above, are your brochures and leaflets still portraying the quality and extent of your offering? Are the contact details up to date? Is the branding consistent?
Now might be a great time for a refresh, a great excuse to target new customers and reengage existing clients.
Are you reaching the right audience?
Print marketing is only as good as the people you put it in front of. It’s worth looking at how you distribute your materials to make sure you’re getting your business in front of the right people. Has your business evolved over time? Do you need to target a different demographic?
In times of uncertainty, communication is key.
Speak to existing clients to let them know how you’re currently working through this, updated processes, reduced provisions and contact times, etc.
Reach out to clients you haven’t heard from in a while and let them know what you can currently offer (or not, as may be the case).
The more you communicate, the more you can remove the uncertainties of the situation. It can also help you to plan recovery steps for when we get through the other side of this.
One point we will make though, is that is important that your communication is sincere and coming from a position of support. There is a very fine line between keeping the lines of communication open and coming across as an opportunist ba***rd.
This is a terrible world event that will go down in the history books. Our thoughts are with everyone that has been directly and indirectly affected by this horrible virus.
If you’re still in a position to be able to put some time in your business, we hope this will help provide some advice and clarity. If you need any help on anything we’ve mentioned, please reach out – firstname.lastname@example.org – we’re offering our expertise and advice absolutely free.
Stay safe, look after yourselves and each other.
Designers Up North x