The new normal has forced businesses and consumers to change almost overnight. And even though quarantine restrictions and global lockdown measures are slowly turning around, people are still hesitant to go back to their regular routines pre-pandemic. Because of this, businesses have had to adapt—particularly brick-and-mortar stores have had to migrate their businesses online in such a short amount of time.
Taking your business almost completely online is a challenge for several businesses, from figuring out the right tools to support the transition and convincing customers to still purchase from your brand amid new financial priorities because of the uncertain future.
In this post, we want to show you the exact steps you want to take to migrate your business online, all without breaking the bank.
Steps to Quickly Migrate Your Business Online
Plan Out Your Online Business Model
If you’re going to take your business online, then you need to rethink your business model. For one thing, you have to consider how to deliver your products or service to consumers. Product-based stores will often start an eCommerce store and list their products for sale so customers can check out at any time.
However, for businesses like gyms or studios, it might be a little more complex—but not impossible. Identify how you can offer your product to customers via the internet, say online classes or membership programs in a gym's a club management system, and then offer a more reasonable rate especially if consumers don’t get to enjoy the full benefits of your offer like before, e.g. being able to use your equipment and venue, etc.
This may also be an opportunity to think of new ways to serve customers with new online products. Get creative and go back to the heart of your business. What can you still offer to customers, knowing that we mostly live our lives online?
Create Your Website
To migrate your business online, you need a home on the internet, so a website is key. Your website serves as your 24/7 billboard—customers can learn about your offers, browse your catalogs, and discover things about your business all on their own. This is also the place where customers are able to book services, purchase products, and even create membership accounts with your brand. To follow security measures and have a safer digital footprint, consider mastering cyber security and ensuring your online safety.
Build the minimum viable version of your website that contains basic information like:
- Who you are
- Your ideal customer
- Your products or offers
- How to do business with you (shop now, book an appointment, etc.)
- Optionally, include a blog or valuable free content to show customers you’re an expert in your industry
A beautiful, clean website can do wonders for promoting trust in your business, especially for new customers.
Claim Your Google My Business Page
The opportunity to reach a new audience is more possible than before because of the internet and search. Research shows that 97% of customers learn more about a company via local search, while 28% of local searches result in customers making a purchase.
While a website is a great tool to have for customers to learn more, sometimes the best place for customers to find you instantly is via search engines like Google. This is where Google My Business comes in: it’s the search result about your business that people might find when they’re looking for businesses like yours near them.
Here is an example of a Google My Business listing with the search term “market las vegas”.
Setting up your Google My Business page is simple. When you claim a listing as your own, you’re able to update it with information like operating hours, your exact address, and different ways to get in touch with your business. The more complete your page, the better for your brand. This might also mean leveraging local SEO best practices to make sure your listing is found with simple keyword searches.
From here, customers can learn more about you and existing ones can leave reviews about your business, which helps you make the most of your community to make more sales online.
Build a Remote Team
Migrating your business online doesn’t only mean taking your products online; it may also mean an overhaul of the way you run your team.
Fortunately, many tools can support remote work. Slack is a fantastic tool for keeping in touch with your team and sharing files and updates. Then you can integrate this with various project management software like Asana or Monday.com to organize your projects and keep an eye on the progress of things.
Remote work also lets you get access to remote talent that may otherwise be too far away to work within an office but lets you collaborate on creating better online experiences for your customers.
Launch a Brand Marketing Strategy
A brand marketing strategy is playing the long game of marketing, but it can provide solid returns over time. Create free content to share on your website or social media pages to get customers to trust you and learn from you.
You want people to see your brand as an authority in your niche, so be generous when creating free content that nurtures your audience and then leads them to purchase from you.
Consider reaching out to local PR firms or publications in your area to get some awareness going, and you can even work with influencers that fit your brand’s niche to help create content that is valuable to both your audience and theirs.
Spread the Word to Your Existing Customers
Your existing customers can help you get the word out about your business online. Get in touch either via their contact numbers or emails or send out an announcement post if they’re already following you on social media.
Take care of the community you already have, and it can help you grow your brand even in an entirely new digital space.
Have the Right Tools in Place
Finally, be sure to invest in the right tools that will help you run your business smoothly even if you and your employees are working remotely.
For instance, social media management apps like Hootsuite can help you stay on top of your online content planning and publishing. Using cloud storage tools like Google Drive, you can share business files with your employees and keep your cloud data secured.
Investing in online tools can also help you manage other aspects of your business. Accounting tools like Wave, for example, help you keep track of all your business transactions. So not only do you get an insight into your overall business’ financial standing but also makes it easier for you to file your taxes without having to hire an accountant.
Similarly investing in some good collaboration and management tools will help you in building an agile workflow by automating your work processes and increasing overall efficiency.
When choosing the tools to get for your business, first identify what processes you want to optimize or make better, then go from there. Some tools will be more useful to your brand than others, so keep that in mind when you’re shopping around and picking the best suite of tools for your business.
It’s challenging to migrate a business online—but fortunately, it doesn’t have to break the bank. With the tips above, you can focus only on the most important steps to help you take your business from a physical business to a robust, reliable online platform that customers can flock to for years to come.
Kevin Payne is a content marketing consultant that helps software companies build marketing funnels and implement content marketing campaigns to increase their inbound leads.