The Covid-19 pandemic has forced a lot of organizations and customers to change the way they do business. As several countries went into lockdown mode earlier this year, eCommerce witnessed a sudden surge in popularity.
According to a report published by Adobe, online spending in May 2020 was up 77% over last year’s figures - an acceleration that would have taken four to six years to achieve under normal circumstances.
A greater online footprint can help your business take advantage of the changing dynamics. While having your own website is paramount, there are a number of other things you can do to make your business more online-customer friendly.
Get a Google Knowledge Graph For Your Business
By now, most business owners are aware of common SEO techniques, including Google My Business (GMB) to capture visitors online.
However, very few small businesses invest in a Knowledge Graph. Unlike GMB that is mostly used to list your business in the local one box, Knowledge Graph is used to display a rich panel of text related to a company on the sidebar of Google Search.
This is what a knowledge panel looks like
A knowledge panel is an infobox where data is gathered from a wide variety of sources. But these are the main sources of information:
- The Google My Business listing
- A healthy reputation and customer reviews on GMB
- Business listing on all popular local business directories like Yelp, Bing Places, Yellow Pages, etc.
But here is the thing - Google only shows knowledge panels for businesses that it deems are popular brands. For your business to be deemed a brand, you must consider investing in the following strategies:
- Launch online press releases
- Claim social media profiles on all the major platforms
- Invest heavily in microdata (schema markups) on your website
- Get a Wikipedia entry for your business, if possible.
It is not easy to get a knowledge panel displayed for your business. But the steps required to get it done are however quite simple. This is something every business should strive to create.
Launch on Facebook Marketplace
If you have not heard or used the Facebook Marketplace yet, you are potentially missing out on a very profitable channel to sell your products.
As the name suggests, Facebook Marketplace is a platform where users can buy and sell used or new products to one another. It’s like GumTree or Craigslist, but on Facebook.
This is significant because Facebook is already an extremely popular social networking platform.
Consequently, launching your products on Facebook Marketplace allows you to reach a targeted audience in your town or city - and brings you new business without too much effort.
While on the topic of using an existing platform to find new customers, you may also consider selling your products on Amazon.
A recent study found that nearly 46% of new product searches happen directly on Amazon. That is, these are buyers who search for products directly on Amazon without using Google or another search engine to research.
By selling on Amazon, and also possibly advertising here, you may reach a large chunk of new customers that you may have not been able to reach otherwise.
What’s more - you can decide your buyer’s geography. Want to expand out of your town to the entire country, or the world? Amazon makes it stupidly simple.
Share your experience - on other platforms
You have heard it a million times before - content is king, and why your website must have its own blog.
Here is the thing - close to 3 million blog posts get published on the WordPress platform alone, every single day. There is really no way yet another blog post of yours is going to be read by anyone.
This is what you must do, instead - publish on other blog platforms that have a higher readership.
Entrepreneur, Forbes, GoDaddy, Inc, Business.com - these are all websites with millions of readers, and they all let regular business owners like you and me write for their platform.
Getting published here is not really easy. But there is a trick to get a byline here really fast - share your own experiences.
Business publications like the ones mentioned above, as well as all the large publications in your respective industries, love entrepreneurs sharing their raw life experiences with their audiences.
If writing is not your thing, you can use Google Docs more efficiently by making use of their Voice Assistant feature that can get the job done for you.
This content marketing exercise gives you great visibility and channels readers to your website from where you get a steady stream of inbound leads.
Change your work process flow
Running an online business is completely different from running a brick and mortar store - Even if you are selling the exact same product.
Your daily routine in an online business is different- you do not have to physically unlock your store in the mornings - your website is up 24x7 and customers can drop in anytime.
You do not need employees sitting there to attend to prospective buyers. One of the pros of moving your business online is that your sales assistant could be halfway across the world attending to a customer inquiry while you are still asleep.
You do not have to worry about local weather or events to plan your promotion - there are marketing channels that can be automated to run your promotions all day, year-long.
When you run an online business, you do not need people on the ground to handle sales, logistics, or marketing. All of this can be done remotely.
This gives you an opportunity to change your work process flow and become more efficient at work.
Identify core tasks that only you or someone you highly trust can take care of - this could be product sourcing, or revenue management, or overall business management
Every other task needs to be outsourced - it is up to you to decide if this is handled by someone in your own town or halfway across the globe. It doesn’t hurt experimenting with more than one contractor
Obsessively monitor both revenue and ROI changes from these strategies. Done right, you should see a larger margin (owing to lower expenses) while also seeing more sales (thanks to the larger market you are targeting online).
This advice may not be relevant to everyone right away since your online footprint is only going to be one part of your overall business strategy (most readers of this blog may still run their regular brick and mortar store).
It is a good idea to treat your online offering as a separate business entity with a completely independent work process and employees. This way, if and when your online business gets comfortably large, you may take a call on how to pivot your overall business.
The pandemic has thrown a spanner in the works of many businesses. However, this is also an opportune time to revisit your strategies and look for ways you can take advantage of the “new normal”.
While the tips mentioned above are simple and can be executed by any business owner with just a little research, the potential rewards are immense.
Author Bio: Anand Srinivasan is the founder of Hubbion, a suite of free business apps and resources. The Hubbion Media Placement Services has helped dozens of businesses be featured on some of the highly followed TV and print media channels.