April 17, 2020
How to leverage your website during a crisis
We all know that websites have been a vital part of our lives for over 20 years now. With the COVID-19 outbreak and millions of people now working from home, your online presence matters more than ever. So how can you be sure your website is doing its job?
Look the Part
You know your clients and customers can count on you. But what about people that don’t know you already? It’s a known fact that consumers rely on brands they trust, especially during tough times. When a new prospect or potential customer lands on your website, that first impression matters. Are they impressed? Does your site position your organization as reputable and trustworthy? If not, they won’t take the time to engage and your messaging will fall on deaf ears. Crisis or not, design matters.
Social media is a fantastic way to engage directly with your audience in a timely manner, but the “hub” should still be your website as you’ll want your audience to visit your site to learn more and take action. Your website is one of the few channels in which you have complete control over the narrative. Your site is a chance for you and your team to shine and let your audience know just how you can help them get through this crisis.
Clear Messaging & Calls to Action
Consider pivoting your overall message. It’s possible that a simple COVID-19 policy pop-up banner isn’t enough. Perhaps your business model has shifted or perhaps you are offering new services. In either case, a simple notification isn’t going to cut it. You’ll want to make sure that your website content as a whole is accurate and current. Also, make it clear what you want your users to do and don’t make them hunt to find the information they need. For example, check out the COVID-19 alert page we created for our client, National Philanthropic Trust.
Marketing is Okay!
During this uncertain time, many are concerned their marketing efforts might come across as tone deaf and crass. On the other hand, if every business simply sits on the sidelines, then the current economic crash is certainly just the beginning of a much greater downturn. Hiding under a rock is equally as risky as appearing insensitive. As your website is one of your most important marketing tools, it’s right to double-check the messaging on your site to ensure all your marketing efforts are empathetic and sensitive to the current situation. Remember, your customers still need your products and/or services and they are going to turn to brands that are both visible and trustworthy. Now is your chance to really “be there” for your customers and to form long-lasting relationships.
Connect with Video
It’s no secret that video has been on the rise for years now, if not decades. In fact, YouTube has become the second largest search engine in the world. Given most of us are now living and working in isolated environments, many are craving more face-to-face interaction. While video may never replace having coffee with a prospect, it’s certainly more engaging than a paragraph of text. Adding video to your website can increase interaction and provide a sense of connection that many people are currently craving.
Even in 2020, many sites are still informational in nature in that there is little meaningful user interaction. Direct and timely interaction is one of the reasons social media has become so popular. There has never been a better time to improve the level of involvement with your users via chat, video, and other online tools that encourage additional user engagement.
Speed, Bandwidth, and Security
Have you noticed your WiFi seems a little slow lately? As millions of people are stuck at home working, watching Netflix, or playing Fortnite, there is great demand for precious bandwidth. When users visit your site, they are much more likely to bounce if they have to wait for your homepage to load. First, you’ll want to make sure you’re on an adequate hosting package with proper speed and bandwidth to handle any increase in your site’s traffic. Next, you’ll want to make sure your website itself has been optimized with lean code and properly-sized images. And you know all that old, outdated content scattered across your site? Now might be a good time to prune it, while updating any content to better reflect your current messaging strategy. Lastly, as more and more organizations move to online business models or increase their remote workforce, you can bet hackers are soon to follow. Stay one step ahead by hosting your site on a reputable, secure platform and follow best practices to harden your CMS.
It’s common knowledge that people on-the-go are more likely to interact with your site on a mobile device than ever before. But what about now that millions are stuck at home? Can we assume that mobile usage will decline? Not necessarily. Just because people aren’t using their phones to search for “sushi restaurants near me” does not mean they aren’t searching for “sushi delivery near me.”
Even if you follow all the tips above, your website won’t do any good if you don’t have an adequate amount of traffic. How are people finding your site? Are you ranking in Google? Have you optimized the content on your site with relevant keywords? Given recent events, are your keywords out of date? Are you running pay-per-click campaigns? Are you advertising on social media channels? Or are you simply hoping people will find your site? Point being, if you are willing to invest the time and effort to improve your site, be willing to invest in a sound digital marketing strategy as well. Otherwise, all your hard work could go unnoticed.
In closing, I’d like to point out that in these unprecedented times, nobody knows what the future will bring. From the talking heads on TV to social influencers, there are plenty of people offering ideas. But nobody knows for sure. Since websites first became mainstream over 20 years ago, they have offered a level of flexibility that other more traditional forms of marketing can’t match. As things are changing so quickly, you can lean on your website, combined with social media channels and PR outreach, to pivot in real time. If your website is currently gathering dust on a shelf, you’re missing out on an amazing tool to help position your organization to better communicate with your customers and clients during these trying times.