We’re in the midst of possibly the most disruptive global crisis since World War II — the COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged individual lifestyle, communities, governments, and businesses across the globe. In the United States alone, more than 30 million people have filed for unemployment since mid-March, constituting almost a fifth of the workforce.
We don’t know how long this crisis will last or what the world will look like when it has passed, but we do know that it will pass eventually. And no matter what industry you operate in, no matter whether this lasts another two months or another two years, your business’ website is more important now than ever. Here’s why.
The Ability to Stay In Touch
With people out of work, businesses closing down, and belts tightening everywhere, now is not the time to be courting new business. Customer acquisition is usually too expensive to be worth it at a time like this, and your potential customers aren’t looking to add another expense to their balance sheets.
What’s far more important is keeping your existing customers happy and satisfied, and communication is the key to doing that. Your website is the communication hub that everyone will check to see if they’re still getting what they paid for.
Are orders going to take longer to go out? Is server maintenance likely to take longer? Are you offering a virtual version of something you used to offer in person, like site tours or onboarding tutorials? Are you raising prices, offering discounts, or laying off staff? You need to let your customers know, and your website is the bulletin board they’ll be checking.
Everyone Does It
Yes, you were told in school not to give in to peer pressure — but in the marketing world, sometimes it’s a good thing. According to AdWeek, fully 81 percent of shoppers do online research before they buy. If you don’t have a website, you’ll stand out in a bad way. Shoppers will look you up, find nothing, and move on to someone else.
A 24/7 Salesperson
When your customers do research, they might be doing it at any hour of the day, and you can’t be there to field questions until 3:00 a.m. — especially if this crisis has forced you to lay off or furlough some of your staff. If there’s no one to talk to live, your customers are going to try to find an answer on your website. Detailed blog posts, whitepapers, FAQs, and pricing pages can turn you into a one-stop shop for any information that prospective customers might need, whenever they need it.
Control Over Your Narrative
You can’t control what the press says about you and you can’t control what people say about you on social media. Unfortunately, some people are going to post false or misleading claims about your company, and there’s not much you can do to prevent it.
What you can do is to control the narrative on your own website and get out in front of any good or bad news. New product launches, expansions, layoffs, quarterly reports, rebranding — whatever it is that you want the world to know about your company, you can tell the story in the way you want it told on your own site.
Giving Your Customers a Voice
One of the most valuable pieces of marketing material at your disposal isn’t something you make yourself — it’s the voices of satisfied customers. Prospective customers tend to value the opinions of their peers, coworkers, friends, and family to a much greater degree than they value your marketing language.
What this means is that if you can get your existing customers to talk you up, you’ll have a much better influence on prospective customers. And your website is the perfect place to do that. Collect positive reviews from social media and review sites and feature them prominently on your website in CTAs, footers, and in the middle of articles. The more happy customers you can show, the better.
Bang For Your Buck
Websites might not seem cheap — a really good one can cost tens of thousands of dollars to put together — but in the grand scheme of things, that’s a small price to pay for the central base of all your business operations. During this crisis and beyond, you’ll need a way to show off your products, a hub for your other marketing channels, and a means of communicating with your customers.
We live in a digital world. Time zones and zip codes are blurring, becoming less and less important for businesses in any sector. Moreover, today’s customers are more informed and less patient than they’ve ever been. The fact is, a website is no longer optional. Whatever the cost, it’s worth it.