COVID-19 is having a far greater impact on our lives than many of us ever imagined possible, and the way that our businesses and workplaces have been affected is no exception. 
Whether you suddenly find yourself working from home for the first time, attempting to transition your business to an online model, or hitting the pause button as the result of a temporary closure, there’s no doubt about it – this is not business as usual. 
Many businesses and organisations are going through a series of extraordinary changes to adapt to the new working environment, and it’s possible that your business may come out the other side of the coronavirus crisis looking very different to how it did before. 
Whatever is happening with your business right now, one thing is absolutely crucial – you must keep your customers informed of the changes being made. 
With the country in lockdown and social distancing measures firmly in place, the best way to stay connected to your customers during this time is online – and your website will play a vital role in helping you communicate with them. 
As well as making sure you keep your customers in the loop with all the latest information, there are also plenty of other updates you can make to your website – either to help you get the most out of your business right now, or to ensure your customers are ready and waiting for you when you return to trading. 
Here are our recommendations for updating your website during COVID-19: 

Communicating with your customers 

 1. Make an announcement 

Add a message to your home page telling customers about any changes to your normal business practices - such as restricted opening hours, new delivery/takeaway services, the extra health and safety precautions you’re taking, etc. 
You could even add this announcement to the top of every page on your website, just to make sure the message gets across. 
Another great option is to display a pop-up message when visitors first land on your website – this is especially useful if you need to alert customers of any urgent business updates - for example, if your business is currently closed or not able to take new orders due to high demand. 
Got an it’seeze website? We recently launched a new pop-up message feature, allowing you to quickly and easily inform visitors of any changes to your business. Find out more on our Support Site. 

2. Review your contact page 

It’s possible that the way people can get in touch with you has changed as a result of COVID-19. Update your contact page let visitors know if you and your team are working remotely and how they can reach you during this time. This is particularly useful if you’ve set up a dedicated phoneline or email address to deal with coronavirus-related enquiries. 
Are you now offering video calls and consultations in place of face-to-face meetings? Add this information to your contact page too, so that customers know they can still expect the same level of service from you, just through digital means. 

3. Create a dedicated landing page 

It’s likely you’ll have a lot of information you need to share with customers during this time – everything from what’s changed within your business to useful resources you want to share with them. 
Create a landing page on your website that acts as a hub for every business update related to COVID-19. Keep this page updated with all the latest info, and use it to answer any frequently asked questions regarding changes to your services. It’s also worth repeating any changes to your contact details on this page too. 

4. Add a live chat function 

With your contact options currently restricted, integrating live chat into your website is a great way of keeping in touch with your customers. 
You can either set up automated responses – great for dealing with any commonly asked questions – or use the chat function in real-time, responding to any queries your website visitors might have in a timely and efficient manner. 
Did you know that you can add Tidio Chat to any it’seeze Plus, Max, or Shop website? It’s quick and easy to set up, with a free plan available that lets you talk to an unlimited number of visitors. Learn more here. 

5. Encourage newsletter sign-ups 

Sending out regular emails is a great way to stay connected to your customers and make sure they don’t forget about your business. 
Don’t let current events stop you from continuing with your email marketing efforts – if you already have an established newsletter schedule, consider reworking your content strategy to include topical, relevant information that is going to be useful to your subscribers in the days and weeks ahead. 
Not yet set up a newsletter? Now might be a great time to start, so encourage your visitors to sign up to your mailing list with GDPR-compliant forms throughout your website. If email marketing isn’t a priority right now, it’s still worth using sign-up forms on your website to allow customers to subscribe to be notified when your business reopens. 
Did you know that with an it’seeze Plus, Max, or Shop website, you can connect your sign-up forms to a mailing list within your Mailchimp account? Find out how on our Support Site. 

Adapting your business 

 1. Add payment options 

If you typically rely on business through a brick-and-mortar store, or provide face-to-face services that clients pay you for in person, it might be worth looking into accepting payments through your website. 
If you’re not ready to pivot to a full-scale ecommerce operation, you can still sell a few select products online without offering your customers the shopping experience of an online store. Accepting one-off payments through a PayPal button or similar will allow your customers to purchase items quickly and easily – this is a great option for bundled items, such as a fruit and veg box. 
Single payments like this are also a great option if you want to offer gift cards through your website. With many business locations now closed due to lockdown, gift cards are an increasingly popular way for customers to support their favourite businesses – from restaurants and hair salons to cinemas, theatres, and more. 
If you’ve taken your services online with virtual courses or video classes, a payment button is also a good idea, as it will allow your clients to pay for access to exclusive content. 
With an it’seeze website, you can currently add a pay button to your website that allows visitors to make single payments through either PayPal or Worldpay. Find out more here. 

2. Create a members’ area 

Whilst nothing beats the personal touch of meeting face-to-face, if you do run a service-based business, there are plenty of ways to take your usual interactions with clients online. 
Appointments and consultations can be delivered through video conferencing software such as Zoom and Skype, but if you offer educational or instructional services, you have the option of reworking these activities into digital content. 
If you do decide to create an online course or provide video classes – a popular option with fitness instructors and personal trainers in the wake of coronavirus – adding a private members’ area to your website is the ideal solution. 
This will allow you to populate your website with all the necessary course info and paid video content, whilst keeping it restricted to only those who have signed up for your services. 
With an it’seeze Max or Shop website, you can create password-protected pages and user groups with access, allowing you to easily set up and manage a members’ area on your website. 

3. Update your menus 

If you own a bar, restaurant, café, or pub and are now offering takeaway or delivery services for the first time as a result of social distancing measures, don’t forget to update your website with all the relevant information. 
Letting customers know about these services is crucial, especially if they’re a new venture for you. Make it easy for people to place an order, and make sure your delivery zones and procedures are clear to avoid any confusion. If you are able to offer contact-free services, it’s worth mentioning this to reassure your customers. 
It’s also important that you update your menus. Due to shortages of ingredients or reduced staff numbers, you may be limited to what you can offer at this time – or you may have opted for a streamlined menu to ensure you can process more orders as quickly and efficiently as possible. 
On any it’seeze Plus, Max, or Shop website, you’re able to upload files and link to these from any page. This is ideal for ensuring the latest version of your menu is always available for customers. Learn more here. 

Selling online 

 1. Manage your products 

If you’re not yet online, now is the perfect time to embrace ecommerce and start selling on the web. If you already run an online store, it may also be worth moving more of your inventory online in order to meet customer demand and take advantage of the recent increase in internet shopping. 
You may also need to be mindful of your stock, as COVID-19 is causing disruptions to the supply chain for many retailers, so make sure that stock levels are kept up-to-date to avoid disappointing your customers. 
Managing your online inventory is easy with the it’seeze Shop package, which lets you limit the availability of products and enable stock control settings. Learn how to manage your products here. 

2. Update your policies 

In order to provide the best shopping experience possible, you need to make sure all shop policies are up-to-date, so that your customers know what to expect from you. 
Manage expectations by putting up revised delivery and returns policies that outline any changes to your normal service. If deliveries are taking longer to reach their destinations, or you’re unable to offer certain delivery options, make this clear from the outset. Being transparent and providing as much information as you can, will help you to keep your customers happy, even if you’re unable to provide the service they’d normally receive from you. 
Likewise, if you’re extending your returns policy or only accepting returns on limited items, make sure your customers are aware. Policy updates like this may even encourage more people to buy from you, as they won’t be left second-guessing the changes to your store. 

3. Offer special discounts 

With the country on lockdown, the opportunity to reach more customers and win more sales is right there, but the competition will be fierce. 
To encourage more people to shop with you, consider offering discount codes and coupons to make your online shop more appealing than your competitors’, and to overcome any price anxiety caused by the uncertainty of the current situation. 
Google searches for online discounts are on the rise as shoppers have more time to hunt for the best bargains, and if your sales are currently down, sending out special offers could be a great way to incentivise customers old and new to start making purchases. 
If you’re an it’seeze Shop client, it’s simple to create special offers in your online shop. Click here to learn how to add everything from discount codes and free delivery to multi-buy offers and promotions on select products. 

4. Add a wishlist feature 

Can’t fulfil your customers’ orders right now? Whilst you might not be able to accept purchases currently, you can make it easy for visitors to shop with you in the future by introducing a wishlist system to your shop. 
A wishlist is a fantastic way to encourage future purchases, as it allows shoppers to save all the items they’re interested in, in one handy list to buy from you at a later date. This means that customers can shop with you during the lockdown even if your store isn’t trading, as they’ll be able to get their order ready to place when everything is back up and running. 
It’s simple to set up the wishlist feature in your it’seeze online shop – find out how on our Support Site. 

Maintaining your website rankings 

 1. Audit your site 

Something that is absolutely vital during the pandemic is that you don’t let the organic rankings of your website drop. Even if your business is temporarily closed, it’s crucial that you maintain your search engine optimisation (SEO) efforts to give your business its best chance of bouncing back when things start to return to normal. 
If business has slowed down for you and you find you have a little more time on your hands, take this opportunity to audit your website and fix any errors that may be affecting your performance in the search results. If you’re not sure where to start, a free website health check can tell you exactly where improvements can be made. 
As well as fixing what’s broken, use this time to develop your online marketing strategy and boost your SEO. It’s important that your customers don’t forget about you, so focus on creating engaging, relevant, and helpful content to add to your website and promote via social media and email. 

2. Keep your blog updated 

Your blog should play a key role in your digital strategy, and it’s more important than ever when you need to stay in touch with your customers during uncertain times. 
A big part of maintaining your website rankings is showing search engines like Google that your website is active and relevant. Regularly adding blog posts to your website is one of the most effective ways to do this, and will bring with it long-term benefits. 
Use your blog to communicate important business updates to your customers in greater detail – especially if you are currently unable to provide your products or services. It’s also worth creating timely content that relates to COVID-19 and ties in with your brand, such as fun activities to keep people entertained during lockdown, tips for working from home, or even advice on how to cut their own hair, etc. 
Don’t forget to also keep your blog topped up with evergreen content. This is content that can be shared again and again throughout the year, as it is not tied to any specific time or event. This will ensure you come out the other side of the crisis with a wealth of content under your belt to inform your marketing strategy moving forwards. 
Don’t forget, with an it’seeze Max or Shop website, it’s quick and simple to create a blog. Learn more here about how to keep your customers informed and your website active with our easy-to-use blog feature. 

Final thoughts 

These really are extraordinary circumstances that we’re living and working through right now, and whilst no one can predict quite what will happen next, if you can keep your website updated and your customers informed, it should help you to prepare for a gradual return to business as usual. 
Be proactive, adapt where you can, and make adjustments as and when you need to. This may be an unprecedented period of uncertainty and disruption, but if you can stay positive and motivated and keep planning for the future, this will all help your business to weather the storm. 
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