The loss of revenue that is affecting so many businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic, also known as COVID-19, is unimaginable but nonetheless here we are. In an attempt to deal with the fallout businesses large, small and everything in between are trying to find ways to regroup, retool, restart and reimagine how to do business in future both themselves and their employees. And for many businesses, particularly small to medium sized businesses, this will mean a transition from being a brick and mortar operation to an online success story. We have put together a quick guide to show you how this is possible and set it up along with how to promote it.
What Can My Business Offer Online
Your first step is going to be how and/or what your business can offer online. For some businesses this could be relatively straightforward. If you have a store then you are going to looking at taking orders thought your website and shipping items. For other businesses it might take a bit more thought. If you offer in person services or classes look at ways that you can transition those into an online experience. You can even offer a combination online ordering and a pickup service. You will surprised with how much you can actually do online.
WordPress + WooCommerce
Obviously to the first step is going to be a great website. You might already have a website but being able to sell online requires more than having a site that just provides information about your business. We are going to skip over buying a domain name and hosting your site since you probably already have this set up already. If not we will covering this in another post very shortly.
There are many different options for creating an e-commerce site but we will be taking a look at WordPress and WooCommerce for two reasons. First is ease of use and the second is cost. If your site already runs on WordPress you can skip down the section about WooCommerce.
If you are not familiar with WordPress is it a very capable content management system or more simply the engine that drives your site. It is very easy to use and allows you to quickly add all the content that you will be needing. Installation is very easy and all of the major website hosting companies offer one-click installation of WordPress so you can start working on your site in minutes.
Once installed you can choose from many inexpensive themes that will give you the look and feel you want for you business. Choose a theme that is Responsive meaning you site will look good on desktop and mobile devices. A theme that offers a few different templates that you can just adjust to suite you will save you a lot of time and money. Also choosing a theme that offers good support is a must. There’s nothing worse than getting stuck trying to customize your theme and not having a knowledges person to help you out.
WordPress is by far the most popular website site platform and offers a large variety of add-ons, known as plugins, that add all kinds of functionality to your website. With these plugins you can add an almost limitless array of features and functionality to your site but the one we will discus next will allow you to sell online and that is WooCommerce.
Once you have WordPress installed, chosen your theme and add some content you will need to install WooCommerce. Some WordPress themes come with WooCommerce already bundled with it which is a good option since then you can be sure that WooCommerce will work seamlessly with your theme.
With WooCommerce installed you can upload your products or services. These can be anything from clothing to cosmetics to restaurant take-out orders. You can even sell non-physcial items instructional videos or ebooks.
Once your products are added you will need to add your payment information, such as your PayPal account info, and setup your shipping information if you are shipping physical products.
Promote Your Online Business
Once you have everything setup promoting you new online business is going to be your next step. There are lots of avenues available but we will focus on the most popular ones.
If your business didn’t already have a Facebook page now is the time to create one. We are going to look at creating your Facebook page in later posts. For now just know that you Facebook page is going to be a major part of your business’s social media presence. On it you will add a post about your new online business. Make sure it includes a link to your website in the profile. Add a few posts about some of your products and/or services.
Once you have created your page it’s time to promote. Facebook offers 2 options. One is “Get More Likes” and the other in “Get More Clicks”. You will want to do both.
With “Get More Likes” the goal will be to get more people to like your page. People who Like your page will often see new posts you add to your page in their timeline and great target marketing opportunities.
With “Get More Clicks” the goal is to get more people to click through to your site from Facebook. This is the traffic your site will need in order to make sales.
With both options you will choose a budget the you are comfortable with along with the type of Facebook user you are targeting and the geographic area. With both options take your time and add an attractive image that includes your logo along with a creative but short message to let people know you are back in business.
SEO + Google Adwords
Getting your site to show-up in Google’s search results is another avenues that will really help drive sales. The two primary ways to get in Google’s search results is by using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and the Google Adwords platform. There are many reasons to one or the other but an easy way to understand each of these is to think about Adwords as a sprint and SEO as a marathon.
Google Adwords allows you to quickly get your ad on page 1 of Google as a small text ad located either at the top right-hand column of Google’s search pages. You can target specific keywords and geo-graphic areas and have traffic coming to you site in less than a day. The only downside is it can get expensive if you are in a competitive niche and once you stop the ads the traffic to your site stops too. But if you need sales now it can deliver.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Like I said before SEO is more of a marathon but the payoff can be huge. The traffic that comes from Google’s organic search results tend to be of higher quality and have better conversion rates compared to traffic from Adwords however it takes time to build.
With SEO you will be looking to first make sure the keyword phrases that best describe your product or service are found on the homepage of your site as well as your other content such as an About Us page. The next step is to get as many quality links pointed to your site as possible. Links can come from local business directories like you local BIA or from article and guest posts about your products or services on other blogger’s websites.
By doing both SEO and Google Adwords you will be building traffic for today and in the future. Combing these with traffic from Facebook and other social media channels and you will be well on your way to a successful online transition for your business.
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