Depending on where you are in the country, the coronavirus pandemic is impacting everyone differently. If your brand is on the way to reopening your storefront business, it’s important to take the right steps before you open your doors.
First and foremost, businesses must follow all CDC guidelines to ensure a safe environment for employees and customers. Once you’ve taken these extra measures and are ready to open, it’s important for brands to think about how to recoup for lost revenue and business during this time. An optimized local SEO and reputation management strategy can give consumers the confidence to visit your business.
We know COVID-19 has impacted millions of businesses across the country. It’s been a stressful time for brands trying to protect the health of their employees and customers as well as their brand reputation. We’ve made it easier for your brand to respond to coronavirus related reviews with the following tips.
1. Update Your Listings
One of the first and most important steps you should take in the reopening process is to update all of your listings. Failing to take this step can cause customers to think your business is still temporarily closed or has limited hours. Through Google My Business and across every business directory, you can update critical business information such as business hours, contact information, temporary hours, services, and more to keep customers informed.
Many directories have released multiple COVID-19 local search features to help businesses keep customers informed with the latest news:
Google My Business
- COVID-19 Google Posts – Google Posts are a great way to address your business reopening and alert consumers of changes to business operations. COVID-19 Google Posts will appear at the top of your business profile, making it more visible for consumers to access when they find your listing.
- Retail and Restaurant Brands – Let consumers know if they’re offering curbside pickup, takeout, in-store pickup, delivery, no-contact delivery, or in-store shopping with these featured attributes.
- Temporary Closures – Businesses who were temporarily closed and will now reopen need to make sure this feature is updated. If you have reduced your hours, the special hours feature can be used in place to reflect these changes.
- COVID-19 Advisory Alert – Businesses can use Yelp’s COVID-19 Advisory Alert to communicate that your business has now opened. This feature can also be used as a communication banner to update customers on take-out or delivery options, hours of operation, and extra precautions being taken.
Virtual Service Offerings – From virtual classes, consultations, and tours, you can showcase all the different ways your business will remain available online in addition to in-store.
- COVID-19 Info Links – Reach potential customers with Bing’s COVID-19 features, which can help your businesses alert consumers about special announcements, GoFundMe campaigns, and special hours.
2. Refine Your Buy Online, Pick Up In Store Strategy (BOPIS)
Many customers won’t be ready to come into your store yet, so it’s important to refine your BOPIS strategy to attract purchase ready consumers. This is the perfect opportunity to get creative with your BOPIS strategy by offering services such as facetime shopping or creative self-care kits.
Optimizing your brand’s omnichannel strategy through a refined BOPIS strategy will remain imperative in attracting customers. Many customers won’t be ready to come into your store yet, or if they are, will likely expect contactless payment options and services. Retail brands must adjust to these new consumer behaviors by placing BOPIS at the forefront of their omnichannel strategy. This is the perfect opportunity to get creative with your BOPIS strategy by offering services such as facetime shopping or creative self-care kits. We’ve included a BOPIS-friendly checklist with strategies your brand can implement to maximize business revenue.
- Retail To Go – The term “Retail to Go” is a recently coined term that encompasses services such as “click-and-collect”, “drive-up”, and “pickup”. These omnichannel services will enable consumers to safely and efficiently purchase products from your business.
- Dark Stores – When the rapid outbreak of COVID-19 occurred, grocery stores felt the effects immediately. It became extremely difficult for grocery brands to keep items in stock, so many businesses turned to dark stores as an omnichannel solution. Dark stores are similar to mini-warehouses that serve as supermarkets – but only for delivery and pickup orders. This omnichannel strategy can help retailers prepare for online orders and pickups seamlessly.
3. Share the News on Social Media
Strict guidelines for re-opening has made it hard to know which businesses are open or not. If your business is reopening, announce the great news to loyal fans who have been waiting on social media! Your business should ramp up its communication efforts by publishing frequent posts across your social platforms leading up to reopening, and the first few weeks once your business has opened. Consumers are spending more time on social media and will appreciate the relevant updates from your brand. Here are some great ways to generate enthusiasm among customers with your reopening:
- Create social media contests where one lucky winner can receive free swag or a discount.
- Partner with other local businesses who are reopening and encourage them to visit both businesses on social media.
- Offer your customers rewards for every new customer they refer through social media.
- Set up digital gift cards on Facebook.
Your social media channels should also exist as a platform for customer service, so consumers know they can receive a quick response from you when they need it. Tools like Chatmeter’s Social Suite can help brands stay up-to-date with all the latest customer comments and interactions on social media. Leveraging social media platforms with integrated messaging apps such as Facebook and Twitter will provide the fast answers consumers are looking for. By utilizing social media, you can invite loyal and new consumers to be a part of your brand’s conversation and generate more buzz.
4. Announce your New COVID-19 Policies
It’s essential for your business to show consumers what steps you’re taking to keep them safe during this time period. While businesses are reopening, the fear of COVID-19 among customers still remains. Show consumers you’re taking extra steps throughout the reopening process to keep individuals safe by announcing all new COVID-19 policies. These new policies should be added to your store pages, on your website, and through email newsletters. Here are some specific COVID-19 topics that consumers will be interested in learning about:
- Capacity availability – Make sure your customers are aware of and after opening day about new occupancy rules. This will help to avoid any confusion for customers and prevent large gatherings.
- New safety policies and procedures – Your customers may be wondering where they will have to wait if your business is at maximum capacity or if face masks will still be required. By addressing these policies, you can help customers come prepared to comply with your business’s new rules.
- New COVID-19 services and products – Is your business still going to offer COVID-19 services such as no-contact delivery or curbside pickup? Informing customers of COVID-19 services and products will help your business drive more traffic to your store, especially with consumers who are still wary at this time. Utilizing our local pages will give customers the ability to identify open locations within their area easily. Our geo-locator tool and advanced filtering functions gives consumers everything they need to know about your business within seconds.
5. Respond to Google Q&A and Reviews
Increasing your communication efforts through Google Q&A and review responding should be an integral part of your reputation management strategy. Throughout quarantine and the start of COVID-19, Google has had to implement many changes to prevent businesses from being reviewed unfairly due to the pandemic. Now that all review responding capabilities have been back for some time, it’s critical for your business to respond to all reviews and Google Q&A.
As businesses start to reopen, many stores will potentially experience hiccups and adjustments during this transitory phase. Reviews and
Google Q&A will be one of the first places where customers will express their concerns and opinions – especially as your store reopens. By ensuring every review has the right response from your business, you can smooth over any potential issues or identify new areas of your business to pay keen attention to in this time.
No matter where your business is in its timeline to reopening, it’s never too early to prepare for the grand reopening of your business with these steps. By taking action and ensuring the necessary protocols are followed, your brand can positively contribute to the health and safety of individuals while generating revenue. If you’d like to see how we can help your business optimize your reputation management and local SEO strategy in preparation for reopening, reach out to us today, we’re here to help.