Small and medium-sized businesses have been hit particularly hard by the Covid-19 crisis, as many of them have relied primarily on face to face transactions and experiences that are currently being limited for our collective safety. It is important to look at the unique characteristics of small businesses in general and analyze market factors with an eye towards the crisis at hand to understand the full picture and make the best plan moving forward.
LinkedIn’s chief economist Karin Kimbrough recently stated that 75% of the economy revolved around face-to-face business interactions. Meanwhile, SmallBizGenius reported that 36% of small businesses don’t have their own website. Looking at these numbers side by side, it is easy to see why some small businesses are struggling to adjust. Many businesses could rely on factors like a prime location, an influx of tourists, or word of mouth advertising to succeed before the virus. Now, foot traffic, travel, and regular social interaction have slowed thanks to social distancing measures. But all is not lost! There’s still time for SMB owners to create and focus on their online presence until life in the U.S. can return to normal. The best time for small businesses to digitize may have been before the virus hit, but the second best time is now.
Will online operations still be necessary in the future? Is it worth digitizing your business now, rather than just waiting it out? In short, yes.
In Entrepreneur, small business expert Amanda Brinkman pointed out that “...in times of great need, and times of pressure on the business, you're forced to pivot quickly — and sometimes we almost need these outside forces to drive us into solutions.” Brinkman encourages businesses to view the shift online as a way to develop new opportunities for the future, not just a temporary fix. “I think this is something you can sustain well past when this crisis is behind us,” she says.
Small businesses that are successful online understand that many customers need to research a company before they feel confident purchasing from it and make it easy for them to do so. Up-to-date listings packed with information and a strong volume of reviews can give customers the extra boost of confidence they need to purchase from your business in trying times.
Small businesses with little to no online presence are inevitably missing out on opportunities to fulfill customers’ needs. A representative from Google stated that 46% of all Google searches are seeking local services. Having all of your information up to date on multiple platforms like Google Business, Facebook, and Yelp will help ensure you appear in Google search results for your area and industry.
Studies show that between 70-80% of people will search for a company online before visiting or purchasing something from them. With such a high volume of customers looking for your business, it’s important to be ready and make a good impression on any channel they may search. Additionally, these customers who do their research (or omnichannel shoppers) may be more valuable to your business. The Harvard Business review reported that customers who research your business before visiting or purchasing spend about 13% more than other shoppers.
But small business owners are busy, and we understand that—that’s why we created Nuvi Locate. Locate gives you the ability to update your business information (including address, categories, phone number, business description, hours, photos, payment methods, and featured message) on more than 60 directories instantly, from one easy to use interface. You can manage multiple locations’ information through Nuvi locate to save you additional time.
Ready for more data on customer trends to inform your business’ digital strategy? We’ve got it: Pew research reports that 82% of U.S. adults say they sometimes read online customer ratings or reviews before they purchase an item, and 40% say they almost always do. Reviews have become an essential part of customer experience, and will continue to increase in importance as more business is conducted online. Although many shoppers use reviews before making purchases, Pew reports that only around one-in-ten Americans frequently post their own reviews of the products, services and restaurants they utilize. Inviting your fans and advocates to write reviews can provide your business with the credibility you need to drive conversions— and we can help you do it.
Nuvi Review can help small business owners send review invitations and keep track of their reviews on 29 different websites, all in one easy to use platform. Business owners can create and save custom templates to send to their customers via email or text inviting them to write reviews. You can offer customers a small discount or other reward in exchange for their review with this feature, giving you the ability to accumulate reviews quickly if you’re just starting to buff up your Yelp and Google Business pages.
Review invitations can be tracked to monitor progress, so you know when your customers have opened the invitation and when they have actually left the review. Uploading a CSV file to Nuvi with customer contact information allows you to avoid the time consuming process of inputting names and phone numbers one by one.
Clutch reports that some but not all small businesses invest in social media marketing - 61%, to be precise. This means that almost 40% of small businesses are missing out on a key avenue to connect with customers. This report by Bain indicates that social media elicits customer loyalty– customers that interact with a brand on social media are more likely to feel a sense of emotional commitment to the company. They also found that customers who engage with a brand on social channels spend up to 40% more money with that business in the long run compared to other customers. The data confirms it: social media marketing is a great investment for small businesses.
Smart Social, Nuvi Local’s newest feature, has been added to help business owners maintain an active social media presence without the hassle of manually posting every day. With Smart Social, you can upload content that will be automatically scheduled and posted during the best days and times for peak engagement. Just upload your images, add or edit your captions, and let us handle the rest. Nuvi Local is here to make managing your online presence simple while you take care of everything else on your plate.
Although we’re not yet out of the woods and it’s hard to say when we will have arrived at our new normal for business, we’ll end on a positive note. Data from China suggest hiring (and subsequently the economy) will start to rebound once social distancing restrictions are able to be lifted. A large amount of the American economy relies on small businesses, and people are coming together to help. Local consumers are buying gift cards or donating to their favorite local spots. Government loans have started to help some businesses make up for their financial loss, and more help from local and federal governments may be on the way. As people and firms come together across industries, small businesses will hopefully be able to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
It is in all of our interest, from consumers to large firms to payment processors and associations, to save the small businesses that make up such a large part of our economy. Looking again to China, businesses have stepped up to help each other. China’s largest e-commerce and financial technology firm, Alibaba, has offered to help small and medium-sized businesses conduct their operations online. Alipay, Alibaba’s payment platform, has designated a section on its landing page to help their 900 million users find small merchants, products and services located near them.
Many companies that are now largely successful like Airbnb, had their start during a period of economic uncertainty. Kim Raath, CEO of startup Topl, sees it as a time for challenges and growth. "Everyone is in the same place — including your competition right now. You don't have control of the uncertainty — but no one does. What do you have control over right now and how can you act on that control? That’s what my focus has been,” she said in an interview with a Houston publication. Now is a time of great opportunity for small businesses that are able to adjust.
Take advantage of the opportunities you may be missing out on. We’ll show you more with a Demo.