COVID-19 Digital Solutions Checklist for Hawaii Businesses: View tips and resources to emerge stronger

Digital Solutions Checklist for Hawaii Businesses

We are Hawaii. We are in this together.

As a member of the aio Hawaii family of companies, we are committed to Hawaii. While the impacts of COVID-19 in our community are wide and significant, there are powerful digital solutions local businesses can leverage immediately.

To support our local community during this time, we have compiled some of these digital tools and tactics into the digital solutions checklist below.

This list is by no means exhaustive and will continue to evolve with our local business environment. As each business is unique, some of these digital tactics will be more applicable for your business than others. However, we hope it provides actionable guidance, inspires collaboration, and empowers Hawaii businesses.

Should you need further assistance, you may also contact us. We are all in this together.

Digital Solutions Checklist

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  • 1) Use Data to Understand Your Customers

    Use Data to Understand Your Customers

    Identify, analyze, and connect with your customer groups with content that’s most relevant to them.

    Start by defining your primary target customer segments. If you’re able to leverage data to do so, that’s ideal. Sources of data may include:

    • You customer relationship management tool
    • Your website’s Google Analytics
    • Your social media (Facebook and Instagram) analytics and insights
    • Social media post — engagement and comments

    Each customer segment will generally be defined by a combination of:

    • Customer goals (ex: purchase of a specific service or product category)
    • Purchase behavior or history (ex: prospect customer, new customer, repeat customer, inactive, wholesale vs. retail, etc.
    • Customer characteristics — age range, location, language, family status, career type, interests, device usage, etc.

    You will generally start to see patterns of overlap across customer segment characteristics. For example you may notice that your customers most interested in x, y, z products often make purchases several times a year, are generally 21–40 in age, active social media users, and have responded well to previous sales you’ve offered.

    This “persona” for this customer segment should be used to inform the kind of content that should be created for them, the marketing platforms and tactics that should be used to reach and attract them, and the sort of commerce experience that needs to be delivered to convert them. Your initial investment in defining and understanding your customers will enable you to reach and service them more effectively going forward.

  • 2) eCommerce — Serve Your Customers Online

    eCommerce — Serve Your Customers Online

    Whether you’re a local business with a limited eCommerce presence or a brick-and-mortar product-based company that had predominantly focused on an in-person store experience, it’s critical to make as much of your product or service offering as possible available for discovery and purchase online. Below are digital commerce platforms and strategies worth consideration.

    eCommerce Platforms

    Social media
    The social nature of Facebook and Instagram Shop allows you to create an online shopping experience for your existing customers while also being discovered by new customers. When paired with information sharing (posting), engagement, and promotional capabilities, Facebook and Instagram should definitely be part of your eCommerce toolkit if you’re a product-based B2C business.

    Pinterest
    While not as large as Facebook and Instagram in terms of active users, 93% of Pinterest users use the platform to plan their purchases, making it a platform worthy of consideration especially if your products are visual and appealing to female customers.

    Online marketplaces (ex: Amazon, eBay, Etsy)
    Unlike social media platforms, where intent is largely connection, and Pinterest, which largely thrives on visual discovery, online marketplaces are directly tied to purchase intent, and they bring millions of shoppers (sort of like a physical shopping center).

    Shoppable landing pages
    With platforms like Mailchimp, you can start selling your products without an eCommerce website. However you’ll need to be sure to direct customers to your shoppable landing pages to make purchases via email marketing, social media, and/or digital advertising campaigns.

    Shopify
    Unlike Amazon, which provides immediate exposure but is an aggregated seller marketplace, Shopify allows businesses to build and manage a unique, standalone online store (eCommerce website). If you’re seeking more control over your branding, management, and customer relationship and fulfillment process AND can dedicate resources to marketing to drive people to your online store, Shopify might be the best bet. Basic commerce website platforms like Shopify also generally will include other benefits, such as integration with online marketplaces and social media, abandoned cart emails, and insightful analytics.

    It’s important to note that the platforms above are not an exhaustive list, nor should they be considered mutually exclusive to each other. You may start with eCommerce on social and then layer in another platform for further reach and capabilities. Assess your needs, your customer needs, and leverage data to guide your strategies.

    eCommerce Strategies

    Offer discounts and promos
    Most consumers (57%) say that businesses that offer special deals, coupons, or promo codes for returning customers stand out from the competition. *

    Customer reviews
    Three-quarters of consumers say that having reviews either gives the business a competitive advantage (36%) or is expected (40%). However, only 7% have been asked to write a review of a local business even though 89% are willing to do so if they had a positive experience and were asked. *

    Remember that comments and engagement on social media platforms can also serve as informal reviews, so interacting with your community there is important. Business accounts on Facebook and Google My Business also include reviews, so monitor those closely. Platforms like Yelp are also worth looking into.

    Leverage your best-selling or popular product or content
    If you have a commerce platform with the ability to rotate content, place your top-selling product next to product that’s newer or not as strong. Leverage suggested products features and key placements like your homepage, hero images, and the top of product results or upper third of the page to pair your popular content or product with ones that could use a bit more visibility. For social this means planning your posts so that popular product is featured alongside content you want to promote, ideally either within the same visual or as part of the same post.

    Create and distribute content to communicate relevant information about your business or products. Make your products or services available online via ecommerce platforms and tactics. And utilize digital marketing solutions like search engine optimization, social media, paid media advertising, and email marketing to reach and connect with customers and our local community.

    * http://www.yodle.com/downloads/what-consumers-want-from-local-businesses.pdf

  • 3) Create Relevant and Useful Content

    Create Relevant and Useful Content

    Creating, distributing, and promoting content that communicates what your business is offering and how your business is adjusting to meet the needs of your customers and community during Covid-19 is critical. However, make sure that your content is relevant, helpful, and informative, and remember that this is a sensitive time for many.

    Make sure you are creating and sharing content around the following:

    • Descriptions of your offering — Especially if you typically rely on in-store or in-person experiences to drive sales, creating content to supplement this will be crucial. Take and post photos of your newest product arrivals or your weekly takeout menu specials.
    • Scope of your offering (services or product availability) — Have you scaled down specific services or added new ones?
    • Pricing and promotions — Has pricing of any of your products or services changed? Are you offering promo codes or discounts?
    • Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
    • Methods to access your offering — is the way you are providing your services different? Ex: adjusted store hours, curbside, takeout, partnership with delivery services, virtual client appointments, expanded online store, products now available for purchase on Instagram.
    • Any other precautions — Any other changes to your typical you are taking to ensure social distancing and community safety.

    Avoid creating content that can come off as insensitive or self-serving. In between your informative content, you should also think about content that connects and contributes to our local community.

    Share your personal story
    All of us are feeling the impacts in one way or another. Shared stories and experiences will be important as we move forward over the next few months. Ones that convey hope, especially, are needed. “Meet the staff” and behind-the-scenes content can also help to foster the sense of connection and community that’s critical right now.

    Contribute to Hawaii’s community
    Utilize your specialty or area of expertise to create content that supports or addresses the concerns of our community at this time. State Representative, Takashi Ohno, for example, is vetting and consolidating key COVID-19 government updates and sharing the pieces most relevant to Hawaii citizens as posts on his Instagram account. Fitness instructors are teaching fitness classes and offering them for free as livestreams on Facebook to keep the community connected and healthy. Subject experts are creating and offering downloadable ebooks or relevant (and SEO-friendly) blog posts. This list goes on. Give some thought around how you can create content to support our community.

    Examples of platforms you should consider distributing your content across include printed content to place in physical spaces, your website, eCommerce platforms, social media, email communication, and paid advertising. Check out the rest of this checklist for info on tactics to utilize the digital platforms mentioned above.

  • 4) Optimize Your Website for Search Engines

    Optimize Your Website for Search Engines

    If you have a website, ensure that you’re maximizing your odds of people finding you when they are conducting searches online by doing the following.

    Covid-19 Content

    Add content specifically related to how your business is addressing Covid-19. Whether this content lives as a blurb on your homepage, its own page within your website, and/or across various pages will depend on the nature of Covid-19 related information you are sharing.

    Search Engine Optimization Content Checklist

    Audit and update the existing content on your website to leverage the following best practices on your primary website pages.

    • Target keywords — Each page should have target keywords that are tactfully used throughout all page content, titles, headers, and page descriptions. Each page should have different target keywords.
    • Page word count— Ensure each page has at least 250 words.
    • Internal linking — Link to other pages within your website where appropriate to increase page connections. Use concise, yet descriptive phrases telling users what they’ll find rather than general “click here” or “more” copy.
    • File and image data — Make your file names readable and descriptive of the file or image.
    • Alt tags and image titles — Ensure that they are descriptive and unique to each asset.

    Google My Business

    Update and manage your Google My Business to improve you search engine ranking on Google. Enter complete data, verify your location(s), keep your hours accurate, and add photos at the bare minimum. To improve your visibility even more regularly manage and respond to reviews and encourage customers to leave feedback.

     

    To amplify your SEO further, create more relevant and informative content and leverage social media and paid advertising to drive more traffic to your website.

  • 5) Leverage Social Media

    Leverage Social Media

    Social media, now more than ever, is proving to be invaluable in keeping people connected. In addition to the commerce capabilities, SEO benefits, and reach of social media, you will want to be sure to leverage these platforms to maintain open lines of communication between you, your customers, and our local community and government.

    Remain informed on developments
    Follow official sources like Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and local sources like Hawaii State Department of Health so your business is able to act quickly to updates.

    Keep your customers and community informed
    Post about your critical business announcements and use features like Facebook’s pinning, which allows you to keep important posts pinned to the top of your business Facebook Page. Leverage Instagram and Facebook stories to share personal content, like the examples provided in the content section of this checklist. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are also ideal platforms to share breaking updates. And platforms like Google My Business, YouTube, and Yelp, which generally show up high in search results, are also great ways to inform your customers about updated business hours or service modifications via updating your business “About” information. Again, remember that this is a sensitive time for many, so focus your posts and content around what’s most relevant to your audience.

    Prepare a customer service plan
    Your customers are sure to have questions and requests during this challenging period. Use Instagram direct messaging, Facebook Messenger, or WhatsApp Business to connect with your customers and community for free in real time. If your business has multiple people engaging with customers on your social accounts, outline response templates to FAQs and anticipated subjects of interest to ensure alignment and timeliness. Aim to respond to customers as soon as possible, within the same business day at the very least.

    Drive to your website and/or online store
    If a social platform is not serving as your primary online commerce platform, leverage the discoverability and reach of social to find new customers and, when relevant, drive them to your website to get more information, engage further with your brand, and/or purchase your products or services.

    Livestream gatherings
    Rather than cancelling a physical event, like a workshop, panel, or event, use Facebook or Instagram to host live sessions. You can also leverage social to promote the event and share it as a post once the livestream is done.

  • 6) Utilize Digital Advertising

    Utilize Digital Advertising

    If your business is not offering a product or service that’s deemed “essential” during this time, you may want to reconsider the angle or timing of any planned digital advertising campaigns. However, if there is community-demand, paid digital advertising is perhaps the quickest and farthest reaching, yet targeted, method of letting our local community know you can help.

    There are a slew of paid media products out there. Some will naturally be better suited for specific types of companies, customers, and business goals. However, generally speaking, the below represents options with the most flexibility when it comes to turnaround and budget.

    Google Responsive Display Ads
    No-frills, but fast, affordable, and effective, with creative ad assets automatically built within the ad platform.

    Note — as of March 30, 2020 — As part of Google’s effort to alleviate costs for small and medium-sized businesses, existing Google Ads accounts are being given a combined $340 million in ad credits. If you are a small or medium-sized business who has been an active Google advertiser since the beginning of 2019, you should see a credit notification appear in your Google Ads account in the coming months. These credits can be used at any point until the end of 2020 across Google advertising platforms.

    Get more information and developments on Google’s ad credits

    Paid Social (Facebook and Instagram)
    Leverage first-party data and social media’s massive reach and highly engaged audience to get your business’ message in front of your existing customers, their networks, similar audiences, and the larger local community.

  • 7) Send Email Marketing

    Send Email Marketing

    Use email marketing to speak directly to customers, but as with the content you are creating, make sure that this email communication is relevant, informative, and helpful.

    Email signup forms

    Grow your email subscriber list and customize your forms so you can collect the data (everything from age and gender to interests and subscription preferences) you need to send customers personalized, relevant content. Mailchimp and many other email marketing and commerce platforms offer plans that allow you to create custom signup forms and distribute them across a range of methods — ex: embed and/or activate signup form pop-ups on your website, share your form via posting links on social or elsewhere, etc. Review your signup form sources and data to learn more about where customers joined your list and what they are interested in and apply these takeaways to future marketing strategies and customer segmentation.

    Send (or automate sending) relevant, personalized content to your entire email list and/or to specific customer segments

    (And, remember to exercise sensitivity.)

    Some examples include:

    COVID-19 and business updates
    Unique and helpful information specific to your business. Don’t waste your time and clog inboxes with general COVID-19 information that others are already communicating.

    Welcome emails
    Consider offering tips, suggested next steps, and or promotions to welcome new subscribers.

    Abandoned cart emails
    According to Mailchimp, 69% of shoppers abandon their carts before checking out. Get would-be customers to complete their purchases by emailing reminders of items they’ve left in their carts.

    Loyalty and/or promotional emails
    Support your local community and customers with special offers or promo codes, while growing your sales at the same time.

    Product or service follow up emails
    Get feedback from your customers via a survey, send helpful info about their purchase, offer an incentive in exchange for a review, or recommend additional or new products

    There are countless other triggers that may make sense to activate an email marketing campaign or other marketing campaign around. Some examples include — time since last purchase, birth date, purchase from a specific product category, previous email not opened, specific link in previous email clicked, etc. However, you’ll want to pick the ones where you’re able to provide the most relevance and value to subscribers.

  • 8) Automate What You Can

    Automate What You Can

    In addition to ensuring that your digital marketing and content is providing value to your customers and our community, there are also obviously return on marketing investment and time factors you’ll need to consider. Marketing automation platforms are designed to maximize both when paired with ecommerce and social media platforms.

    As with the marketing tactics listed above, the extent to which you utilize specific tactics and platforms will depend on your specific needs, your customers, and your existing workflows, but below are a few marketing automation platforms worth consideration:

    While marketing automation may require greater up-front investments in time and dollars, when utilized correctly, they streamline the analysis of data and automate your marketing efforts so that you’re able to spend more time on other areas of your business or solutions for our local community.

Need further assistance?
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