How to Rescue & Maintain an Online Business During the Crisis
We are in the middle of a big crisis. The world economy is literally in pause. But it was "kind of" similar for businesses back in 2008, and in 2001, and 1991... but without the health factor. #stayhome
During these kinds of crises, websites do not suffer as much as showrooms, restaurants, physical stores, malls, and small businesses, but it doesn't mean these do well either. Websites are simply a different interface to real-life business processes and tend to be affected too during a correction or recession times.
In this article, I will refer to a few ideas you can apply to rescue and keep your website business afloat during these difficult situations. In the end, sites are relatively cheap to maintain alive, but the company behind it usually does not.
You need to know if you are in collision course, or as same as usual, or simply being skyrocketed by the crisis.
Although this is probably the #1 thing all business websites should do with and without a Crisis, I will add the remainder and set it at first: Measure Everything. What can be measured can be improved. Measurement is the primary source of reality, and facing reality is the primary reason for success/failure. Period.
Once you know the truth, you have your feet on the ground. You need to see if you are in a collision course or the same as usual, or simply being skyrocketed by the crisis. Once you know it, you can go to step #2:
Reduce Non-Vital Expenses
This is one of the main principles of the Profit First method: focus on reducing unnecessary expenses. Whatever is draining out your liquidity, necessary or not, needs to be reassessed.
We are talking about crisis stress, budget issues, loan problems, and negative cashflow situations for months to come. The earlier you cut these recurring expenses out, the better. And believe me, I've been there: sometimes you have to reconsider some "necessary" outlay to switch over to the other side of the table suddenly.
Third-party APIs: While things like Google Analytics, Search Console, SEO positioning, GitHub are mainly cost-free, websites tend to integrate multiple services into a single endpoint. Chatbots, payment providers, platform integration, and many other services can be temporarily suspended while the slow period goes through.
Web Hosting: Reduce it as much as possible while making sure your performance impact is contained. Most hosting companies offer tiers, among which you can move up and down, depending on your needs.
Advertisement: What works well during regular times, usually doesn't during a time of crisis. Advertisement expenses should be carefully considered and evaluated from a pessimistic point of view: be willing to take everything off unless it shows clear and reliable proof of effectiveness.
Licensing of Resources: Either if you have external resources, you regularly pay to use, evaluate using license-free sources like Unsplash.com or cheaper alternatives.
New Feature Development: Push these back entirely. Focus specifically on profit-related features that already exist on your website. Do not develop new sections or new content that does not tribute to your conversion funnels.
I won't refer specifically to employees or contractors as all situations are very particular, and it is a delicate topic. But obviously, also evaluate these and try to come up with the safest and reasonable alternative.
Focus on Most Profitable Activities
Same as the way you should make sure to measure everything, at all times, you need to do so with a profit. You need to know, at all times, what is generating profit and what is not. The main purpose of all businesses is to thrive while providing value to society and your customers. If something is draining your earnings away, that something is getting you closer to folding.
(...)be willing to take everything off unless it shows clear and reliable proof of effectiveness.
For websites, advertisement expenses are one of the primary direct "clear" sources of revenue. Correctly set advertisement campaigns offer clear Rate of Return (RoR) offer a clear vision of what is working and what is not. Try to focus only on positive RoR ads and do a weekly review of all analytics regarding:
Google AdWords (Google Ads) campaigns, keywords, and audiences.
Search Engine Traffic.
Social Media posts.
Everything that doesn't show a clear profit or result, simply bring it to a halt or a "pause" whenever possible.
Deliver Even More Value
During crisis times, we all, as people, have to play a role. We can either take care of our parents or children's mortgage during a financial crisis or stay home during a health one. On the other side, as businesses, we can also do a lot.
Believing a business is a one-way relationship eventually leads to unsuccessful scenarios. Acting against common sense, trends, or situations could seriously hurt your reputation and, eventually, the way your client base understands you. Yes, you can choose to ignore what's going on. But that doesn't mean it is not occurring.
Here are some ideas:
Evaluate how your business can help: Either by switching production lines to mass deliver face masks to provide specific advice to your audience is a valuable piece of help. Value is not just limited to tangible solutions. For websites, distributing information, advice, discount coupons, and free services come very handily for those in need. I have recently published an article where I explain how businesses can help during the COVID-19 situation.
Contact your audience: "The customer is always right" is one of the oldest phrases out there. I have no idea, but I would say it may be from the early 1990s (I'll Google for that someday)... I hate it when is used in sales, but I do love when it is used in marketing. Contact your customers, your mailing list, or simply display a survey somewhere in your site asking your audience how can your business help.
Contact government authorities: I'm not pretty clear how would have small businesses helped during the 08 financial crisis or during the dot com bubble, but today, lots of companies can. Specifically, if you are in the manufacturing, production, transportation, and front lines, the government can help you get aligned with provincial and nation-wide processes. Funds, contacts, tax incentives and
If you have an online business, all the previously mentioned steps can be taken from the safety of your home. It is 2020, so please, stay at home and work hard to keep your online business alive.
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