Guest Blog: 3-Step Guide to Re-Opening Your Small Business

Sarah Hiraki

 · 06/03/2020  · 06/03/2020

Nicole Gottselig, Senior Content Marketing Manager, Uberall

Recent government guidelines to help businesses get back up and running are positive signs that businesses in the UK are slowly preparing to reopen.

This is already inspiring optimism of an economy open for business again, as well as new search queries from consumers looking to see if their favourite SMEs are open near them now.

For example, ‘new’ cyclists hitting the fresh open air after weeks of home office and social distancing may be looking for a bicycle they can check out and take a test spin from a local store.

If you’re a bike shop owner, you’ll want to make sure you’re showing up on Google when customers near you search for “bike shop open near me”.

Customers want to know if you’re open and what you have in stock — and the only way they can do this is by finding you online. This makes your online presence critical for both your reputation and visibility in local search. Your customers are turning to your online presence for rapid responses to their queries across multiple platforms for real-time information.

  • Are you open or closed?
  • Can I dine inside your restaurant?
  • Do I need to wear a mask to come in?
  • Do you have the product I am looking for?
  • Do you have curbside pickup?

Depending on what type of business you own, you may need to act fast and adjust your listings, operating hours and responses right away.

Consider these three steps to increase your online visibility and engage with your customers as you prepare to open your doors again.

Step I:  Ensure your online information is up-to-date

Many of your customers will be looking online to confirm your basic information before visiting. They’ll want to know if you’ve changed opening hours or the availability of products, among other things. It’s safe to assume that Google is going to be the primary way that your customers seek out this information.

You can start by updating all information on Google My Business (GMB). This includes opening hours, descriptive texts, telephone numbers or special hotlines, as well as information on appointments; and offers and answers to customer questions.

In many cases, it is also a good idea to publish FAQs on your own website or site-specific pages.

This would also be a good time to plan your messaging for different scenarios. For example:

Government regulations about the size of your business may mean you can re-open on a specific date:

  • Update on your GMB and Facebook accounts right away with this information
  • Share the news across all the platforms where your locations are listed
  • Share broadly on social
  • Respond to reviews and spread the word

Not all functions of your business will be operating , so you’ll want to make those changes readily available by using sub-categories (see Step II below). As well, update all the platforms wherever your customers are searching with answers such as:

  • Whether you have curbside pickup
  • If customers can dine inside or outside on terraces
  • Do you offering delivery or takeout on certain days of the week

Step II: Use sub-categories in GMB for better visibility and footfall

How do you give your customers more context about your current service and product offering?

For example, you’ll want to explain what is still possible and what is not: take away, only delivery? There may be services that maybe you didn’t normally offer but now you do.

Adding sub-categories may also improve your online visibility.

Using insurance as an example, here’s how this would look in GMB:

  • Main category: Insurance (broad)
  • 3 sub-categories: health insurance, life insurance, car insurance, etc.

These ultimately will lead to different behavior in Google Search depending on the search term that was used

  • Search terms: "Insurance Agency near me"
    Result: Our location will show up (if all the other criteria for showing up in search are met)
  • Search term: "Health Insurance Agency near me"
  • Result: Our location will show up (if all the other criteria for showing up in search are met)
  • Search term: "Mortgage Agency near me"
    Result: Our location will not show up

This, of course also works with other combinations.

For example, restaurants — where search queries run from broad to specific. If you used ‘Restaurant’ as the main category and ‘Pizza’ as the sub-category, you will not show up, if someone is searching specifically for pasta.

Step III: Let your customers know you’re open

Time is of the essence. Things are changing fast. As new government guidelines are presented, informing  your customers (and prospective customers) about your opening plans will be an ongoing challenge.

Stick to the basics:

  • Start with email to reach your most loyal customer base.
  • Update your special “coronavirus” pages on your website addresses your changed circumstances, such as partial re-opening, new hours, changes to services.
  • Use social media not just to post updates, but as a two-way communication channel in as close to real-time as possible. Social channels offer one of the best ways to communicate when face-to-face interactions aren’t possible.
  • Keep engaging with them via social posts and also keep an eye out for reviews and messages on all channels/directories (that still needs to be tied closer to the topic.

For more inspiration, take a look at the customer communication and content; and social media sections in this post.

Ready to start re-opening but don’t know where to begin?

If you are not using a platform that can automatically update all your online information and changes to your business operations, you’ll need to update each listing manually.

  • Start by prioritising those online directories your customers mostly use.
  • In many cases, you’d want to start with updating your business information on your own website and Google My Business.

If you don’t have the time to do this manually, have a look at the Uberall platform: where you can easily change all of your online listings from one spot on your Listings dashboard: quickly, easily and affordably.

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