US guru Myrna Plaisir Daramy advises on the best ways to get your message out there to a wide and interested audience and to thrive in the wake of Covid-19
COVID-19 has caused us all to pause. I, like you, have been going through the motions of various emotions throughout each day as we all navigate through the current pandemic. But one thing that does bring me comfort is that we are all in this together… the entire world is facing this right now and globally we must face this new normal.
Here in the US, our bridal industry has been hit very hard, as salons have been forced to close and figure out how to serve their brides while social distancing.
In an industry that is based on tradition and relies heavily on high-touch service, business owners have had to get really creative in order to survive. One thing for sure, technology has had to play an instrumental role in keeping businesses connected with customers, communicating what actions are being taken, and maintaining some sense of community. In fact, it has been the one thing that has kept us going during these turbulent times.
Based on what I have learned from my clients, it appears that virtual appointments, live-streaming bridal trunk shows, recording designer interviews, and engaging more on social media have been the most popular ways they continue to serve their brides. But this leads me to pose the question…
With all this great content being created online for brides, what has been happening on the single most important real estate that you own on the web? I’m referring, of course, to your digi-home also known as your website. Business owners have been so proactive towards serving their existing brides online, that they have seemed to forget about the webspace that plays an essential role in converting prospective brides into customers… their websites.
In order to be proactive and prepare your web presence for what is to come after COVID-19, I have several tips to share on what you could be doing now in order to thrive in the months ahead.
1. While you have the time, take a moment out and audit your website from your mobile device. It’s important to do this from your cell phones because mobile-optimised websites are more trusted by 51% of consumers than those that are not. In addition, it is more likely that brides will visit your website from their phones first.
Here are some important things to ask yourself while you review your website:
• Is my site responsive? Does it respond or change in appearance when I am on a different device?
• Is the content on my homepage still current? Do I need to refresh any of the information?
• Do my social links take visitors to where they should go?
• Am I even active on those social platforms? (If not, remove them from my website)
• How many clicks does it take for a visitor to convert? Three or less is ideal)
• Do I have CTAs (call to actions) on my site? Am I helping to steer my website visitors along or are they left to figure out what I would like them to do?
• Do I have any testimonials? (They help with authenticity and trust)
• Is there any old content on my site that I should repurpose or just remove? Google looks at your site as a whole and old content that is no longer relevant may be hurting you.
• Do I need to add additional FAQs (frequently asked questions) that provide insight on how we will be addressing social distancing, store closings, etc.?
2. Make sure to take advantage of local SEO (search engine optimisation) strategies. I strongly suggest that you create a Google My Business Profile – if you do not have this already – and make sure that it includes your updated hours of operation as well as any updated details about how you are serving your brides.
I also recommend that you make sure that it is very clear on your website how brides can connect with you, whether it is by appointment request, call, or email. The way to do this is by making sure that your phone number is clickable on both the desktop and mobile version of your website and making sure that your address is in several places of your website like your contact page and home page in the footer.
3. Update your FAQ section on your website and make sure that you are informing your brides on how your business is handling social distancing. There may be several new policies and procedures that your brides will need to be aware of. In addition, I suggest that you create a checklist for your customers that you send them prior to their appointment with clear directions on what they need to know.
4. Now that you have had a chance to see how technology has played a role in how you can connect with your brides, consider keeping some of these practices in order to continue to offer exceptional customer service. Consider incorporating what you have learned by having virtual bridal party Zoom sessions and virtual stylist appointments in order to keep the quantity down of store visitors as well as streamlining the process so that appointments are more effective.
5. Be sure to incorporate video into your marketing strategy. Stats show that it is the preferred method of communication these days and one of the gifts that this pandemic has given us is learning how to feel more comfortable in front of a camera as well as more forgiving with the production quality. In fact, 72% of all consumers between the ages of 18-34 prefer to watch a video in order to learn about a product or service.
You have the opportunity to show-case your beautiful store as well as the one commodity that brides view the most online – wedding dresses! So I highly advise that you become creative and have fun with video.
Now that governments are starting to emerge out from quarantine and the reopening of businesses will begin, I can’t stress enough the importance of preparing your business now in order to thrive in the months to come.
Myrna is widely regarded as the expert when it comes to retailing techniques in the US. You can connect with her as @myrnapdaray