The scale of the coronavirus COVID-19 is now becoming apparent. While no-one is able to state with any degree of certainty what the impact of the virus will eventually be, one thing is certain: that business will not be the same again. We're going to look at the role of your website, how best to communicate during and beyond the crisis to discover the long-term positive contribution a website can make in the face of a pandemic.
On the 16 March 2020, Public Health England issued the COVID-19 guidance on social distancing and for the protection of vulnerable people. As the days have rolled, we've learned, very early-on, to become cautious about close human contact. Business has become contactless overnight and so the way we must now communicate to win the business of tomorrow has changed. Locked-down Customers trying to keep their distance will have already turned towards alternative media channels in their quest for meaningful contact. Our communication resources are stretched and so, in a crisis, you don't waste time and you need to make certain that your messages stick.
As a consumer, your go-to media channel for news and updates might be Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. As consumers we love a bit of social because there's simply sooooo much of it - scroll, scroll, scroll, that's us! Social media channels are incredibly noisy places and, as a business, social media's not such a fun place as it's so easy for your important message to get lost as people thumb their lives away.
As a business, your posts on social media will get lost in time and not reach the audience you're hoping to engage with. Four years ago I likened, in a blog post, the movement of social media timelines to the immense weight of a freight train.
The digital stuff we like and share quickly passes-us by; your digital content rolls-on down the line and off into the distance.
Sure. Email makes perfect sense as you're contacting Customers and people who have opted-in to your outbound communications. However, if your inbox is anything like mine right now, then Coronavirus email won't get read because we've become quickly numb to them. Each and everyone I've received is way too long, boring and is simply full of the stuff management wants to tell you instead of what you want hear - once you've read one you've read 'em all. Am I right? Once you've opened an email then, if there's nothing simple to action (and if you haven't already trashed it), all you do is process and 'file' it. Email like this is incredibly short-lived, unreliably filed, non-indexed and swiftly forgotten - tomorrow's digital fish and chip paper in the inboxes of thousands, this digital waste will never bio-degrade yet never be looked at again.
With so many commercial messages passing through, undigested, the healthy alternative is to make your messaging sticky.
Post your communications where they'll not get lost, where they'll be permanently visible, indexed and accessible on demand.
Yes, that's right - in a crisis your website is the best place from which to communicate. I'm not saying don't use social media channels, use them to notify people who follow your brand that something meaningful has been posted and exists on your website. Get them off the noisy, chaotic social media channel and onto your website where you have the opportunity to control your message and let them find what they need to know.
This week two of our Customers each expressed surprise when they found themselves looking at their own websites. In both cases it had been years since they last visited and both were taken back (in a good way) by how good their Web Diffusion websites looked to them. Now, it happens that both of these Customers are among those who listened during the build of their website and took note that their websites need to articulate their business proposition from the perspective of their Customers.
When you're able to think like a Customer and fuel your digital communications with what Customers want to discover rather than what you're trying to sell them then, just like the two website owners I've just mentioned, you'll find that you'll be positioned to offer a clearer, richer, more helpful and more meaningful message during times of crisis.
This time will pass but we'll emerge from this coronavirus crisis as different people with a different model of communication. In recent years, trust in the words of companies and the words of our leaders has been steadily and progressively eroded and, once we emerge from lockdown, we'll, regrettably, trust eachother a little less too. Our desire to go contactless and socially distance ourselves will compel business leaders to want to make better contact as business works to re-establish lost trust and prove that we're not like the businesses which came before us.
In this new era of clearer communication with better message hygiene, your words of comfort and reassurance won't be found on social media - that train has long-since pulled out of the station. Write your words in permanent marker across your website, let yourself be Googled and let your Customers come to know who you are and what you always have been.