Since the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, business owners have had to act quickly to make drastic changes to their services to meet the new needs of seekers in a continually unpredictable landscape.
While searches near me decreased slightly in early 2020, it has steadily increased since then, further solidifying the need for brands and businesses of all sizes to be present and discoverable online.
During the pandemic, nearly a third of shoppers bought from a brand that is new to them. This article explains tactics for your new or upgraded services digitally showing up to guide and convert these new seekers during their decision-making process.
What types of questions do seekers ask?
How can I do business with you?
When you are thinking about your Google My Business profile and customizing your information, the most important element is letting searchers know how to do business with you.
You want to make sure that all of your central location data is updated. This includes marking whether or not they are temporarily closed. When open, publish the most accurate hours of operation.
In addition, you should make it as easy as possible for seekers to get in touch with you if they have any questions. This includes making sure your phone number is correct, monitoring your Q&A section in Google My Business, and turning on messaging when staff can reply. These are all methods that customers use to feel connected to you, encouraging them to convert and buy from you.
What security precautions do you take with your customers and employees?
The health and safety of customers and employees is a priority for all seekers. As a company, this information should be paramount so that potential customers can understand how important this is to your business.
It should be incredibly clear to anyone who wants to delve into your business what types of safeguards and protocols you follow and how they can affect your journey to your business or the delivery of your services. This includes social distancing measures that can result in long lines, mask requirements, etc. Having this information emerged early on makes the decision to do business with you much easier.
What types of services do you offer and are they different from the normal ones?
Businesses and consumers have had to adjust to so many new norms. To attract new customers and promote the evangelism of existing customers, eliminate as much friction as possible by communicating changes in advance.
If you've made changes to a service or product that users rely on, make it clear what has changed and how. This is especially true for key companies that are particularly busy and facing bottlenecks in the supply chain.
What can all businesses do to communicate updates about new and changing services in Google My Business?
1. Update your attributes
Google has introduced dozens of highly visible attributes and will continue to introduce new ones. This includes details such as personal or online service and appointments, delivery and collection, and security measures for personal shopping. Keep an eye on these and make sure that all relevant attributes are applied to your company.
2. Publish services and products
Having these available for your category will be a great way to introduce new services and products, or highlight your most popular ones.
3. Add Google Posts
After Google temporarily lifted restrictions on API access for chains, businesses of all sizes should start leveraging posts. Posts allow you to share timely and relevant updates that include temporary closures, product and service updates, promotions, and gift card options.
4. Update your pictures
If your product, service, or location looks different from returning customers, it can lead to confusion or disappointment. Don't underestimate the power of updated images on your Google My Business profile. Most smartphones have a sufficiently high quality camera that can even take a few pictures a week and upload them.
5. Post additional hours
Publishing additional hourly rates will help you publish your additional offers. This includes senior times, online operating times, drive-through times, pick-up times and more.
One of the hardest hit industries, especially from a digital perspective, has been healthcare. Both sick and healthy patients have had to rethink how they can access their health needs.
Healthcare organizations are making adjustments to care for existing and new patients. There has been a big shift in offering telemedicine appointments instead of in-person appointments for a range of specialties from internal medicine to therapy. Government agencies also reported an increase in telemedicine visits, up 154% in the last week of March 2020 alone.
Based on this data, Google launched a telemedicine link for health categories in early April. This enabled health organizations and providers to show up and convert patients with non-urgent needs who are wary of visiting an office in person.
Just as important as the start of telemedicine support was the introduction of the information from the coronavirus test facility on maps and when searching. Google My Business has partnered with a number of third-party health and government sources, as well as Castlight, to ingest data for new test sites. The introduction of COVID-19 test information has been a step-by-step approach and has evolved over the past few months. For healthcare organizations that offer COVID-19 testing, this is the most relevant and critical service to add to your Google My Business listing.
For retail companies, inventory fluctuations and ordering methods have probably been one of the biggest challenges in recent months. That's why companies of all sizes have incorporated product buying capabilities and live inventory into their offerings. Google even launched free product lists in the US to help businesses.
After retailers could easily see what products were in stock, they had to make adjustments to support different ordering and collection methods. This includes enabling "buy online, in-store pickup", roadside pickup, and contactless delivery. Google introduced attributes to highlight these. Companies should therefore ensure that the offers of the individual locations are taken into account.
Banks and financial services companies have limited options due to regulations and the nature of their business. In addition to the security measures they take in their local offices, bank customers rely on drive-up support and virtual banking services. By leveraging drive-through and online appointment attributes, as well as highlighting unique drive-through hours, financial services providers can help customers better understand how to complete their banking transactions.
Restaurants have had to grapple with constant and fluctuating mandates imposing restrictions on how and when they can open. Depending on where the restaurants are and what local guidelines are in place, they will need to indicate if they offer delivery, takeaway and / or dinner and what that looks like. Some dine-ins were limited to al fresco dining only while others were limited to smaller capacities to allow social distancing.
There are a number of Google My Business features that you can use to notify customers of the dining features available. Restaurants should ensure that their food, delivery, and take-out attributes are kept up to date. The use of posts to describe places to eat, e.g. B. only outdoors or with limited capacity indoors, can also be helpful for customers. If you offer deliveries, online orders, or reservations, make sure you've checked the online ordering feature which will activate the blue action buttons in your knowledge panel.
Businesses of all sizes and from all industries have made it easier for consumers to engage with them as this pandemic continues to drive changes in everyday life. Follow these tips to make sure your updates are visible on your Google My Business profile, which is where most searches are done near me.