How to Keep Your Online Sales Going After the COVID-19 Pandemic

6 July 2021 • 8 min read

The Covid-19 crisis and the resulting lockdowns caused brick and mortar stores to rethink how they did business. Customers flocked to ecommerce as stores shuttered across the globe.

But now that brick and mortar stores have reopened, and lockdowns are a thing of the past (hopefully), many retailers are wondering: How can I retain my new customers and keep sales going on my online store?

This guide aims to arm retailers concerned about how they’ll manage ecommerce in a post covid-19 world with the tactics to keep their online store thriving.

A few of the below tips focus on optimizing your site around local SEO, which we always recommend, and which you can read about in greater detail in our Complete Guide to Ecommerce SEO.

Optimize Your Google My Business Profile

If you haven’t already, you should claim your Google My Business profile. This is a free tool that registers your business with Google’s business database and lets your business appear in local searches. For grocery stores, this is of particular importance.

A recent analysis of Google’s top ranked grocery stores in the 50 US capitals revealed a lot of useful info for optimizing your GMB profile:

  • Use “grocery” store as your business’ primary category
  • Having lots of recent reviews really helps your ranking so ask your customers to review you
  • Offering delivery and curbside pickup gives you a nice boost
  • Letting customers know your store requires the wearing of masks

There are lots more optimizations to make to fully build out your GMB profile, but the above list is a great place to start for grocery stores.

Update Your Site for Local SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about getting people to your site and keeping them on it, a key concern in the post-pandemic world. SEO practices revolve around placing keywords in your site’s content so that when people search for those words, your site starts to appear.

The goal of SEO is to ensure your store appears before the competition by ranking highly in search engines. This gets you more traffic and will help to reduce your site’s bounce rate, which is key when you want to drive online conversions.

There’s a defined two-step process for optimizing your site’s SEO and it always starts at the same place:

1. Do your keyword research

As we described in detail in our SEO guide, you first need to conduct some keyword research to find the best keywords to optimize your webstore around. By doing this research, you can find the keywords that your customers are actively searching for.

There are a lot of different tools to help you conduct keyword research, both free and paid. One tool we like to use is SEMrush, where you can use the Keyword Magic Tool to get a list of relevant keywords based on your seed keyword.

A search for “online grocery” in the tool returns a list like this:

The list will give you valuable information like monthly search volume, average cost-per-click, and the current level of competition for the given keyword.

You want to target keywords with high volume and low competition for your site’s content. This keyword search is quite general so the results are likely to have both high volume and high competition.

It’s best to try and target more specific keywords that are directly related to your products. These keywords are more called longtail keywords, but they often have high buyer intent so the work you put in is likely to return more sales.

2. Create informative content around your target keywords

When ranking sites, Google is looking for sites that will inform users enough that they won’t need to click on another site. So, you want your content to answer any search queries and questions that people have.

For ecommerce stores, this means telling them about why your products match what they’re looking for or solve their specific problem.

For online retailers, your most content-heavy pages will likely be your product pages if you don’t already have a blog.

We discuss on-page SEO for ecommerce extensively in our SEO guide, but here are the key takeaways for making your product pages SEO-friendly:

  1. Include at least 1000+ words on your top product pages
  2. Use your keywords 3-5 times
  3. Include your keywords in your product titles
  4. Include keywords similar to your main keyword in your product description

Start Local Paid Search Campaigns

Pay-per-click or PPC ads are one of the best ways to put your store on top of Google search results. If you search for a product on Google, you’ve definitely seen the first results with the “Ad” tag before you hit the organic results.

These ads are very effective at getting relevant traffic to your store quickly. With something as time-sensitive as online grocery shopping for instance, this can be very effective for getting quick traffic with high buyer-intent.

You can also get pretty granular with your targeting for Google Ads, meaning you can target your locality with your online ads. This way you can certify your number 1 spot for your specific industry in your area.

These highly targeted ads usually return high click-through rates, and when combined with an optimized Google My Business profile, can bring your lots of new paying customers.

To start creating campaigns, you need to first set up a Google Ads account. Sign up is free and you only get billed when people start to click on your ads. Go to https://adwords.google.com to sign up.

When your account is set up, you will be asked to create your first campaign. You don’t have to create one right away though, this option will be there for you when you want to start.

As a WebSell retailer, the best way to get the most sales from your Google Ads is by working with our Paid Search team. During a global pandemic, WebSell retailer Cormicans were able to achieve phenomenal results by drawing on the expertise of our team. Here’s a snapshot of their results from their Success Story:

If you’d like to achieve similar results, talk to us today about your Paid Search needs.

In-store Marketing for Your Online Store

If you’ve got lots of footfall in your store post-lockdown, you can use this to your advantage to cross-promote your online store.

For instance, many customers might not know that you offer a delivery service. Telling them in-store with a promotional flyer and a discount for their first online order could encourage them to start shopping online.

As a brick and mortar and online business, you want both channels to generate revenue as you never know when another international emergency might occur. No one in retail saw the coronavirus lockdown coming and it’s changed retail forever, so there’s no guarantees that something similar won’t happen again.

You need to ensure your online store has enough users and new traffic to make your online store a thriving marketplace.

Start Sending Emails & Personalize Them

Building a personal connection with your customers encourages them to revisit your store and become loyal shoppers. One of the best ways to do this is through email marketing.

Email marketing is still the most cost-effective marketing channel and it’s how small businesses find the most success in talking to their customers.

It’s much cheaper to retain customers than acquire new ones, and sending personalized emails is how you do it. Tools like Mailchimp let you add a simple, ‘Hi [First Name],’ will encourage users to open your emails and start engaging.

The content in the email should also be personalized to who you’re sending to. You have a full list of your customers with data on how they shop. Could you offer them a timely promotion on items they frequently shop for?

By offering your customers frequent discounts, they will be encouraged to both stay shopping with you, and look out for every time you send an email to see if it contains something they’d be interested in.

The Return On Investment (ROI) of email marketing is very positive, returning an average of $44 for every $1 spent, so it’s definitely a worthwhile investment.

Wrapping Up

Hopefully you found some tips in this blog for how to keep your online sales going in a post-covid world.

If you’re still struggling to keep online traffic going to your store while your brick and mortar has reopened, just get in touch with our team and we’d be happy to guide you through any of the above tactics, and much more.

We can help you with SEO, Paid Search, Email Marketing, Social Media, and Website Content to get your more online traffic and sales.

What did you think about this post and what’s your experience been with handline online sales after covid-19?

Let us know in the comments below!

Here’s some related articles for maximizing your online traffic and sales:

Ecommerce SEO: The Complete Guide (2021)

Email Marketing for Retail: 11 Tips for 2021

9 Steps to Creating Product Descriptions That Sell

How to Create the “Complete Content” That Google Loves