Pagoda Blog

Why You Need to Move Your Business Online (And How To Do It)

May 7, 2020

As we continue to shelter in place, many of us are learning to conduct more of our business online. For some, this means shifting the sale of products/goods online, for others it means translating in-person services onto a digital platform like Zoom, Facebook Live, or some other audio/visual application. Still for others it may mean simply staying engaged with customers through an email newsletter or social media until it’s safe again to reopen for business. 


Even if we weren’t currently living through a pandemic, learning to fully utilize digital platforms and online tools for your business can only benefit you in the long run. It keeps your business competitive, improves efficiency, and strengthens cybersecurity. Whether you plan to move entirely online or just conduct components of your business over the internet, going digital can  help your team collaborate and boost productivity while also helping you nurture relationships with your customers.   


How to use online platforms to collaborate with your team  

Whether you’re working in a shared office setting or have a dispersed team, online communication platforms have their place. If used effectively, they can cut down on unnecessary interruptions while keeping colleagues better informed of a project’s status and what task they should prioritize next.  


Try chat applications in place of email and in-person interruptions

When you just need to ask a quick question of a colleague or share a status update on your current project, we often default to an email or to the disruptive in-person request: “Hey, do you have a minute?” Our inboxes are overflowing and an email can either get overlooked or can overwhelm. In-person interruptions, even for a “quick” question, disrupt our workflow and can decrease productivity. This is where a chat application like Google Suite’s Hangout Chat, Office 365’s Microsoft Teams, or Slack provides a secure space to reach out and keep track of everyone’s comments and questions. These tools make it easy to stay in touch with your entire team without overloading each other’s inboxes, and you can more easily search your message threads to locate a specific note. It’s also a more secure way to share files and have confidential conversations than over email.    


Use real-time editing features for evolving documents

Rather than edit a printed document or email a static document back and forth, trying in vain to keep track of the latest changes, take advantage of the real-time collaboration features offered by both Google Docs and Microsoft Word. These live-editing features allow you to work on a document with one or more people and easily see the latest changes. You can choose to receive notifications whenever a change is made and can quickly accept or reject your coauthors’ suggestions. This is especially useful for evolving documents or spreadsheets that require frequent updates.     


Read: A Beginner’s Guide to Google Docs’ Collaboration Features


Try video call software for meetings and presentations

Hangout Chat, Microsoft Teams, and Slack all also have video call capabilities for when you need to discuss an issue “face-to-face.” Video conference calls are a great way to maintain camaraderie within a team and make everyone feel more connected, even when you’re working in different locations. You can even use the screenshare function to share PowerPoint or SlideShare presentations. It’s important though to use a combination of video and chat—too many video calls can negate this tool’s benefits and create unnecessary stress and mental exhaustion


Read: Video Conference Call Etiquette and Security Tips


Take your business trainings online

There are other ways beyond chat and video applications to collaborate with your team. Lots of companies offer online business trainings that allow your team to expand their expertise without the expense and time required of travelling to a conference or workshop. Taking the trainings online also makes it easier to accommodate everyone’s schedules and allows team members to learn individually, meaning less of a disruption to your business’s workflow. 


One of our favorite online trainings for the entire team is KnowBe4. This cybersecurity training software is accessible to even non-tech experts and includes an expansive library of automated training campaigns and simulated phishing attacks to test your employees’ grasp of the content using real-life scenarios. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, KnowBe4 has created Your Coronavirus Work From Home Resource Center to help protect businesses from the drastic rise in phishing scams. (In March alone, the number of phishing attacks increased 667%!)


How to use social media & email to connect with your customers

Running a successful business relies on strong relationships with new, existing, and even past customers. It’s not always possible, or appropriate, however, to connect with your customers in person or over the phone. This is where social media and email allows you to nurture these relationships.  


If you currently use social media to spread brand awareness and stay in touch with your customers, take some time to conduct an audit of each platform. Are you sharing content that’s relevant to your target audience? Do you post on a regular basis? How do you ensure that any comments or messages are quickly responded to? If you do it right, social media can provide a public online space for customers to get to know your brand, learn more about your products/services, and stay in the loop on your latest offerings. 


Read: How to Secure Your Social Media Accounts 


Email, however, is still the most effective strategy for making a more personal, direct connection with your customers. A regular email newsletter that provides value to your subscribers can build trust and loyalty with your audience. This value can take many forms depending on your readers’ interests, such as exclusive deals, inspirational content, or expert insights. It’s also a highly effective way to ensure that timely or critical information reaches your most loyal and engaged customers. This has proven especially important for businesses as they weather COVID-19. Those with engaged email lists are much better equipped to immediately notify their customers of changes in business operations, ways they can support them through this crisis, and of ongoing developments with their products/services. 


Don’t forget to also ask your customers for online reviews on Yelp, Google My Business, and social. These reviews will help drive potential customers to your website and can improve your search rankings. Make sure that you regularly monitor and manage what people are saying online about your business to ensure you make a good first impression. 


Does your business need to do everything online?     

There has never been a more crucial time to embrace conducting more of your business online. However, leveraging the benefits of online tools like chat applications and social media doesn’t mean you have to abandon your offline business channels. As your business looks ahead, you may decide it’s still important to offer in-person services and to have your team work together in a physical space, even as some businesses move entirely online. Giving your business the flexibility to collaborate internally and nurture customer relationships at least partly online, however, will allow you to stay relevant and competitive in a world that’s increasingly relying on digital experiences.   

Related Posts: 

Setting Up a Secure and Productive Home Office for the COVID-19 Outbreak 

Should You Move Your Business to the Cloud? (Part 1)

How to Use Technology to Improve Collaboration in the Workplace    


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