Attracting Customers Online
Increase traffic to your storefront while keeping your costs low by following these 9 steps.
It’s a digital world. Traditional marketing tactics are becoming more expensive and difficult to get results. If you own a small business locally, and is still struggling with promoting your brand using traditional offline methods, stop now! Here we are going to explain why you should switch to online promotion tactics, and most importantly how you can get more customers to knock on your door in no time.
Why should you start focusing on online marketing?
Data tells everything:
- 89 percent of consumers use search engines for purchase decisions. (source: Brafton)
- 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. (source: SearchEngineLand)
- 71% more likely to purchase based on social media referrals. (source: Hubspot)
In short, search engine, online product information and user reviews etc are causing a fundamental shift in how consumers make decisions. Once the purchasing behavior of your target audience changes, you should also change your way of marketing. Remember - if customers can’t find you online, they will go to your competitors!
Get More Customers without Hiring
Time is money! For small business owners, if you can squeeze 30 minutes out of your day to do some of the following things, within a few weeks (if not months), you are likely to make a difference. Note: the order of the tips below is based on the ease of implementation. The more items you can check off, the better results you can expect to get.
1. Claim your business listing on Google, Bing, Yelp etc.
- Google My Business – helps connect you directly with customers, whether they're looking for you on Search, Maps or Google+.
- Yelp! – No. 1 portal for people to find local business. Millions of people visit Yelp every month.
- Bing Places – as the second largest search engine provider, Bing also offers free services for local business to get found.
Note: different types of businesses may also find more vertical listings in which are also worth building your profile.
2. Encourage existing customers to write reviews
All reviewing websites have their own ways (computing algorithms) to rank business pages based on a user’s search query. It’s a no brainer that the more reviews you receive, and the higher the ratings, chances are your business page will stand out by ranking on the top positions. Getting good customer reviews is not easy. Not only does it require you to provide awesome products or services, but also understanding how to engage customers and develop an actionable program to stimulate happy customers to write a few lines for you. However, it’s definitely worth putting your effort. Check out this Yelp article or SalesForce blog to learn specific strategies to achieve the goal.
3. Register accounts on social media
The benefit of being present on social media is huge for local business, while it doesn’t necessarily require you to invest lots of time. First of all, it significantly increases the trustworthiness of your brand and being touchable on social media broadens the gate to have direct conversation with your customers and prospects. Above all, you can rely on these channels to get valuable feedback in order to improve your services. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube etc have millions of users, select to register in these platforms that your target audiences are most active in.
4. Set up Google Alerts to manage online reputation
You surely don’t want to miss that part when your customers are talking about your business or products, but how can you keep track of the conversation in time? Setting up Google Alert is the easiest way to go. If you have a Google account, creating an alert is as simple as throwing a few keywords related to your brands in the search box. Google will then send you instant emails whenever Google has indexed a new page referring to your brand. Keep in mind that you might also use this feature to track your competitors.
5. Jump into the conversation to engage your customers
Your customers/prospects might be asking questions, complaining about your products or services across various online communities. Now that you’ve set up Google Alert, when necessary, don’t hesitate to jump into the conversation by providing useful information. Note that by doing this, you are not only addressing the problems of these people, you’ve reached a larger audience who might view the conversation in the future. Remember - a social active brand has higher chances to win customers. Dell has proved it10 years ago, today the rule still stands.
6. Have a live, well-designed website
"Nowadays a company without a Web site is in loser territory-out of touch." - John C. Dvorak, PC Magazine columnist. People rarely go to your physical store to learn your products/services. A website is the most popular channel, and a sales machine if turned into one. There are many open source options to build a functioning website, but it requires you to possess certain technical skills, and often is not equipped with good user experience. If you want to save time and money, hiring a creative web design agency is likely a smart choice. View Baunfire’s work and see if we can be of help to you.
7. Open a blog and update it once a while
Now that you have a great website that represents your brand. The next thing we highly suggest you do is to open a blog. Why? A study by Ignite showed that businesses with blogs generate 126% more leads than those without a blog, and that 61% of consumers say they’ve made a purchase after reading at lease one blog post. Moreover, a website with fresh content will add nutrition to your search marketing efforts, which could bring you extra free SEO traffic. Kind tip: before you start blogging, spend some time on research, such as identifying your target audience, and create a feasible content strategy. This is vital to ensure that you never run out of content ideas.
8. Set up email marketing campaign sooner than later
This Forbes article hints that email marketing is still more effective than social media marketing. It is and will still be the most cost-effective way to generate leads and acquire customers, if used properly. Try to record and sort out all the email addresses you’ve got from either online or offline channels, import them into MailChimp (it’s free) or any other email marketing service providers. Then make a campaign calendar, propose value-added content and promotions, and hit the send button. At last, cross your fingers and see what magic will happen!
9. Learn some Local SEO knowledge
If you want to grow website traffic without hiring an online marketing specialist, then learning some Local SEO knowledge on your own can be a good choice. You don’t have to be an expert to do this. There are many free resources out there. As long as you spend some time on it, you’ll reap a lot. Note: Search engine optimization is based on website, if you choose to collaborate with a web agency, bear in mind the SEO aspect. They will most likely create the SEO foundation for you while designing your website. These are a couple things local small business owners can do to earn more customers at no or low cost. If you have not used them, now it is a great time to start. For those who’ve already applied some of these things, did you find them helpful? Any feedback is welcome.