It’s not enough to only have a physical store; we live in a digital age where customers are less likely to shop at a local business unless they check its online presence first – through Google local listings, Yelp, Yahoo and more.
The best way to draw new customers to your small business is by using geo-targeted marketing and creating a strong online presence.
Chances are, your customers own a smartphone, tablet or have access to a computer. Potential customers will survey your business before they decide to come to you; they check out your website and look for online reviews, check out your social media and hunt for coupons and promotions.
Your business must be online. If you aren’t online, you’re not worth their time.
Step 1: Create a quality website
Only 53% of businesses have a website and less than 5% of business websites are optimized for mobile users.
Decide what your website is going to do for you. A quality website can serve as an extension of your business card with information about you, your business, and services offered. If you’re a retailer, you can create an e-commerce store as part of your website and sell your goods to a more widespread audience.
One in five searches is local, which means someone is looking for a product or service nearby. If you don’t have a website and you aren’t locally listed, you’re already missing out on new customers.
Step 2: Focus on paid advertising options with geo-targeting
Broad advertisements and branding will not attract the customers – these types of ads will be skipped over and it will be a waste of money for small businesses. Instead, small business marketing efforts need to focus on hyper-local advertising and create targeted ads within a specific distance of a physical store.
- Solve a problem - only target potential customers who are interested in what you offer
- Check your size! Your ads must work on every device – mobile, tablet, and computer
- Geo-target customers by creating targeted ads just for them and nearby areas
- Include your contact details and website to increase conversions to sales
- Consider the time of day the ad will be posted – are you customers going to see them?
Step 3: Refine your SEO and local listings
Google shows the most relevant results based on your location and searches. Pepper your website with details such as your location, your services, your contact information, and your operating hours.
When you create your Google listing, registering as a business on Search and Maps can get you front and center for local searches. Customers can see all nearby services they’re looking for. This will enable you to connect with a local customer looking for exactly what you to offer.
Credit: New Prspective
If your business is already listed, check what customers are saying about your business and respond to reviews that they are leaving. Not only does this improve the chances of your business showing up in local searches, you’ll receive valid feedback from your customers on what you are doing wrong and right with your business.
Step 4: Build relationships using social media
Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have a promoted feature for advertising purposes and to promote coupons, special deals and create event awareness. When you have created a small, targeted following, be sure to reward these customers for being fans.
Social media is not only a way to bring transparency to your business, but every action a brand does through it will build on your online presence. Every action you do online reflects your offline decisions, values and priorities of your business. How you react and interact with your customers will drive likes, shares, retweets, comments and reviews. This extends the reach of your business.
Let your offline personality show online
Online brand management has become more about managing dialogue – sharing instead of selling. The customer builds a relationship with a brand when the business has a personality behind it. Don’t rely solely on automated scheduling when it comes to managing your online reputation. Customers from your offline store felt a connection to the people they encountered when they visited your location. Recreate that connected feeling as you interact and promote your brand online.
Most importantly, you want to ensure that you have a strong foundation in place to help start you off on the path to success. By following these four steps, you can begin to build a strong online brand that builds on and adds to the success of your offline business.
How does your business retain a strong presence online? Comment below!