The Internet has changed the face of the way we search for the products and services we need. For instance, if we want to find a nice restaurant in our current area we are most likely to search online using Google or one of the many restaurant review sites. Or we could go on Facebook or Twitter and ask our online friends for recommendations.
We do the same for finding dentists, plumbers, accountants, gardeners and repairmen. We do it for just about for any service or product that we use. What most of us will not do is look in our local newspaper or Yellow Pages any longer. Yellow Pages are more likely to be used to prop doors open these days than anything else. Google is the new Yellow Pages.
This means that it is vital for you, as a local business, to understand the Internet or at least know where to go to get your business be found quickly and easily online. If not, you risk losing thousands of extra sales – sales that will go to your competitors instead. This is especially true if you are a business that depends on the local economy.
This article will help your local business reach consumers via the Internet. You may be surprised to find that your customers have probably already posted their reviews and ratings about your business on Yelp. Unless you claim your page, you are limited to how you can respond. You won’t be able to delete a negative comment but you can reach out to the individual who posted it by responding with a polite and helpful response of your own in order to resolve the situation if you can. Always remember that other people will be watching to see how professionally you will handle the situation. Negative reviews cost small business thousands of pounds every year.
All of the points touched upon below will have more fuller blog posts to help you dig deeper shortly.
When Google builds or buys something, it is likely to receive priority in Google’s organic search results. Nepotism on Google related sites is very relevant. So when Google bought YouTube for example, companies found that their sites were found faster, easier and higher up the search rankings if they had YouTube videos embedded. That is why it is so important to use Google+ for your business, as it will help you to reap the rewards. And best of all, it is free.
Tailor Your Site To Mobile Users
More people now access the Internet via their mobile devices rather than their desktops, so it is vital that your website looks good and is easy to read and navigate on their mobiles and tablets. Most mobile users want easy to find information such as your company address, phone number, prices and opening hours. Make sure that your site is mobile friendly because if it is hard to read on their small screens they will click off and visit your competitors instead. If your site is not Mobile friendly this will cost you heavily with Google indexing. They penalise website which are not mobile responsive, making it impossible for you to rank well.
Segment Your Email Subscribers
Email marketing is vital for local businesses and is very effective for generating sales. Always personalise your emails so that they speak directly to your subscribers. This will increase the success rate of your marketing campaigns. Segment your email subscribers into returning customers, new prospects, male, female and so on. This will help you to send targeted emails in order to get maximum impact. As a local business you want to be sending them relevant promotions, tailor-made for them.
Encourage Your Customers to Share Their Experiences
Encourage your customers to share online their experiences with your business. Allow them to post on your social media platforms and on your website by posting comments, reviews, images and videos. You want to encourage them to share their positive experiences with others. Today’s shoppers rely heavily on the opinions and reviews of fellow consumers. The more you and your brand engage with your customers the more you are building trust and a relationship with them.
.Use Local Names In Your Subject Headings To Boost Open Rates
To boost your email and blog post open rates use the name of your town and local area. This really does have a significant effect on how many local clients will read your information. The more relevant the area is to your subscribers, the greater the chance they will open your email or read your blog content
Sync Local Search Ads With Local Landing Pages
If you use Pay Per Click Advertising on Google for example, look at your paid search keywords. Place those keywords in your ads, and then put them in your local landing page headlines. Your visitors need reassurance to feel at home on your website.
Use Google Places and Google+
Every local business should set up a listing on Google Places (www.Google.com/business) and create a business page on Google+. Both are necessary to get the most visibility. Places help businesses get found on Google search and Google Maps, while Google+ business pages help with the social aspect. Google wants your business to be found as it helps them to give their users the information that they are searching for, so they make it really easy for you. Claim your pages today
Focus Website Analysis on Local Visitors
Google analytics can help local businesses understand more about their web traffic. In most cases, long before customers enter your local retail store, they have been on Google, Bing, Facebook and other sites researching exactly what they need and as a result, they may end up on your website. These visitors from outside of your local area won’t have the same value to you as someone in your neighbourhood. Therefore it is important to focus on likely customers Google Analytics, and find out how they are hearing about you so that you can improve your marketing strategies.
Use Every Opportunity to Grow Your Email List
If you own a physical store, ask shoppers to subscribe to your email newsletter as they check out. Events, contests or giveaways are also good incentives for people to join your mailing list. Offering a coupon of a percentage off their next order is a great way to get new subscribers and new customers.
Before Any Online Marketing Campaign Determine Your Goals
Set your marketing goals before jumping into marketing campaigns like Google Adwords. Decide what you want people to do when they arrive at your website. Let your goals drive your marketing tactics in order to get the most out of them.
Embed a Map on Your Website
Most local businesses get asked where they are located if a potential client contacts them. Your website can do a perfect picture job of answering that question by embedding an actual map that shows your location. There are many free tools such as MapQuest.com that can help you do this.
Monitor Your Businesses Online Reputation
If your business has been around for a number of years, the chances are, your local business is already getting reviewed by customers on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Google. Hopefully most of them are positive. However, it is inevitable that you will receive the occasional negative review too. Don’t ignore review sites. Make it a point to read reviews of your company and monitor your online reputation. Respond to all reviews, positive and negative from time to time. Engage with your customers and demonstrate to searchers that you care about your businesses reputation and that you take the comments very seriously.
Use Social Media to Engage With Your Potential Customers
Social Media is very important to connect with consumers and raise the awareness of your business. Setting up your company page on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ is a starting point. Then, at least once every week, use your website’s blog posts to share information about your business, products and services to your social media accounts. There are many tools you can use to automate this or you can use a business like ours to run your social media accounts. Try to engage with your followers by conversing with them and replying to their comments.
Set Your Facebook Page As a Local Business for Mobile Check-ins
With more than 1.8 million daily check-ins on Facebook location pages, Facebook Places is a viable platform for exposure and brand management. Facebook users can check into restaurants, supermarkets, bars, coffee shops and virtually any business page listed on Facebook as local, using the Facebook app on their smartphones. Page owners should ensure that their Facebook business page type is set to ‘Local Business or Place’ at either the point of creating their page or when the edit their page settings.
Invest in a Mobile Presence
Smartphones have revolutionised Internet marketing. Many consumers now use smartphones for on-the-go research, such as information on restaurants, events, you name it. If your prospects cannot find your local business on their smartphones, you are missing out on sales.
Test Facebook Ads With In-store Coupons
Want to measure the effectiveness of Facebook ads and drive people to your physical bricks and mortar store? Create ads that specifically target consumers in your geographic area. Link the ads to a special landing page on your site with a coupon redeemable in store. See if the ads drive more foot traffic and if the ads are effective for your business.
Monitor Reviews With Google
In the Google Places for Business dashboard, the reviews tool allows you to monitor reviews for your business from across the web. This is an incredibly useful resource and many tools like this cost money, but it is free on Google. It monitors reviews from almost every site except Yelp, so you can keep an eye on what people are saying about your business and respond accordingly.
Complement Others for Additional Attention
When blogging and tweeting, you can often get more attention for yourself and your business by simply mentioning others, especially media members. If you see an interesting article in your profession, point people to it by naming the author, publication, or organisation. Each one of them will often see that you have said something nice about them and will repay the compliment, sending thousands of their followers to you.
Use Your About Us Page To Get More Email Subscribers
About Us pages are one of the most valuable but neglected pages on a website. It is often the second-most visited page on a site, yet most businesses waste a valuable opportunity by not utilising the page properly. Make the most of this traffic and include an email opt-in form between the paragraphs. People visit this page because they are interested in what you have to offer and want to know more about you. Let them get to know you better by inviting them to subscribe to your mailing list.
Use Daily Deals
Groupon type services are not just for restaurants, gym memberships and iPhone accessories. Many professional service providers such as accountants and law practises are finding that a daily deal can bring in foot traffic for them too. One successful lawyer found that most of his daily-deal clients upgraded (spent more money) once they got in the door. Of course this may not be suitable for all businesses and you may have to check the rules and regulations for possible usage requirements, but if you can, it can be extremely profitable.
Use Analytics to Measure Website Activity
Any business with a website should track its activity using an analytics platform. Many services provide this free such as Google analytics. It helps savvy small business owners to understand what visitors do on their websites, and to know what makes their websites successful or not.
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