If you haven’t been using digital marketing efforts to get feet through your door, it’s time you did! You’re looking for “feet through the door” and to get them, your online presence is at least as important as your shopfront. The best part about spending your marketing buck on optimizing your online presence is that it’s way more effective than anything you may have spent on print advertising in the past. There aren’t a lot of people picking up the local newspaper with the specific intention of finding your business, but just about everybody uses the internet to find the products, services, and businesses they’re looking for. Are you getting the basics right? Check out our list of top ways to boost brick and mortar businesses online to see if you’re hitting the spot.
1. Have a Website and Make Sure it Gets Found
You don’t need a fancy website to attract customers to your store. Even quite a simple one will boost your profile. But it’s only going to do that if search engines can find it and prioritize it for people in your area. It comes down to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Local SEO services help to optimize your website so that search engines will show it to people in your area who are looking for a business like yours.
Think about how people find businesses these days. I’d pick up my mobile phone and ask it to find X product or service near me. Up come the search engine results and I’ll be looking at the top few listings I see there. Unless I already have some pretty serious customer loyalty, I’m not going to scroll down too far, much less see what’s on page two of the search results. That’s typical consumer behavior these days. Search engines work to give people the information they’re looking for, so without good local SEO that sends out the right signals to search engines and gives you a high ranking, you aren’t going to get the business.
And, in case you’re thinking that everyone is already doing that, be assured that they aren’t. You could get the edge on some of your strongest competitors with good SEO. If they are using this tool already, you need to make sure that your SEO is as good or better than theirs, or they’ll get the new customers and you won’t.
2. Make Sure Your Google Business Listing is Optimized
This point is related to our first one, but not quite the same. Once again it’s a matter of people searching for a business online and search engines doing their best to give them the results they want. The information customers (and therefore Google) is looking for includes your location, your phone number, and your trading hours. If any of that information is missing or conflicting, you get downgraded, become harder to find, and are therefore less likely to get the customer.
In case you haven’t noticed, just about every business, even the ones without websites and who never paid attention to Google Business listings is nevertheless there. Now imagine the advantages you can get from actually paying attention to that listing – especially if your competitors neglected to do so.
A few reviews also help. Ask your happiest customers to take a little time to give you a review – there’s nothing like social proof from people who couldn’t possibly benefit from promoting your store to boost new customers’ confidence before they even walk through that door.
3. Leverage Facebook to Promote Your Business
As a local business, being where your customers are is a great selling point – but it’s worth remembering that your customers are on Facebook. There are tons of social media platforms that you can use, but this one has very definite benefits. Just about everyone uses it for a start! But just having a Facebook Business page isn’t quite enough – a little Facebook advertising from time to time ensures that your business appears on people’s feeds, and even if all they get is a quick impression, those impressions will count when they start looking for a business like yours.
If you’re running a small business, you might think that this is a bit like newspaper advertising. In a way, it is, but Facebook can be a whole lot more cost effective and it allows you to surgically target users who might be interested in what you have to offer. You can narrow down the geographical area where most of your customers are based and pick who will see your advertising based on demographics and interests. The more you narrow things down to your target audience, the LESS your advertising costs. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. Having said that, if your business has a lot of competitors, you’re reaching a lot of people, and your demographic is relatively broad, Facebook advertising can get a bit expensive. All the same, it’s worth checking out.
Your print advertising platform may be giving you readership figures that sound great, but if you’re marketing to target, for example, women between the ages of 20 and 30 who are interested in fashion, your print advertising is only going to be of interest to a small percentage of that overall figure. Plus, your ad competes with a bunch of other ads that they’ll find irrelevant, so even if they do read the publication, it’s entirely possible that they’ll miss your advertisement among the clutter. With a well-targeted Facebook campaign, that isn’t going to happen. Add to that the fact that Facebook campaigns can be surprisingly cheap, especially if you serve a relatively quiet area and a small demographic, and you’ve hit marketing gold.
4. Get into Content Marketing
Having the right kind of content on your website can boost SEO efforts, but there are many more benefits than just that. If you’re creating content that genuinely interests your audience and that they find informative, it can become a great way to build your reputation as an expert in your field. You will need a clear strategy. Taking a shot into the dark is unlikely to be that effective. Get help in choosing the right strategy or be ready to do a lot of research on your own – either way, the benefits can be enormous.
Apart from your content featuring organic search (you don’t have to pay for that) you can also use it to drive traffic to your website from social media pages, use it as an interesting addition to your email newsletters, or guest post content on popular websites where locals get their news and opinion pieces. There are a ton of other concrete benefits to content marketing, so taking a closer look at this way of boosting your business could be a game-changer.
Get the Edge on Online Info and Let Your Brick and Mortar Business do the Rest
Marketing your business online, when done just right, will give you the edge over other brick and mortar businesses in your area who don’t make the effort or who make the occasional half-hearted attempt to grab the limelight online. Once your prospective customer visits your business, your great in-person service can do the rest. From there, your satisfied customer will remember to tell friends and family about you and you get good, old-fashioned referrals – but it all started with being seen online. Ready to take your town by storm? Be sure to use these cost-effective tips to ensure that you don’t miss out when people start searching for your specialty online.
Salvatore Presti is an American writer living in Italy who enjoys the fine art
of living well. His interests include anything wine, food or nature related
especially when enjoyed with friends and family.