An attractive storefront on a heavily-traveled street used to be the enough to build a loyal customer base. These days, people walking down the street are too busy looking at their smartphones to notice your business. The customers who have bought from you for years already trust you to deliver a superior experience, but non-customers need more convincing. Internet marketing can help.
Maybe that buyer knew about your business but trusted one of your competitors because of how that business presented itself online. Unlike traditional marketing, which is all about driving sales, online marketing is also focused on gaining trust and making consumers feel good about buying from your business. Hard selling techniques still work on occasion, but consumers are more likely to notice businesses that appeal to them with free advice, useful tools or entertaining distractions.
They’re also more likely to gravitate towards businesses that interact with them as people and not revenue streams. Social media, mobile, email and other online marketing channels make these interactions possible, which is why local businesses that market online perform better than those that don’t.
Now that you understand why internet marketing is so important, it’s time to start using it. So how can you generate more sales, attract more customers and stand out from local competitors online? Here are some ideas that may result in a larger local following:
1. Claim your local listings
Consumers who want information about local businesses often look to sites like Google and Yelp, because they provide reviews from other consumers. In order to make the most of this, and to keep tabs on what people are saying, make sure to claim your listings on those sites. Be sure that your company’s address, phone number, email, and website are all correct, and then add a few photos of your business and offerings.
2. Create a mobile-friendly site
Earlier in this article, we mentioned that many consumers use their smartphones to find businesses to patronize. But if you hope to catch their attention (and their business), they need to be able to easily find and browse your site. That can only happen if your site is mobile-friendly.
If your site isn’t accessible on whatever device a potential customer is using, they’re likely to get frustrated and leave it. Because of this, you may want to consider using responsive design, which will make your site usable on all devices. Responsive design is also seen as mobile-friendly in Google’s eyes—and now that mobile-friendliness is a ranking factor, that could potentially mean increased visibility for your site.
3. Provide useful content
Today’s consumers expect more than great products and services from the businesses they buy from. Many of them look to brands and companies for advice and useful information. For example, a frequent customer at a boutique may want employees to tell them what’s in style.
The best way to do this is by providing the information online. You may think it’s a bad idea to give away knowledge for free, but look at it this way: if you’re an accountant, your potential customers may use the Internet to search for things like “how to do taxes” or “real estate planning advice.” Information about these topics is probably online. But if you are able to provide an answer, and one that’s better than all the others, those potential customers will see you as a valuable source of information—and may even call you when it comes time to hire an accountant.
4. Do local SEO
While some users go to local directories to find the products and service they need, many others rely on with Google and other search engines to provide them names of local businesses. So, for example, let’s say that your own a shoe store in Memphis. It would clearly be in your best interest to show up in the results whenever someone searches for, “shoe stores in Memphis.”
In order to do that, you need to do local SEO. By optimizing your site to rank well for both your business type (restaurant, bar, shopping, etc.) and your neighborhood, town, or city, you can increase the chances that the people who are actively looking for businesses like yours have no trouble finding you.