Small business owners and managers are always searching for ways to ensure the success and growth of their company. Businesses have to go where their customers are already looking to do this. In today’s world, that means connecting with customers online, including referral marketing.
Most businesses already have a website, so we’ll be focusing on how to leverage this existing asset. Let’s explore 7 ways you can help customers find your business using the web.
If you’re serious about obtaining more customers for your business, one of the most important things to do is optimize your company’s visibility on the Internet. This is how you ensure that customers are exposed to your business and website in their search. There are specific strategies you should be employing to optimize your level of online visibility. These include:
SEO is an online marketing strategy that involves using various services to ensure solid rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs). SEO is a technical process that involves many elements, including:
When pursuing an SEO campaign, its best for most businesses to consult with a professional. Going about it the wrong way can trigger penalties that bury your website in the search results. If you want to learn more about SEO, here is a good place to get started.
A popular strategy that many businesses use to increase online visibility is content marketing. This is a two-step marketing process.
The first part involves the creation of brand-building content that will attract the target market’s attention. Digital writers use numerous strategies to accomplish this objective, such as the inclusion of eye-catching infographics, publishing blog posts and educational content.
The second part of content marketing is promotion. In today’s completive market, simply publishing content is not enough. Promoting the content through SEO, social media and even paid advertising is required to ensure your target audience is seeing and consuming it.
Another technique that can be used to help your company attain the level of visibility necessary to generate more brand exposure is online reputation management. This strategy involves utilizing various techniques to ensure that your brand’s online image is positive and powerful across the web.
One Forbes article noted that the reputation management process should involve researching your brand name to ensure that it is not bogged down with a negative reputation. This involves checking search results, social media posts and online reviews. You want to make sure that potential customers see your business in the best light possible, wherever they may find it.
A fourth methodology that can be used to make your business more visible online is the use of SMO techniques. This approach helps optimize brand awareness on popular social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. Because there are likely thousands of people in your local community who use these channels regularly, you want to make sure you have a strong, positive presence on them.
While not all businesses will be on every social media site, it’s a good idea to be on Facebook and Twitter at a minimum. Posting and tweeting regularly, combined with Facebook and Twitter ads, is a great way to increase your brand awareness. Only 10% to 20% of what you post should be promotional. The other 80% to 90% should be content that is engaging, educational or entertaining. You want your business to become part of the online community, and not be ignored for over-promoting.
After you have implemented the strategies necessary to optimize your online visibility, it’s important that you take additional steps to convert these individuals to leads and customers.
Beyond using your website to encourage potential customers to contact you, online reviews are incredibly important as well. With 86% of consumers taking time to read online reviews, this is one of the best ways to convert casual browsers to leads and customers.
However, most businesses are not fully utilizing this. Many individuals will likely be willing to complete an online review (as long as they are happy), but you need to make the process easy. Here are some tips that can help you realize this objective:
Don’t simply ask satisfied customer to go online and post a positive review about your company. Let them know exactly where they’ll need to go online to access your review profile on Google, Yelp, Facebook or any other review site you are targeting. A good way to do this is to simply ask them to go to the site you want them to leave a review on and search for your business name. This is easier to do than typing in a long URL directly to your business listing.
Instructions to leave a review can be sent via email, printed on a receipt or on a separate printed business card. If you are requesting reviews via email, then simply requesting a review and including a clickable link to your review profile is enough. Be sure you ask your customers to leave the review. Be polite and don’t just tell them what to do.
One of the best ways to ensure that a satisfied customer writes a review is by requesting it directly after a purchase. This helps ensure that the positive nature of the transaction is fresh in the customer’s mind
You will want to make sure the reviews are left from customers’ personal mobile devices. Review sites track internet connections. Reviews coming from your office or store over and over will get removed or flagged as spam.
In the case of requesting reviews via email, it’s a good idea to send a follow up 3 to 4 days later if the review has not been left. People are busy so a friendly follow up will help get your business more reviews coming in. Best of all, there is no financial cost to do this.
It’s important that customers are able to find you online. This requires your business to show in search results, have regular social media activity, be consistently publishing new content and actively managing your online reputation and reviews.
However, the reality is that most businesses do not do this – at least not with any consistency. Following these 7 steps and making it a normal business process will put you far ahead of your competition over time, and help ensure you dominate your local market.
Eric Welke is a Cofounder and the President of RenegadeWorks. RenegadeWorks provides online reputation management software and referral marketing software for small businesses. Eric is passionate about helping businesses succeed in an ever-changing digital world. Follow Eric and the RenegadeWorks team on Twitter @RenegadeWorks