Businesses that only have a retail location and do not sell online can still greatly benefit from a web site or a web presence of some kind. In fact, you are losing business daily if people cannot find out more about your business by searching online. With mobile smartphone usage increasing, more often shoppers are using the power of the internet from their phones to look for local businesses. Whether it is to find your address or learn about your products or services, your customers are looking for you online, even if it is not to buy anything online.
Here are 4 tips for increasing your offline business with an online presence:
Develop a small website. Your website does not have to be elaborate or fancy; just a clean, concise and informative site to drive traffic to your location is what you need to have. A website for a retail store does not have to be detailed and list everything you sell. But your website should describe what you do and why you do it better than the competition. Explain to customers about your company. Make sure that your location, map, and contact information are on the website. If you offer services, you can choose to book appointments or reservations online. Websites do not have to be costly to develop, you can even teach yourself to set up a site using Word Press or you can use sites that have templates to choose from and you can fill in your own information and images. As you will see below, there are other ways to gain a presence online and for customers to find you, but a website has many benefits since you are in control of it and can put your own corporate image and ideas into it.
Optimize local listings. All of the search engines have local listings pages. Make sure that your local listing is completely filled out. If you do not have a website, you can certainly use these local listings to your advantage; however, even if you do have a website, you should still pay attention to the search engines listings. Make sure that your address and phone numbers are accurate. You can upload images and embellish the description to be more informational and better represent your company. Make sure to fill in as much information as possible and include keyword rich details when you describe your business. This way the listing will show up when potential customers are looking for the products or services you sell, even if they do not yet know about your business or your business name. You should fill out every local listing site that you can find including: Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yellow Pages, and any other local sites that you find on the web when you search for businesses in your area and the neighboring cities and towns.
Set up Social Media Channels. Set up social media pages for your business. This should also be done whether you have a website or not. You do not have to set up all social media channels, but just chose the ones that are best for your business. This will help you connect with customers and they can connect with you. The goal is to get your customers and clients to share your business with their social network. Spreading the word is such an important marketing tool because people trust the word of their friends and even the general public more than they believe advertising from businesses. The main social sites you should set up are Facebook and Google Plus. (Google Plus is a social site, but is also your local listing on Google and allows for built in customer reviews, so it is important for all of our tips here.) If your business is artsy, foodie, or lends itself to pictures, try Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube.
Ask for Testimonials. A study from the online video-review site EXPO found that reviews from consumers are trusted nearly 12 times more than descriptions that come from the manufacturer. Since the word of mouth from your customers is so valuable, embrace online reviews to cultivate that. Consumer reviews can be one of your best marketing tools. You can incorporate customer reviews on your own website and you can also use online review sites, shopping sites, and local listing pages to garner reviews from your consumers. When it comes to where customers look for reviews, the most popular sources are company websites (71%), online rating systems (57%), and government/consumer advocacy sites (54%).
Richard Larson is blogger and Brand Manager for GoPromotional. He enjoys sharing online marketing and business tips.