Your small business needs a constant stream of new customers to be successful. You do have to take care of your current customers and keep them coming back for more, but the only real way to grow long-term is by attracting new buyers. Unless you are overwhelmed with business, you should always be trying to connect with new people to let them know about what you have to offer.
Traditional marketing such as print or radio advertising certainly plays a role in this strategy, but the one factor prevalent in small business growth is that your business needs to be online. This has never been truer than right now when consumers turn to their smartphones or tablets for just about every buying or business need imaginable. Whether you own a consulting business, retail location, medical office, real estate company, cleaning business, restaurant, delivery service – whatever your product or service is, potential customers will be looking for it online. Digital marketing is the best way to catch their attention, draw them to your website, and make a connection. Here are some practices you’ll want to engage in online that will build those precious leads for your business:
• Have a Website That Invites Business: Your website can be your biggest sales ally, but does it actually tell visitors that, yes indeed, you want to do business with them? Does it convey a sense of urgency, meet a critical need, and make it easy to buy? Or does it give the feel of just providing information, hoping that visitors will glean enough from what is provided and figure out on their own how to make a purchase? Take a good, hard look at your home page or, better yet, have an unbiased business friend do it for you and give you an honest opinion. Can your website be viewed easily on both a laptop and mobile application, and is there enough to respond to voice searches? Is your home page crisp and clean, with an upfront presentation of your benefits and solid images that quickly tell your story? Do you have a way to capture information, such as asking visitors to sign up for an e-newsletter or offering a special price for an online purchase? Most importantly, is there a real call to action, where you actually ask the visitor to do something, such as make a call or visit your location? These are all necessary steps that will help turn lead inquiries into sales.
• Work to Be Found: You have probably heard about search engine optimization, or SEO, which includes tactics that are designed to make sure your business shows up in Google or Bing searches. These include using keywords and keeping your content fresh and helpful. But you also need to think about other ways potential customers might look for your business. At the very least, update your Google My Business, Yelp, Yellow Page and local resource directory listings. Then look for industry-specific opportunities. If you are a contractor, you’ll want to check out Angie’s List, while a restaurant wants to be on TripAdvisor or Open Table. Many consumers find these applications easier to access because they also offer reviews that might help them make a buying decision.
• Do Something With Your Leads: You can’t ignore someone who shows an interest in your business, or put off your response. They will simply move on. Have a system already in place to respond to actual leads. If you ask for an e-mail, then use it. Send an initial message, thanking the person for visiting your site and offering a brief benefit or special buying opportunity. Then, send another message in a week or two with a different benefit and a reminder of what your business offers. It might take several impressions before the person is willing to make a purchase from you.
As your digital footprint expands, you’ll also want to establish a social media presence so you can engage with customers on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. The quest for leads might be never-ending, but it does have to start somewhere!