Savvy business owners everywhere are certainly learning to take advantage of the benefits of online marketing. Despite the success of such initiatives as Small Business Saturday, there is just as much hype surrounding the onset of Cyber Monday. Even though customers are still willing to walk into a brick and mortar location, they are also just as likely to comparison shop online first, or find their shopping destinations online before setting foot outside their home.
So how can a small business entrepreneur take advantage of this modern-day split personality that customers seem to take on when it comes to finding goods and services? Here are a few online marketing strategies that will help draw attention to your business and make it easier for people to do business with you:
• Optimize for Voice Search: Have you seen people asking their phones to find the nearest restaurant or a store that sells a particular product? If your business relies on walk-in traffic (especially with the younger early adapters), you need to make sure your online footprint is optimized for voice search. Voice questions can often be different from a typed version. Instead of typing “seafood restaurants in San Diego,” a user might say, “find a seafood restaurant near me that’s open now.” That means your site needs to be specific about location, food options, hours of operation and contact information. Try to incorporate phrases people use to describe the neighborhood around your location; include the words “near me” in some of the meta descriptions and title tags working behind the scenes on your site; or list a few landmarks and institutions such as a library or sports center. Make sure you ask satisfied customers to leave reviews on your Google My Business listing because your rating can also show up in results
• Utilize Facebook Messenger: This communication tool offers an alternative way to engage your audience, earn loyalty and improve social reach. Ask for input and be open to questions on Messenger, but be aware that a response is expected. If you don’t have somebody specifically assigned to this task, set an estimated time for how long it usually takes to respond or turn on Instant Replies to send an automated reply to anyone who messages your Page. If you get a large quantity of the same type of question such as, “What are your hours?” you can use Saved Replies to respond quickly.
• Be Text Ready: While not necessarily an online resource, texting is still a big part of the communications process today. Have a business telephone number that is capable of receiving texts and be prepared to quickly respond to incoming messages from prospective customers.
• Strategic Ad Spending: If you have a small marketing budget, you might be able to benefit from certain forms of online marketing to boost your awareness. Two of the most effective forms now are Google AdWords and Facebook Ads. With Google, you can get in front of customers when they are looking for businesses exactly like yours on Google Search and Maps. You only pay for results, like clicks to your website or calls to your business. Facebook ads can be as simple or sophisticated as you want them to be. You can choose to run your ad on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Audience Network, or across them all, or on specific mobile devices. There are 1.6 billion people worldwide who are connected to a small business on Facebook, so there are bound to be a few of your prospective customers on there!
It is always easier to stay in your comfort zone and continue doing your marketing exactly the same way you have done it since you opened your small business. But, unfortunately, that is not the way your customers want to receive information from you. While you can still continue to maintain some of your marketing strategies, it is time to start looking at some of these new ideas and layering them on top of your existing plans. That way, you’ll be ready to reach out, find, connect and engage with customers in whatever manner they want to communicate.