Should I Use SMS Marketing for My Local Business?

Should I Use SMS Marketing for My Local Business?

With some 77 percent of the world’s population using cell phones today, mobile marketing is becoming more and more important as a way for local businesses to connect with their customers.  Websites that are not optimized for mobile devices may be slow-loading, difficult to read or are often not accessible at all on smart phones.

With so many potential customers increasingly relying on cell phones and tablets for all of their Internet browsing and communication, it only makes sense to leverage this technology wherever possible to expand your local business customer base.  One very effective way to do this is through SMS marketing.

What is SMS Marketing?

Also known as mobile text marketing, SMS marketing is the practice of sending text messages to customers that have signed up to the business’ messaging service. Messages can be anything from announcements of special discounts and promotions to contests and general advertising campaigns.

Contacting customers via mobile text is cheap, easy and instantaneous.  Customers are enticed to sign up for the mobile texts via any number of incentives, such as exclusive information or free gifts.  The two most common methods of signing up customers are through a website link to an online form, and through a call to action for customers to text a specific message or code to a phone number provided.

What Do the Texts Contain?

Local businesses can use SMS Marketing to promote new products and services, increase the frequency of customer visits, acquire more information about their customers and more.  Here are some popular tools used in SMS marketing:

  • Mobile coupons offering special deals and discounts make your customers feel part of an elite club or organization, and illustrate for them the value of belonging to your SMS service.
  • Mobile e-cards can be sent on the occasion of a customer’s birthday or other anniversary (loyal customer for six months), and give the business owner an opportunity to get more information about the customer, as well as to entice them in with a special discount or service.
  • Contests and opinion polls can be used to determine the success or failure of a new menu item, product or service being offered, and give your customers a feeling of being part of the decision-making process.

What are the Benefits of SMS Marketing for My Local Business?

SMS marketing is a long term business strategy, one that will help you develop a close personal relationship with your customers, resulting in long term brand loyalty.  When customers get texts from your business announcing immediate, short-term specials, discounts and perks, they feel as though they are part of your inner circle, privy to benefits that outsiders may not receive.

Texting is instantaneous and timely, so that any time your business hits a slump you can immediately increase sales by offering special discounts and promotions, to entice customers to visit your establishment during off-peak periods.

Local businesses can widen their customer bases by leveraging Yelp, social media and local directory listings to promote their SMS service.  The larger your mobile list, the greater number of customers you can reach instantaneously with a tantalizing offer they just can’t resist.

In this increasingly mobile society, businesses who fail to take advantage of this new, inexpensive form of marketing are likely to be left by the wayside, while those who embrace it and use it to best effect can realize a treasure trove of benefits!

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What Do Consumers Look For In A Local Business Yelp Page?

Local Business Yelp Page

With an average of 132 million monthly unique visits, Yelp can be a powerful online marketing tool for local businesses.  Enthusiastic Yelpers have written over 57 million local business reviews, and many more who have never written a single review still depend upon Yelp to inform their choices about everything from where to eat to where to shop and where to take their dry cleaning.  Of the many customer review sites, Yelp is a top pick for customers looking for information.

So what are customers looking for when they check out your local business Yelp page?  As any journalist will tell you, they want to know who, what, when, where and why.

Who Are You as a Business?

This is perhaps the most difficult thing to define on your Yelp page.  It’s a combination of your business description/mission statement, business motto, call to action, and the overall look and feel of your site.  Photographs are a major contributor to the latter.

Professional photographs of the interior of your business provide customers a preview of the setting or ambiance.  Pictures of select menu items, if you’re in food service, can be enticing. Photos of a finished product, such as a well-groomed dog, show off the quality of your service, and a clear shot of the outside of your business can help potential customers spot your business as they drive by.  Just make sure the pictures are well executed and flattering.

What Does Your Local Business Offer?

Many businesses owners include their service in their business name, such as AAA Carpet Cleaning, or Sam’s Dog Grooming.  A great number, however, do not.  If your business name is something generic, such as Smith Enterprises, you’ll want to make sure the next line the consumer sees details what services you provide.

Your Yelp page should include a menu of offerings, whether it’s an actual restaurant menu, a spa menu, a hair salon price list or whatever.  If your name is AAA Carpet Cleaning but you also clean upholstery, tile and grout, here is where you can let your customers know you do more than just carpets.

When is Your Local Business Open?

Make sure to list your hours of operation on your Yelp page.  This can be a selling point if you have very convenient hours.  If a customer can drop off their dry cleaning on their way to work and pick it up on their way home, they’ll probably choose your business over a less expensive, but less convenient competitor.

Similarly, there’s no quicker way to lose a customer than to have them make a special trip to visit your local business only to find it closed.  Be sure to post your hours, and do your best to adhere to them when possible.

Where is Your Local Business Located?

Helping your customers find you is about more than just listing your address.  While many mobile Yelpers have GPS apps on their phones, it may not always be convenient to activate.  A clear, simple graphic depicting your location on a map is a good visual cue, and helps the consumer place your location, mentally, in reference to other places, such as home, workplace, favorite restaurant, etc.  This gets them thinking about whether they can have the oil changed in their car while they catch a bite at their favorite lunch spot, get their hair done on their way home from work, and so forth.

If your location is not easy to find — maybe you’re on the second floor, around the back, or behind a large sign, it’s critical to make a mention of this on your Yelp page, to help first time customers locate you more quickly.  If someone is coming for a massage and it gets cut short because they lost valuable time searching for your business, then their first experience with your business has already gotten off to a rocky start.

Why Should Customers Choose Your Local Business?

Decide what sets your local business apart from the rest, and highlight these features on your Yelp page.  Whether it’s the super convenient hours, easy to reach location, great parking, low prices or superb customer service, don’t be afraid to toot your own horn and toot it loudly.  If you were a customer, what about your business would make YOU want to visit?

Reading your customers’ reviews on Yelp or other review sites can give you an idea of their favorite products or services.  Take advantage of those and highlight them.

On the Subject of Reviews…

Always handle customer reviews very professionally and courteously, even if the review is bad or even insulting.  Don’t get into a verbal fistfight with the customer.  Tell them you appreciate their input, and you’re working to improve things.  If the review is way out of line and you’re quite sure the customer has never actually visited your business (it happens), then it’s okay to simply state that you have no records of this customer having ever frequented your business.

Everyone gets a bad review once in a while, and Yelpers are less interested in the aberration than in how you will respond to it.  You may be responding to the individual, but your message is going out to everyone else who visits your Yelp page.  Make sure it says that you care about your customers’ experience, and will do everything you can to make sure it is a good one.

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How to Optimize Your Local Business Website for SEO

How to Optimize Your Local Business Website for SEO A small investment in your web presence and optimizing that presence for local search could have a drastic impact on the revenue you are able to generate through online web traffic. Currently, only 67 percent of local businesses have a website and 60 percent of local businesses that do have a website do not even have their phone number listed on their site. By optimizing your website and ensuring that you are being found wherever your potential customers are searching online, you can easily beat out your competition and win over the 61 percent of internet users who research businesses online.

Once you have invested in a website and taken basic steps to make sure your website is being found by search engines, there are a number of steps that you can take to make sure you are providing Google and other search engines with exactly the type of content that is rewarded with a high ranking on relevant searches.  You can see SEO results overnight in some cases and in others it will take a few weeks but the continued effects of an optimized page will result in an increased ranking, higher search traffic, and ultimately more clients through your door.

Determine the right keywords for your business

With any search strategy you must first figure out how potential customers are searching in order to be found under the right types of searches.  Google provides a few free tools in order to find out exactly what people are searching for, and what keywords they use (search queries). Google Trends provides you with search comparisons for different queries as well as information on the change in popularity for those queries and geographical areas that those terms have been most popular.

In addition, Google Trends will also recommend similar search terms that will provide you with insights into what searchers have been looking for. Once you have compiled a list of search queries relevant to what your business offers, you can create a Google AdWords account in order to use the Keyword Planner tool and see more accurate information on search queries and competitiveness of keywords (don’t worry you won’t be giving Google any money).  With this information, you can find which queries are competitive, and target keywords with high search volume but low competition.

Use keywords in important areas

Page titles, also known as title tags, show up as the link to your business’s pages on search engines as well as in the browser bar of a potential customers page when they are viewing your website.  The page title tells both the search engine and the searchers what the page is about and why it is relevant to them.  You will want to place the most valuable and relevant keyword or two in your page title.  For a local business, you should also include your location in either the form of the city or town you are located in or your zip code.

Body content is the next place that you should include relevant business keywords for your business.  If you are a salon in Austin, Texas, you would likely make your page title “Bradie’s Salon Austin” because ‘Salon Austin’ is the most common relevant search term.  For the body content, you would want to include keywords such as “Hair Salon Austin”, “Hair Wash Austin”, and “Hair Blowout Austin” as they are all related search terms generating a significant amount of searches and provide an opportunity to be found under other searches.

With the creation of a blog, or other way to build out your website with content, you will create a significant number of pages that will now have the opportunity to appear in search results and be found by potential customers.  Your blog should provide customers with information both relevant to them and to the services you provide.  The Signpost blog, for instance, provides local businesses with digital marketing advice.  The information on the blog both relates to what Signpost does as well as provides useful marketing guidance to local businesses. Images are a highly underutilized way to generate search traffic but very valuable nonetheless.

You should never save an image that will be uploaded to your website under a generic name again.  Instead, save the image under relevant keyword terms.  Whenever a Googlebot indexes your website, it also indexes names of images for the Google Images portion of the search engine.  By naming your image “Hair Salon Austin” as opposed to “122231.jpg”, you are opening up another avenue in which you can drive high quality search traffic to your website and increase the conversion rate your website provides.

Utilize web analytics for your site

The best way to understand what drives traffic for your site and what doesn’t, you want to employ the various webmaster tools provided free of charge by the various search engines. The Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools provide extremely beneficial insights into what kind of search queries drive traffic to your site as well as the average ranking your site appears for those queries.  Google Analytics also is a way to track your website traffic and engagement. As you make changes to your site, track how those changes improve or hurt your search rankings and traffic produced.

If you change content around on your site and notice a significant increase in your ranking for specific search terms because of it, you know that Google saw value in those changes.  At the same time, if you have a dramatic increase in ranking but no major change in search traffic, you might want to consider changing your site title or meta tag (short description that appears on search queries) to improve traffic.

Where to start

Google is constantly changing it’s algorithm and a website that appears in the top three isn’t always guaranteed to do so.  In order to constantly secure a top ranking for the local search queries you find valuable to your business you must always be updating and enhancing your website with content your customers find valuable. In the meantime, look at your current site and judge where it currently stands.

If your title tags aren’t currently optimized for search or your images have not been properly saved, update that information and track the changes it brings.  Your website is fluid, meaning it is constantly changing compared to the rest of the web.  If you see a change has brought about a significant positive impact, find what worked so well and implement it across your site if possible.  On the other hand, if a change decreases traffic or keeps it stagnant, try something else and see what kinds of effects that brings.

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Why Do I Need a Mobile Website for My Local Business?

Why Do I Need a Mobile Website for My Local Business?

You finally have your website tweaked and fine-tuned the way you want it.  It’s attractive, inviting, extremely informative and even search-engine optimized.  But when you call it up on your smartphone or tablet, how does it look?

Websites that aren’t scaled for mobile devices often don’t perform well when accessed on those platforms.  Information may be hard to read or even omitted if it doesn’t fit on the screen.  Buttons and drop down menus may be too difficult to access, or the website may simply take too long to load.  By creating a scalable mobile website, you can eliminate those problems and take advantage of the booming business opportunities available through the rapidly expanding mobile community.

Mobile Searches are on the Rise

Smart phones are growing in popularity, and there are now over 4 billion mobile devices in use around the world.  Many people have completely replaced their personal computers with a smart phone or tablet.  Along with calling and texting, people are increasingly using these devices for mobile banking, online shopping and to search for local businesses.  In fact, mobile searches have increased by five times over the last two years.

According to the latest research, 52% of all local searches are done on a mobile phone, and 9 out of 10 mobile searches end in a purchase.  That’s a pretty good reason to want to ensure that your website is as effective when displayed on a mobile device as on a PC.  What are the major advantages of a mobile website?

Less is More

In order to optimize your website for a mobile device, you must pare away all the excess information and focus on the message.  Mobile users don’t want to read all that tiny text, or have to scroll around on your page to find the information they’re looking for.  Condense the site down to the most important information, and be sure to include your call to action.

Don’t be afraid of white space.  In the case of a mobile site, white space is good.  You’ll need to leave plenty of space between buttons or menus so that a user can access them easily, even with fat fingers.  Keep your site navigation simple and easy to use.

Scalability is Key

Smart phones and tablets come in a wide variety of sizes these days.  If your mobile website is set to just one size and doesn’t scale, it may appear illegible, or run off the edge of the page when accessed on a different sized device.  A good scalable website program will detect the type of device of the accessing user and automatically scale itself to fit the page.

Optimal Loading Speed

Another reason for creating a mobile site is that your original web page may take a very long time to load.  Mobile users already have to deal with poor reception, so you don’t want your site’s large size to be part of the problem.  A mobile website is pared down and designed to load quickly.  Flash and other non-compatible multimedia elements should be left out.  Most marketing specialists agree, consumers will give your site about five seconds to load before moving on, so once again, less is more.

Finally, mobile websites come up higher in local search results performed on mobile devices, giving you an edge over competitors who may not be leveraging the power of mobile marketing.  And most mobile platforms provide free reporting and analytic tools to track the success of your mobile website.  Be sure to integrate your mobile website with your social media pages to boost your profits even more!

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How to Manage Google+, Yelp and Facebook for Multiple Location Businesses and Franchises

How to Manage Google+, Yelp and Facebook for Multiple Location Businesses and Franchises

If you are the owner of business with a dozen locations or more, managing your listings in Google+, Yelp and Facebook can be quite time consuming. Fortunately, Google+ has special tools for managing anything from a dozen to thousands of locations, allowing you to list them “in bulk,” and manage them without having to spend an excessive amount of time on each listing. For Yelp and Facebook, you may still need to manage each listing individually.

Managing Multiple Locations on Google+

For Google+, you simply need to visit Google Places. Start by logging in to your Google account, or create one if necessary. Make sure that your account includes an email address with your business domain name to speed up the verification process. This may require creating a new account, but it’s well worth the extra time in the long run.

If your business has ten or more locations, the easiest way to proceed is to upload a spreadsheet file in any of the following formats: .csv, .txt, .xls, .tsv, .xlsx and .ods.  Once you have done so, you can always add individual rows or edit your listings without having to download and re-upload your file.  If you’re not sure how to create your spreadsheet file, Google+ offers an article with some excellent guidelines.

If you have more than one type of business or company, avoid the temptation to add them all to the same bulk upload. Limit each account to one brand or company.

It’s important to verify your authority to manage your initial upload because unverified listings will not appear on Google Maps. Be careful to follow all of the instructions for verifying your locations, as all listings will be reviewed and verified before being published.

Managing Multiple Locations on Yelp

For Yelp, unfortunately, the process is not so easy. Yelp does offer tools for managing multiple locations, but they come at a price that may be prohibitive for some. In this case, it might be better to have each location claim their individual listings.  Although this may be quite a bit more labor-intensive than Google+, it is still well worth the effort.

A recent study by Merchant Warehouse concluded that 93% of those who researched local businesses on Yelp and other review sites subsequently made purchases from those vendors. Potential customers check out Yelp pages for a wide variety of business, including eateries, nightclubs, beauty salons and spas, home repair services, hotels, travel, auto repair, health services, professional services, pets, financial services and more.  Just having a Yelp account has been shown to increase an average business’s revenue by around $8,000 a year.

Managing Multiple Locations on Facebook

Facebook has a parent-child page structure that is available to large businesses such as franchises who want to create multiple pages under the umbrella of one home page. This allows them to link all of their pages together and manage the main content, while individual locations can add content to their individual pages. Essentially, individual location pages are all created under one group account, which is linked to Facebook’s new “Social Graph” and “Nearby” technology.

This service requires the support of an approved agency to coordinate with Facebook and may not be available for smaller businesses. The best thing to do is to contact Facebook directly and find out how to proceed.  The alternative is to set up individual pages for each location.

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Using Email to Create Loyal Customers in Three Easy Steps

Using Email to Create Loyal Customers in Three Easy Steps

Email is an important way to build customer relationships.  Eighty-five percent of the world is connected via email.  And it’s increasingly becoming mobile as more email is read on mobile than desktop.  Email opens on mobile have grown almost triple in the past 3 years.

How does this relate to you, the local business owner?  Well, with over half of US adults using smartphones, today’s businesses are interacting with their most loyal customers over smartphone enabled platforms, namely email.  Jump-starting your customer marketing using email is essential.  Follow these three easy steps to create loyal customers:

1) Create an Email List

This should be pretty straight forward – you cannot get in touch with your customers over email without their email addresses.  Collect them.  There could be, however, an issue – some of your customers may not want to go around handing out their personal contact information, basically inviting you to solicit them with emails.  The answer is also quite simple: incentivise.  Consumers like savings, offer them a few dollars off their purchase if you can add them to your emailing list.  Assure them of a few things:

  • They will not receive “blast emails” with promotions
  • You will not be emailing them often, and will do so only with events and special sales on items they have shown interest in
  • Make them feel comfortable, assure that email addresses will never be shared with anyone else

Attaining your customers’ email addresses should not be a big deal.  If a customer is very against giving it to you – let them go.  There is a low likelihood that a customer of that nature will become a loyal repeat purchaser in the first place.

2) Send a Welcome Email

A welcome email sets the stage for your digital relationship with customers.  These consumers are expecting annoying, generic blast emails – so you write them a short note that is brief, memorable, and personalized.  Try this one for size:

Brenda!

Thanks for coming in to Furrylicious this past *Wednesday* – we really appreciate you choosing us as your outlet for *Wholesome Doggy Chow — Ocean Critter Flavor*.  We know life gets busy – we just want you to rest easy knowing that we are here for all of your pet needs down the road.

Now, don’t you worry – we will not be emailing you often.  When we do, they will more than likely be invitations to one of our in-store events.  We invite all our loyal customers to bring in their pets for food tastings.  There may be a better fit for your pet’s diet than what you are currently giving them.

Until then, keep an eye out for discounts on *Wholesome Doggy Chow — Ocean Critter Flavor*, we have a feeling it may be going on sale sometime soon!

All the best,

The Furrylicious Team

See?  Keep it brief, throw in a personal reference here and there (the items enclosed with ** are personal references), and stand out from your competitors by sounding like a human being.  All of us get too many emails that sound pre-written and generic.  I think I speak for everyone when I say we want a little spice in our solicitation!

3) Share Monthly Emails

This is where it gets a bit tricky.  You cannot inundate your customers with content, or you will annoy them and effectively drive them away from your business.  The key is to send out one or two all-encompassing emails per month. These emails should include a nice note, a promotion or two, details on the next event, and something unique – maybe an industry-specific fun fact.  These emails should contain exactly what you described in the welcome email, with some added flare here and there.

If you want to go the extra mile with your email marketing, use your mailing list to incentivize referrals.  Referrals from high quality customers are extremely valuable – and email is a great platform to find a few more of these coveted new customers every month.

Try and get your loyal customers to bring their referrals in with them.  Maybe send out a “bring in a friend who has not found us yet, and you both get 15% off your next purchase!”  This is a good method for several reasons; first and most importantly, the new customer gets a chance to see your interaction with your loyal customer – this is a great way to give new customers a preview to what doing business with you will be like if they turn into loyal customers.  This is a huge opportunity for you to stand out as a business, just by being friendly and doing things a little bit differently than some of your local competitors.  On top of that, you have brought in two customers (the loyal and the new) instead of one, that is good – plain and simple.

Important guidelines for monthly emails:

  • Keep text well organized, and lean.  Large paragraphs and long sentences scare people away. Use colors, sizing, and photos to make your content pop.
  • Use unique and catchy subject lines.  This is extremely important – a good subject line will be the difference between someone opening or not opening the email.

Using email to keep in touch with your customers is crucial to standing out in your local market.  If you have not been doing it, start now.  Start building an email list, drafting a welcome email, and collecting information on your customers’ buying habits.  By following this guide, you will maximize your potential for creating a growing list of loyal customers that bring you long term repeat business.

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How Will Yelp Video Reviews Affect My Local Business?

Yelp Video Reviews

Photographs add an exciting visual element to Yelp business reviews, and according to Yelp, customers spend 2.5 times more time on business pages that contain images than those that don’t.  Now technology takes it one step further.  Yelp has unveiled a new iPhone app which will allow customers to take short, 3- to 12-second videos of their favorite local businesses and post them along with their Yelp reviews.

The previous Yelp iPhone app allowed users to snap photos, add comments and post them to a business’ Yelp review site quickly and easily, to share with other potential customers.  With the new app, they’ll be able to select “photo or video,” and do the same with short videos.  Currently available only for iPhones, the app is slated to be available soon for Android devices as well.

Video Reviews Highlight Unique Aspects of a Local Business

If a picture paints a thousand words, then surely a video paints a million.  Videos can be used to convey many unique aspects of a business, such as ambience and atmosphere.  Special effects such as a restaurant’s tableside preparation techniques can be captured and shared.  Panoramic tours of hotel rooms can show potential customers how large and roomy (or small and cramped) the spaces are.  Any kind of outdoor tour or experience can be shared much more effectively through video.

Videos also capture something that photos can’t: sound.  Customers can preview the ambient noise level of a restaurant or nightclub in advance, which will help inform their decision as to whether it’s more appropriate for date night or a night on the town.  They can also determine the music genre featured there; whether it’s Country and Western, Blues, Rock, Rap or some other type of music.

Is There a Down Side to Video Reviews?

As with any type of customer reviews, the benefits or detriments depend entirely on the business.  Any faults can become glaringly obvious under the scrutiny of video.  Video of a mouse caught scurrying across the floor can drive a lot of restaurant customers away.  Yelpers are just as inclined to shoot videos of dirty bathrooms and long lines as they are to capture spectacular views and live music.  The sword cuts both ways, so business owners need to be aware of the potential for bad reviews if they neglect any aspects of their business.

Good or bad, video reviews are here and bound to be wildly popular.  Yelpers already upload over 23,000 photos from their mobile apps per day, and the Yelp mobile site hosts 67.9 million unique visitors per month.

Create Your Own Videos

Business owners already have the capacity to post their own videos on their Yelp pages, which is not a bad idea.  By creating a video of your own local business, even if you don’t decide to post it, you will be able to see what your customers see, and get a better idea of what kind of potential videos could end up in your Yelp video reviews.  You can then use this video as a guide to make improvements to your business, so that it will come across more positively in any videos your customers might take.

For any kind of businesses that feature music, atmosphere, entertainment, panoramic views, exotic cuisine and/or customer service, this new video review app is bound to be a powerful tool that can make or break your local business.

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What Do Consumers Look For in a Local Business Website?

What Do Consumers Look For in a Local Business Website?

Web designers, search engine optimizers and marketers place a great deal of emphasis on how to optimize a website in order to get better placement in local search engine results.  As a result, often the website ends up a jumble of repetitious keywords and phrases, with little useful information.  Too few web designers seem to be concerned with what the customer is looking for when they come to your website.  Let’s take a few moments to examine what the average consumer is searching for in a local business website.

Helpful Information

Your customers want information!  That’s what the website is there for, to provide information.  We’ve all seen those high-tech websites that feature fancy graphics and exotic artwork, clever animation and music, but don’t really provide much in the way of information.  That’s fine if your business is, perhaps, an art studio endeavoring to convey a certain air of aloofness, but for most local businesses, their customers may simply find it off-putting.

Customers come to your website because they want to know who you are, what you sell, when you sell it, where you’re located and why they should visit your business.  It’s the basic who, what, when, where and why of advertising.  As a minimum, these are pieces of information that should be prominently featured and easily found: location, hours of operation, products and services and prices.

Do You Really Need to Post Prices?

Posting prices of products and services on your website can be a nuisance, especially if they tend to fluctuate.  Many businesses — high priced hair salons, for example, take the approach of, “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it,” and therefore do not post prices.

Most consumers who are doing their due diligence, however, by searching for a local business on the Internet, want to have some idea of what they can expect to pay.  If you have too many prices to post so that maintaining a current menu of services and prices would be too cumbersome, consider posting just a few prices for basic services.  Offering a monthly special and giving the original price as well as the discounted one will also give your customers at least some idea of your basic price range.

Location, Location, Location

Let’s face it, one of the selling points of your local business is that it’s LOCAL.  Your location should be prominently featured, which will get the customer immediately thinking about the best time to frequent your business.  Are you closer to their home or place of business?  Maybe they could come by after they pick up their dry cleaning or on their way to the gym.  Once they start mentally placing you in their route of travels, you’re halfway to a sale.  Plus, this helps for your local SEO results!  Consider including a simple, easy to read map graphic somewhere on your page.

The About Me Page

The most important thing to remember about the About Me page is that it’s not about you.  If this is a business, the About Me page should be about the business.  Information customers are looking for here include how long you have been in business, areas served, whether you’re bonded and insured, licenses and certifications, accreditations and things of that nature.

Some companies like to put their mission statements here.  Transportation or rental vehicle providers might describe their fleet of vehicles.  Hair salons might feature their stylists, realtors their agents, and so forth.  Depending on the business and the level of intimacy you desire with your customers, a short bio is fine, but try to keep it on a professional level.  This is not a place to expound on how you spend your free time and the names of your dogs (unless you’re a kennel or pet care facility).

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Think like a customer and consider your strongest selling points.  What would bring YOU into your business?  Do you have really convenient hours?  Super discounted prices?  Is it really quick and easy to get into and out of your business, say on the way to work or shopping?  Are you a day spa with a really soothing ambience?  Be sure to check out your Yelp and Google+ page and any other customer reviews, and see what your customers are raving about.  Then go ahead and boast about those features on your website.

Consider developing a motto around your major selling point.  Whether it’s “same day service for most orders” or “express lunchtime ordering,” these eye-catching statements will draw a customer into your website to investigate further.

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5 Tips For Local Businesses Using Video In Their Marketing Plan

5 Tips For Local Businesses Using Video In Their Marketing Plan

Given the importance of online business directories, it can be difficult for local businesses to set themselves apart from their peers. Much of the time, potential customers are discovering you via a uniform listing – you’re really only able to add pictures, general information, and a brief description. Communicating what makes your business unique can be difficult, but online video marketing is a great way to do so.

Google’s YouTube recently acquired Directr, a video marketing solution for small businesses. With this acquisition, YouTube hopes to provide a free avenue for small businesses to take advantage of what video marketing has to offer. According to study done by Forrester Research Group, video is 53 times more likely than text pages to generate a first page Google result. Video marketing is also ideal for businesses on limited budgets, as a video campaign’s effectiveness is quite independent of cost. Especially with services like Directr, you’ll be able to put together excellent video marketing campaigns at almost no cost.

Below, you’ll find some impressive stats that convey the value of video marketing:

  • According to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research, one minute of video is worth 1.8 million words
  • 80% of Internet users recall watching a video advertisement on a website they visited in the last 30 days. Of this 80%, 15% visited the company that was represented in the video, and 12% purchased the specific product featured in the ad
  • 64% of consumers say they’re more likely to buy a product after watching a video online

Given these stats, here are some tips to keep in mind when establishing your video marketing campaign:

  1. Shorter is better! Research by Jun Group found that videos 15 seconds or shorter are shared 37% more than those that last between 30 seconds and 1 minute. While a 15 second video may be impractical in most cases, 30 seconds is still a great upper limit to strive for.
  2. Grab attention. Research by Visible Measures found that 20% of customers will click away from a video in 10 seconds or fewer if it does not capture their attention.
  3. Humor goes a long way. If you can find a way to incorporate humor into your advertisement, people won’t hesitate to share it. Consider Flea Market Montgomery, who managed to get millions of views.
  4. Include a call-to-action and contact information. Tell customers what their next steps should be after watching the video, and include your phone number, address, website address, and e-mail.
  5. Use the Internet to your advantage. Google+, Facebook, Twitter, etc. are great places to distribute your video.

Video marketing can quickly set you apart from competitors, both on your local business listings and across the web. A well-done video is easily shareable, which makes it viewable to a huge audience, so consider planning a video marketing campaign of your own.

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5 Ways Local Businesses Can Prepare For An Increasingly Mobile World

5 Ways Local Businesses Can Prepare For An Increasingly Mobile World

Consumers largely live a mobile life, so as a local business be sure to keep up! The average consumer spends 127 minutes per day on their mobile device, and 50% of all local searches are performed on mobile devices. Although consumers have been mobile for quite a while, small local businesses lag behind.

Around one year ago, 93% of small business websites were not mobile compatible and would not render successfully on mobile devices or smartphones. This was in spite of the fact that 46% of consumers will not return to a mobile site that is not working properly. Businesses have began to augment their mobile presence across all possible customer interactions, and below, we’ll discuss the 5 most important ways of doing so.

1) Optimizing Your Local Business Website for Mobile

Mobile sites directly drive purchases. Just as consumers won’t return to a site that is not optimized for mobile, consumers will return to your site if it provides them with a pleasurable mobile experience.

If your site is not optimized for mobile, consumers will look elsewhere. Much of the time, consumers on their phones are on-the-go, so they may be ready to make a purchase. If your website is not optimized for mobile, they won’t switch to a computer to view your site – they’ll find a competitor’s mobile site and purchase from them instead.

A website is a consumer-facing extension of your brand. A poorly made website reflects poorly upon your business. Consumers want to feel like their needs are being met, so a site not optimized for mobile viewing may give the impression that a business does not care about their mobile consumers.

2) Managing Your Mobile Presence for Local Businesses

Online directories like Google+, Facebook and Yelp are teeming with consumers ready to buy your products. These three directories in particular are the kings of local search, so ensuring that your business is indexed by all three is crucial. 88% of consumers who search for a local business on a mobile device will visit within 24 hours, and much of the time, the consumer will be using an online directory. Creating listings on these three directoriesand as many others as you can- allows you to reach millions of mobile customers.

3) Mobile Advertising for Local Businesses

In-app banner advertisements allow you to gain exposure where it matters while also casting a wide net. For instance, placing an ad on an internet radio app such as Pandora can alert consumers within a certain radius about your business and what you offer. Mobile advertisements get 3 times as many clicks as desktop ads, and mobile coupons get 10 times the redemption rate of traditional coupons.

4) Optimizing Local Business Email Marketing for Mobile

Email marketing is one of the most effective digital marketing tools, and 66% of people under 30 mostly use smartphones or cell phones to access email. With this in mind, be sure to make your emails readable on mobile devices – especially if your business caters to a younger demographic.

5) SMS Marketing for Local Businesses

SMS allows you to quickly send messages, and it allows consumers to quickly read and respond to them. It’s also unlikely that an SMS message will be filtered out as spam. In short, SMS is quick, direct, cheap and reliable – everything you look for in a mobile marketing channel.

Mobile is becoming increasingly important, so getting a plan of action set for your business is an excellent idea. There are a number of avenues to choose from, and when used in tandem, they can pack a powerful punch with a tremendous return on investment.

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