Why Brick-and-Mortar Businesses Should Have an Online Presence
It’s no longer possible for brick-and-mortar businesses to succeed without engaging in online marketing. Nearly six trillion online display ads were published in 2012 – twelve times more than were published only one year prior (VentureBeat). If your business isn’t taking part in the online advertising marketplace, you risk losing control of your business reputation, missing out on marketing opportunities, and losing touch with your all-important customer base.
Control Your Reputation
Whether you like it or not, your business is already online – featured in directory listings, reviewed online, and mentioned on social media. If you’re not the one controlling those messages, you open yourself up to having a lot of bad advertising and misinformation spread about your business.
Dozens of websites contain listings for local businesses in your area. These websites are often used by customers to find businesses, so take advantage of this great marketing opportunity by searching for your business name and claiming your listings. When you’ve proven to be the owner of the listed business, you can add more information about yourself as well as prevent misinformation from spreading.
Claim your social media profiles as well – especially your Google+ listing. Now that search results are personalized based on users’ likes and history, it is integral that you keep your business visible in search. The best way to achieve that is to fill your profile with all of your contact information and niche keywords.
Expand Your Marketing
The Direct Marketing Association found that “customers who buy from two channels (vs. just one) are between 20 and 60% more valuable, while triple-channel buyers are 60-125% more valuable.” The increase in importance of online, social, and mobile advertising has made these channels valuable methods of reaching your customers.
Your online marketing efforts should encompass several, if not all, of the following methods:
1) Email Marketing campaigns that connect with your customers right in their inbox.
2) Display, search, and pay-per-click ads based on your business’s specific, branded keywords.
3) Mobile ads, which are significantly more valuable than comparable online ads.
4) Search engine optimization for your website.
5) Social media advertising and engagement.
For all of these strategies, it is integral that you optimize your business’s keywords. What are your products? What services do you sell? Who are you, and where are you located? Make your keywords specific, and insert them (in moderation!) in your directory listings, advertisements, social profiles, and website code.
Engage Your Customers
It’s no longer enough to offer your customers a toll-free number they can call during business hours. 42% of social media users have contacted businesses over social networks, and 61% are willing to provide feedback to a company on their social profile (SalesForce Insight 2011). Social media represents a revolutionary new way for you to connect with your customers. Whether you choose to post to your profile once a day or once an hour, the fact of the matter is that you need to be present in no small way.
You don’t have to join every social network. Consider your business’s target market, and utilize those networks that also engage predominately with that market. Quick online research will tell you that LinkedIn is comprised largely of older professionals, whereas Twitter’s users are younger.
Before you ever make a post or tweet a photo, set up goals for your online presence and determine metrics for success. Keep track of your goals – social follower count, email marketing conversion rate, etc – and how well you meet them on a regular basis. These metrics will help you determine what next steps you need to take in order to successfully capitalize your online presence.