Consumers today are using multiple sources of information to find information about local businesses, searching across various sites and apps, using more than one device. This zigzagging customer journey means it’s harder than ever for local business owners to meet customers where they’re searching and to gauge success. At the same time, the technology small business owners need to manage, run and grow their businesses is changing rapidly, and small business owners are slow to adopt. As a result, business owners are challenged when it comes to growing and driving quality leads to their businesses, increasing awareness of their products and services and reaching the right audience at the right time. Here are four guiding principles to help local business owners break through their digital marketing challenges:
Mobile Matters: The way people discover local businesses today is more varied than ever. Some do a quick search on their desktop or phone. Others rely on feedback from friends and acquaintances. According to research conducted by International Data Corporation (IDC) on behalf of YP, nearly one out of three consumers use two or more devices when looking for information about products and services. Mobile is quickly becoming the way businesses are not only creating a first impression with potential customers, but also how they are nurturing more personal, long-term relationships, making it increasingly important for small business owners to embrace mobile technology. The first step is to have a website that is optimized for all devices, which ensures that you can be found when and where consumers are looking for you. Search is no longer just about finding information – consumers today are taking action after visiting a website, doing things like calling a business, mapping directions or checking out stores hours. If your website isn’t mobile ready, you’re missing out.
Search Signals: Search engine marketing (SEM) is another powerful tool to help drive quality leads to your business, and you need a strong game plan to ensure your search strategy achieves your business goals. Start by asking questions about what are you promoting and who are you targeting. The answers will help shape not only where your ads appear but also how they appear – everything from the copy to the imagery to the call to action. Next, make sure that once consumers go to your web site, you’ve laid out the information in a clear and compelling way to moves customers closer to purchase.
Social Cues: Social media is all about connecting and engaging with your audience. The content you create should appeal to your customers and motivate them to take action, such as an exclusive offer or sneak peek at an upcoming product launch. Keep in mind that each social media channel has its own rules and user base, and not all may be a fit for you. So find the channel(s) that makes the most sense for your business and be sure to incorporate social links in all your marketing efforts. From there, whichever channel you choose, you’ll need to maintain them by keeping a regular cadence of content to keep your fans engaged and creating the perception that the business is accessible and interested.
Tell Your Story: People may have seen your business listed in a search engine. Perhaps they clicked through to your mobile-friendly site on a smart phone and noticed you have social links on your site. But there are always others competing with you, so how will people know to choose your business? Tell them your story, tell them why you do what you do. Every small business needs to be a publisher of content. Have your content tell your story through pictures and videos, spotlight happy customers or show how you’re involved with your community. Showing that you care speaks volumes about your work. You may not only get a customer, you may also make a new fan of your business.
Deciding how to connect with consumers can be overwhelming for business owners. Advancements in digital technology and data science have made it possible to tailor marketing campaigns to ever more targeted individuals. By keeping these guiding principles in mind, local business owners can overcome obstacles and fuel their growth.
Courtesy Allison Checchi