Drive nearby customers to your store with digital marketing
People are turning to their phones to ask Google (or Siri) how to find products and services “nearby” at a rapidly growing rate. When search results are good for consumers, they are good for businesses, too. Half of the consumers who search for a product or service on their smartphone visit a relevant local business within the same business day. More than two-thirds of consumers in the United States who search for goods online make an in-store purchase.
Managing your digital presence starts with a website
Some experts estimate that as few as 50 percent of American small businesses have a website. Though it pains us to report it, it’s not entirely surprising either. Many small to midsize companies are under the assumption that a website is “extra.” They are not. Every business should have a presence on the web that is in their control. Search engines look for this so that they can give their customers the best information when potential customers are searching for products or services in their area.
A useful website doesn’t have to be large; it just has to have the right information. It should be mobile-friendly and include pertinent contact information, product and service descriptions, and an informative narrative about your brand. This information will give search engines what they need to decide how to place your business in search results, and consumers what they need to decide whether or not to make a purchase.
Digital is for everyone
The same mindset that prevents some companies from building websites is the one that prevents them from monitoring how their business is listed online. The Web is full of “listings” websites, such as Yelp and TripAdvisor (and many more obscure ones). Google turns to these sites to determine what kind of businesses to show when someone in Vancouver searches for an acupuncturist. Google’s algorithms view consistent business listings as more credible than inconsistent ones, meaning this is a significant opportunity to help move the needle when it comes to placement in search results. When paired with an existing active website, domain authority jumps even higher. Tending to these two things alone, before any other marketing activity, could start to increase foot traffic for your business.
Social media complements the Web
One last thing companies can do to improve their local marketing – be active on social media. It is true that Facebook is making some changes to their algorithms to push businesses and news media further down the news feed, but that doesn’t mean brands are disappearing from the platform altogether. Facebook isn’t the only social opportunity to be considered for businesses, either. Depending on the industry other platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest may result in a stronger direct connection to your target demographic.
The keys to social media success are simple: be complete and consistent. Businesses that maintain a regular posting frequency on social media and who have complete (and accurate) profiles enjoy not only increased engagement but better rankings in search as well. Social media is a space to establish your brand voice and aesthetic, and to have some active conversation with your audience. However, as content prioritization continues to shift on Facebook, businesses should plan for how to handle increased communication through direct messaging tools such as Facebook Messenger than through the actual newsfeed posts.
The in-store experience should be just as on point
The activities described above will help lead customers to your location. Before they arrive, take time to wrap up any inconsistencies they might experience between your digital presence and your physical store. Use the same logo and visual elements at your physical location as online and don’t forget about any labeling, packaging, brochures or other printed collateral. Consistent visuals and messaging – online and in real life – ultimately create stronger brand experiences that go a long way in fostering customer loyalty.
Kristine Neil is the founder and creative director at Markon Brands in Vancouver. Mike Wagner is the firm’s digital strategist. The branding agency provides design, web, social and reputation management services for small-to-midsize businesses, nonprofits and other organizations.