Sometime back I wrote an article entitled “what are they doing that we aren’t doing?” It referred to a client meeting that I attended when a third-party research company was presenting new research based on an annual consumer survey in a local media market. The moment that I wrote about on was when results of unaided recall of local firms providing specific products and services was presented and the client in the room had dropped in rankings while their competitors had risen. The client asked the obvious question. “What are they doing that we are not?” The research representative answered directly and unambiguously… Digital marketing.
More recently I have found myself working with small business owners that attend digital marketing webinars. While some have a significant digital presence and are quite knowledgeable, many know that digital marketing is important but don’t know how to get started. Often some will say, do I really have to learn this? It’s already enough to run my business and keep up with my profession let alone keeping up a digital presence.
If this sounds like you, read on. I will outline the primary areas that you as a business owner should pay attention to either by doing it yourself, having an employee do it or by contracting it out. Whichever way you chose to do it, you need to pay attention to the results. According to a 2019 GE Capital study 81% of consumers look up products and services online before making a purchase. A digital presence should be treated as seriously as a physical presence. If someone needs your product or service and can’t find you, you are out of business as far as that consumer is concerned.
While the details about setting up an online presence can be bewildering at first these are the essential elements for most small business:
Simple goal of digital marketing:
1. Get found.
2. Make it easy for the consumer to do business with you.
3. Create customers happy enough to spread the word to friends and family and return themselves.
4. Earn more money that you spend to achieve the above virtuous cycle.
The following digital marketing basics will be a good start to achieve the above. These can be done free of charge with a do-it-yourself effort. There are also lots of agencies and contractors happy to help or do it for you.
1. Google starting with Google my Business Profile.
2. Web site or ecommerce site if selling online with enough content using primary key words that consumers looking for your product or service will use when conducting a search. Search engine optimization starts to occur when search keywords are used in headings and body of the web site.
3. Social media business profile. The importance of social media continues to increase for most consumer businesses. Posting on social media also tends to help search engine optimization and creates awareness with consumers.
4. Register with directories and platforms important to your segment. If you run a restaurant that might mean Yelp. If you are a contractor that might mean Houzz. If you are just starting don’t spend money yet. Just register and fill out a profile with your website URL and business phone number. Make certain that all directories and platforms use the same location information and phone number. As mentioned above, use product and service descriptions that incorporate keywords that consumers will use to find you. I have found that frequently business owners can’t figure out why they don’t come up on Google or Yelp yet when I look at their business description, they haven’t listed their primary products or services.
Be easy to do business with:
What do you want the consumer to do when they find you? Make it as easy as one click! A call, a reservation, an appointment, an email, a map for a store visit are all one click action items that a motivated consumer will happily do most likely on their mobile device. What a consumer gets frustrated by is a click to a website that has little information and then offers a form to fill out and submit. Even worse, a potential customer calls for more information or book an appointment and the call rolls to voice mail. When this happens, most consumers will hang up and call the next listing until someone answers the phone. Don’t ask people to do something that you yourself would not do. Create simple call to action that is easy for the prospective client to do to answer questions and solve their need. I learned 20 years ago a term called “frictionless transactions.” All businesses need to make it as frictionless as possible to do business with them.
Create loyalty for repeats:
Give good value with good service. Customers shop around. Or, if they don’t and then find out later that they got a bad deal or poor service, they will not come back and will not send their friends and family to you. Make certain that they have a great, frictionless experience.
As part of the transaction or shortly afterward invite customers to register for specials, promotions and updated product information. Use one of the free email marketing platforms to create an email marketing database to remind customers to come back to see you. Email marketing was one of the first digital marketing methods created and remains one of the most effective. I continue to be surprised at how many business owners who ask for my help with using digital marketing to increase sales do not send regular messages to their past clients. It is a long-time marketing adage that it is easier to sell more to someone who has bought from you in the past than anything to someone who has never bought from you. It is worth the effort to at least message top spending clients once a month to remind and entice them to come back again.
In closing, simply remember that most consumers look online before they decide about your product or service. If your business can’t be easily found online at that crucial moment, you are out of business as far as they are concerned. Establishing a digital presence in the 4 areas discussed above will give most small businesses the visibility that they need to be found. If your enterprise needs help in any digital area direct message or email me. I am always happy to give referrals and help with digital marketing in any way that I can.