Internet startups are everywhere, but that doesn’t mean that brick and mortar businesses are going out of style. On the contrary, they are still thriving. However, recent data shows that digital interaction has a direct influence on 36 cents of every dollar spent in a brick and mortar store.
If you have a business model that works better within four walls – or if you just happen to prefer the more traditional route – you still cannot ignore the importance of the web.
While physical storefronts retain their importance, customer interactions have dramatically shifted due to new technologies. If you’re wondering how best to establish and develop an online presence for your brick and mortar business, I have a few ideas.
#1 Engage customers and potential customers via social media.
- Develop a presence over several platforms (What is the Right Social Network for My Business)
- Post regularly, and employ different types of content – blog post, images, video
- Create your own unique, engaging content pieces, and share quality content from others
- Use social media tools, such as Buffer and AgoraPulse, to analyze and improve your social media engagement for your brick and mortar business.
#2 Implement an approach to online customer service that is proactive, responsive, visible, and interactive.
- You can use your social media accounts as one way to receive and respond to feedback. Seek out satisfied customers and ask them to post reviews. Express gratitude for positive feedback. Respond immediately and decisively to negative feedback.
- Other ways to interact with customers online include through review websites and through your business’ own homepage.
#3 Optimize your local search engine results
- There are some significant differences between local SEO and online-only SEO. Become knowledgeable about the differences to give yourself an edge in local rankings.
- There’s a lot to this, and you’ll want to read all about the factors that go into local SEO. One of the most important things to remember is that you need to emphasize your locality within your website content.
- It’s especially important to reference the area you serve if your business is located outside of a major metropolitan area.
#4 Have a Digital Newsletter for Your Brick and Mortar Business
- A newsletter is a great way to stay connected with current and potential customers. Just make sure to fill it with relevant, interesting content. Filler isn’t going to cut it. Your customers want tips, tricks, insights, and real-world suggestions.
- Definitely do use email to send out your newsletter. You can also post it on your social media accounts and/or your website. But people are more likely to open it out of curiosity if it comes straight to their inbox. And if you deliver fascinating content, people will keep opening your emails.
- Hire a professional to design your newsletter, or learn how to do it yourself. Remember, you don’t want to be putting it out there if it isn’t the best possible representation of your business.
#5 Offer incentives for checking in
- Encourage customers to follow you on social media by offering up discounts, coupons, or other incentives for checking in on social media.
- Getting people to check in is a great way to grow your social networks. It makes your business more visible and it gets your customers’ friends thinking about (and hopefully asking questions) about you.
- Facebook reminds users of where they’ve checked in and asks them if they’d like to leave reviews. You can also see who has checked in at your establishment, which is a great opportunity for connecting with people. You can send a quick message to thank them for coming in, and you can ask for a review (or see if you can resolve any problems).
#6 Maximize Your Online Visibility Through Tools
- Small business owners especially feel the crunch of trying to keep up with all the online places where their business might be found. Fortunately, there are some tools that help you keep your online image up to date across the board.
- SinglePlatform is perhaps the best tool for the job – it lets small businesses keep all of their online info updated from one place. You’ll be able to make sure that major search engines, review sites, and travel sites all have current information on your business’ address, hours, and services.
#7 Use Facebook Offers
- Facebook Offers is a great way to create a social media marketing campaign by offering fans what they want.
- Ask your fans what they’re interested in, then design a Facebook Offer tailored to their desires.
- Only your fans will get these special deals. But if the deals are good, they are almost guaranteed to refer others. This is another great way to build your following.
On the whole, you shouldn’t worry that your brick and mortar business is going to go under because of online competition. At the same time, you need an online presence to be successful in the brick and mortar world. Don’t ignore the assets right in front of you – The tools and information to succeed are right at your fingertips.