“Who are you? Where are you? I drove by your store but didn’t have time to stop in. What do you sell? Do you offer shipping? Is it free?”
It used to be if we couldn’t ask these questions in person, we would just pick up the phone and call a business directly. Or, people would just pick up their car keys and drive around until they found the store that they were looking for. In days gone by, an entry in the phone book was often all the advertising a business needed. Now, it’s safe to say that many customers have never even used a phone book. I personally remember flipping through the Yellow Pages book as a kid when my mom told me to find the local pizza delivery number. But those days are long gone.
Businesses switch locations and open new ones too rapidly to be printing updated phone books constantly. And who wants to spend time flipping through pages, reading size 6 font trying to find a phone number or address that may or may not be correct or even still in existence? People are not wasting time anymore aimlessly driving around hoping to stumble upon your location, because they are doing all the research from their homes first. The reason that businesses have gone digital is because their customers have, and we can guarantee that your customers are online. That is why digital locations are essential for brick and mortar businesses.
According to a study done by Mintel of consumer behavior, nearly 70 percent of Americans say they shop online. That is a lot of traffic and a lot of potential customers searching for what your business has to offer. Even if you may not think your products are the sort that people would buy online, like clothes or tools, don’t opt out of the digital marketplace yet. Whether your customer is someone short on time, or someone who already knows their size or the specifics of what they are in the market for, an online presence means sales opportunities.
Building an online presence can be a daunting task, but every day you are offline you are losing business. Especially with the fact that not everyone searches online the same way, that makes it even more important to standardize the information you put online so that you reach a wider range of audience. For instance, if you specialize in making shoes and you have 3 locations in a given area, you want to make sure that you have all 3 location-specific information available on your site. This is because you might have one potential customer searching for a specific kind of shoe, and another potential customer searching for a shoe store near them. Either way, you want to optimize your website so that you show up in search results and are not losing customers to the competition.
Some actionable steps to make in the process of having a better digital presence include: claim local listings, add locations to your website, have individual location pages if applicable, add your address to your footer, and add location to social profiles. It’s really important that when you are putting your local information on your web pages and social media profiles, that you are consistent with the information and standardize it across all platforms so that your customers don’t ever get confused.
Putting together a sales and information platform for your business like a website and optimizing it for local search does require some know-how, but there are people with answers and they are waiting to help you get started. Contact us to learn more and get started.
Image by Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr CC