How to Nail your next customer!
You have to be findable! You need a presence in all the places that your customers are looking. You also need to be reviewed in places that your customers or potential customers value as a source of information. You also need to direct customers to platforms that continue to promote your business and your value (social media or website). Online directories should be the first move in your digital strategy.
How do I make my business findable?
Findability is not just about customers looking specifically for you, it’s also for those looking for businesses like yours and FINDING YOU. It’s about people looking for your nearby competitors and seeing your business as well (an alternative as such). Take this opportunity to entice your competitors customers to you. This can only be done if you put effort into your online directories profile ensuring you are more attractive than the rest. The pitfall here, is trying to be attractive to everyone, and thus being attractive to no-one. The hint is to target your ideal customers. In order to avoid the pitfall, you may need experts to undertake the necessary research, develop appropriate campaigns, engage a graphic designer, and/or business consultants so that your staff and business understand what they can do to support the campaign, especially, when you turn your back.
The key to advertising your business successfully is to generate promising leads in exchange for the money you spend. To do so, it helps to offer a message that not only speaks to your target customers, but also showcases the value you can offer them – your unique selling proposition. Online directories often offer a free listing. These Online Directories also have links to your website (if you have one), and your social media accounts. This helps with your overall SEO score – back links (when other reputable websites link to your website).
So you might be seen, now you have to be engaged. You might have noticed when you’re looking for nails in Kingsgrove and you get hardware Google Ads all over Australia. Those hardware store Ads are seen but not clicked, because you’re looking for a nail salon. So always make sure your first sentence in your business profile (no matter what platform your using) clearly says what you do, and polarises those not looking for you. What content (such as copy, images, posts and Ads) need not just be clear, concise, and relevant, it needs to be professional, on trend and better than your competitors. You can’t ignore your competition any more. You may be very good at your work, but first impressions do lead to assumptions of your business as a whole, so put your first foot forward. If you start getting clicks, or calls you need to know where from. Why? In short, better decision – shut down what is not working reducing clutter, and enhance what is working. sometimes, it’s a bit of trial and error, but this can be fun if done well.
Analysing the impacts that online directories are having on your business is important in order to decide where you spend future resources on attracting even more customers. Most online directories give you free insights or analytics, but if you don't check them, and/or ignore them when making decisions, then you will not be maximising your commercial success opportunities and wasting your potential. You could pay extra for management by the select online directory if you lack the experience in your organisation. The pitfall here is – 'why pay each provider for their help, when you can have someone manage all of them'. That being said, for most businesses, just appointing someone within your own organisation to do it without them having strategy insight, formal training, support or time, usually has negative results for your business and unwanted stress for the appointee. Specialised advertising, technology, or SEO consultants claim to be able to do this for you, but often, they lack the business acumen to keep your 'pitch' aimed at your ideal customers and within your overall strategy. So if you want to pursue this avenue, ask the right questions, whilst being cautious when they say all the right things during the on-boarding process yet will not personally be on your account. Even if you think you need a full-time person, you probably don't. Management Consulting Agencies work long and hard, across many industries, and spend enormous amount of money on training – staying current and on-trend. Management consultants are especially good, particularly because they can keep your message on point. Management consultants are also exceptional communicators with oustanding project management skills ensuring that you know where you're at, and how you are doing, and most importantly, what to do next to stay engaging.
Technology today affords us the opportunity to initiate contact with a lot of potential customers online, but many businesses fall short of actually converting these customers because they fail to truly engage them. It's imperative to have consistent information across all of your online listings because, any discrepancies will confuse search engines resulting in a drop in your Search Engine ranking. Inaccurate listings will also confuse potential customers. Imagine a person being referred to ‘your business’ by an existing customer, then they look up ‘your business’ online and check more reviews. Instead of seeing the contact information that they were given by your customer, they see old and inaccurate information online, incorrect opening times, and negative reviews with no response. What does the customer do? To be sure, they will not pick up the phone to contact you, and you won’t get the chance to explain the poor reviews.
Online Networking and Online Reviews
Managing your online reputation is the practice of crafting strategies that shape or influence the public perception of an organization, individual or other entity on the Internet. It helps drive public opinion about a business and its products and services. It can be the result of:
- Receiving online reviews
- Other Business Partnerships or Endorsements, and
- Media Coverage, News, or announcements
Now that your business is findable using online directories (whether you have a website or not), you need to manage the messages your potential customers are getting, especially, online reviews. Getting positive reviews contributes enormously to a positive online reputation. It’s modern day ‘word of mouth’ – as good as landing referrals from networking or past business associations if it comes from reputable sources. It’s a cheap way to pick up new business, an important trade reference. So what can you do?
- You can ask customers to review you online, and follow it up with a thank you
- You can add reminders to your receipts,
- Have a note by your cash register to remind customers and staff
- You can create email marketing campaigns to your lists (e.g. Mailchimp)
- Encourage staff to stay on top of asking for them
Even if one in five customers review you, this is a good thing. At Collappor8 we find our customers staff are initially scared or embarrassed to ask customers to review them. This is either a reflection of what your staff expect to receive
- Poor reviews pointing to a bigger problem which needs to be addressed, or
- They’re simply not motivated.
So, you can either fix what make your staff think the review will be poor, or find a way to motivate them. The obvious pitfalls here are
- many businesses can let ego dictate responses to reviews and ignore the chance to improve their business or your business,
- defensive management. For example: if the person or department being reviewed poorly argues that by changing for one negative review you may alienate many more.
Where does the truth lie? Having Online Reputation Management outsourced to management consultants avoids these pitfalls, working with you to improve your product and service deliverables. This can be scary, but, ignoring your customers will have a bigger impact.
Online Directories Checklist for Australian Businesses
Whilst we take all reasonable care to ensure the accuracy of the below information and confirm that this information is true and accurate at the time of writing, however, online directories are vigorously competing with each other, which means their offerings are expanding rapidly. So, keep checking back with them – and keep improving your listing.
Google & Google Maps has a free listing. Your business shows up when customers search for your business or businesses like yours on both Google and Google Maps. Google My Business lets you post updates to showcase what’s new, respond to reviews to build loyalty and add photos, video and posts to highlight what makes your business special.
AppleMaps lets you add or update your business information in Apple Maps to help customers find you. Apple Maps Connect users can also add their company's website URL, Facebook, Twitter and Yelp pages to their profiles. E.g. if you search for 'restaurants', nearby spots are displayed on the map with colourful badges. When multiple restaurants are packed into a small area, Maps displays a numbered badge that you can tap to reveal options. Be a Badge!
Yellow Pages® gets more than 9 million searches each month across Australia. As well as being listed in the Yellow Pages online directory, they’ll give your listing to search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo!7, mapping sites such as Whereis and Google maps, plus Voice Directories such as 1234 Call Connect and a range of other specialty sites.
Yelp publishes crowd sourced reviews about local businesses. Whilst many people don’t actively use Yelp in Australia as much as other countries, when a potential customer searches your business plus “review”, if they see your business has been reviewed by Yelp, do they believe it? The answer to this is yes. So Yelp can be very useful in this way.
Bing is the default search engine for Siri on Apple Phones. Voice Search is on the rise. e.g. people asking Siri where is the nearest…?
Chances are Bing has a listing for your business already. Claim an existing listing or add a new one. If your business has multiple locations you can add them in one go using the bulk upload tool. It even has an agency element, but Bing is continuously evolving, so stayed tuned.
Platforms that Promote your Business and Value
Online communication with your potential customers needs to be fluid. Getting them – engaging them – converting them. If you do not have a very good website, don’t direct your potential customers to it. It could be losing you more clients than winning. Your website should be updated regularly, kept on trend. Less is better than more if you cannot maintain your website to a high standard. If your Facebook is better maintained than your website – direct them there.
Technology today offers so many great ways to interact and engage with customers online. Take advantage of all the free tools and resources available today and devise a plan to better engage and interact with your customers online. If you don't, your competition will. Your listings are just one of the ways that you can boost local SEO. If you'd like to boost your search listings, we can help.
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