Although many small businesses have created a website and Facebook page that covers the bare minimum, plenty of local businesses are still missing out on opportunities to use their websites to generate qualified leads.
If you have a brick and mortar store, you may have written off online lead generation as the domain of ecommerce sites, but that doesn’t need to be the case. Here are just a few ways that local businesses can use online marketing to reach out to their target audience and get more customers in their stores.
Align your internet strategy with a focus on leads, not traffic. Many businesses (and SEO consultants) make the mistake of aiming to drive as many visitors as possible to a website. That may sound great, but 100 visitors that fit your target demographic are worth far more than 10,000 visitors who have absolutely no need for your products or services. Make sure your strategy is driven by your business goals, not just traffic generation.
Ensure your have a lead capture mechanism on each landing page. At the very least, you want a clear call-to-action on each and every page, but there are dozens of ways to encourage people to reach out to you. Just a few ideas include incentivizing them by offering a free e-newsletter, e-book, or coupon in exchange for their email address. What’s right for a business depends highly on your demographic and business goals, and the right internet marketing expert can help guide you in the process.
Develop a system to follow-up on those leads. If you’re capturing dozens or hundreds of leads, you’re headed in the right direction, but you have to do something with those leads. You must follow up in order to get them to convert.
Make contact information easy to find – on desktop and mobile devices. Don’t make web users do an in-depth search of your website just to find your phone number and address. Many consumers will be searching from mobile devices, and if they have to do a lot of scrolling or squinting, they’ll turn to another business with a better website layout.
Invest in mobile click-to-call. The fewer clicks a web user has to make to contact your business, the more likely they are to actually do it. Recognizing this, Google recently added a click-to-call extension for their Adwords. If you use this extension, a phone icon and the word “Call” will appear below your ad listing in search results, and people who have performed the search from their phone can simply click the button to immediately call your number.
Get listed online. When was the last time you used a phonebook to look up the number for a business? If you can’t remember, you’re certainly not alone. With more and more people eschewing land lines for cell phones and businesses listing their contact information online, bulky phonebooks have largely become obsolete.
However, as the physical yellow pages have vanished, virtual Yellow Pages and other local business directorieshave sprung up. In addition to prominently displaying your business contact information on your website, get your company listed in these directories – and keep them updated – so that local consumers can easily find you. You can also use them to do communicate with customers about new products, changing hours, or other important announcements, and run specials and promotions.
Claim your location on map sites. Speaking of local directories, claim your profile on map sites, like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. By doing this, you can make sure these sites aren’t posting inaccurate information about you (you won’t see new customers if your physical address is listed incorrectly online) and respond to consumer feedback.
Include a contact form on your website. Adding a contact form to your site is incredibly easy to do (there are many templates available, and if you use a platform like Wordpress, they already have contact templates built in) and also incredibly advantageous. It provides site visitors with an easy way to provide feedback, ask questions, and request services and information, and it allows you to directly communicate with site visitors who may be interested in your products, improving your lead generation as a result.
Ask for reviews. If a current customer emails you or tells you in person how great they think your business is, politely ask if they’d be willing to write a short testimonial for your website or post a review on a site like Yelp. These positive reviews can help your business rank more highly in the search engine listings, and they’ll also encourage the many people who use review sites as research tools to come visit your brick and mortar location.
Try drip marketing. This communication strategy involves sending shorter, pre-written messages to prospects over time. These messages are called “drips”, and they are designed to help lead a prospect to converting into a sale. If you have captured online leads, this is just one strategy available to you for following up via email marketing.
Effective online marketing can drive impressive results for brick and mortar locations, but it requires keen analysis, frequent monitoring, and adjustment to ensure a positive ROI. Many businesses don’t have this type of expertise in-house and may find it valuable to elicit the help of an online marketing expert to develop a strategy for them.
Shepard Morrow is the head of Location Traffic, an internet marketing and business consulting company in Pennington, New Jersey. He has helped many businesses increase their sales through improved retail marketing online. Learn more at LocationTraffic.com or call 609-737-8667.