Online is the New Main Street in Digital Marketing
Every year around this time, you start seeing the same images: streets tidily lined with mom and pop businesses, from a decades-old hardware store to a family owned restaurant, all draped with red, white, and blue bunting and proudly displayed American flags. The image of this small town Main Street is as ubiquitously American as apple pie and fireworks. It used to be that as long as a store was on Main Street, it could do well, provided it was kept well and its owners were friendly and helpful. In our increasingly more connected age, however, alerting customers to your business’s presence and authority gets a little more challenging.
In a world where 81% of customers will do online research before making big purchases and where Google has added a feature allowing users to “See Inside” a business before ever darkening its door, it’s becoming clear that the wide world of the Internet is the new Main Street for small businesses. While this is certainly a larger field than ever before, don’t be intimidated! Thanks to specific local search improvements from Google and others, it can be easier than ever for customers to find your business and try it out. And just like Main Street, it can all start by sprucing up your (digital) storefront.
Mind Your Aesthetics
As in the real world, your brand’s visual is critical. The more unified and polished your brand identity, the more customers recognize the care you put into its creation – and likely the more care you’re putting into your services! Start by revamping your social media accounts. Update your header photos on Google Plus, Facebook, and Twitter, and make sure your profile picture is up to date. (Next week on the blog, we’ll share the most critical elements of your brand’s online image.) Then ensure that your profile picture and header image aren’t the only two images you have on your social pages! Post quality photos from your business so that potential clients can get a sneak peek of what to expect. Most of all, keep your brand consistent across all platforms – match the coloring and style of your website to your social profiles so that customers can keep your brand in mind.
Keep it Informative
Customers navigate to your online presence primarily to gather important information. Does your salon accept walk-ins? Is your pizzeria open late enough to grab a slice after their 8pm movie? Does your shop repair Volvos, or do you specialize? Make sure that critical information is posted across all of your platforms. This includes your address, your contact information (whether email or phone), your hours, and any other details relevant to your business. Once these major details are out of the way, they look for the next tier of info: do you have any deals going on right now? What are your specials? If they were to order one thing off of your menu, what should it be? Making your online storefront a wealth of helpful information lets customers know that you’re ready to attend to their needs when they come in. As a bonus, the more genuinely helpful and informative your content is, the better your search rankings will be.
There are few things more frustrating than realizing that a business you’d like to visit has a website – but you can’t navigate it on mobile! Make sure that your website is mobile-responsive, and that the information above is easily accessible with a few clicks – or, if possible, no clicks at all! Label your pages intuitively (for example, call your menu page Menu, rather than At Our Table), and be sure that they show up well on your customers’ smart phones. Your social media should be easily navigable as well. Arrange your tabs on Facebook with the most relevant information first – your About page with your hours, followed by items like “Our Services” and “Contact Us.” The more friendly you are to your customers in the digital space, the more trust they’ll have of you in the real world.
And you’re all set! Just 3 easy steps to dress up your digital storefront – and a little red, white, and blue bunting never hurt either.