Back to Basics #22: Small Business Marketing for Local Storefronts

SMALL BUSINESSMARKETINGFOR LOCAL STORES Here at Internet Local Listings, we focus on helping our small business clients with all of their online marketing needs—social media, websites, and managing local listings for a variety of business directories. This is an important part of your small business marketing plan, because being seen online is integral to your success as a business in the modern marketplace. And, as you know, it can be a bit confusing and time-consuming to handle all this on your own. Having help is a great asset in this case.

However, what we aren't able to help with is the management of your storefront. That might sound obvious, but an important aspect of small business marketing that many people overlook is the effect that a storefront's appearance can have on a customer. You already know that first impressions matter when you're on a job interview or first date, and the same can be said of a customer's first visit to your business—a store's appearance can have tremendous influence over whether a person chooses to return or not. In this article, we'll talk a bit about how appearance can affect a customer's decision to purchase or leave, as well as how keeping your store beautiful can help create more online interactions and engagement.

A Storefront's Appearance Matters.

According to a study done at Retail Customer Experience, more than two-thirds of the surveyed group had avoided a store simply because the storefront was unattractive, outdated, or dirty. Although it might be a bit difficult to make a building look newer than it is (particularly if you share the building with other offices and have no control over renovations), it's always possible to keep the inside of your store looking neat and tidy.

pretty-store

Image from I Loved New York.com

Keep the Place Smelling Fresh.

Aside from keeping your store's appearance tidy and clean, you're going to want to make sure it smells okay. This might seem as obvious as keeping it clean, but if you're, say, a car mechanic and you're used to the smell of oil, you might not realize how off-putting it can be to some people. While you obviously can't control the smell of the vehicles you're working on in your shop, you can control the smells in the lobby. Brew some fresh coffee. Set up snacks. Keep everything wiped down and clean; keep the doors to the shop closed to prevent extra noise and smells sneaking in. Finally, you may want to use this as an opportunity to promote some great-smelling air fresheners!

This goes for any industry, however. Even if you run a bookstore (and many people love the smell of books), make sure that everything is clean without overdoing it on the “chemical” smell.

The “First Ten Feet” Rule.

According to Rick Segel, author of Retail Business Kit for Dummies, you must offer a price-sensitive incentive for customers to continue shopping within the first 10 feet of the door. For example, this could be a special offer you're running, a promotion for your store's top-selling product, or even a poster board offering information on local community events. Whether you're in the business of selling auto parts or you offer home cleaning services, you can always find some related community events or classes that would appeal to your clientele. Don't be afraid to get creative—have some of your customers asked questions about the availability of a specific product? Have they asked where you could learn more about your business? Maybe they just simply get lost on the way to the bathroom! Do whatever you can to help them feel welcome and at home in your store, and they'll be likely to remain long enough to explore. Plus, you may just earn yourself a repeat customer!

clean-store

Maintain Your Store's Fixtures.

Sometimes your store is clean, your employees are welcoming, and the place is set up to draw the customers in—but people just aren't staying. You're confused and you're wondering what could be going wrong.

  • Take a step back from your store. Walk into it again as if it were the first time you'd ever set foot in it. Now, you're probably so used to it that this will be difficult for you, but try really hard to place yourself in your customers' shoes. Here are some key things to look for:
  • Are your displays are neatly arranged? Do they look up-to-date? An old, faded poster or a messy stack of “clearance” products might make your store look disorganized.
  • Do the lights seem too dim or too bright? If they're too dim, it might make your store look unwelcoming or shady—which is, naturally, off-putting to customers. If your lights are too bright, it can make customers feel uncomfortable, too, because who wants to feel like they need to wear sunglasses inside of a store?

Finally, make sure your staff is friendly and welcoming.

Make sure there's always a manager or knowledgeable person available to answer your customer's questions. And of course, ensure everyone looks his or her best to keep with the professional appearance you've worked so hard to instill in your store.

The wonderful part of keeping your storefront clean and inviting is that it will cross over into the online realm. People will be happy to leave you positive reviews. They'll want to follow you on Facebook or Twitter to see what your new specials are. They'll refer friends and family. Remember that this is all part of the bigger picture--getting the word out about your fantastic business!

welcoming-customers

Small business marketing is complex. It's a mixture of online finesse as well as a little bit of good, old-fashioned business skills. While the marketing experts at Internet Local Listings can help you with the internet marketing part of the equation, we can only offer tips for the local aspect of it! We hope you've found these helpful!

If you have any tips or suggestions, leave them in the comments below! And be sure to subscribe for regular updates from our small business marketing blog.

Back to Basics #11: 5 Small Business Marketing Ideas Anyone Can Do

small business marketing ideas Small business marketing is a tricky thing to get the hang of: Small business owners often struggle knowing when or how often to post updates on social media; what to post about or how to gather content ideas; or even when to start blogging or how to connect with potential readers. It can be overwhelming, to be sure, especially when you are strapped for time and have a limited budget. So in this article, we’re going to talk a bit about a few small business marketing ideas that anyone can do easily and cheaply—whether you’re completely new to online advertising or you’ve been trying your hand at it for a while and just aren’t seeing the results that you want.

  1. Develop a PR Strategy. As this article from Entrepreneur suggests, it’s important for all companies, particularly small businesses, to make sure that they have a PR strategy in place. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to have a large budget or spend a ton of time on it—in fact, small businesses can implement great PR campaigns into their social media strategies. Take the Kleenex example cited in the article: In 2011, Kleenex searched Facebook to find fifty people who posted about being sick. After getting into contact with friends and family members, they sent care packages to the ailing cold-sufferers. The recipients were so pleased that they posted happy pictures of their care packages. Great PR and usage of social media in one shot—and a very cheap maneuver.
  2. Start a podcast. Have you ever subscribed to a podcast? They’re great to listen to on the commute to work or in the morning while getting ready to head out for the day. And they’re also easy to make! As Inc.com suggests, you might want to try interviewing other business owners for their point of view on marketing or advertising. Or maybe you’d like to put together a podcast series of how-to’s—for example, plumbers or electrical contractors do very well with these types of podcasts. You can teach people how to do things they want to learn more about, while still drawing attention to your company. It’s a win-win situation!
  3. Forget advertising like the big brand names. While it’s perfectly fine to draw inspiration from popular advertising campaigns, you have to remember who the big companies are marketing to. They can reach far more people than you are able to, and they have the budget to pull it off. Don’t waste your time trying to dissect everything a large company does---instead, focus on how you can connect with your local customers in the best way possible. You could try hosting a photo captioning contest on Facebook where the winner gets a coupon. You could try running a “special offer” for a day if one of your tweets gets 50 retweets. Maybe sending out a postcard to your loyal customers is a good idea. Think about these types of marketing techniques and choose one that works for you.
  4. Networking with other small business owners. Nowadays, you can easily network online through sites such as LinkedIn. But nothing will ever replace the face-to-face value of networking in person. To meet other people in your industry, attend local seminars. Offer to speak at colleges or other events. If there are conventions in your area, look into speaking on a panel—or if not speaking, attend and ask questions. You could even try going to a book club or submit a press release to your local newspaper. By connecting with other small business owners, you’ll be able to better navigate the local scene and make yourself a go-to brand name in the town.
  5. Claim your online listings. Believe it or not, your business could already be listed on places like Google and Bing. The problem is that you haven’t claimed the listings yet. By claiming your own listings, you let your customers know that you exist, and you provide consistent information so that no matter which search engine they use to find you, your information will always be correct. Furthermore, claiming listings helps with online rankings, and once you are listed consistently across the internet, you’ll see more traffic being driven to your site!

Want more information on small business marketing ideas? Subscribe to our posts via email, or you can also like us on Facebook, follow Follow @InternetListing on Twitter and Pinterest, and circle us on Google Plus! Let us know how Internet Local Listings can best assist you with your small business marketing needs!

Watch a video about this topic and share with your followers!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsWi7OXDW1Y]

Back to Basics #10: 3 Things You Need to Know About Local Marketing for Small Businesses

local-marketing-for-small-businesses Welcome back to another Back to Basics post! In this article, we’re going to talk a bit about a few simple things small businesses need to know about local marketing success.

When a brand is competing on a local level, it doesn’t need to focus on the same things that a national brand does. This much is probably obvious, but let's go over an example to make sure everything is clear. So let's say you’re an auto repair mechanic working in Wheelsville. (Hey, it could happen.) When people search for an auto mechanic, they might just type in “auto mechanic”--a simple, straight-forward query. Google is smart enough that they’ll bring up nearby results based on the searcher’s location, which could be one of a few cities in the area. But if the searcher is in a particularly small area or needs to find a service in a very specific location, they might type in “mechanic in Wheelsville,” and this time, Google will bring up all the most relevant results specific to Wheelsville.

What does this mean for you?

Simple: You need your address and listing optimized in order to get the best placement on search engine result pages. And to help you do this, here are 3 things you need to know about local marketing for small businesses—and they’re easier to get the hang of than you think!

3 Tips for Local Marketing Success!

1. Check and cross-check listings for accuracy. You won’t believe the number of business owners who are completely unaware of the status of their listings. Thousands and thousands of unclaimed listings exist on the internet—from listings on popular sites such as Google Places, to directories you’ve never even heard of (but that should still be used correctly). Use our scanner here to see if your site is listed correctly. (We promise, it won’t bite. Or lead you to a scary abyss.)

2. Local marketing is all about reviews. So get them from as many customers as possible! Offer an incentive for those who want to leave a kind review—a coupon, a complimentary treat, or a free tune-up. Whatever you feel you can offer to a customer for a review is a great way to get them to participate. Search engines derive relevancy from fresh content. For local businesses, some of the best signals you can give to the search engines are great ratings for your locally-listed business. Not to mention, when other customers stop by and read your ratings and reviews, they’ll be pleased with what they find, and of course, enticed to stop in and experience it for themselves.

3. The people who understand local marketing the best are the people who connect with customers. How can you easily (and cheaply) do this? You can pick a few social media sites to join and update regularly. By connecting with your customers via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other social media platform of your choice, you can be sure that customers will always be able to find you. This way, when people search for your business online, they’ll have a good chance of finding your social media sites as well. Basically, the more places you’re listed, the better—people will find you instead of your competitors.

What if you don't have the time to invest in learning or implementing local marketing techniques?

Now, none of this information is particularly ground-breaking. It’s not going to shoot you to the top of the search results overnight. What it will do is give you a great head-start on local marketing for your small business. The sooner you get your business listed consistently, get your customers reviewing your business, and get started connecting with customers via social media, the better.

However, we understand that many small business owners don’t have the time to invest in local marketing strategies. If you’ve read through this article and decided it simply seems like it’s going to take too much of your valuable time, we hear you. Internet Local Listings has over 50 years of combined experience helping small businesses succeed at local marketing. If you feel that you need a helping hand, check out our affordable packages and join thousands of our other satisfied clients across the US and Canada!

If you liked this post, find more news here.

Why Small Business Marketing is Essential in 2014 and Beyond

small-business-marketing-in-2014

small-business-marketing-in-2014 Getting the word out about your business has always been your top priority. As a small business owner, you already understand how important marketing is—whether it's word of mouth, fliers, direct marketing, or running local advertising campaigns, you know that you have to get the word out or your numbers suffer. But what many small business owners don't take into consideration is a marketing plan. And without some type of marketing strategy, you'll likely become frustrated, not knowing whether your efforts are paying off.

This is the primary reason that small business marketing is now non-negotiable. In 2014, we have a number of options to help us determine how and where to market to our clients: social media, blogs, video marketing, online local business listings, Google Places, and more. With all of these tools at our disposal, is there any excuse not to have a marketing plan in place?

No, there isn't. In this article, we'll talk a bit about why small business marketing is essential in 2014 and beyond. When you understand just how effective marketing is for your business, you'll have a better foundation to grasp the concepts of beginning your own marketing campaign.

Small business marketing is the only way to get the word out.

word-of-mouth-marketing

You've heard of companies like Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, and Apple. Why is that? Because they have a massive consumer base and they have massive marketing budgets. Their ads are fed to you frequently to ensure you know what the company is up to, and they make sure that their products stay up-to-date and relevant.

Now, you're probably thinking, “Well, I don't have that kind of money to spend on an advertising campaign!” and you're probably right. Most small business marketing budgets are scant. And that's okay. You don't need a ton of money to start seeing returns on your efforts. As we've discussed in previous articles, you can implement social marketing strategies for very little money, and you can get started with blogging completely free of charge. The best thing about this type of marketing is that you can begin to spend money whenever you like to boost your efforts. Want to place an ad on Facebook? You can spend as little as $5 a day to promote your business. Want to pay for a domain name and host your blog as a website? For less than $20, you can grab a domain name, and hosting can be as low as $3-5 a month. There's no reason you must feel like you are required to spend thousands of dollars just to be seen online.

When you get the word out with small business marketing, you begin to build your audience online. And that's the #1 most important thing.

In 2014, traditional networking is still important.

traditional-marketing

Networking. It sounds like a buzzword, and to some extent, that's what it's become. That aside, you should never underestimate the power of networking. If you go to local business expos, connect with influencers on Twitter and Facebook, and simply ask your customers to refer you to friends and family, then you're already networking. If you're not networking and these activities don't sound like they'll increase your sales, then think of it this way: you're building a strong reputation and a sturdy foundation of support and availability for your clients. And that is absolutely essential.

The easiest way to get started is to simply ask your customers to review you on Yelp and Google. This has the added bonus of sending “relevancy” signals to Google, helping you to rank higher. Many customers would be happy to submit positive reviews when asked, but they often don't bother to go online and leave reviews otherwise.

You can also get started on Facebook and Twitter for free. Place signs around your office or store that tell customers where they can find you online. Ask friends and family to spread the word. None of this will cost you a thing, except maybe an hour or two of your time to craft the signs!

Are press releases outdated? Nope. Not even close.

making-a-list-of-blog-topics

Spread the word about newsworthy business developments: A new product, a sale, or a special event your company is attending or hosting. Try to send out a press release once a month to keep the word about your company relevant and fresh. This can cost money if you choose to promote your company online—you can pay anywhere from $120 to upwards of $250 to have your press release promoted on popular sites. But you don't have to do this. Small business marketing is all about leveraging your local connections. Talk to your local newspaper or ask to be on the news or featured on a radio show. You can talk about your new products or even offer customers a special discount if they mention your interview or article. By doing this regularly, you can easily make a good impression on your local community.

The new way of connecting to customers: Videos.

YouTube logo small business

Many small businesses specialize in a specific, niche service: Plumbing, dog grooming, notary services, etc. Think of how you felt when you first started learning about your industry. You probably felt overwhelmed and looked to professionals for guidance. Or consider how you feel when you want to save money and try to take care of things yourself—fixing a pipe or cleaning your roof, for instance. Many people look up tutorials now on YouTube.

This might seem counter-intuitive to teach your customers learn how to help themselves, but it is actually a great way for your customers and company to share a dialogue. It establishes you as an authority figure and expert in your industry. Plus, taking the time to create a video tutorial for your customers shows that you spend time thinking of their needs—and customers truly appreciate that. Finally, videos on YouTube, when properly optimized, send strong relevancy signals to search engines, and that helps your website rank higher.

And there you have it. Small business marketing is essential in 2014. You need to network to connect with clients. You need to create content to stay relevant on search engines. You need to connect with customers in new and innovative ways. As the internet grows more content-based, your small business will have to keep on top of these trends to ensure your customers are still finding you.

If you need assistance with any small business marketing services, Internet Local Listings is always here to help. Simply contact us here or visit our site for more information. We have a special running right now, too—so act fast and save money while you start bringing in more customers!

Back to Basics #8: Social Media Trends: Do Small Businesses Need to Keep Up?

social-media-trends

social-media-trends-for-small-businesses Small business owners: Are you tired of hearing about the importance of social media? Have you started up a Facebook page or Twitter account and decided that it’s just too much effort for too little payoff? Well, you’re not alone. Many small business owners feel that social media trends don’t offer a lot for their companies—what’s popular today might be gone in a couple of months, after all. And who wants to spend a lot of time building up a following just to find out that there’s another new social media network out there?

Unfortunately, you still need to be harnessing the power of social media. Even if you don’t keep up to date with social media trends, you will find that there are certain staples that are here to stay—at least for a few years. And that’s plenty of time for you to invest in your followers and customers to make sure they connect with your company.

The number of small businesses jumping on board with social media trends is only growing.

Did you know that…

  • 88% of small businesses use LinkedIn.
  • 84% of small businesses use Facebook.
  • 74% of small businesses use Twitter.
  • 58% of small businesses use Google+.

(statistics taken from HeidiCohen.com)

And the numbers are only growing. Many small business owners who haven’t begun social media marketing yet say that they plan on implementing a strategy within the next year. Those who already have often say that they want to step up marketing efforts and track results more carefully. If you’re in the former camp, check out our articles to learn more about what social media is, and how to develop effective social media marketing strategies on a small business budget.

Text and photos aren’t enough anymore—you need to try out videos.

Another one of the top social media trends for small businesses is the growing usage of YouTube. Companies are happily producing their own visual content for their customers. According to a small business survey conducted by Verticalresponse.com, 35% of the small businesses they surveyed said that they used YouTube as a part of their regular marketing efforts. With the number of free video creation programs available on the internet now, it’s become much easier for even the most non-artistic person to make informative, engaging, and SEO-friendly videos. You can actually have a lot of fun creating videos for your customers—think of them like visual blog articles. You can talk about a variety of subjects relating to your industry. For blogging ideas, check out our article here and apply some ideas to your video content. The videos don’t have to be stiff and “corporate” in appearance--you can make them as unique as your company.

But what about the competition? How do you keep up?

Yes, it’s true that your competition will likely be using social media just as you are. And it’s also true that as people join social media sites, you'll have more competitors. You'll be competing not only for business, but for your content to even be seen in the first place! Think about it: If the average Facebook user has, say, 300 friends, how many posts do you think they’ll see in a day? A lot. Now think of all the companies they’ve “liked”. There’s going to be a lot of competition to be seen on their news feed.

Unfortunately, as the user base for social media sites grows, the competition levels get continually tougher. And usually the only way around this is to start paying. You can pay for ads to be placed on a target demographic’s page, or you can “boost” your posts to make sure they stay on top of a news feed. You’re certainly not forced to do this by any means—but remember this as time goes on.

Whether you’re new to social media or you’ve been working on it for years, there’s no way around it: small businesses must stay on top of social media trends if they want to see organic growth online. This isn’t to say you must spend 24 hours a day on social media; however, with regular updates and time investment, you’ll see your engagement growing and your efforts paying off.

And if social media trends are just too much for you to handle right now...

If you need help managing your social media accounts, visit Internet Local Listings and take a look at our internet marketing packages. We’ll be happy to help you get whatever you need to be seen online--whether it's social media, a new website, or local business listings!

Is Word of Mouth Marketing Still Effective?

word-of-mouth-marketing In today’s busy, online-centric world, you hear a lot about how social media is the answer to everything: more traffic to your website, more phone calls to your business, and more customers purchasing your products and services. As a small business owner, you don’t have a lot of extra money to spend on complicated advertising campaigns. While larger businesses have millions to pour into campaigns that they can adjust over time, you have a very limited budget and no excess to tweak your strategy in the future. So you’re probably still relying on word of mouth marketing. But is it still effective? Are you getting the most you possibly can from it?

Word of Mouth is Still a Reliable Marketing Method

Many small business owners say that they still use word-of-mouth advertising and that it is effective for their marketing efforts. In fact, two in three marketers say that word of mouth marketing is actually more effective than any other traditional marketing tactics they’ve tried. According to a study done by the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, 70% of marketers say that their companies will increase social media budgets in the next year, whereas only 29% say that they’ll spend more on offline word-of-mouth marketing. So what does this mean? It means that small businesses rely on word-of-mouth marketing, they find it to be effective, and because of this, they don’t see it as necessary to dump a bunch of money into it. It’s a safe investment for them because they get real results.

Word of Mouth Marketing is More Flexible Than You Think

If you think about it, you can still benefit from word of mouth marketing while utilizing modern social media tactics.

Sites like Angie’s List make it possible for your customers to leave feedback in an online space designed to market your business. Encourage your happy customers to leave you a glowing review to bring in more business. It’s like telling a friend that you really loved a restaurant and then they go and check it out. Someone recommends your site on Angie’s List and that’s a lot of clout.

Yelp  is also a great site to show how awesome your small business is. Again, encourage your happy customers to leave reviews and help spread the word about your business. Yelp is practically a go-to resource for those looking for local businesses.

Facebook is another way you can connect with local customers. When your customers share your statuses or interact with you on your page, they’re more likely to buy from you. In fact, 85% of customers who follow brands on Facebook are likely to recommend it to their friends.

You Can Still Encourage Customers to Spread the Word in Person

While all of these strategies work to spread the word about your company, simply talking to friends and family is still an effective way to bring in new customers. If you are in the business of working directly with clients—say, as a lawyer, doctor, or dentist—you have a lot to gain from this. People are far more likely to take recommendations from friends and family when it comes to important things like finances and health.

Let the experts at Internet Local Listings help you get the word out about your business. We’ll get you listed across all major online directories and we even provide updates for social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. By working together, we can get people talking about your brand—and help you draw in new clientele.

5 Ways to Try New Marketing Strategies this Summer

Why not try new marketing strategies this summer! 2014 is already almost half over. We’re quickly heading into summer, and with that change come a different set of goals and priorities for business owners. Whether you own a contracting business or a salon, your summer advertising is going to have to change to better accommodate your clients and customers!

For many small businesses, the budget available for advertising and marketing purposes is scant, and that makes the prospect of shifting gears for your marketing campaigns rather frightening, to say the least. But changing your focus doesn’t mean you need to shell out tons of money. Here, we’ll look at 5 ways you can try out new marketing strategies this summer without breaking the bank and changing up everything you’ve put in place already.

  1. Shift Marketing Strategies to Include More Social Media Engagement. You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again here: social media is imperative to your marketing success. If you’ve been lax on updating Facebook or sending out tweets, now is the time to brush up on it. Connect with your customers and clients in a meaningful way while they have lazier days at home over the summer months.
  2. Redesign Your Website. Is your website looking a little outdated or neglected? Now’s the time to revamp it. Invest in a little extra cash for a great designer and make sure that your site is attractive, informative, and easy to navigate. By doing this, you’ll make sure you put your best face forward for the summer, and you’ll be able to update your current events and seasonal specials while you’re at it.
  3. Hold a contest. It doesn’t have to be an in-depth or complicated endeavor. You can do a number of things easily and affordably through your own website or social media pages! For example, you can post a funny photo related to your industry, and ask people to come up with a caption for it. The best one gets a coupon or a free service. You could also have people vote on something, such as the best new product, or ask them for assistance in coming up with a new special. People love getting involved!
  4. Take a look at your keywords. Have you been ranking consistently under one keyword but just can’t seem to get a foothold on Google with any other keywords? It may be time to let them go and choose different ones. Use free tools such as the Google Keyword Planner or just do a simple search to see what kinds of results you get. Then plan accordingly.
  5. Start a blog. If you haven’t jumped on the blogging bandwagon yet, now’s a great time. Sign up for a free blog from a site such as Wordpress.com and begin updating regularly. Talk about company news, plans, specials, and events. Let your clients and customers know what’s going on with you! Not only does this help keep them informed, but you’ll be noticed more by search engines when you’re continually providing your site with fresh content.

Shifting marketing strategies doesn’t have to be scary. Most of these can be done in-house for very little money. However, you should understand that it can be time consuming to blog regularly, manage keywords, update social media, and redesign your site. If you’re thinking of switching up your approach to marketing but don’t have the skills or resources to do it all on your own, just contact the internet marketing experts at Internet Local Listings. We’d be happy to walk you through the process and assist you in any way possible! Good luck with all your new marketing strategies!

How to Increase Customer Engagement for Your Small Business

increase customer engagement for small businesses If you’re a small business owner, there’s a big chance you’ve heard the term “customer engagement.” Depending on your level of experience in managing an online storefront, you may not have a clear picture of what it means to have customers “fully” engaged. To some business owners, a highly-engaged customer simply means someone who visits your store—whether in person or online—and purchases a product or service from you. To others, this term means that a customer would have to purchase and come back to use your services again, or perhaps be involved with your website or social media accounts in some way. And it’s true that for different industries, customer engagement will be different: i.e., if you’re a concrete contractor, you’re not going to expect the same return service as a boutique or thrift store. So how can you determine the best way to improve customer engagement for your company?

Know Your Clientele

This is the best answer, but unfortunately,  it’s also very complicated. You may know the basic needs of your clients, but you might be surprised at how in-depth you can really get with the details. For example, if you’re a boutique specializing in women’s clothing, you already know that women are going to shop at your store more often than men. But do you know finer details, such as income level, interests, hobbies, and spending habits? Getting your customers more engaged with your store requires a little bit of research, as well as some finesse in gathering this type of data.

The good news is that social media is the perfect answer to this dilemma. According to a survey done by Avaya’s Autonomous Customer Research, 82% of customers prefer multi-channel engagements—meaning not only do they want to visit you face-to-face in your store, but they probably want to connect with you via email, Facebook, Twitter, or on another social media channel. But why do customers enjoy this?

Simple. They can get all the information they need from the comfort of their own homes. They can stay caught up with your sales and special offers simply by “liking” you or following you online. Don’t you think you owe it to your customers to help them stay connected to your brand in such a convenient way?

How to Improve Customer Engagement

If you haven’t already, you’ll need to choose a few social media networks that you want to maintain. Keep in mind that this is a time-intensive endeavor—if you want results, you’ll have to be willing to spend at least several hours a week dedicated to this part of the process.

That’s why it’s important to just choose a few networks that you know appeal to your clientele. There are so many out there that it would be next to impossible to maintain your presence across each one. Whether you choose Facebook, Google +, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Tumblr, you’ll have to find your strengths and play to them. That being said, here are a few tips to help you increase customer engagement across any social media networks:

  1. Create relationships, not “hard sells”. You are a sales pro, no doubt. But the way you approach customers online is not the same way you’d approach them in the store. People come to your site to browse at home—let them do so in peace.
  2. Make it easy for customers to find you. You could have the best business in the world, but if your customers can’t find you on the web, they’re not going to be calling. Make sure you are ranking on the first page for a set of targeted keywords. Customize your social media profiles with easy-to-find-and-follow links to your site. Finally, be sure your contact information is available. Customers like knowing that they can contact you if they need to.
  3. Provide relevant updates. Customers like to know what your company is up to, but they also enjoy related topics. If you’re a salon, try updating about the latest hair trends. If you’re a contractor, talk about seasonal updates that homeowners can benefit from.
  4. Update frequently. This is a common mistake. Oftentimes, people assume “if you build it, they will come.” This is far from true in the fast-paced world of internet marketing. You need to not only build a strong foundation, but you also need to keep adding to it. Aim to update your site’s blog at least one time a week, if not more. Update Facebook, Google +, or LinkedIn once a day. You don’t have to spend hours crafting a post, but try to keep clients engaged with your site through quality, fresh content.
  5. Respond to criticism. But do so politely. If you have a negative review, evaluate what the customer has to say. Publicly address it so others know that you recognize and care about a customer’s experience. Which brings us to our next topic…

Dealing with Angry Customers

It is not fun to deal with, but it happens to the best of us. You will have angry customers and you will have to find a way to respond to them without looking unprofessional. The best way to do this is to find legitimate complaints and politely respond as you would to a customer in your store. If the complaints are abusive, slanderous, or are coming from someone impersonating your company, you can report them to the appropriate person. Keep on top of this—you don’t want to leave unprofessional or negative comments around!

Want to hire the pros?

Did you know that companies who have a fully-engaged customer base see a 23% average increase in revenue? There are so many reasons you should be online and engaging with your customers—but if you’ve decided it’s just too much of a time investment, you can always hire the pros. Visit Internet Local Listings to see our variety of online marketing packages, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to set up an account. We’d love to help you increase customer engagement and get your site ranking!

Thriving Online Marketing Company Expands Operations to New Offices

Internet Local Listings Building located in sunny Santa Ana, California.

SEO marketing experts help boost the website rankings of businesses across the US and Canada.

Santa Ana, CA (PRWEB) March 11, 2014—Website marketing company Internet Local Listings exhibits strong performance in the internet advertising industry as evidenced by their office expansion in Q4 2013 and a steadily growing workforce. The Orange County online marketing firm utilizes search engine optimization techniques to improve the search engine rankings and exposure of businesses throughout the US and Canada.

“We’re certainly excited about the rapid growth we’ve seen in the past year,” comments CEO Sam Riemer. “We now have a great opportunity to further improve our set of SEO services for our clients that would yield greater results in less time.”

The SEO marketing firm expanded their Santa Ana offices largely in part to accommodate an increase of employees in their Customer Service and SEO departments. With upwards of 5000 clients to manage, Internet Local Listings has nearly doubled its workforce in the aforementioned departments.

“The rate at which we’ve gained new clients has been astounding, and it’s truly a testament to the effectiveness and overall value of our SEO services,” says Kristen Dillon, Director of Operations. “We’re excited to bring aboard more dedicated individuals that are passionate about SEO and helping small and medium businesses thrive.”

Internet Local Listings specializes in increasing the online presence of businesses from a variety of industries--from law firms to pizzerias. This increased exposure bolsters consumer awareness of said business and ultimately drives traffic to the business's website and brick-or-mortar shop.

"Our clients understand how crucial it is to reach out to their customers through channels like Google, Yelp! and Facebook," states Dillon. "It's no wonder that more and more business-savvy individuals are utilizing our services."

For three years, the Santa Ana website marketing company has helped businesses strengthen their online presence through the latest marketing strategies. Internet Local Listings will continue to improve their SEO tools and to grow as a company.

"We live in an aptly-named Digital Age, one where we all spend a significant time each day on our computers, laptops and mobile devices," says Riemer. "While this may be startling for some, our internet advertising team sees this as an excellent opportunity for businesses to reach a volume of customers unheard of in previous generations. It is our mission to help our clients tap that potential."

-Jonathan Mostajo, Director of Public Relations

Internet Local Listings Building located in sunny Santa Ana, California.