Many local businesses make the mistake of ignoring the internet and its potential, reasoning that local marketing works best for local businesses. While that may have been true in the past, our world has changed tremendously. Why is internet marketing important for an offline, local business? One of the best reasons would be that over 80% of all Americans have internet access in their homes, compared to 73% that still have landline phones in their homes. Less landline phones means less phone books—and let’s face it, the majority of people have moved on, and online. In turn, this means that people need an alternative way to get information about a business, whether it is a car repair shop, restaurant, or some other type of brick and mortar business. Those alternate methods are via the internet, and increasingly via mobile internet as well. Use the proper internet marketing tactics and you will see a spike in your business, especially if you have not previously implemented an internet marketing strategy in the past. Your online marketing tactics will make more sense than naming your business AAAAAAA, just for top billing in the telephone directory for your business niche.
1. Website Information Display
Once people get to your website, nothing is more important than having your complete contact information and the location of your business on prominent display. It is not overkill to have your phone number and address in more than one location on your site; in fact, it is a great idea to have it displayed on each page of your site, to make sure the most vital information is as accessible to the people looking at your site as possible. Your business hours are another thing that you will want to include, as well as services or goods your company provides. Another thing that is often a pet peeve of many people—pricing. Do not be afraid to display your prices for services you provide or products that you offer. You might also consider offering a special deal for first-time customers that find you online—a percentage discount, or some sort of freebie. People love free!
2. Free Local Business Directories
Get your business listed in as many of the free local online directories as possible; there are enough free directories that you should not have to pay for listings to create an online presence for your business, and the free ones typically receive the most traffic online anyway. These directories list businesses that are the closest match to what people search for in a specific area, usually by city. A few examples of these directories are Google Places, Yahoo! Local, Yellowpages.com, and Yelp, but there are many more as well.
Your website should have additional information besides contact numbers, prices, hours and what you sell. You want your website to be interesting and provide lots of additional information so that people will continually return to your site and tell others about it. Include things such as the company’s history, biographies of the business owners or executives, and specific information on the industry that you are involved in. Provide potential customers coming to your site with content that is interesting to them, and make your website visually appealing as well.
By continually updating your website, your readers will have a reason to stop in and check it out frequently, other than to get the number or hours of your business. If you are providing information in your field on a regular basis, you may also build a following just by talking about your business, driving up your page rank and increasing traffic to your site. Also consider building a Facebook fan page and Twitter account to share updates and interesting industry information regularly. Google+ is also a great place to network and share information, and many SEO experts believe it helps your page rankings tremendously. Pinterest can be a great place to share visual information like photographs.
If all else fails, check out what your competitors are doing and do it better! You never know, they might have some ideas that you have not thought of yet, and the light bulb might go on when you peek at some of the competitor’s sites and get some unique ideas.
These are just a few tips to get you started; many other ideas will likely come to you once you start looking into ways to market your business online, depending upon your business and your target demographics. Do not overlook the importance of posting online video or blogging on your site or guest blogging on related local sites.
Denise Gabbard writes about SEO, social media, and finance topics like comparing home loan rates.