You’ve probably heard the old saying, If you build it, they will come. That has become less and less true in the internet age, where many people don’t even have computers or Internet access at home.
If you want your business to grow—whether it’s an online store or brick-and-mortar—you need to find ways to capture leads and make sales through your website or blog.
Here are some effective ways to get started building your online presence and generating new sales opportunities.
A local website helps attract potential customers
These days, a business without a website is like one without a phone number. Today’s Internet users are looking up local businesses online before they buy, especially with smartphones.
If you have a website or are creating one, be sure it’s optimized for mobile viewing and that it includes basic information such as hours of operation, address, and contact information. Potential customers will search for your business online by name or city, so include both in your URL (if possible). Be sure to register your domain name, but consider also purchasing other short URLs on sites like bitly or TinyURL that you can use to direct potential customers where they need to go.
Find and connect with the right people on social media
There are all sorts of ways to capture leads for your business online. One of them is by connecting with potential customers and future clients on social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. People go online every day looking for businesses just like yours—help make it easy for them to find you! Some people have different ideas about what being on social media means, but there are a few basic things that hold true no matter what platform you use: be active, respond quickly, and don’t spam people.
Promote your business on Facebook with ads
Facebook is a great place to promote your business online and one of my favorite ways to capture leads, simply because of its 1.8 billion users. If you’re on a budget, it’s also one of the easiest ways to get in front of people because Facebook ads are relatively inexpensive and require little setup or design knowledge.
You can do your own design work or simply outsource it at Fiverr for less than $50. There are also tons of premade templates that you can buy from Envato Tuts+. The most important thing with ads is testing and finding what works best for your target audience. Sometimes, offering something free or discounting your product/service can drive more sales than just buying ads will!
Optimize Google My Business Page
Google My Business is an important tool for local businesses. It allows you to claim your business listing on Google and helps people find and contact you. When you optimize your page, you’re also adding an additional touchpoint where people can reach out to learn more about your business and connect with you.
Whether it’s through a call or an email, doing so can create new leads that might be interested in your services. If a business customer gets in touch with you directly (instead of going through a third-party site), they’re more likely to remain loyal customers over time because of their first-hand experience with your brand.
Use paid advertising like AdWords to target new customers
Think of Google AdWords as a pipeline. When people type in a search question, your ad shows up in response to that query. You pay when someone clicks on your ad and is then redirected (or not) to your site.
If they do show up on your site, you have an opportunity to convince them you can solve their problem and get them into your sales funnel. When done correctly, paid advertising is a great way to capture leads from people who may never have heard of you before.
Get reviews from happy customers
If you’re looking to capture more leads for your local business online, it’s important that you build trust and create relationships with potential customers. That’s where reviews come in. Today, 73% of consumers say positive online reviews make them trust a business more than its own website, advertising, or word-of-mouth recommendations.
Since there are many options available on sites like Yelp and Google+ Business pages, businesses need to work harder than ever before to get noticed. The best way to do that is through consistent customer service and targeted promotions that deliver real value—the kind of interactions where customers feel they can be honest and real.
Incentivize a great experience with loyalty programs
Customer feedback is invaluable, but it doesn’t always come easily. Customer reviews are a great way to evaluate how your business is doing—but you can get more detailed information by actually asking customers directly.
The easiest way to ask your customers questions is through email: ask them what they think of certain aspects of your business and be sure to send them a follow-up survey every once in a while.
Whether or not you implement their suggestions, being solicited for feedback will make customers feel important and respected, which will make them much more likely to give you repeat business. But if you have hundreds of customers who don’t use email regularly (or at all), consider talking with people in person.
Track all customer feedback (good & bad)
Both good and bad customer feedback is important. While no one wants negative feedback, it can be useful in determining ways you can make your business better. Focus on ways you can improve and make changes accordingly. While you may not want to hear complaints from customers, they’re actually opportunities to change course and evolve into a better business that offers even better customer service than before.
Be sure to ask customers how they feel about every aspect of your business—from your product or service, location, hours of operation, and more—and if there’s room for improvement, listen up! You might have found a way to offer even greater value without lifting a finger—all because a client had something constructive (albeit negative) to say about your brand.
Monitor all channels 24/7 so you can respond quickly
Another important task when managing a local business’s online presence is monitoring. The question you should ask yourself is, what are people searching for? Once you have answered that question, watch those searches carefully.
If a person searches restaurants in my area and your restaurant comes up first in search rankings, you know they will click on it (for instance). This gives you a chance to capture that lead—before someone else does. Make sure your website content is optimized and ready so you can use tools like Google AdWords and social media marketing to reach those leads before your competitors do.