Guest post by Jeremy Bowler.
As a local business, creating a strong online presence can seem like a huge waste of time and money. After all, you’re a small store that serves a small area; how could you possibly make use of anything more than a basic website, and maybe a Facebook business page?
You may actually be surprised at how effective an extensive online presence can be for even a small, primarily local business. For example, it’s a great way to establish yourself on platforms like Google My Business which allows your shop, space, or office to show up on Google Map searches.
A powerful online presence also makes it easier for people to find your local store on searches, desktop or mobile. Finally, an online presence can also be used as your business grows to advertise online-focused services, such as delivering your products to customers around the country or even globally.
So how exactly do you build a strong online presence as a small local business? Here are three strategies to focus on.
Build a Professional (not small and cheesy) Website
You don’t need to have an award-winning website design to make your website effective. What’s most important is to really think about what information your visitors need in order to buy from you, and provide that information in an easy-to-find way.
Create value with it and ensure that it looks good and loads quickly on both desktop devices and mobile phones. More than 50% of all web users access the internet from their phones, so you need to think about responsive, mobile-friendly web design.
If you’re using a website builder or content management system (CMS), a great way to approach this is to simply use a theme or template at the beginning. This will provide your site with an attractive and professional (if not unique) look, and take care of the technical elements like responsive design, so you can focus on your content.
Later on, you can hire a website designer to create a custom template to make your brand stand out, but at first, using a pre-designed theme. WordPress is the best and most commonly used CMS, but if you looking for something simpler, there are a few solid alternatives.
Work with marketing teams that know your industry
A lot of marketers focus on specific industries. Someone who knows a lot about eCommerce may not know much about plumbing or other home repair services. If they tried to apply the same rules, you may end up with an ineffective marketing campaign that doesn’t quite hit the mark.
As such, you’ll want to look for digital marketing for plumbers if you’re in that industry. This will help you design a marketing campaign that suits your needs and show that you understand your audience.
Get social and be active
Establishing a strong online presence means optimizing your social media profiles, and interacting with your audience across multiple platforms. Actively engage with your customers and prospects by responding to comments, sharing posts on social media, and thanking your brand advocates. You should also be monitoring your brand so you can offer support or answer questions as they come up.
Perhaps the most important consideration is keeping the blog and news section of your website updated. This will help ensure that people know you’re active, and also improve your search engine optimization as you’ll have more content for search engines to index. Make sure to include important keywords in your content reflecting your location and the type of business that you run.
Jeremy Bowler is a full-time copywriter of five years specializing in business and finance. Jeremy graduated from the University of Chester with degrees in business accounting and finance. He’s an avid traveler and has taught English in Nepal, Malaysia, and Japan and has produced copy for Neil Patel, Entrepreneur and Metro among many other high-end publications.