Is your local business prepared for this fully online digital age?
The COVID pandemic forced many traditional mom-and-pop businesses to adapt how they reach and interact with customers and serve their community. Combining this with the fact that millennials and younger generations were already less likely to pick up the phone to inquire about a service, businesses without a solid online presence can run the risk of seeing a drop in new customers.
So, it’s more important than ever for service businesses to reach and interact with customers online and invest more in digital marketing.
It’s no surprise that many traditional businesses that brought their operations fully online during COVID have stayed that way. Businesses of all types that traditionally had physical interactions with customers and onsite locations have found themselves moving to online operations. This includes consultative service providers like financial planners, accountants, and insurance agencies.
Before the pandemic, it might have seemed a bit odd to hold a meeting with any of these service providers strictly online but not anymore.
In a week, I went from meeting with my accountant to file my income taxes to “sitting down” with an insurance agent to discuss whole-life policies on Zoom. Service providers like these have all moved their operations completely remote which includes providing free consultations, onboarding new clients, holding appointments, taking payments, and much more.
No matter what type of business you operate, adapting quickly is key. This involves getting your business online and finding your customers there.
3 Digital Marketing Tips For Local Businesses
1). Update your company website
The first thing you should do is conduct a review of your website and upgrade. Make any necessary changes to speed, loading times, security, and user experience. Use this time to review the content on your site and consider updating it and adding any new relevant information.
If you don’t currently have a website for your business, following the information in this guide will provide you with a solid playbook for what your website needs to have. For the technical setup, we recommend getting a plan from Bluehost which will bundle everything you need (hosting, domain name, and SSL)
- You can follow this guide we created to help you set up your Bluehost account.
- Once you have your hosting in place you can book a free call with me and I will be happy to help you get everything set up. Make sure to mention this guide to get a special discount.
- You can also check out this quick checklist for creating your website
When building your site, here are some things to keep in mind.
Ensure your website clearly defines the services you offer and provides an easy way for potential customers to get in touch with you to get more information. The name of the game is to generate leads for your business. You need to make this dead simple and apparent.
If you sell products, consider adding eCommerce functionality to your website so users can make purchases. This will prepare your business to be able to make sales without interacting with your customers in person. Setting up shopping carts and payment systems is easier than ever and don’t require a massive financial investment like it did in the past. DIY website builders like Squarespace and WIX make this dead easy, and if you have a WordPress site, there are tons of plugins that will have you up in running collecting payments in a day or two.
As a service business featuring customer testimonials on your site will strengthen your appeal and increase credibility by showcasing the value and quality of your product or service to potential customers.
Consider including a frequently asked question section so customers can have many of their questions answered without having to pick up the phone. Many people rather keep searching online for the answers to their questions rather than pick up the phone and speak to a human.
Mobile User Experience
Is your website mobile responsive? Does it display nicely on all devices? If not, you should fix this ASAP as the majority of website traffic are from mobile devices.
Visibility & SEO
Besides creating valuable content for your site another critical component is ensuring it has visibility online. Meaning, does it come up in Google search results?
Taking this one step further — now is the time to invest the time and energy into search engine optimization by making sure your site is ranking for the right keywords for your business. While SEO is a long-term strategy, if done consistently and correctly, it will pay dividends in the future for your business. With SEO you are building an asset that generates free traffic for your website and as more of the consumer world is moving online, this is vital.
Over time, it can become FREE advertising for your business.
2). Embrace email marketing
If your business is not collecting leads in the form of email addresses and engaging with those contacts by sending out periodic emails, you are missing out.
Email marketing is the number one most effective digital marketing strategy to convert sales and create repeat customers.
More than social media.
More than SEO.
More than running ads.
Email marketing has been and remains the best way to stay connected with both existing and potential customers.
Your business builds last relationships through email.
There are numerous email marketing tools out there, all of which offer free plans, and are dead simple to get started with. If you take anything out of this guide, make signing up for an email marketing service your top priority.
We recommend ConvertKit because it is the easiest and most intuitive tool to use on the market. You can get started without a credit card and your first 300 subscribers are for free.
3). Facebook Ads With A Landing Page
While getting traffic and new leads from organic Google searches takes some time, you can score some quick wins by creating an engaging paid social strategy that’s backed up by an enticing landing page.
This can easily be done by running a simple Facebook ad that drives potential customers to a dedicated landing page on your website. This will give you a good bang for your buck as you’ll be to reach thousands of people for as little as $5 a day.
For many service-based businesses, this ROI is incredible. Imagine running an ad for $5 a day for 10 days and if it produces just one new paying customer — was that $50 worth it?
In addition, Facebook offers a plethora of targeting so you can show your ads to a narrowly defined audience based on demographic, location, behaviors, lookalike audiences, and more.
However, the key to Facebook ads is nuance and experimentation.
Facebook Ad Best Practices
Besides the key factor of how well you use the targeting feature to reach your ideal prospects and customers, here are some other points to keep in mind when running Facebook ads.
1) The strength of your ad is based on how well it can stop the scroll
Meaning design and creative matter. The image/video and copy you use in your ad will make a big difference in determining whether people stop scrolling, click on your ad, or scroll right past it. Here are a few points to keep in mind, when creating your ad.
- Come up with a concept for your ad creative that solves a problem. Remember as a person in business you are a problem-solver.
- Use one clear, captivating image or video to catch the viewer’s eye.
- Utilize bright, high-contrasting colors, and bold backgrounds to stop people as they scroll.
- Keep the amount of text embedded in your image design to a minimum.
- Keep the ad copy to a maximum of 125 words.
- Write a strong, descriptive headline that reads as a solution to a user’s potential problem.
- Use succinct body copy that sparks interest and curiosity
2) The landing page you drive users to from your ad is just as critical.
The primary purpose of this page is for the user to either get in touch with you, fill out a lead form, complete a purchase, or perform some other type of action, so the experience must be seamless.
Here are some things to keep in mind when building your landing page:
- Don’t simply drive users to your homepage. Most homepages are overwhelming and read as a general overview of the business. You want to have a dedicated page that has content specific to the offer/service you are advertising.
- Keep the messaging and design elements consistent with your Facebook ad.
- Use strong, descriptive headlines that make the reader want to know more or see more. The headline on both the Facebook ad and landing page should convey the same offer.
- Use high-quality images or videos that depict your service/product in the best light.
- Feature a compelling call to action that you repeat throughout the page and uses the same language every time. Meaning, you should only ask visitors to do one specific thing by opting into your offer: “get a free quote”, “download the product guide”, “book an appointment”, etc.
3) Be willing to experiment with your audience selection and the ad creative (copy, images, videos)
Since the targeting options that Facebook offers are extensive, it likely will take some trial and error to find the sweet spot where your customers are.
The good news is, Facebook’s analytics and reporting for ad performance are just as extensive. One of the huge benefits of Facebook advertising is that the results are highly measurable. And, the numbers will speak for themselves. You will be able to see how many impressions, clicks, and conversions you are receiving.
So when you are first getting started with Facebook ads, keep your ad simple, monitor its performance, analyze your results, make some tweaks to it and run it again.
It’s a very inexpensive proposition for the potential return.
Bottom line: it’s time to grow with the times.
People in your community still have problems they need help with. They still need the same services they always did. The only difference is the post-COVID digital age has changed the way they want those services delivered.
Whether you like it or not, there’s no stopping that. We are full steam ahead in continuing to move further into a remote-based, online society.
So, make it your priority to embrace digital marketing for your local business so it can communicate, market, and sell to customers online.
Thank you for taking the time to check out this guide. We hope you’ve found some value in it and can use it as a guide to help you grow your business online by reaching more clients and customers.
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