Whether you’re looking for foot traffic or website traffic, ensuring your online presence is up-to-par will help your small business as we enter the second wave of COVID-19 in Canada. Up-to-date and easily findable information goes a long way towards consumers building confidence in your business.
If you haven’t yet, you’ll want to review three main pieces of your online presence to ensure the information is accurate:
- Your website
- Your Google My Business listing
- And your social media accounts.
Whether you own a car dealership, coffee shop, dry cleaners, restaurant, clinic, sports venue or any other small business, here’s what you need to do to gain an edge during these challenging times for small business owners.
For those customers that already know you, one of the first places they’re likely to go to get information about your small business is your website. Update your essential business information, including your hours, how you are operating, whether or not your physical location is currently open, and other critical elements.
You may also want to include a couple of FAQs about what you are doing to ensure everyone’s safety during the pandemic (staff and customers alike). It would help if you also took this opportunity to answer any other questions you’ve been consistently receiving over the past six months.
For example, if you own a restaurant, make it clear if you’re open for in-house dining or take-out only. For hair salons or spas, include any protocols clients must follow (wait outside and call when you arrive, wear a mask inside, and other directives.) Knowing what to expect upon arrival will help put your clients at ease and reduce any confusion.
Your Google My Business Listing
It’s vital that your Google My Business listing is optimized and up-to-date with accurate information so that you’re more likely to be prioritized by Google in their search results. Doing so will also help potential new clients instantly get the answers to everything they need to know before visiting your business or clicking through to your website.
Updating your Google My Business listing includes:
- Having an accurate phone number
- Including your website address (to an updated website)
- Providing the address to your physical location, if applicable
- Updating your attributes (take-out, curbside pick-up, delivery)
- Updating your hours
- Answering all questions people leave for you – especially those related to COVID-19 protocols
- Repurposing your website FAQs in the Questions & Answers section
- Responding to all reviews
Creating confidence in your small business leads to trust and action. When your listing is up-to-date, and consumers can find answers to their questions there, they’re more likely to follow through with a visit to your store or make a purchase online.
When you consider that 80% of all local searches convert to a sale or action, it’s clear how important it is to have your small business ready to properly intercept local and “near me” searches.
Your Social Media Accounts
Similar to your website, any current clients may turn to social media to quickly check whether you’re open, what your hours are, and if there’s anything they need to know about how you’re operating during COVID-19.
On the other hand, 54% of people on social media use it to research products – so you can bet they’re also using it to search for and support local businesses. With hashtags and location tags, plus searchable name fields, it’s easy to search for and find small businesses on platforms like Instagram. With both current and potential clients turning to social media for information, it’s essential you keep these accounts up-to-date as well.
Here’s how to share that information:
Communicate your updated hours (due to the pandemic, or even just the changing season), COVID-19 protocols, or new operational practices (i.e., take-out only) through a static post on your feed. Use a graphic that clearly says “New Hours”, instead of an image, to make it easy to find. On Facebook, you can pin a post to the top of your business page.
More and more people are watching Instagram Stories instead of (or in addition to) scrolling through their feed. With the ever-changing algorithm only showing your content to 10% of followers, it’s vital to share your information in stories to reach as many people as possible. You can do this with a graphic (dimensions should be 9:16) or by filming yourself directly in the app giving the updates.
Because stories disappear after 24 hours, you can do this as a weekly reminder – not only does this ensure your business information gets found easily, but it also gives you a content idea for at least one day of the week.
All social media platforms have a profile of some sort. On Facebook, your business page has spots to fill out your hours, physical address, phone number, website, list services, and a business description. Make sure all of these are filled out and up-to-date. On Instagram, you have a much shorter ‘bio’ field to fill out.
Your handle (@username) and the name field are both searchable, so include keywords here like your location, industry, or business name, and be sure to include a link to your up-to-date website.
If you’re not sure how to set-up or optimize your online presence, send us a message, we’re always happy to help get you on the right track. Business is hard, especially this year, so let’s make sure you’re set-up for the most success possible.
The new Apple Watch Series 4 was released last week, and now that we’ve been able to play around with it, we see some incredible potential for it within the location marketing world. As a result, small business owners should be aware of some of the more obvious reasons to keep tabs on the Apple Watch – and some that are more obscure.
3 Obvious Location Marketing Apple Watch Uses
Let’s start with the obvious reasons and why they’re essential to the small business owner. First, it’s important to note that the Apple Watch, since the Series 3 iteration released last year, is available in an LTE version. LTE functionality allows users to stay connected via data and phone services to people and their apps. As a result, iPhone apps are now available on your wrist, for the most part, even when you leave home without a phone.
Online Directories and Reviews
Apps such as Maps, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Booking Now and other vital directories become even more crucial. At the turn of their wrist, your customers can now find you, read reviews about your location and decide whether or not your business is worthy of theirs. As a result, having a strong directory presence and review building strategy becomes even more critical to small business owners.
Another way that Apple Watch can impact small businesses is through payments. Apple’s Wallet app is available on the watch, making it easy for customers to pay you. All it takes is a tap of the watch your terminal and, just like that, you’ve received your payment. This makes having a console that is optimized for tap and Apple Pay even more important than ever. For some consumers, knowing that you keep up with technology is a key reason for them to visit your business location. As of February of this year, it was reported that over 127 million people worldwide are using Apple Pay. And that number is only going up.
2 More Obscure Location Marketing Apple Watch Uses
Geofencing + Business Alerts
Geofencing is the use of GPS or RFID technology to create a virtual geographic boundary, enabling software to trigger a response when a mobile device enters or leaves a particular area. As a result, you can push an alert or coupon to Apple Watch users who are close to your business. With the haptic feedback from the watch “tapping” the wearer on the wrist, people will be aware of your alert sooner because they will feel it – and not discover it waiting on their phone when it’s too late because it was sitting in a purse.
Running Your Small Business
Time to look at the other side of the coin as well. While the Apple Watch can help you attract people to your business, it can also help you become a more efficient business owner. There are several apps designed to help you run your business and keep you on task. From CRM apps to ones for accounting and invoicing, or note-taking applications to reminders and to-dos, the Apple Watch can help you focus on what you do best and service the people who do come through your doors – all thanks to the navigation apps on their wrist.
As a small business owner, what’s important is being aware of the potential of this watch. It’s not that you’re expected to do all these things, but trying even one of the tactics may be the one thing to get on the radar of your potential customers. And that might very well be enough to turn someone’s indifference for your business into a real difference for your business.
We’ve recently learned an important lesson about claiming your business location online, thanks to the collaboration of one of our clients. As a result, we’d like to ask you this important question: Have you searched for your business’ address recently? Here’s why we’re asking.
After working with the business owner to claim his store’s location on Google My Business and Google Maps—along with other directories including Bing, Facebook, FourSquare, Yelp and Apple Maps—the client’s location was properly placed and pinned across these networks. Leading with his store’s name, we claimed, placed and pinned his store on all of these online networks.
Almost immediately, we noticed that his listing was performing well. In fact, amazingly well. His Google My Business metrics exploded from the minute we took control of his listings. His views have increased and held steady every month, to the tune of 190% growth from the first month to the most recent. His total actions, which add together clicks of their phone number, directions and website buttons from their Google Listing, have increased by 202%.
Like any good business, though, his marketing presence didn’t end there. Because of the nature of his business—he’s a retailer with time sensitive promotions and always-changing inventory—he also advertised in local newspapers. And at the bottom of every ad, he wisely put the address of his store.
That’s when he started to get phone calls. The problem? When potential shoppers would search for the address of his location, the pin for that search was misplaced on Google Maps and was leading his customers to another store. In other words, if you searched for the name of his store, you’d be brought to the right location. But if you searched for the address of his location, you’d be lead elsewhere. And he had concrete evidence that his customers were being misled, leading to lost visits and sales.
“My customers would search for our location on Google Maps and were brought to another area on the opposite side of our premises,” said our client, who asked for his name not to be published. “This was frustrating and confusing for all concerned. I had numerous clients tell me that they circled around until they figured out on their own how to get to us, or called us.”
When he brought this to our attention, we immediately jumped into action, contacting Google directly and requesting that they match the pin placement for the search of his address to the one we claimed for the name of their business. It took some time—exactly a month—to go from request to successful pin move. The request was actually escalated from the Google My Business (GMB) team to the Google Maps team to reflect the importance of the problem.
So, now, when our client buys advertising in print publications, he can do so with confidence, knowing that those who want to come to his store to shop will find it.
Within a month or two, we should see the impact on the GMB metrics for this listing, likely resulting in more views, as well as more calls, website visits and in-store traffic. We’ll check back in on this story and let you all know.
In the meanwhile, we suggest you conduct a search of your address and see if it matches up with your listing. If not, we’d be happy to help you set things straight—and help shoppers head straight to your front door.
Wow! This is a great article by Caroline Barghout of the CBC and a cautionary tale for business owners who doubt the power of online reviews. After being denied service at a local establishment, the Hells Angels launched a coordinated campaign to hurt the business online by giving them low ratings. Overnight, the business’s average rating dropped a full point. And then they did it to other businesses as well.
Online reviews are an important way for business owners to drive customers to their business. The review plays two key roles:
1) It helps those who are searching for your location to create an opinion of your business. People trust the opinions of people who are similar to themselves more than they do brands or business owners. So generating positive reviews is vital.
2) Reviews help with the SEO of your business listing. The more you get, the more likely your directory listing will be presented when people are looking online for what you sell. The more positive, the better.
For local business owners, creating an online review strategy is a great advantage. Monitor and respond to them, but also create an environment where you let your customers know that you’d like a review. This could be an in-store strategy, email campaign or by simply asking your clients for one after house calls. Either way, the results could be truly impactful.
It’s not that you risk having the Hells Angels conspire against your business. But keeping things positive and encouraging good reviews from your best customers can go a long way towards getting your business found and then driving phone calls, visits to your website and traffic to your store.
To learn more about reviews, read our post titled, “Four Fantastic Reasons Why Small Business Owners Should Have An Online Customer Review Monitoring Strategy.”
The phone call came last Thursday, when @IntuitBry called with an invitation to speak at the Intuit QuickBooks Connect conference in Toronto. The event is coming up in early December and we couldn’t be more excited to lend our expertise to the small business leaders and accountants in attendance. Intuit has asked us to share our expertise in local listing management and online review strategies.
QuickBooks Connect provides small business owners and accountants with an opportunity to learn, connect and be inspired to grow their businesses through breakout sessions and keynote presentations. Breakout sessions are led by industry experts and participants will have the chance to get real world advice and connect with peers.
10|20 Marketing’s Presentation Abstract
How to Improve the Odds of Attracting Small Business Clients Online
Where can an small business owner, be it an accounting practice, individual accountant or retailer, get the most value for their dollar online? What are some of the easy-to-use tools available to them that don’t require too much of their time? What should they know about these low-hanging fruit solutions that will help drive business to their doors, keep them relevant in a digitally changing world and help them build online relationships?
Also, we’ll examine which metrics they should look at to prove that their investment is bringing a return. This presentation will look at these challenges, provide solutions and outline which tools can be used to achieve these goals. We’ll look at Google My Business, relevant review sites, and platforms designed to drive phone calls, website visits and walk-ins to their locations, in addition to the metrics that make the effort worthwhile.
Let us know if you’re going to be there and we’ll be happy to set up some time while we’re in Toronto. QuickBooks Connect is taking place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre December 4 – 6, 2017. Hope to see you there!